Robert Fritz has a simple approach to those difficult, emotion charged management situations that we would always rather avoid and we just wish they would solve themselves. Problem is they never do and if left, they fester and get even worse. His approach is so simple that once you get it and start applying it you have one of those "ah ha" moments where you wonder why I never thought of that. It starts off by not avoiding the problem. Face it head on. Define the situation for what it is, no adjectives, superlatives, long stories or excuses, just the facts about the situation please. Once everyone has a firm grasp of the situation and they all agree, then, and only then, talk about cause. What caused this situation to happen?
You will be surprised as to how easy it is to determine cause once you take emotion, stories and the blame game out of a situation. And once you have cause nailed down it is pretty to easy to look at the list of causes and take them out 1 by 1 with corrections. Corrections that are actionable; a clear outcome, 1 owner and a due date.
And to wrap it all up every situation, cause and correction analysis needs a follow-up to close the loop on the execution. By when will you all come back together to review and make sure this situation is closed and behind you. Which by the way is one of the primary tenets of another favorite book of mine Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. I especially liked the audio book as the authors read it themselves and you could just feel the conviction and years of experience coming from the words as they spoke them.
As always there are a allot of subtleties to the above and my summary doesn't come close to doing the book justice The Managerial Moment of Truth: The Essential Step in Helping People Improve Performance by Bruce Bodaken and Robert Fritz - second hand news is just that, second hand, go to the source for the real deal. Hardly a week goes by that I don't use this in one form or another.