Dimitris Kalogeropoylos, Flickr Creative Commons

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos, Flickr Creative Commons

One of the main principles of effective communication is to focus on the problem and not the people.  This principle allows us to stay out of the blame game and focus on solutions. So instead of saying “Greg really screwed up”, we instead stay focused on the fact that sales is down 60%, so now what.

This problem focus (or if someone says solution focus – we are basically saying the same thing) does not work as well when our objective is to develop people.  As leaders rise in their careers or as business owners see their businesses grow, more and more of the job description is “developing others.”  And the best development of others occurs when we focus on the person and not the problem.

Let’s say our senior VP of sales comes to us with a problem with one of their key account team member’s performance.  We could a) focus on the problem (which will likely result in all sorts of suggestions on how to fix that team member’s performance) or b) focus on the senior VP of sales themselves and what thoughts/strengths/perspectives they can bring to the problem.

The first approach might provide for a solution, but does nothing for the long-term growth of the senior VP of sales.  The second approach might provide for a solution AND allow for the growth and development of the VP of sales.

There is an adage in coaching: “Coach people not problems.”  It is a good thing to keep in mind as you develop those around you AND grow your organization.  Now THERE is a win-win.