Photo of 2 men in discussion

One size does not fit all!

Employee Relations
Written by Carol Bowser

Ok, so here is the deal. I am about 5 feet and 1 inch tall. (My husband says that I am lying about the 1 inch) I am here to tell you that “one size does not fit all.” I would say that “one size fits most” is also misleading. People, like conflicts and needs, vary greatly in size, shape, and proportion. So one size definitely does not fit all. This means that you, your boss, and your teammates need to have the skills to recognize differences and deploy different tactics.

Yes, you need a custom or “bespoke” approach. You may even need a bespoke type of framework to uncover and address the concerns.

How? Just like any good designer or tailor, we start with a conversation to learn about needs, opinions, and points of view.

Start with the “what”. Move to the “why.”

A simple “So what is going on?” or “What is happening?” Usually works.

However, if you get the sense that something is going on or the folks are avoiding certain topics or avoiding each other, you can morph to a more “hmm, I ask because I am seeing a difference in how folks are interacting”.

Insert here whatever you have been noticing such as fewer interactions, folks who were really vocal a few weeks or months ago have gone silent or MIA.

(NOTE: it doesn’t have to be bad stuff. Maybe you are noticing really positive things such as more laughter or fewer off hand comments about burnout or challenges. But I am focusing on conflict here so back to conflict stuff.)

Notice that I didn’t say less “push-back”.

“What makes you say that, Carol?” Glad to answer that one.

Often when people’s concerns aren’t addressed or publicly shot down, people learn NOT to engage. So here is my “one-size doesn’t fit all” questions that gets you the “bespoke” approach.

When was the last time someone raised a concern? Does anyone? Are people retreating into silence because you have trained them not to bring up concerns by never finding merit to their point of view or never implementing any of their ideas or never addressing any of the concerns even if you can’t directly implement the exact proposal?

Different people will respond differently.

Yet, you can notice and ask the “what” question regardless of the situation. Give it a try. See what happens.