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"Be a Problem-Solver, Not a Complainer"

Posted by Tulgan, Bruce at Wednesday, 01/12/2011 11:25 am
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2.7 from 91 votes
Be a problem-solver, not a complainer. That means whenever you confront a problem, first and foremost you need to decide immediately whether this problem is an emergency. Stop and ask yourself:
- 'What harm could occur?'
- 'Is time of the essence in order to prevent the harm from occurring?'
- 'To whom should I report this?'

After reporting it, then you can ask yourself: 'What can I do to help?'

But if it's not an emergency, then here is step two. Decide whether this is a problem that YOU can fix. If it is, then start making a plan for how YOU could fix this problem. And then do a reality-check: Is this a solution you can implement without permission or input from anyone else? If so, then solve the problem. And keep a record: When and how you identified the problem, and when and how you solved it.

If you need somebody to give you permission to solve the problem, then move on to step three. Take your plan for how you could fix the problem and report to your boss or the person responsible, not only with the problem, but also with your plan for solving it.

If you have identified a problem that is neither an emergency nor one that you can fix, then you need to ask yourself: 'Is this just an unwelcome complaint?' Because if it is, then you're probably better off keeping it to yourself. What is a good clue? Be honest with yourself about answering these questions: What harm does the problem cause? Who suffers that harm? What resources would be necessary to fix the problem? Who would need to work on fixing the problem? Would you have any role in working on the fix?

See, when you do this analysis, it turns out that if the problem harms a small number of people, and primarily YOU; if significant resources would be necessary to fix the problem and you're not going to provide them; if you would have almost no role in the solution, then this is probably an unwelcome complaint and a problem you should keep to yourself.

On the other hand, if it's a problem that affects a lot of people and the resources necessary to fix it would be minimal and you can imagine playing a role in working on the fix, then it's not an unwelcome complaint. Report the problem and your analysis. Suggest your plan for fixing the problem. And volunteer to play a role in working on that fix.

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