A successful team is one where members can identify and overcome obstacles. However, when an obstacle has to do with a teammate’s performance, things can get complicated. If you are in a leadership position, mixing proactivity with empathetic listening can be your greatest tool.
In his iconic book, How to Win Friends & Influence People, Dale Carnegie discusses how allowing somebody the time to talk through their problems can often help them reach their own solutions. He described it as “the safety valve in handling complaints.”
This ability to let others fully express themselves can work wonders in coming to real solutions to seeming opaque problems.
You may have a member of your team whose performance has been lagging recently. Perhaps they seem shorter of temper or are developing bad habits like showing up late. If you intend to discuss the issue with them, start your conversation by getting their perspective.
An open and honest conversation may help your worker to reason out their own problems, or they may reveal underlying issues you were unaware of.
For many day-to-day issues, listening empathetically can solve a small problem before it grows.