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What really defines your effectiveness is how you handle problems. September 1, 2011

Posted by solutionsbconsultants in Accountability, Business Improvement, Procurement.
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A long time ago I was taught that the true measure of leadership was all about how you handled adversity. Project Management and Supply Chain professionals are faced with difficult situations all the time (that is the beauty of the job) and knowing what to do and what not to do is key. After all, everyone acts the way they do for a reason. Most of the time it is “perceptions” that people have either about themselves or others that are the root cause of conflict. And if you get under the hood and discover those perceptions, you will be able to solve most any challenge.

Last night, I attended an Institute for Supply Management (ISM) group had the pleasure of listening to Rhonda Jones Sparks, who spoke to us about leadership development and in particular how to facilitate problem solving and problem ownership. Rhonda has been published with Stephen Covey (Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) and Brian Tracy (National Sales Trainer and author of Turbo Strategies).

The best takeaway from the presentation that will benefit you and your organization was how Rhonda defined the stages of problem solving. You can find Rhonda at http://www.rjsleadershipcoaching.com

Stage 1: Externalizing – Oftentimes this is the part you see when a co-worker is venting about the job. Externalizing is natural but it offers only temporary relief and it distresses others. Sometimes, people get stuck in this stage and continually live in the past or feel like they have been victimized. Everyone has a choice when faced with a problem. The real problem, however, is not the event that just happened, rather it is our “perception” of the options available to us. It is important to use active listening skills during this stage and not offer any solutions.

When faced with a problem, you have three directions that can be taken:

1) You can influence the situation by doing something to change the circumstances.
2) You can accept the situation by creating an internal change within yourself – a letting go
3) You can remove yourself from the situation entirely.

Stage 2: Personalizing – You make a conscious effort to take ownership of the problem and solve or effect change. This empowering step creates hope and shifts emphasis from problem to solution. Brainstorming possible solutions will help the person weigh the cost of the options.

Stage 3: Personalized Deficit – This is the one obstacle or issue which is keeping an individual from moving forward (the real problem). You ask, “What are you not willing to do right now, that if you did, you’d feel better and begin to move toward a solution?”

Stage 4: Personalized Action: Talk through the issues and create solutions. Make sure to answer who, what, when, where and how.

People who don’t facilitate problem solving have the potential for making your workplace into an unhappy, miserable and toxic environment. So if you see someone getting stuck – maybe they are in denial, have a blind spot or a behind-the-scenes enabler, step up and see what you can do to help!

Yours in procurement,

Steve Gordon specializes in procurement, logistics, cost saving and business process improvement initiatives – call him today at 865.356.3575

Remember what the Aberdeen Group says……….

“For a typical enterprise, it takes an increase
of $5 in sales to equal the impact of
a $1 reduction in procurement costs.”

Solutions is happy to complete a complimentary audit of your firm’s expeditures. Just call or write to get started.

If you want to learn how to save money on a particular commodity, just send me a comment or email me directly. I will do my best to answer your request in a future post.


Steve Gordon
Senior Consultant
Solutions Business Consultants
”Bringing Service, Value, and Efficiency to the Supply Chain”

(865) 356-3575
Skype: stevegordskype
Blog: https://innovativeconsultant.wordpress.com/
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