Catalysts

Catalysts

  • Have you ever jumped into a situation where you fixed a problem, only to find that everyone relies upon you to continually perform a task?
  • Do you know people who continually perform inefficiently or in ways that are hurtful to themselves, yet they resist solutions.

New managers will often jump right in, see a problem and fix it. Quick action and stopping a problem from festering is their focus. Indeed, this does make sense some of the time. Conversely, seasoned managers will often look at a problem and dissect it to the root causes of the problem. Then a solution can be designed that when implemented, the problem solves itself. I like to think of this as being a catalyst.

I’ll start with an example of a volunteer organization. It could be a charitable cause, a religious institution, community event or even a school’s parent organization. I’d be surprised if you have not seen instances where a volunteer will solve problem after problem, only to find that they are doing all the work. They tend to get frustrated, burning themselves out. Once they quit, others step in. They are perplexed as to why they never received help when they wanted it.

Let’s examine this scenario. Why does the volunteer jump in with both feet, putting them self at the heart of every need or crises? Typically, their activity starts innocently. They have a talent or skill that is needed to solve a problem. They jump in and solve it themselves because it is quicker to do so. Task completion strokes their ego in addition to their feeling needed. They get a feeling of control and power. It feels good. Let’s face it, everyone needs some degree of control in their lives. Sometimes the “control” gets out of hand.

Why can’t they get help when they need it? Often, others could have participated in the solution, but space was not made to accommodate them. Sometimes other volunteers even show up to help. If no action, guidance, coordination or structure is available, they often feel unneeded or un-empowered to help. The other volunteers shift their efforts to other projects thereby leaving the original volunteer alone, doing all the work … alone.

The solution is to fully include others, empowering them and sharing the control from the start. So what is another example of being a catalyst? Let’s say that a given company is under-performing, employees argue, there is no sense of teamwork, and high turnover is the pattern. If you have another example in mind, feel free to picture it instead. So, we are looking at a company with a problem. The first thing to look at is not trying to understand what people are fighting about, or who is at the center of controversy. Clearly, you will end up there, but that is not the first place to look. Basically people tend to fight when certain organizational development steps are absent.

The first three things to look at are Mission, Values and Vision followed by structure. I’ll be writing about these items in subsequent blogs, so keep an eye out. In short, employees and customers need to clearly understand what the company does and how they fit into the mix. They need to understand the core rules that decisions must be consistent with. They need to understand the path to success for both themselves and the company. Many companies have done work in this area without truly understanding the significance. Their employees and efficiency suffer needlessly. Remember to try to understand the root cause of problems and ask yourself: Is there something that I can do so the problem or situation solves itself?

Bob Stackhouse

President Asset Commercial Credit

© Bob Stackhouse – All rights reserved – July 2013

Whether you are in management or just trying to solve problems in your local church, it pays to understand human behavior and advanced methods to solve problems. It also pays to have a coach as you develop your managerial skills. Think about it. Even the most talented sports athletes, journalists and talented actors have coaches, mentors, and directors. Why not managers too? The answer is that the best managers use coaches, mentors and confidants as well. Coaches can help you discern which problems need to be worked with which methodologies. Give me a call if you are looking for one. I am connected to a large number of coaches that belong to The Institute of Management Consultants. This is an organization that drives ethics in the industry.

Bob Stackhouse

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