I like being with engineers and chemists, because they focus on the data. Sometimes I get really frustrated by engineers and chemists, because all they focus on is the data.
These days everyone is making a big deal out of emotional intelligence, which is your ability to understand people’s feelings. What gets lost in this focus on perception and emotion, though, is the truth.
As a leader, one of your key responsibilities is to find the truth. Despite what you’re told, truth isn’t relative. In any problem, there are a set of facts: times, dates, amounts, test results, process parameters, labor hours, dollars, contracts. If you don’t first of all find out what those are, and know what really happened or is happening, all the touchy-feely in the world isn’t going to help.
My recommendation is that the first thing you do is dig out the facts. Build a timeline. If you can graph it, do that. Anything to make the facts easy to see and understand. The facts will tell you what you’re really dealing with. And, in addition to getting you closer to the truth, focusing on data will chill out the emotions.
Then, when the time is right, you can use what actually happened to guide a conversation about how everyone feels.