Impatiently Awaiting the Arrival of Spring

I don’t know about you but I’m ready for spring to come and stay for several weeks. My move to Arizona several years ago was deliberate – I don’t do cold and wet weather any more. But this spring has been weird. When folks back east tell me they’re having warmer temperatures than I’m experiencing, that’s just wrong on all levels.
I’m going to guess that by now you all are thinking I’ve lost my focus. What does the weather have to do with leadership? Don’t worry. I’m about to connect the dots.
Think about your own mood and approach to the work day when you wake up to find that once again it’s overcast and it’s been a few days since you’ve seen blue skies and felt the warmth of the sun. Think about your reaction when you have to go to the office in the snow/rain – again. How many of us acknowledge that our staff’s work performance can be and likely is affected by each individual’s response to the gloom, cold, and wet of late winter/early spring?
Is your management team aware of how weather can impact job performance all while knowing that in about a month or so things are going to get better? Or do you and your management team take a “suck it up, it’s all about the bottom line” approach? Actually, it’s only somewhat about the bottom line. More accurately, it’s about your people. Take good care of them and they’ll take care of the bottom line for you.
Just a little something for us all to think about. Now, I’m off to watch another harbinger that better weather is coming – baseball’s Cactus League spring training is in full swing!

A Pleasant Surprise

I recently experienced a problem with some computer hardware. A keyboard which was put into service in April suddenly had about ten keys which no longer had any markings on them. It was difficult to type quickly without having to constantly check where my fingers were. Frustration level – high. In mid July I wrote a letter to the CEO of Logitech, Mr. Darrell, explaining the situation and noting that I was disappointed in the durability of what is otherwise an excellent keyboard.

Now for the pleasant surprise – within a week I received an  e-mail from a customer service representative who asked that I provide some additional information, including photos of the keyboard. A few days later I was informed that I would be receiving a new keyboard. The new equipment arrived this afternoon and it is a pleasure  to type again. This surprise is all the more pleasant because a replacement was not my intent. As a matter of fact I had already purchased the replacement the same day I sent my letter but had not installed it as yet.

Mr. Darrell and his staff at Logitech appear to appreciate the importance of quality customer service and professionalism. It is gratifying to see that a positive approach was taken to resolving what is in the overall scheme of things a rather minor problem.  I hope that there is a consistency between the quality of their customer service and the treatment of staff.  Such consistency will insure that job related issues will be consistently and appropriately addressed with positive resolutions the likely outcome.  A win/win for the organization.




A Paradigm Shift

In a recent chat, Jay Block (author of the bestselling, “5 Steps to Rapid Employment”) made the observation that a near record number of job openings had been reported in March.  The problem is finding qualified individuals to fill those positions.  He noted that companies and colleges need to take a more collaborative approach to insure that a skilled workforce is available to fill positions as they open.  Job coaches have to know exactly what skills are needed so they can do a better job of coaching and advising their clients in identifying and mastering the skill sets needed.  That’s where the new paradigm shift needs to come in.  In my assessment, communities, companies, and colleges need to enter into effective partnerships. Companies can use the colleges to help insure that individuals are taught the necessary skills to be productive employees.  Colleges can use the companies as sources of information on what skills are needed, and to help their students land well paying jobs.  Communities need to support such collaborations because as companies relocate, communities need to be able to provide quality neighborhoods, public schools, and community services.

This partnership cannot be in name only, just because it looks good in a press release.  The partnership has to be an active, collaborative one. Communities that fail to support such partnerships will lose out on having companies relocate to their area, thereby losing out on the revenue income as a result of new people moving into the community.  Colleges will lose out on the chance to increase enrollments, and companies will lose out on having qualified workers readily available.

Now the challenge is to find community leaders, business leaders, and leaders within higher education willing to let go of the past and implement effective new approaches.

Our Fresh Approach!

Several weeks ago we noted that change was coming to Problem Solving Consultants. We’re pleased to now share our fresh approach.

We are now affiliated with the Jay Block Companies, LLC.  As many of you know, Jay is renowned in the world of résumé writing and career counseling, as well as his work in motivation and empowerment.  After working with Jay in achieving my certification as an empowerment and motivational coach, he and I continued our conversations.  Last year Jay offered us an opportunity to help bring job search techniques and résumé writing into the 21st century reality that is the global job market.  Since Angela and I both teach at the college level, we think our affiliation with Jay will help us prepare our students for the reality of their job search in today’s market, as well as preparing them for the changes to come.  We will be utilizing Jay’s most recent program, set out in his bestseller, “5 Steps to Rapid Employment.”

