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Organizational silos are the root cause of most workplace problems and are why many of them never get resolved.This is why today’s new workplace must embrace an entrepreneurial spirit where employees can freely navigate and cross-collaborate to connect the problem solving dots; where everyone can be a passionate explorer who knows their own workplace dot and its intersections.They see around, beneath and beyond the problem itself. The most effective leaders approach problems through a lens of opportunity.
As such, they never see the totality of what the problem represents; that it can actually serve as an enabler to improve existing best practices, protocols and standard operating procedures for growing and competing in the marketplace.
They never realize that, in the end, all problems are the same – just packaged differently.
As fundamental as communication may sound, don’t ever assume that people are comfortable sharing what they really think.
This is where a leader must trust herself and her intuition enough to challenge the team until accountability can be fairly enforced and a solution can been reached.
1. Transparent Communication Problem solving requires transparent communication where everyone’s concerns and points of view are freely expressed.
I’ve seen one too many times how difficult it is to get to the root of the matter in a timely manner when people do not speak-up. That is why when those involved in the problem would rather not express themselves – fearing they may threaten their job and/or expose their own or someone else’s wrong-doing – the problem solving process becomes a treasure hunt.With as many problems as we are all faced with in our work and life, it seems as if there is never enough time to solve each one without dealing with some adversity along the way. Problems keep mounting so fast that we find ourselves taking short-cuts to temporarily alleviate the tension points – so we can move onto the next problem.In the process, we fail to solve the core of each problem we are dealt; thus we continuously get caught in the trap of a never-ending cycle that makes it difficult to find any real resolutions. Sound familiar? When you know your workplace dot, you have a much greater sense of your sphere of influence.This is almost impossible to gauge when you operate in silos that potentially keep you from having any influence at all. As circumstances would have it, this was the first shipment to a new client that was “testing” our new products in 200 stores with an opportunity to expand our distribution to over 2500 stores nationally. Instead of panicking, we took a problem solving approach that involved multiple steps and resulted in a full-blown change management effort with our label supplier, manufacturer, trucking company and client.This is when problem solving becomes a discouraging task.Breaking down silos allows a leader to more easily engage their employees to get their hands dirty and solve problems together.Problem solving is the essence of what leaders exist to do. As leaders, the goal is to minimize the occurrence of problems – which means we must be courageous enough to tackle them head-on before circumstances force our hand. We must be resilient in our quest to create and sustain momentum for the organization and people we serve.