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.
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.
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.
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.
Rather than viewing this problem simply as a hurdle that could potentially lose us the client, we took proactive measures (and a financial investment) to show our new client that we were capable of not only solving the problem – but earning their trust by responding promptly and efficiently with a comprehensive step-by-step incident report that included our change management efforts.
This experience taught us many lessons about our company and helped us to avoid many unforeseen problems.