Tag Archives: problems

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workplace headache

Workplace Headache and Other Ailments

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Do you have a workplace headache? Is there something or someone gnawing at you?

We’ve heard somebody say it, “I have a migraine.” Migraines are no joke and could be a serious condition.

Metaphorically, are there some pains around your workplace?

Beyond Control

Any time we have people working together we’re going to have different personalities, different values, ideas, and beliefs. There will always be different ways to approach problems and different moods depending on what is happening in our lives.

In addition to the interpersonal circumstances we’ll also probably have work we like to do, and work we despise doing.

We know there will be good days and bad days.

Can you control your situation? In some cases, probably, yes. In other cases, probably not so much.

We can’t do much about the traffic jam, the road construction, or a traffic accident.

Pouring rain, bright sunshine, high temperatures or freezing cold. No wind, light wind, or whipping wind, nothing we can really do.

The personalities of our valued customers or coworkers, they are beyond our control.

Workplace Headache

If we choose to allow it, we have a lot of workplace ailments. Personalities, values, and attitudes, not much we can do unless it is our job to help others with their behaviors.

We can choose to not let a traffic jam, bad weather, or different personalities ruin our chance at productivity.

There is a job to do, either way. What happens next is based on our own decisions.

We can choose to acknowledge our headaches, or move forward perhaps forgetting that we have them.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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managing problems

Managing Problems and Your Job Description?

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Does your job description include managing problems? For many, this is an assumption. A presumed duty and competency requirement.

There seems to be two schools to navigating workplace problems.

Which School?

The first school of thought is, managing problems is our job. As a supervisor, manager, or other workplace leader, we solve problems.

Having a strong awareness to solve problems can be a good thing. However, like anything, too much may be too much.

Are you spending your day fighting fires? Are you proud to be able to fix and solve almost anything? Being a good problem solver is great and something to be proud of. At the same time, always tactically fighting fires does not give the operation time to be strategic.

Another school of thought is that problems are not my problem. Some workplace leaders believe that problems are a distraction and that they shouldn’t have any. Theoretically, you can see how they may come to that conclusion. In reality, problem solving is always going to be part of their job.

Managing Problems

The best leaders are striking a balance between the tactical approaches of problem solving and deploying strategy. They understand that solving problems matters and is important, yet at the same time strategy will make a difference for better future positioning.

Is problem solving an assumption in your job description or does it literally exist? In either case your ability to solve problems may be a big part of why you have the job.

Never assume that problems are something you shouldn’t have.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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different workplace solutions

Different Workplace Solutions, Yet Both Are Correct

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There are plenty of sayings. The ones that suggest more than one way to accomplish the goal. What happens when there are different workplace solutions yet both seem to work?

More than one way to crack an egg.

Six of one, half dozen of another.

Half empty or half full.

Largely what happens inside the workplace community is about culture. The words, phrases, metaphors, symbols, and of course the acronyms are largely about just that, what happens inside.

Different Workplace Solutions

Companies make cars, computing devices, bouncing balls, and eyeglasses. Many of these have similarities. Balls are round, cars have wheels, and eyeglasses generally hook behind our ears and bridge our nose.

What happens inside the organization is different. The rules of the game are likely not identical. People drive the culture. They represent the repetitive nature of, “What happens here.”

What happens inside is the correct way. It may always be evolving, it may be a fluid approach, yet that is the way it is done.

We’ve never done it that way.

We’ve always done it this way.

Phrases are as much about the culture as the motion they create. You can choose to agree or disagree. Workplace cultures do sometimes change, they pivot, shift, or accelerate. If you are inside the community you may be considered part of the solution, or the problem.

Changing Ways

Sipping coffee through a straw may seem odd, so is sugary icing on broccoli.

It seems that new ideas have a path. They become cultural norms or they don’t.

What you do at work today may be the correct way, or the incorrect way. Both may still be about a solution.

The culture determines which way, for now.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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navigating problems

Are You Navigating Problems or Solving Them?

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Problems are an interesting aspect of the organization. People go to work every day to solve problems. Navigating problems may be different from solving them. Does this interest you?

The supervisor, manager, and leader, a big part of their day is solving problems. New supervisors often believe that they shouldn’t have problems. Someone may joke, “That is why you now make the big bucks.”

Solving Problems

People organize a meeting, a committee, or a task force, all with the aspiration of solving problems. Sometimes problems go on for what feels like forever. In other cases, the problem seems fixed only to reoccur.

Finding the solution that fixes the problem is important. In many businesses, that is why the business exists, it solves a problem.

Another approach though, is to go around the problem. Change your tactics, your navigation, move around the roadblock or hurdle. This may not solve it, but it eliminates it.

Is this really just common sense? Well, it seems that way, yet many people and organizations get stuck.

Navigating Problems

It tends to happen when the belief is that you must operate within the frame, color inside the lines, or go through a barrier instead of around it.

Problems can become an excuse. They also seem to have a way of granting power to the resistance. Problems can control a situation when the path for a solution seems fixed in one direction.

Instead we often have an option. Navigate the problem instead of solving it.

