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  • Writer's pictureRyan Luby

A lot of problems

Updated: Apr 4, 2018

Recently at my job I had the privilege to look for, interview, and ultimately hire a new employee.

I was excited for a few reasons, one because I like talking to people and wanted to see if I can find someone I thought would fit in, and two because we just needed help. Just before this time after talking with my boss about it, I had just fired someone after months of keeping them around. We finally realized this employee was causing more problems instead of offering the help we needed. Ultimately this was our fault, we didn’t hire the right person originally and we didn’t fire them fast enough.

While I was talking to my boss about looking for new employees he mentioned, "We need people who bring solutions."... makes sense. I didn't really think twice about it at the time. I just thought, yeah that sounds like what we're looking for. And then later I was thinking about our conversation. And thinking about the employee we just had to let go. We need people who bring solutions. The employee we let go, was originally hired because I had work that I needed to delegate to reduce my workload. I outlined the new job this new employee would do, identified the tasks, and the specific workflow, we hired them, and trained them on what to do. And then an interesting thing happened.. even though we hired an employee to reduce my workload.. my work became more difficult, more stressful, I felt like I had less time. Being someone who tries to always take responsibility I kept thinking about what I was doing differently, and how I could fix this. It also became clear our new employee wasn't happy where they were, so we moved them into a different role, and then another, and another after that. Pretty soon we realized the issue unfortunately was our employee. They were a nice person and excelled at many things but the simple truth is, since we hired them, all they did was point out problems. We needed someone who brought solutions.

Now, it's so simple that it could be easy to overlook what I'm talking about here. So really think about this.

We often think about, comment on, and point out problems so often that we don't even realize it anymore.

Both in your everyday life, and at your job. Maybe the fax machine stopped working and you go tell your boss. Or at home you're thinking "shit, there's a bunch of dishes to do." and you actually say it out loud. Does identifying the problem actually help anything? The truth is pointing out problems is an easy job. It's why we do it so often, because we don't even have to think about it. We just see or think about a problem and then say it.

But pointing out problems is not only easy and unproductive, it's stressful and annoying. You're boss is probably thinking, "That's nice, I have more important problems to fix and I'm not fixing the fax machine so either fix it or call someone who can.". And maybe at home you're even thinking, "I should just do the dishes..."

I learned a lot from our bad-hire employee. They were constantly bringing me issues I already knew about, and asking me to fix them. They made my job harder and more stressful. And took me away from more important things I should have been focused on.

We do this to ourselves all the time. We point out problems that are extremely unimportant and we not only annoy ourselves with them we annoy others. We might even start pointing out other people's problems to them!

Want to change your life quickly. Practice identifying solutions and taking action to realize them.

Our bad employee reminded me about all the silly things I told my boss throughout the day that really didn't matter to him. I don't do that anymore. Unless there is a major issue that my boss needs to help me with, If he asks for updates or even for any issues I bring my boss the solutions I have made throughout the day. Or if I have to bring problems to him, I first research solutions, figure out how we could resolve the issue, and then I bring him the problem with an outline of a couple solutions and explain which one I think is best and why.

Our one bad employee has drastically changed how I do my job and how I am in everyday life.

I know I have dishes, and laundry to do. So I don't think about it. Because that isn't productive. It doesn't help me make any progress, even with those tasks. I only think about the solutions I can and will make throughout my day and I act on them when I am able to. Practice this intentionally for at least this upcoming week. At home and at your job think about solutions. You probably already have a list of problems identified, so take a couple and find solutions. Don't tell anyone about it, then take action.

Most importantly if you're boss or manager does ask for updates or any issues, at this point you should be able to mention a few, and mention how you resolved them. If there are issues you need to bring them, tell them about some solutions and tell them confidently about which one you think you should do and why. It doesn't matter if they agree with you, or pick you're solution. What matters is you will be noticed as someone who is bringing solutions, and as more of a leader. And you have no choice but to stick out, because no one else does this.

At home, do the same. It's easy at home and great practice. The problems are again easy to notice so don't bother pointing them out. Just solve them. And feel good about your progress. You don't need to tell anyone else or act like you're working so hard, just be the solution.

If you want to tell anyone, email me about your progress. Tell me the solutions you are bringing to your life and to your job. That way you can feel good about them without sounding like you're bragging to everyone around you.

And last, when you get good at this. You can get even better by practicing identifying solutions based on other people's experiences.

Here's how.

Don't talk, just do this in your head.

Start paying attention to what other people say and do. At work and at home. Identify when they are pointing out problems or bringing solutions. And when you come across the problem-identifier, think about solutions to whatever they're pointing out. And think about what you would do to actually solve the problem.

I repeat, DO NOT speak to others about this. I know from experience because I still catch myself pointing out solutions to people who are talking about problems.. you sound like an asshole. So keep it to yourself. Just know you're practicing the problem-solving skill. And realize, sometimes.. people just want to vent.

This is such a great tool, I hope you start practicing right away and see results!

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