Become a Problem-Free, Stress-Free Zone
Every business has “problems.” Some are small and can be easily handled without much effort, yet far too often, the same small problems crop up again and again. They magnify, grow, become increasingly infuriating, and eventually cause chaos and a bottleneck of some sort or another. Everything stops. Customers become angry and don’t return because you haven’t fixed it. Staff members get hurt, then angry, then they leave or throw a wrench in the works. Suddenly that “little problem” has cascaded into a “hair-on-fire” moment!
It’s “All hands on deck!” People rush to phones. Panic ensues because there is no system in place to handle it. And again, it gets fixed. Once resolved, most problems go away temporarily only to spring up again, unwanted, on another day to be resolved yet again. Break this cycle now. But, in most cases, reoccurring problems are the symptom that reveals an underlying cause and it is that cause that must be eliminated. When that happens, the symptoms will cease also.
Imagine what would happen if the “problem / panic / resolution / no problem” cycle was eliminated by systemization. When a problem occurred and was resolved, the actions necessary to overcome it would be documented so the next time that problem resurfaced, the resolution would be fast and relatively painless. That way, small problems would be handled at their source without panic, chaos, or the need for management to be consulted for guidance.
As an example, assume a piece of office equipment malfunctions. Instead of searching around for the documentation, it should be immediately available. In addition to the manual, the documentation should show the contact information of primary and secondary service agencies, the method of getting the work accomplished until that equipment is fixed, and a cost limit for repair before consulting with management. If all this information is easily accessible, the problem can be handled without causing anything more than a minor inconvenience. This example can be modified, as needed, for the majority of repetitive problems most businesses need to deal with.
The cycle-breaking action is to document these problems and their resolution. Make sure the people responsible for problems that occur in that area are familiar with the documentation and can handle the problem within the limits of the authority as written. If the small problems that occur regularly become easily handled, you are on the way to making your company a problem-free, stress-free zone with few, if any, “hair-on-fire” moments.
Question or comment to Larry: firstname.lastname@example.org