Navigation means you’ll build a bridge, choose a different vehicle, or make a swift change in direction. The problem may still be there, but it is not stopping you. You’ll navigate around it.

Simple really, problem solved.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.


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workplace problems

Workplace Problems You Are Proud To Discover

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Always important for the ambulance, hospitals, and firefighters. Planning for the unplanned. Addressing problems as they arise and being proud of the fix or resolution is important work, for some. Should you be proud of workplace problems? In general, probably not.

Several years ago, I facilitated an interesting business retreat. The leadership team wanted to understand how to communicate better, how to get unstuck, and most of all how to navigate the unsettling climate they faced as a team.

Get unstuck and work better together. It makes a lot of sense. In some regards, it sounds like it should be simple.

It should have been simple. Until I realized that they were proud of their problems.

Problem Analysis

Some people thrive on stuck. When things are stuck you need a hero to come bail you out.

Many management and leadership teams pride themselves on problem resolution. “Whatever happens, we’ll fix it.”

That is good to know. It is a reason to be proud.

It is a reason to be proud until that is the apparent reason for your existence. The Maytag repairman was lonely and bored. He may have benefited from a few more problems.

The manager who is needed every time there is a problem may feel valued and appreciated. His or her work counts, they are needed, and are the only one who keeps it all together.

I’ve heard it more than once. “All I do all day is fight fires.” Good and appropriate work if that is your profession. Not good and appropriate as a metaphorical expression of your job as a plant manager, office manager, or engineer.

Workplace Problems

Your job as the metaphorical firefighter may be important, but more important is having a strategy first and a tactical approach second.

Workplace problems arise. They happen, and they may be a sign of change. On the other hand, they may also be a sign of being stuck.

Know the difference between progress and stuck, stalled or stopped.

Be proud of progress not problems.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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service escalation

Service Escalation and Why Your Customers Ask For It

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“Follow the chain of command.” That is what we are often taught. Many workplace professionals identify this as a sign of respect, integrity, and loyalty. Are your customers asking for service escalation?

It happens the moment a customer asks to speak with the manager. Some customers may act on impulse. They have learned from experience that you need to jump to a higher level to get results.

Starts Internally

The same is true internally. When the operations group feels that the sales group over-committed. When the sales group feels that operations aren’t fulfilling efficiently. Employee teams either solve the problems or escalate them.

In most cases there is a force at work here. The force is trying to stop the escalation. The concept is simple. When you stop the problem from escalating you are servicing the customer more efficiently.

No fingers are pointed. Time and effort are minimized. Everyone is happy. At least that is the concept.

It is a tug-of-war with the customer. For the customer it may send the message that their service problem is not important. The customer demands escalation, the leadership wants to train the staff not to escalate.

Training the staff to avoid escalation has value to the customer, but only when it is proven. Proof occurs when the staff is appropriately empowered (and trained) to solve problems.

Service Escalation

In the smallest organization, the President is the front line. Things typically work out. In every organization larger than the smallest, different challenges develop.

Organizational leaders should understand the challenges faced by the customer. A good starting point is listening carefully to those they have empowered on the front line.

The culture of service internally is what the external customer always feels.

Escalation occurs when the customer feels it is required.

Listen for the requirements. It is a story you can’t afford to miss.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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reporting problems

Reporting Problems, Saving The Drama And Delay

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Show up at the meeting and you’ll hear about the problem. Ask why the project is delayed and you’ll hear about the problem. Reporting problems seems to be the catch all action for buying more time. Is it the right action?

Most projects develop because someone has a problem.

We need to shorten the time from order to ship.

Customers are discovering damaged product because of the packaging. 

Sales are down because we lack essential features. 

Problems come in a lot of sizes, adding a problem to the problem is commonplace. Perhaps not because it is a stall or delay, but because the discovery brings us to additional aspects of the original problem.

When a problem is left unsolved it is usually because of difficulty with the solution. Easy problems are often fixed first. They are the low hanging fruit, the first problems grabbed and solved.

Problem Drama

Reporting problems is really the easiest part.

What if you bring solutions to the meeting instead? Solutions begin to shake out the flow of work. They initiate a frame around what will be done first, and what should be approached next.

Instead of solutions though, people often bring drama.

This problem is huge.

This problem will stop production, cost a lot of money, and start to erode the customer base. 

Often this type of problem reporting starts or ends with the phrase, “Don’t shoot the messenger.”

It is another way of expressing, “I don’t know any solution but this is huge and I can’t wait to see your reaction.”

Reporting Problems

Most people bring problems to the meeting. They seldom bring many solutions.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that the easy problems have already been solved and there is no need for addition discussion. There is seldom drama involved with an already solved problem. It’s over.

The second reason is that it feels easier to ask for help with an unframed problem. The presentation concept is, no one knows the magnitude and we need help.

A different way to report problems at the meeting is to do some of the investigative work first. Answer the questions that you know will be asked. Questions like how will this affect our customers, what is it costing us, and where should we start?