Problem Solving Consultants has received accreditation by the Better Business Bureau in Arizona.  We are very pleased with this recognition as we have worked hard to establish ourselves as ethical professionals and consultants.

Finally, and most exciting to us, we are adding a new service.  Angela Buer is a recognized expert with the online presentation format of PREZI and both Angela and I are very experienced at developing training and teaching materials, especially materials used in conjunction with that format.  Our new service will be made available to organizations seeking to update and refresh their training materials and/or change their current presentation format to PREZI.  We are also very experienced in the development of workshops for presenting new materials and training others to make such presentations.  We are looking forward to providing this new service to corporations, businesses and other organizations, both large and small.

We are very excited about the positive changes we have implemented.  We look forward to working with you when our services can be of use.

Ethics – Is a Double Standard Acceptable?

I admit that watching events over the last weeks and months has been interesting because one thought has come to mind. We apparently have some folks held to a higher ethical standard than others.
The success to problem solving lies primarily in correctly identifying the real source of the issue and engaging in a collaborative approach to implement realistic and long lasting solutions. But another key component is whether you, as the leader of your organization, are seen as an honorable and ethical individual. Why? What motivation is there for your staff to follow you if you are perceived as unethical? What if you are perceived as having a personal agenda that will undermine any solution supported and implemented by your staff? In today’s world of instant news via social media, even a momentary lapse in ethical judgment can be devastating to any serious attempt to resolve problems.
In your organization are all held to the same ethical standard? Or are some held to a higher standard than others? If the latter one applies to your organization and you’re okay with it, good luck in finding reasonable and realistic solutions to your problems.  Accepting a double standard on ethical behavior will serve only to eventually undermine the credibility of the leadership,  the reasonable expectation by employees that ethical conduct is valued, and will create an organizational culture that does not value or insure success.

New Year’s Resolutions – New or Recycled?

It’s that time of year when we all tend to make resolutions for ourselves, personally and professionally.  With respect to your organization – are you recycling previous resolutions?  You are if you’re still dealing with problems which have been addressed before but never successfully resolved.  How do you get out of the recycling habit and actually develop and implement new resolutions?

It’s not easy and I’ll be the first one to tell you this.  Been there, done that.  The key to making new resolutions is to be as honest and objective as possible.  If something didn’t go as planned, own up.  Being able to complete a fair and honest assessment of your organization’s performance is a good place to start.  How well did your solutions for difficult or under-achieving employees improve the organization’s performance? If your solutions haven’t made a significant positive impact, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.  Why?  Do you really want to deal with that difficult employee for yet another year?  Do you really want to try to explain the anemic performance level to your stockholders, much less explain it to Aunt Nell?

Let’s try a different approach.  Call in a professional problem solver to help you with the assessment.  This person can be very helpful in identifying the root of the problems and then helping you develop realistic and achievable solutions.  Maybe that should be your one New Year’s resolution and it will certainly be a new one.

So what will it be – new resolution with a realistic chance of working or old recycled resolution known for its failure?  Happy New Year.

Business Leaders Needed

Our nation has been dealing with some hot button topics of late, with increasingly violent rhetoric unchecked and tragic consequences occurring.  Our concern is to find an appropriate forum where reasonable adults can come together and FINALLY engage in collaborative problem solving.  My challenge to today’s organization and business leaders – are you up to the task?

Why do I challenge you?  Logic tells us that organizations and businesses cannot thrive in communities where the physical safety of individuals and businesses is in jeopardy.

How can you contribute to a reasonable goal directed dialog?  First, business leaders can be good role models of active listening.  As we’ve discussed via this blog, name calling and finger pointing are useless when it comes to correctly identifying the root cause of a problem.

Second, business leaders can serve as voices of moderation.  Problem solving cannot take place when people refuse to engage in effective communication.  Creating opportunities within your organizations where diversity of opinion can be heard and respected will have far reaching effects.  The people involved will talk about how they were able to express themselves, be heard, and be respected.  Modeling emotional correctness does good things for all involved.

