A Solution-Focused Workforce

    March 24, 2003

Imagine that your manager turned your department into a problem-free zone where instead of bringing your problems to the manager to solve, you were encouraged to devise your own solutions. Imagine if everyone focused on dealing with issues so thoroughly that things were anticipated and handled before they became problems.

Many people believe that it is the manager’s job to solve the problems in the department so they run to the boss every time a problem occurs. True, it’s the manager’s job to ensure the department functions optimally. It’s the manager’s job to assist the staff in developing the critical thinking skills necessary to produce results that maximize the department resources and produces the best results. The manager provides support and encouragement. The manager’s job is to manage the process and to provide assistance if needed. By expecting the manager to solve every minor crisis, the staff relinquishes responsibility for their own work and they disempower themselves.

It’s easy to complain. Complaining, blaming, justifying and making excuses are ways of avoiding responsibility. It creates a black hole of negativity, and negativity breeds negativity. It drains us of our energy and our time. Have you ever had to endure the ongoing complaining often heard on department floors? It can go on and on. Some people will even spend their entire lunchtime complaining. What a waste of time and energy. How do you feel when listening to that? Does it help move you closer to solving the issue?

It’s easier to find someone to blame for something being wrong than for everyone to take responsibility for creating workable solutions. And yet, what is the purpose of blaming or finding someone to blame? What is gained, if anything, by blaming someone? How do you feel when you are blamed? We all make mistakes. Most people do not go out of their way to make them. It is more important to discover a better way to perform the work or find a solution, that way everyone learns from the mistake.

Collaboration Imagine what things would be like if everyone was focused on finding solutions. No complaining. No blaming. How would it feel different in the department – even throughout your company – if everyone pulled together to find possible solutions? Brainstorming sessions could be held where everyone’s ideas are enlisted. Then the ideas can be discussed at greater length for feasibility. When given the opportunity, people are very creative. Your staff holds the key to solving the issues on your department. They know the processes and the problems. They know what works and what doesn’t and if you assist them to tap into their wisdom, they will find their own answers. Support is needed from management. When priorities are identified, teams created and assistance enlisted from others, the synergy created is exponential.

When people pull together and collaborate to create solutions that work, everyone wins. Customers are happy, staff is able to get the work accomplished and everyone is focused on what needs to get done rather than whose turn it is or who forgot to do what. There is also a lot less stress and work actually becomes enjoyable again. What new ways can you think of to solve a problem or issue in your department? What can you delegate so that you can free up time for the activities that you must do? Examine your possible solutions. No excuses. What can you do to make your department work better?

Seeking excellence You may be thinking that this seems unrealistic. Before you judge the concept of a problem-free zone, try it in your department. Conduct a staff meeting, post instructions for everyone to follow and see what happens after one week. How does it feel? Did anything change? How did you feel when people focused only on generating solutions and working together to implement the best possible resolution? What worked, what didn’t? What needs to happen now?

Tolerate nothing but the best from your coworkers. Some people will allow one minute of complaining before they interrupt and ask for the person to focus on a possible solution. Point out to someone – gently – if they are complaining or justifying. They may not be aware that they are doing that. Notice how you feel when the focus is on making things better rather than spending energy on how things aren’t the way you want them to be. Problems are opportunities in disguise. Think of every problem as an opportunity to get creative with coworkers and create solutions that make everyone feel good – or at least, get the job done without making everyone aggravated, causing unnecessary stress and draining everyone of energy. If everyone takes on the responsibility to create solutions, imagine what can be accomplished. When we force others to use their brilliance and critical thinking, who knows what is possible?

Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN is a personal and professional development coach/consultant and author of “101 Tips For Developing The Leader In You!” Her passion is coaching executives, managers, entrepreneurs and professionals to manage their time, set priorities and stay focused so they can grow their business, develop their teams, make more money and experience greater personal fulfillment in their lives and career. For your free consultation, visit Julie at http://www.nurturingyoursuccess.com, write to her at Julie@nurturingyoursuccess.com or call her directly at (484) 530-5024.