Any one of us can be tempted to “go negative” from time to time. Sadly, for some, it is the way they communicate most of the time. Whether you are working to combat your own negativity or are needing to respond to negativity from others, here are a few things to keep in mind: (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘problem solving’
They’re showing you good customer service.
Do I hear you thinking, “But I’m not their customer!”?
Actually, you are.
If you work in an internal function within your company, fulfilling a role that has no external client contact, you might think that customer service isn’t relevant to you.
But we all have customers.
Every department within the company is called upon to assist other departments and make it possible for the people in those departments to do their job. Human Resources and IT are the most obvious examples. Here are a few more: marketing serves the sales department by generating leads, while the sales department serves the marketing department by providing feedback on what customers are saying. (more…)
Workplace problems won’t solve themselves, and we can’t rely on others to solve them for us. In a competitive, global economy, we don’t have time to wait. Each of us needs to take the initiative when we see a problem, and be the person working the hardest to find a solution. The activity below will help employees think about which behaviors demonstrate positive, appropriate initiative, and which might be seen as too aggressive or too passive. (more…)
Instruct participants to read the case study on the Handout, then to work with a partner for 2-3 minutes to generate ideas related to the questions. After giving them a period of time complete the questions, ask for brief suggestions for a course of action, allowing at least one response to be offered by each partner-pair.
Customize the handout below with the various questions provided, according to your training topic (communication, leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, etc.). (more…)
Problems, Problems, Problems – Wouldn’t life be grand if we never had any problems. Everything would work perfectly, everyone would always get along and be happy, everything would be wonderful for everyone everywhere, and things would only get better as we live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, in the real world there is no avoiding the grim realities of the dark side. Viewed from a business perspective – take the number of problems of each person, multiply by the number of employees, multiply the result by every single aspect of doing business, and the final result is what keeps every business owner chewing their fingernails down to the bone. (more…)
By Steve L. Robbins, Ph.D.
Who out there knows everything?” (Recognize that I didn’t ask, “Who thinks they know everything?”) No human knows everything. None of us has had ALL experiences. All of us have incomplete knowledge when it comes to our world and the people and ideas in our world. All of us are missing some data—a lot of data relative to the universe of data. And if that’s the case, (that we lack sufficient knowledge in many areas and subjects of which we have little experience), do you suppose we could be wrong every once in a while, maybe even more than every once in a while? I think you know the answer to that question. (more…)
As 2010 planning initiatives focus on strategies that will prepare companies to return to growth, leaders are looking for new ways to engage critical talent who execute key business priorities. The reason? Research by CLC Genesee, the HR consulting and employee survey division of The Corporate Executive Board (CEB), shows that companies with highly engaged employees demonstrate a 3-year revenue growth of 20.1%, compared to the 8.9% their industry peers will average. They also establish a 3-year EBITDA growth that is three times higher than their industry peers. What’s more, CLC Genesee research shows that shifting an individual employee from low engagement to high engagement can increase discretionary effort level by 60%, improve employee performance by up to 20%, and significantly reduce recruitment costs.
To achieve high levels of employee engagement, you need to first understand what they are thinking. One way to do this is to collect employee feedback through regular employee surveys. However, successful companies don’t just rely on surveys as an event, but also steadily maintain communications and actions throughout the year to continually involve employees in driving positive change. One progressive and admired company leading the way is Google.
Google firmly believes that feedback and discussion are an important part of doing business, and finds avenues for “Googlers” (as Google employees are called) to not just raise problems but help solve them. Google’s annual survey is critical in gathering employee feedback on what is working well and what can be improved. Beyond the survey, Google uses a variety of regular feedback channels to encourage employee involvement and leverage its philosophy that more minds on an important issue are better than one.
Strategy 1: Create a two-way dialogue on the most important issues on people’s minds.
Open dialogue between employees and leaders has always been an important part of Google’s business operations. Every Friday, Google holds a forum called “Thank goodness it’s Friday” (TGIF) to have an active conversation and answer questions ranging from product decisions and external news to internal people-related policies and decisions. This program initially started small with a few employees asking the founders questions on a Friday afternoon. As it evolved, TGIF now occurs almost every Friday, and the notes are distributed broadly across the company. Googlers use Google Moderator, an online tool to submit and vote on questions, and the top-voted questions are directly answered by Google’s founders and executives. TGIF also includes live questions. High levels of employee and executive participation in TGIF contribute greatly to the culture of transparency and create a more intimate atmosphere despite the company’s size of 20,000 employees.
Strategy 2: Engage employees in solving problems, not just raising them.
Google encourages employees to attend problem-solving sessions designed to resolve business challenges. Appropriately called “Fixits,” these sessions can invite a specific group of employees or be open to anyone. One recent Fixit addressed particular concerns regarding career development in a growing business unit. For one week, suggestions for how to improve career development were collected via Moderator. Googlers submitted 51 ideas, in total receiving 5,615 votes, and the best three ideas were implemented. As employees were involved in the solutions, satisfaction in many areas in the annual employee survey improved one year later, including double-digit increases in the favorability scores on two career development items.
As demonstrated by CLC Genesee research, increasing employee engagement has clear business benefits. Following the lead of companies such as Google, organizations can creatively find new ways to encourage and collect employee input on important issues to achieve measurable business outcomes. It’s not about making employees feel involved; it’s actually involving them. The result is more informed leaders, more engaged employees, and ultimately better decisions for a stronger business.
From http://www.executiveboard.com/businessweek/bw-week41.html Used with permission.
Need More Help in this Area? 5 Questions Every Leader Must Ask is a terrific tool for involving employees in problem solving. Using the proven model in this program, even the most inexperienced manager can generate great ideas and effective solutions in a team setting.
