“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”
My wife and I were visiting Vancouver, British Columbia a few months ago and I did not get what I wanted – a stroke of luck delivered by an unexpected hero I will never meet again.
We arrived in our hotel and I realized my suitcase was missing a vital necessity – running shoes. I walked into the Running Room a few blocks away and introduced myself to Peggy.
“Do you have Asics Gel Nimbus, size 11?” I asked.
Peggy smiled, looked at my feet, and had a question of her own.
“I know what you want, what do you need?”
Peggy asked me a few more questions, carefully measured my feet, evaluated my socks, and asked me if I was experiencing blisters or pain. Peggy’s diagnosis was spot on – I was actually a size 10 ½ rather than 11, wearing the wrong socks, and on top of that my chosen brand was not a good match for my feet.
I left the store with two rewards – problem solved and a lesson in the value of paying attention to needs versus wants.
How often do our own wants or needs drive our behavior? Are we expected to quickly solve obvious wants when we should be going deep to find real needs?
Daniel Pink discussed his book To Sell is Human in a recent podcast: “If you’re just solving existing problems that people know that they have, that’s not that valuable. What you have to be able to do is identify problems customers don’t realize that they’re having. The premium has shifted from the skill of problem solving to the skill of problem finding. And it’s a very different skill.”
Common workplace examples of solving versus finding:
• Closing a sale to meet your bonus plan without really understanding what the client needed.
• Increasing your staff count to meet workload demands when you have an underperforming team.
• Disciplining an employee for their performance when they don’t know what is expected.
Moving from solving to finding problems begins with us – we need to lead effectively. Asking the right questions. Building on answers by continuing to ask why. Taking the time to get it right.
Here are three steps to solving the greatest needs in the workplace:
Effectiveness over Efficiency
We live in a hurried world of metrics – transaction time, production, etc. There is an efficiency expectation and what can get left behind are active listening, open-ended questions, and determining the real problem. The organization and others will value your ability to manage the “rush to close” by finding and resolving the real issue.
Mindset – Take care of the customer v. do your job
We all have processes to do our job, developed to make us efficient and consistent. My experience is that the greatest value comes from taking an extra step, both for the provider and the receiver. Doing your job is the floor rather than the ceiling of meeting needs – going beyond what is expected is the trademark of value.
Every organization has pain points – challenges that never seem to get resolved. Examples include a poorly performing department, product, or service that adversely impacts the entire organization. While others stand on the sidelines and accept this as a reality, we admire leaders who step into the gap to find the real problem and engage others toward resolution. You can be that leader.
Now when I am walking on the trail, enjoying my blister-free feet, I think of Peggy. She realized my pain and stepped into the gap. I encourage you to think of someone at work who is struggling and searching for a stroke of luck in their life – they need you.
All my best,