Wherever you’re tackling an HR problem, the best place to start is by listening – and most of all to the main protagonist.

Invite someone to tell their story and nine times out of ten – if you can be patient, encourage them to keep talking and don’t interrupt – they’ll identify and acknowledge the problem themselves.

Of course sometimes people don’t; and everyone naturally wants to justify themselves and their actions or omissions. We all do. But it’s rare, if you give people time, that they won’t own up to some role, responsibility or even fault in a problem situation.

Too often people set out to ‘land an outcome’, which guarantees a fight and closes things down – there’s often context and a backstory which it’s important to weigh and understand.

Given the space and time to talk, people will often go where you need to all by themselves; and by listening for longer you’ll better calibrate what to do next.

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