Recruit a Problem that needs Solving by Jim Johnson

problem solver

This morning, I read an excerpt from T.D. Jakes’ book, Soar!   It was a simple yet profound statement that got me thinking:

“Recruit a problem that needs solving”

He was primarily referring to someone who was interested in becoming an entrepreneur.  But I believe this statement applies in a few other ways.  See if you agree with me.

First of all, I do agree with Bishop Jakes.  If an entrepreneur is going to become successful, their intended business must solve a problem that exists for consumers.  If not, what’s the point?  I met a local entrepreneur who is working on a brace to help speed the recovery of a common sports injury (ACL).  If he can successfully create this brace, his future will become very exciting.  Pro athletes, college athletes, and even high school athletes will benefit from this.  He recognized a problem (slow/ineffective healing), and he is applying his engineering background to solve this in a new way.

But what if you are merely wanting to move up the corporate ladder at work?  Would solving a problem help with that?  YES!  Your path to promotion can be paved with your reputation as a problem solver.  Where can you find problems to solve at work?  Listen!  Look!  They are every where.  Spend time with others outside of your department and find out what issues drive them crazy.  Then work through a process to collaborate with them to solve the problem.  By doing this, you will make an impact, create influence, and be seen as a trusted resource.

Wait.  There’s a process to this?  Why, yes there is.  Let me share what I teach to my call center team when they encounter a service recovery call.  We lovingly call it the “Laffy Taffy” approach:

L = Listen.  Listen to the problem/issue.  Really strive to understand exactly what is being shared.

A = Ask questions.  Don’t start advising!  Ask clarifying questions to hone in on the true issue at hand.  Ask open-ended questions.

F = Feel.  Feel what the other person is feeling.  This will help you understand the true nature of the issue/problem.

THEN, and only then…

T = Think.  Think about the resources needed to help solve the issue.  Think about possible solutions.  Who else could be brought in to help?

A = Act.  After you’ve done all of this, now ACT.  Don’t just pat your co-worker on the back and say, “good luck with that.  It sucks to be you!”  NO!  Act!  Take action to solve the problem based on all that you’ve learned.

F = Follow-up.  Most of us fail here.  We do not follow up.  If you are given the opportunity to help solve a problem, follow-up to see how things are going once the issue is resolved.  Did the solution produce the desired results?  How is the person feeling now?  What have you all learned from this?  Follow-up!

You can also recruit a problem that needs solving in your efforts to help make your community better.  You can also take an honest look at your personal habits and discover issues that are getting your way of success.  You always want to become better as a leader.  Look for problems to recruit and then solve them for your own betterment.

Problems are all around us.  Recruit one!  Help others become better.  Become a problem solver.  Deploy the process of LAF TAF. Become that trusted resource.

It works when you work it.

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Become More Valuable

A few days ago, I shared how to create a great customer experience.  Today, I want to use those same steps to show you how you can become more valuable – to add value – to your team and others in your company.

LISTEN

When a team member or colleague brings you an issue, problem, concern, question…take time to truly listen to what it is they are saying.  Don’t jump to a conclusion or give them a fast answer.  Listen carefully.

ASK

Ask great questions to get to the core issue.  Avoid asking yes/no questions or “why” questions.  Asking great questions will get you to their core issue the fastest.  It also demonstrates that you are actively listening to them.

FEEL

If the person in front of you is frustrated, angry, tense, etc., take the time to empathize with them.  Don’t merely sympathize (“oh, I’m sorry”).  Don’t make light of their situation (“today sucks to be you!”).  Feel what they are feeling and identify with that.

THINK

Once you have the core issue clarified, think.  What resources do you have that can help resolve your team member’s issue?  What resources do you know about that can help?  Who else can you call on for assistance?  Think.

ACT

Once you’ve listened carefully, asked great questions, empathized with the person, and really thought about the best way to help, then (AND ONLY THEN) act.  Far too often people jump into action too quickly.  Act with intention and purpose.

FOLLOW-UP

Following up a couple of days later says that you care about how the resolution is working or not working for the person you helped.  This can be a great learning opportunity for you.  It will create stronger relationships at work as you demonstrate your willingness and ability to invest in someone else.

Make your work interactions better.  Follow this process to add value to your team and your company.

Remember, when you get better, your company gets better.

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