People often underestimate their own abilities to be creative, and because of this, they’re afraid or unwilling to stretch their imaginations to look at their lives or work from new and different angles. The discussion questions below can be used in any type of session on creativity, innovation or brainstorming. They can be used to help make any or all of the following points:
– Creativity is not something we learn; it’s something we’ve forgotten but can relearn.
– Creativity is within us all; we must learn to stop judging ourselves and take risks which free our imaginations.
– A willingness to explore creative solutions is a reflection of our desire to effect positive change in ourselves, our teams and organizations.
– It is important that we support and build on ideas from all team members.
– Creativity can become an everyday part of our lives–we just need to look around and see the world in different ways.
– Teams and organizations need to identify those things that stimulate creativity and those that dull it.
Now, here are 10 discussion questions you might want to use in a session you’re facilitating on creativity:
1. Name creative people you know or have heard of–they don’t have to be famous. What are some of the things they’ve done that you consider creative?
2. What are some of the creative things you’ve seen children do? When you’re with them, do they make you more creative?
3. What’s the last creative thing you did? When did you do it? If it’s been a long time, why?
4. Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, said “We fail forward to success.” What does she mean by this? Can you think of examples in your life where you “failed forward”?
5. According to Pablo Picasso, “Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” What do you think must be destroyed? Is it possible to apply Picasso’s creative philosophy to your workplace?
6. Your manager comes in and says, “We need an answer to our problem of overstocked inventory. See if you can think of a good solution.” Does this approach stimulate or inhibit your creative juices? Why?
7. Creativity can often lead to conflict and instability. Why do you think this is? And why then might you want more creativity in your life or organization?
8. If you were told you’d be given $500 for coming up with the best solution to an organizational problem, do you think you’d be more or less creative? Why?
9. Think of several things you do as part of your regular “routine” (e.g. what you eat, what time you wake up in the morning, when you exercise, the people with whom you socialize at work). Which would be the hardest for you to change? What habits would you change first if you thought it would be easy?
10. When you’re in a group, what type of behaviors help stimulate your creativity? What type of behaviors or comments diminish it?
Material excerpted from the Leader’s Guide to the training program Team Creativity.
Need help in this area? Are there things going on in your organization today that would benefit from a creative problem-solving effort? The inspirational case study shared in The Magic of We sets the stage for individuals, teams and departments from throughout the organization to work together on finding solutions.
Changing regulations. New technologies. Budget cuts. Let’s face it. Challenges abound in today’s workplace! There is a tremendous need for leaders to address these types of situations quickly. But the last thing you need is to rush off and make mistakes that could have been avoided. Here are five pitfalls and tips for getting around them.
Mistake 1) For the sake of speed and efficiency, take the “I’ll do it myself” approach to identifying a solution. (Here’s where you tell yourself that involving a lot of people will just cause confusion or possibly create a scenario where people will get hurt because their input isn’t acted upon.)
Yes, when facilitated improperly, collaborative group sessions can end in chaos and hurt feelings. But, when you don’t involve others, you are missing an opportunity to engage your team, collect ideas from those closest to the problem and present team members with an opportunity to align themselves with organizational objectives. The key is to learn how to properly facilitate a collaborative session. Remember, as a leader, it’s not your job to have all the answers, but it IS your job to develop and utilize the knowledge and talent of your team.
Mistake 2) Focus on who or what caused the problem so you can solve it once and for all. (This is when you act from the belief that the best way to make progress on solving a problem is to first go backward.)
Identifying the root-cause of a problem is sometimes necessary to solving it. But most of the time it’s best not to stay mired in the past looking for who/what to blame. Switching your team to a future focus can instantly change the tone of a meeting from cautious to cooperative. As much as you can, avoid fixating on the things that aren’t working and use the group’s energy to identify things that are going well (…there is always something positive to build on, if you look hard enough).
Mistake 3) Assume that everyone shares the same understanding of what needs to be accomplished. (Sad but true…group members often think they have the same destination in mind, but they end up arriving at different places.)
It is critically important to clarify the group’s goal by asking “what is our objective?”. Your team likely has people in different positions with vastly different perspectives on the situation. (For example, finance may think the objective is strictly to reduce expenses while fulfillment thinks it is to control costs while ensuring a sufficient inventory level.) The diverse opinions and experiences of your team will work to your advantage only if you make sure everyone is using the same definition of success when it comes to the desired outcome.
Mistake 4) Get buy-in to the solution by reminding people what will happen if nothing is done. (Okay, this isn’t a bad thing in and of itself; it’s only a mistake if you don’t ALSO cover the myriad benefits of finding a solution.)
When people don’t connect value to the achievement of a goal, motivation and execution suffer. For maximum buy-in, have the group consider the benefits that will be realized by all stakeholders—customers, ownership, the organization as a whole, internal teams and departments and, lastly, the individuals themselves.
Mistake 5) Leave out the “accountability” piece. (Don’t bother figuring out who’s doing what …just wing it!)
The best way to make sure people are truly part of the solution is to make sure they leave the meeting having committed to doing something. Detailed discussions should be had around questions like these: What steps must we take to reach the objective? Who will be doing what, and by when? How will we measure our progress?
For more on this topic: Preview 5 Questions Every Leader Must Ask, a video-based training program from CRM Learning. Based on the book “Leadership Made Simple” by Ed Oakley and Doug Krug, the program teaches a simple framework for facilitating a collaborative session and successfully engaging your team to address any workplace challenge (be it a problem or a new project). For more information on “Leadership Made Simple”, visit Enlightened Leadership Solutions.