“Throw them in a room……”
Several years ago, we received a call from a friend. His family was moving into a new house that came with a cat and since they already had a cat, they wanted to make sure that they knew the best way to introduce the animals as to minimize the trauma. He and his wife had done their research by reading two different cat psychology books hoping to find the right method. They were calling us for advice because we have had several cats and the books had differing theories on how to handle the situation.
As you know, Uncle Casey grew up on a cattle ranch in Idaho and has a pretty pragmatic approach to life. His answer was short and to the point, “Hell, we just throw them in a room and let them figure it out.”
At this same time I had been dealing with a number of personality conflicts in my new team of sr. technical engineers. I had spent a good month trying different team building methods pulled from industry books and my graduate notes in the hopes of finding a resolution. I was sitting in my office listening to two of my most senior engineers argue when it dawned on me, I just needed to throw them in a room and let them figure it out. So I assigned them both to a shared workspace and told them I did not want to hear any more about it. Six months later they were upset when we were moving locations because it might mean they would not be working in the same area.
As a leader, it is easy to feel like you need to solve all of the problems your people bring to you. You do not! I have learned through experience that my interference in interpersonal problems often prolongs the issue. In addition, part of developing a high performing team is allowing them to, “Storm” and showing them how to solve problems on their own.
For the sake of your team and their personal development, don’t be afraid to, “…just throw them in a room and let them figure it out.”