Do you ever walk into a colleague’s or manager’s office, fully composed, sketch a problem, pause and wait for him to tell you what to do? Or worse, a customer or customer? In your calmest voice you say, “The sky is falling.” Break. “What should we do?”
Do you go on an operational audit knowing you will be missing out on your goals, making excuses and not providing answers on how to make up the difference? “” The sky is falling. I don’t know why. And Bob never told me the sky would fall. “
If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you, you know that freezing or making excuses can put your work, reputation, and business at risk – and we definitely don’t want that!
The most successful professionals approach problems head on, viewing problems as ways to apply critical thinking, speak openly with executives, and enable solutions. They don’t necessarily have all the answers themselves, nor are they always the “smartest people in the room”.
Problem-solving skills are critical to building your personal leadership brand. That mindset can pay off, make you a more desirable team player, and shape your image. Here are some pointers:
Start by defining the problem and your intention to solve it.
Whenever you reach out to a leader or coworker with a problem, make sure you open the discussion with a framework. “We have too high a budget for our project. I want to explain the reasons and have some ideas on how we can make up for the excess. I want your help in solving this problem. “In this case, we stated that we had a problem, that we had some ideas to solve it, but that we weren’t confident and that we needed the other person’s brainpower to solve it.
Don’t get defensive, bring alternatives.
Recently, a marketing director went on a business review and knew he hadn’t met his lead generation goals. He apologized for missing the target: “We didn’t have any new content for the website. We couldn’t get push emails out the door. And we received product information late.” The defensive made the conversation emotional and combative.
There are times when goals are missed and even mistakes are made. Provide the facts and identify an alternative or countermeasure to fill the gap. “We missed our lead generation targets this month for a number of reasons. We’ve analyzed the issue and are taking these three steps over the next month to resolve it. “
Remember, you are ready to solve problems.
I recently received an email that said, “I am unable to resolve this issue and you need to give me instructions.”
Even if you don’t have the information or the confidence to tackle a problem, you’re not doing what you don’t have. Lead with what you have. “We have a security situation at our location. Here are the facts I know and which I would recommend. What could I be missing and what do I have to consider? “
If you’re really looking for vent, you’re asking for a human moment.
Problems in the workplace can be frustrating. If you contact your supervisor or colleague with a problem, they will want to help you solve the problem. However, this may not be what you are looking for. You might just want to come in and deflate.
Failure to indicate this intention in advance can create the impression of a complainant. Everyone needs human moments to let off steam. “I need a human moment. Can I share my frustrations and then promise I will be resilient and start problem solving? “
A chief operations manager laid down the “five-minute rule”. Anyone can come into their office and vent for five minutes. After that, they have to switch to constructive problem-solving mode. She said that most people stop after three minutes.
There is no doubt that business problems will arise – it all depends on how we deal with and manage them.