The following is a guest piece by William A. Donius.
As we age, neuroscientists tell us, our thoughts and patterns become more ingrained. The way our brains process, sort and ultimately respond to questions is akin to taking the same path through the garden over and over.
We get to know the path very well, and it becomes familiar to us. As long as the problems we face are familiar, so are our approaches to solving these problems. We are in our intellectual “comfort zones.”
What happens if our efforts to solve a problem aren’t producing innovative results? The thought might occur to us, “How do I go about thinking differently?” When we are asked to deviate from the paths ingrained in our minds, it may seem like an interesting notion, but here’s where the going gets tough.
Despite trying to think differently, we typically end up with little to show for our efforts. Our steps continue to lead us down the same old garden path.
Why is it so difficult to achieve innovative breakthroughs in thinking? Click here to continue reading »”Not The Same Old Garden Path – How We Can Literally Think Differently”
At one time or another, we’ve all had to deal with a customer service department whose response and actions left much to be desired. A recent experience my wife and I had with the customer service department for a major retailer also illustrated how a leader shows up in those moments can influence their employees’ perceptions of their roles and consequently, impact their organization’s ability to turn a problem into an opportunity to succeed.
For the last few weeks, my wife and I have been trying to get some after-sales support for a recliner sofa we bought recently. We took turns calling the customer support number listed on our invoice and each time, we got a voice message advising us to leave our contact information and someone would get back to us shortly.
After leaving several messages with no follow-up reply, my wife decided to change tactics by calling the sales department in order to try and reach someone who can help us with this problem. Her initiative paid off as the sales rep directed her call to one of the company’s front-line managers.
When my wife explained to this manager the numerous messages we’d left that were never returned, his first response was to claim that we were probably calling an old extension that was no longer in use.
After she pointed out how this was a recent purchase and that the voice message didn’t re-direct us to a new extension, the manager changed his answer to suggest that we’d encountered a ‘glitch in their system’ as the after-sales department manager was usually very prompt about returning calls.
At that point he took down our invoice number and contact information, telling us that he’d forward our case to the after-sales department and that someone would contact us shortly to resolve the issue.
As frustrating as this whole situation has been, the experience brought to mind the following four questions leaders should ask themselves to help shed light on how their employees view their roles within their organization, and the part leaders play in fostering the kind of behaviours necessary for organizations to succeed in today’s increasingly transparent and global market. Click here to continue reading »”Are Your Actions Setting Up Your Employees To Succeed?”
In my coaching work, one common issue I see – especially in newly minted managers – is learning how to be successful in delegation. That’s not to say that these managers aren’t comfortable or are unwilling to delegate; most are more than happy to hand off assignments to their various team members. The problem is more of learning not to simply delegate tasks, but to delegate responsibility to those they lead.
One clear example of this form of delegation is problem-solving. Given how most managers are promoted to these positions based on their past accomplishments and level of expertise, it’s only natural that they feel responsible for trying to solve whatever problems their team encounters. Besides, it’s hard to turn people away who come to you asking for your help as this is a sign that they not only value and respect your insights, but that they trust your abilities to help resolve the situation.
Unfortunately, what this inevitably creates is a culture where, at best, your employees have an unwanted dependency on management to fix problems when they arise, or at worst, employees who basically clock-out when they arrive at work because the organization’s culture has removed any expectations on them to contribute their own problem-solving capabilities to the process.
Instead of being the go-to person for when your employees encounter an obstacle, why not be the leader who empowers them to solve it on their own? Why not give them the resources to solve the problem instead of allowing them to leave it on your plate? By implementing the four steps below, you can create a culture that not only promotes delegating more than just basic tasks, but one which encourages your employees to be active participants in your organization’s problem-solving process. Click here to continue reading »”Creating A Culture That Promotes Problem-Solving Delegation”
The following is a guest post by Tom Salonek.
In technology, a big part of our job involves solving problems. Perhaps we’re trying to figure out how to integrate a new software package into our existing architecture, or maybe we need to find a way to make a program run faster. But no matter what the work situation, problems are always challenges to be met with creativity, energy and persistence.
Some think that problems in a business are evidence that people are doing something wrong. Sometimes leaders deny or ignore dealing with problems because they’re afraid of such negative judgments. Others simply feel too busy to focus on problems until they become big, fat, hairy monsters.
Running a strong business, writing software, working with others. . . or whatever else you’re doing on this planet means there will be challenges. I’ve found if you don’t accept these little monsters, embrace them and meet them head on – early on – they can turn into insurmountable ogres pretty quickly.
Voltaire is usually credited with the saying “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” When you change your mindset to one that sees problems as challenges to be conquered, it’s pretty easy to find them and solve them. Although dealing with problems is part of any job, leaders must be particularly skilled problem-solvers.
Here’s a simple process I’ve used time and again to help define problems and slay them early: Click here to continue reading »”How To Catch And Solve Problems Before They Become Insurmountable”