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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7 Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Promoted

 
by Brandy Lee
 
Getting the news that you’ve been passed over for promotion can be disheartening. And the follow-up discussion with your boss—the one that should help you understand why you’ve been passed over—more often than not just leaves you with a bruised ego and no idea what to do next.The fact is, your boss is probably just as uncomfortable delivering bad news as you are with receiving it. (I’ve found that most supervisors actually expend a lot of energy actively dreading these exchanges.) Is it really any mystery, then, why we walk away from being passed up with no clue why the decision didn’t go the other way?

To get some insight, I interviewed 20 of my favorite executives to find out why so many up-and-comers were finding themselves part-way-and-stuck. Straight from their (anonymous) mouths, here’s what bosses are trying to tell us in those less-than-fun meetings.

1. You Lack the Skills Necessary to do the Job

“Julie is very efficient and effective in the completion of her daily tasks. The position she was hoping to get, however, requires strong analytical skills she doesn’t have.”

One of the most common misconceptions employees have about promotion decisions is that they’re based solely on performance in their current role. While that’s certainly a consideration, success in one area doesn’t always translate to success in another. For instance, someone who excels at data entry may need additional education or training to become a data analyst, a job that requires strategic thinking and problem solving abilities.

The secret to getting ahead? Become familiar with the requirements of the job you want, and determine what skills you need to improve upon if you’re going to succeed in it. Then, talk to your boss. Let her know you’re interested in moving up, and ask for her advice on how to get there.

2. You Lack the Soft Skills Necessary to do the Job

“Pam is extremely accomplished, technically. Before we can promote her, though, we’d like for her to spend some time developing her leadership and teamwork skills.”

Here’s something else The Powers That Be (TPTB) don’t tell you up front: These skills aren’t always technical. Particularly if you’re moving up to management, you’ll need to have mastered some soft skills—like conflict negotiation, diplomacy, and business communication—and coming up short might very well be a deal breaker.

Develop the soft skills you’ll need to succeed in the job you want, then highlight them through your involvement in programs that are important (and visible) to TBTP. Perhaps you can become an informal mentor to a newer employee, or volunteer to lead a presentation or training. Whichever method you choose, you’ll be signaling to your boss that you’re ready for management.

3. You Don’t Take Feedback

“I’ve really tried to develop Mary, to get her ready for a promotion. But she gets very defensive when I give her constructive feedback. I feel like she spends more time trying to prove me wrong than she does trying to improve.”

I doubt there is a woman among us that hasn’t struggled to keep her composure when receiving “constructive” criticism. But remember—feedback is not always a bad thing. Is it possible that your boss has some valid points? She’s telling you how to improve your performance—and this is good information to have when you’re gunning for a promotion.

When you receive feedback, whether in your review or in the hallway, resist the urge to defend yourself. Try to take it in and see what you can learn from it, instead.

4. You Lack Professionalism

“What frustrates me more than anything else is employees who are consistently negative about the company. What they don’t understand is, the things they say—they get back to us. Why would we promote anyone who behaves like that?”

It’s not unreasonable to expect that, as you move up the career ladder, you’ll begin to conduct yourself more professionally—and not just when the boss is looking. This came up several times in different contexts—from an inability to maintain confidentiality to participation in office gossip—and was identified by executives as the most difficult challenge for employees to overcome.

This may seem obvious, but how you behave in the company of co-workers is just as important, if not more so, as how you behave around management. For example, you can and should identify problems within your department and company, but you should not pontificate about those problems in the break room—which gives the impression that you’re looking for an audience, instead of a solution.

5. You Don’t Take Initiative

“Jennifer is quick to recognize areas that could use improvement, but we can’t get her to go beyond lodging the complaint. We’d really like to see her take the initiative to come up with solutions, not just expect everything to be fixed by management.”

Becoming a problem solver shows that you care—not only about your own career, but about the long-term health of the business as well. Don’t just document the problems you see, analyze the issues and find ways to get involved in developing the solutions. Collaborating with others to create positive change will identify you as a leader in your organization. Remember, anyone can drop a complaint into the suggestion box.

6. You Think Like an Employee—Not a Manager

“Craig is good at his job, but it seems like he’s more committed to getting on the freeway by 10 ’til than he is to the success of his department.”

Remember, TPTB are anointing future leaders here. If you’re giving them the impression you’re only showing up for a paycheck, it’s not likely that you’ll be high on their list of candidates. No, you don’t have to become a workaholic or start hanging out long past five or six just to “be seen,” but it’s a good idea to express interest in the things that happen when the meter isn’t running.

7. You Expect It

“Sean has made it clear that he expects to be promoted. The problem is, I feel like he expects to be promoted based on only his length of service. There are others on his team that are more focused on their career development, and even though they’ve not been here as long, it’s likely that they will be promoted before him.”