Reporting problems is the easiest part. Solving problems starts with a definition and a frame, otherwise it is mostly just drama and a delay.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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easy strategy

Easy Strategy, Jump In To Get Started

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What you accomplish today may be based entirely on a tactical approach. Roll up your sleeves and dig in, soon someone will have a “fire” for you to fight. Is there an easy strategy, or is this it?

Solving Problems

People often take great pride in being the workplace problem solver. Yet at the same time they wonder how they’ll accommodate the strategic needs that their job demands.

In truth, most things are easy to say and harder to do. As we’ve all heard, “Easier said than done.”

Saying it is critical. Chances are far greater that it will get done if it is said first, without being said, good luck.

Congratulations, so now you’ve said it.

Is Everything Urgent?

Getting out of our own way is also easier said than done. We know the urgency to close the sale, the urgency for better quality, and the urgency to ship.

For the workplace leader jumping in has never been more important, but always jumping in is perhaps not the best strategy.

Urgent problems become fewer with more strategic direction.

Easy Strategy

When we develop strategy, it consists of objectives, goals, and a tactical plan to make it all come together. Getting overwhelmed and stuck in the tactical approach isn’t part of an easy strategy.

Stuck doesn’t mean that there is an absence of motion. Motion should never be confused with reaching the objective, unless the objective is motion.

A rocking chair gets a lot of motion but it doesn’t go anywhere. The same is true for your spin class or an amusement park carousel.

Jump Correctly

If you are going in circles every day. When you are tactically putting out workplace fires, fighting the good fight, and being part of the team, you may be getting a lot of good work done, are you really aren’t going anywhere.

Considering all your commitment to ship, the easy strategy feels like you should jump in.

Jumping in often isn’t a strategy at all. It is a lot of motion that accomplishes important stuff, but it seldom solves the real problem.

Avoid confusing process with product.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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offload problems

Do You Offload Problems To Your Customers?

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Have you ever walked the path of least resistance? Do you look for the easy route to build product or provide services? Easy is often viewed as advantageous, in the short run at least. That advantage is less cost, but at what price? What happens when you offload problems?

It seems to be the nature of what many people and businesses do. They offload problems. They look for the short cut and the cost savings. The thought is, we will do this because the customer won’t notice or doesn’t really care. By the way, it saves us money or causes a return visit.

Customer Engagement

Our cars get a check engine light, but we have to purchase a code reader to get the code. Why doesn’t it just tell us the code?

You can put your trash in an outside a can, but you have to bring it to the curb for collection. Later you search for the lid around the neighborhood because it has blown off in the wind.

Why are there no baskets or shopping carts deep inside the store? Who is that easy for, convenient for, or designed to help? Of course, we know the answer.

Standards are Set

There are many other ordinary (for today) life scenarios. Why do I have to change the clock in my car, my cell phone does it automatically? Do I really need a frequent shoppers card, when I always pay with my same credit card?

Why do I have to have a login and provide a password for every software application? Better yet, why has my software migrated to a subscription service? When I buy a hammer I don’t have to keep buying it every month.

Offload Problems

I’ll often ask participants in my customer service seminars, “What are you doing that punishes your customer?” When you answer this question and remove the punishment, you will delight your customers. Delighted customers bring you more customers.

Every time you take a short cut in design, engineering, cost cutting, or easy for you, you sabotage your customer’s experience.

This is exactly why customer service is about a culture, it is not about a department.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Brainstorming session

Brainstorming Session and You Have a Seat at the Table

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Many engage in their job role hoping to get a seat at the table. They often wish for the chance to participate, to tell their story, and offer their idea. Have you been invited to the brainstorming session?

Seat at the Table

We know how to act when we’ve been invited to the birthday party, a holiday meal, or even when we are out for dinner with a few friends. We grab a seat at the table and we prepare to eat.

Many people take this opportunity to eat as much as they can. It is a feast. People dive deep and sometimes eat more than what they probably should, but it is not just another meal it is an event!

Chances are good that they have considered many items on the menu. Perhaps, they have even tried a few items that they were unsure about, perhaps something completely new or different.

When you grab that seat, you have an idea what is about to unfold, lots of eating. If you aren’t prepared to eat there really isn’t much reason to have a seat at the table. In fact, you probably shouldn’t take a seat at all.

A similar scenario exists in the brainstorming or problem solving session. If you are not going to dive in deep, if you refuse to consider things you haven’t tried before, or if you believe you are already completely full, don’t take a seat.

Big Problems

Most problems an organization faces that require a brainstorming session are big. If they were small and simple they would have already been solved.

The thought is that big problems require big solutions. Ironically, many of the problems that most mainstream businesses face today are not as big as they appear.

Brainstorming Session

How to ship on time, how to reduce the friction of the customer journey, or the risk associated with forecasting the ROI of the marketing campaign. All of these things are often only limited because someone is in the way. They are occupying space. They have a seat but they aren’t eating.

Many organizations get stuck, stalled, or stopped by someone sitting at the table who believes a roadblock or the status quo is better than the open road.

If you are invited, grab a seat, but only if you intend fully participate.

– DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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