Peer Management - Address the Root Issue, not the Person

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Tom Rock
  • Commander, Range Management Squadron
We have all been there - you've just been given commander's intent and are trying to figure out how to execute it. Luckily, you have a solution. Now, the focus becomes how to overcome the many "no can-do" people as they begin to throw up the obstacles, constraints and general resistance to change that limits success. One effective peer management technique is "removing people's excuses," which means understanding why a group will not support an idea and adjusting the solution to address it.

As you hear the concerns, you may be led to adjust the solution, or maybe to completely overhaul and go back to the commander for direction. But at the very minimum, you gain a "views of others" that adds depth to your understanding and enhances the solution. This technique centers on negotiations on the merits of an issue instead of positional bargaining where someone has to win and someone has to lose. By separating people from problem, you open up new ideas for solving the issue as the team works together to meet the commander's direction.

The difficult part comes when the solution makes someone feel their livelihood is being threatened or it is not grounded in the AF core values. Individually, and as groups, we need to be flexible to remain relevant in the changing workplace because achieving combat effects is why we serve.

When someone is acting outside our core values, specifically service before self, they become an obstacle to overcome. So the offending person should be isolated and removed from the situation. How many of us have seen people get "cut out of the pattern" and the peer group now includes their boss? While isolating someone must not be the first tool used, it is very effective for breaking up a stalemate and gaining resolution. If you don't care what the solution is (within ethical boundaries) or who executes it, then a solution can be developed quickly.

Peer management will always remain key to mission success and "removing people's excuses" is one technique for achieving it.