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“Sometimes it (Job Relations) doesn’t work”

February 6, 2023
During session four of Job Relations (JR) on Wednesday last week a site leader said to me “sometimes it doesn’t work”.

I (Oscar Roche) asked ‘Mr SL’ what had happened for him to feel that. He explained that he had a staff member who wasn’t happy, his attitude was up and down but generally heading down. Mr SL took action – he considered the facts he had and assigned the staff member to a new role and things got worse. Hence ‘JR didn’t work’.

I thought a lot about this before session five then raised it with the group straight after the introduction. We discussed several related points.

First and most importantly we discussed what’s written at the top of the JR pocket card. It says ‘HOW TO HANDLE A PROBLEM’. The key word is handle, it doesn’t say solve. Why not?

A group of experienced leaders and myself believe the reason lies with the difference between the words complicated and complex. (Consider what follows not coming from an English teacher!) ‘Complicated’ implies there’s a lot involved but there is a single right answer. High level maths problems are complicated, as are modern jet aircraft. ‘Complex’ implies there’s an awful lot of inputs and variables and perhaps no single ‘answer’ or even set of answers. Climate change is very complex.

Are human relations complicated or complex? In discussing this in session five, EVERYONE agreed they are complex. Hence in following the JR 4 step practice pattern, we’re learning how to handle, not necessarily solve. Simply, there may never be a single right answer …

So it’s not about JR ‘working’ or not ‘working’, its about applying the pattern. If, during follow up, when you consider output, attitude, relationships, you learn that the situation is not where it needs to be, you have simply obtained more facts that you will use when you go around again. Scientific thinking for handling people problems …

What made Mr SL’s case even more interesting was what followed our discussion above.

Other leaders in the business had had the same staff member work for them. They all knew something different of how the staff member thought, his opinions and feelings. Through our discussion we got quite a clear picture, a considerably clearer picture than Mr SL had when he made the decision to assign the staff member a new role.

Mr SL then reflected that maybe there had been an opportunity (prior to assigning the new role) to better ‘talk with individuals concerned and get opinions and feelings’ – part of Step 1, Get The Facts. He may have made a different move had he known more of the story …