Many will simply note that you’re only engaging in this conduct because you want to increase your bottom line.  True, but your bottom line can’t and won’t improve unless the toxic atmosphere in this country is addressed.  Engaging in reasonable conversation will improve your ability to resolve issues responsibly.  Tell me what business won’t benefit from more reasoned dialog on a local, national, and global level?

For the naysayers – my question to them would be why are they continuing to be part of the problem rather than the solution?

Business leaders – are you up to the challenge?


I’ve watched the recent events in Ferguson and all the talking heads both in Ferguson, Washington DC and elsewhere.  I’ve listened carefully to the major points of both sides of the issue.   Seriously, folks?  With all the name calling and political correctness are we any closer to getting to the heart of the problem?  Are we any closer to a realistic and acceptable resolution?   Unbelievable.  Names and bad intent have been attributed to individuals on opposing sides and no one – and I mean no one – is taking a moment to consider how best to engage in collaborative problem solving. I don’t see any progress toward civil dialog and cooperative efforts.   But all is not lost – we have yet another teachable moment.

When a persistent problem continues to simmer, periodically rearing its ugly head, that’s a good indication that the solutions tried to date haven’t addressed the issue.  Such problems persist because the folks involved are unable or unwilling to recognize and address the underlying issues.  Unless those issues are effectively dealt with the problem will persist.  How many of you can really afford to continue to spend resources and time re-inventing the wheel?  Don’t you have better things to do? Do you really want your legacy to be the unsatisfactory record of addressing symptoms of problems but never the true cause?

Effective leaders will take all the needed steps, including bringing in problem solving consultants, to insure that the true cause of the issue at hand is identified and realistic solutions developed and implemented.  Failing to recognize the importance of engaging in collaborative problem solving with the help of a consultant can result in less than satisfactory solutions, reduced productivity and lowered job satisfaction.  Re-inventing the wheel does nothing to improve your bottom line.


About a month ago a large four-year old red Doberman “pup” joined the household.  I share this with you because of some lessons I’ve had reinforced for me.  Elliot was, until about a month ago,  emotionally neglected.  The basics of food, water, and shelter were met but the emotional connection was missing. To tug on your heart strings, he cried himself to sleep that first night, forlorn sobs reflecting his confusion and his anxiety.  It’s been a  daily task to help him learn the rules and boundaries.  Why put him through this?  Because dogs can completely stress out when boundaries are not clearly stated and enforced.  As he learns what is expected of him Elliot’s behavior is getting much better, his anxiety is lower and life is getting so much easier for him.

Let’s jump to your organizations.  Do you and all your employees know the boundaries?  Are the rules, regulations, policies and procedures of your organization clearly stated?  Does everyone know the consequences of failing to adhere to those boundaries?  Are you consistent in enforcing the boundaries or do some employees get a pass while others have their feet held to the fire?  If the latter scenario is at play is it any wonder that employee morale, loyalty and performance may be much lower than expected. Given that scenario it’s no surprise to me that problems persist and collaborative problem solving may simply exist on paper as a goal to be achieved.  Take a good hard look at your organization – better still have a professional problem solver take that look with you.  Identification of the boundaries will be more accurate, as will the assessment of how well they’re enforced.

Boundaries – they really are that important.

Technology is my friend!

For the past three days I have participated in a faculty meeting via the Internet which enabled us to connect with faculty from all over with the University of Phoenix.  It brought out a whole lot of good conversation and ideas on how to resolve common issues.  What was so exciting about the meeting was that we could jump in and out as our schedules allowed and stay up with the conversations and dialog.

Here’s another challenge – how well are you using technology to advance your leadership and effective management of your organization?  We all know that smartphones and tablets are all the rage and Lord help us all if those devices are lost, quit working, or just go haywire.  But can we all say that we’re effectively using the technology to promote an effective and dynamic communication channel for our employees?  Have you thought of using such a forum to begin the process of problem solving?  What would you think of using an Internet forum to let your employees voice their concerns over the implementation of a new program?  The postings won’t be anonymous – everyone has to join the group and names are tied to each posting.  Think of it like this – can technology be helpful in promoting the all important first step of effective brainstorming in a time and manner that allows your employees to engage in the process more fully?  How much more willing will they be to engage in this forum rather than a formal staff meeting with management reps that really don’t want to listen and line staff that really don’t want to talk.  Is there something about posting on a group forum that seems to free us from these constraints?  Is it worth the try?  After all, technology really is our friend.  Let me know how it goes!