2013-03-20

Is it a ‘who’ or ‘what’ problem?

Drake Editorial Team

In 'who' organizations the important issues all revolve around 'who" said it, did, didn't do it or why they did it or didn't do it. In these organizations there is enough finger pointing to last a lifetime.


Unfortunately, in these organizations many of the challenges, problems or issues that contribute to the lack of growth, profits or overall health seem to recycle month after month and year after year. Why? Because the real cause or contributors are seldom dealt with in an effective way. It's always about politics, agendas, or a lack of personal or department responsibility.


In 'what' organizations, the focus is always on the problem and its causes and not who did or didn't contribute to it. These organizations tend to be more effective over the long term. If you have recurring sales, customer, employee, financial, production or distribution problems, I'll bet you are a 'who' rather than a 'what' organization.


If you believe you are not sure which you are, just spend a few days listening to employees during meetings, casual conversations, with customers or with their managers. Resist the tendency to fix anything now— just listen and observe. I'll bet within 48 hours, if you circulate enough and keep an unbiased mind open and receptive without feeling the urge to correct or influence things, that you will know in no uncertain terms which is your organization's approach or philosophy.


If you are a 'who' organization why not try the following.

  • Keep asking the question ‘why’ rather than ‘who’, every chance you get
  • Every time you hear a ‘who’ used to describe a problem or issue that seems to blaming or finger pointing, ask the people why and keep them focused on the ‘what’ rather than the ‘who’
  • Stop defining news as bad news or good news; treat it all as just neutral news
  • Recognize and appreciate people who stay focused on the solutions and not in the people involved
  • Create a culture where any and all news, no matter how negative or positive, is encouraged and dealt with without retribution, excuses or the need to put your two cents in every time
  • Create a culture where ego responses to anything are not encouraged
  • Start looking purely at the issues and not the people who are responsible for them

 

Obviously many of the above can't just be taken out of context. For example, if you start looking only at the issues and not the responsible parties, you could send a subtle message that responsibility doesn't matter. Certainly you don't want to send this message to employees. So what's the answer?


You don't fix things in your organization with a band aid. Sure, the bleeding may stop for now, but if you don't deal with the infection, sooner or later you are either going to run out of band aids or you are going to need bigger and bigger ones every time until it's time for major surgery.


Reprinted with the permission of Tim Connor of Tim Connor, CSP, a globally renowned sales and management speaker and trainer for over 36 years, and the bestselling author of over 75 books including Soft Sell, the best-selling sales book in the world, now in 21 languages. tim@timconnor.com 704-895-1230 (US) www.TimConnor.com; www.CorporateDisconnect.com

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