Lastly, recognize that in today’s environment, tenure is no longer the primary factor in promotion decisions, and is best left out of any arguments you might make on your own behalf. These days, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve been there six months or six years—it’s all about your contribution.

Being passed over for a promotion doesn’t need to be the end of the world. In fact, it can be a huge learning opportunity—and sometimes, it can also be just the kick in the pants you need to get you started down the right path. So take these lessons, learn from the past, and keep that promotion in your sights.

About the author:

Brandy Lee is a seasoned human resources executive with practical experience in employee development and change management in a variety of industries. As the Practice Director of the HR Services Group at a progressive CPA firm in Orange County, she provides high level consulting services to the firm’s business clients. You can find out more about Brandy by connecting on LinkedIn, or visiting her blog, Real Women Unite, or her wildly funny list of “Things We Learned The Hard Way.”

Read more: http://www.thedailymuse.com/career/7-reasons-you-arent-getting-promoted/#ixzz2S9Q9wua3

Your Attitude at Work is Everything

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by Dave Kerpen

“Our intention creates our reality.” -Wayne Dyer

I have two secrets to share, about my first job in life. Here’s the story:

Fifteen lousy bucks.

That’s how much I earned my first night on the job selling Crunch ’n Munch in the fall of 1996. While in college at Boston University, I had taken a job as a vendor at Fenway Park and the Boston Garden (then called the Fleet Center). I was a snack hawker who walked up and down the aisles selling product. What most people don’t know is that vendors are paid only in commission and tips—the more they sell, the more they make. And it’s a seniority-based system- you have to work for years to get to sell the good stuff, like beer and hot dogs. My first day, as the low man on the totem pole, seniority-wise, I had been assigned a product called Crunch ’n Munch. I sold a grand total of 12 boxes and made the legal minimum, $15.

I decided later that night that while it was fun being at games, I wanted to at least make a decent living hawking Crunch ’n Munch. So my second day, (here’s secret #1), I gave myself a promotion, and I decided to become not only a ballpark vendor, but an entertainer at work—a little singing, a little dancing, a little screaming, and a lot of goofy Dave. I sold 36 boxes, three times as many as the first night. I stepped up my efforts for the rest of the week. I’d be the first person to admit that I had no real talent as an entertainer. My only assets were passion, fearlessness, and the attitude to think of myself as an entertainer, not just another hawker. I began to scream at the top of my lungs each night, in an effort to pull attention away from the games and toward the buttery toffee popcorn with peanuts I was selling.

The attitude change paid off. Within weeks I had developed a persona as the “Crunch ’n Munch Guy,” and regulars began to take notice. The in-stadium cameramen liked my shtick and began to feature my goofy dancing on the large-screen Jumbotron during timeouts. When The Boston Herald published an article about me, a fan actually asked me to autograph her box of Crunch ’n Munch.

Secret #2: I decided at that moment to promote myself from ballpark vendor / entertainer to local celebrity. I asked the woman to borrow her Sharpie, and proceeded to sign unsolicited every box of Crunch ‘n Munch I sold that night. Somehow, I helped change perception in the building by the end of that night – not only did you have to buy a box of Crunch ‘n Munch, but you had to get it autographed by the Crunch ‘n Munch guy.

Over the next three years, I was featured in The Boston Herald, Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Fox Sports New England, and ESPN Sportscenter. I also sold a lot of Crunch ’n Munch. At my peak, I was selling – and signing – between 250 and 300 boxes per game and making, with commission and tips, between $400 and $500 a night—an excellent living for a college kid. There I was, utterly talentless, but using my attitude and others’ perception to generate a nice income.

Eventually, of course, three years later with a college degree in hand, I decided to retire as the Crunch ‘n Munch guy. But the lesson remained:

Redefine your job at work, change the way people perceive you – and you can become limitless.

There are many examples of people “giving themselves a promotion” at work:

There’s the salesperson who becomes an expert consultant and whose customers come to him for help – driving sales through the roof.

There’s the marketing assistant who becomes a thought leader by reading countless books and industry articles and then writing for the company blog.

There’s the intern who works tirelessly to solve company problems and quickly not only gets noticed, but becomes indispensable.

There’s the small business owner who becomes a spokesperson for her industry by doing media appearances and writing – creating the impression of a bigger business – and soon, actually growing a bigger business.

No matter what your job title is, you can get creative, choose to see your role differently, take on new tasks, and make a huge positive impression on customers, prospects, colleagues, and bosses.

What are you waiting for? Give yourself a promotion at work today.

Dave Kerpen recently promoted himself to Chairman of Likeable Media & CEO of Likeable Local & Likeable Dentists. You can read more of his writing here on LinkedIn by clicking the Follow button above or below. Check out his bestselling books, Likeable Business and Likeable Social Media,

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