As a  manager, you need to determine what problems exist with your people and whether they warrant your time and energy. Before you decide to act on any potential people problems you need to establish four things:

• Does a problem exist?

• What kind of problem is it?

• Whose problem is it? and

• What actions should you take?

You need to be sure you have a people problem. I used to get angry when a member of my team would show up late for a meeting or an appointment with me. My anger was primarily a reaction to my programming. I was brought up to believe it was important to be on time. But I had to ask myself if it was really a problem.

Is it a problem if one of your team:

• Isn’t a good team player;

• Is a bit overweight;

• Doesn’t complete reports on time;

• Isn’t a good writer or speller;

• Is always late;

• Has bad breath;

• Is a sloppy dresser; and

• Is a bit negative?

I can’t answer any of these questions — only you can.

I once had a salesman on my team called Brian who, to my mind, had a strange taste in clothes. He was always clean and tidy but his hair was a bit long for my liking and he wore too much male jewellery. Again, the manner in which I reacted to his appearance was all down to my inbuilt programmes — the way I saw the world.

However, what he did do was bring in the sales. The customers liked him, he always hit his targets and, as a result, I achieved my outcomes.

It would have been easy for me to allow his appearance to become a problem. In trying to resolve this problem — by getting Brian to dress in a way that I thought was more appropriate — perhaps I would have done something that had negative consequences. I would have been in great danger of de-motivating Brian and affecting his ability to bring in the sales.

To determine if a problem exists, consider these four points:

• Think, don’t react;

• Can you do anything about it?

• Is it worth doing anything about it? and

• You can’t make people what they are not.

Think, don’t react

Successful managers have a deep understanding of their own minds. They are aware of their needs, their strengths and weaknesses, and their emotions. They are honest with themselves and with their team members.

You have to decide who runs your mind; is it you or is it someone else? Don’t react to any inbuilt programme about how people should behave. Don’t allow something to become a problem that isn’t one. Getting angry and stressed isn’t good for your health and is not a productive way to motivate your team.

Can you do anything about it?

If, for example, one of your team members is a bit overweight and you disapprove, can you really do anything about it? I don’t think so.

Is it worth doing anything about it?

Again, it’s back to thinking and not reacting. Ask yourself, “Is this perceived problem affecting my ability to achieve my outcomes?” The answer will tell you if you have a problem or not.

You can’t make people what they are not

Don’t waste your time trying to change people who can’t be changed. Some managers still believe that if a team member has a perceived weakness, he can be changed. They send the person on training courses, tell him what to do, threaten him with disciplinary action or the sack and then wonder why there’s no positive change.

The motivational manager concentrates on developing the strengths of team members, not trying to correct their “weaknesses”.

Let me summarise: If you want to know if a problem exists, ask yourself, “Does this ‘problem’ affect my outcomes, my goals, objectives, targets or whatever I’ll be judged on?”

If it does have negative consequences for your outcomes, then you have a problem — and you have to fix it. If it does not, don’t stress about it and move forward.

Article by Alan Fairweather, “The Motivation Doctor”. He is an international business speaker, successful author and sales growth expert. For more information, visit Article source: