Problem-Solving Success Tip: Acknowledge and Thank Everyone Who Helps
by Jeanne Sawyer
With the continual press of more things to do than there is time for, it's easy to forget this important step. Solving an important problem deserves recognition, and nobody else is going to take care of this for you. Make sure management and key stakeholders know what you and your team have achieved. Remind them of the risks avoided. Thank everyone who participated in the project, and copy their managers. It's the polite thing to do, and encourages them to help you next time.
Because it can take a while for the success criteria measurements to prove that the problem is really solved, the formal conclusion of a problem-solving project can come quite a while after most actions are completed. For example, if your project was to solve an on-time shipping problem, you'll want to monitor shipping performance for some period of time after you think you've fixed it to be sure the issues really are addressed. During the monitoring period, the problem-solving team will move on to other activities, with perhaps one person assigned to continue monitoring the metrics, give status reports and reconvene the team if necessary.
One way to handle this time spread is to break the recognizing and celebrating into two parts. The first part happens when the project work is completed, even though the metrics don't prove it yet. At that time, you can thank everyone for their efforts and let them know there will be a celebration when the metrics prove you're really done. This lets everyone know you recognize the effort made to reach the significant milestone of completing the execution phase and entering the monitoring phase while they're still wrapped up in it, but delays the final celebration until the metrics say you deserve it.
Then, when the metrics prove the problem is solved, you can write articles for the company newsletter, send memos showing the final success metrics, have a party and generally do whatever is appropriate, given the importance of the problem and the way your company recognizes significant achievements. The challenge is to make sure you really do it, even though you may have moved on to other things yourself.
A nice side benefit of making sure your team get the recognition they deserve, is that you get recognition as well, without having to ask for it directly.
Copyright 2007. Jeanne Sawyer. All Rights Reserved.
Jeanne Sawyer may be contacted at http://www.sawyerpartnership.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanne Sawyer is an author, consultant, trainer and coach who helps her clients solve expensive, chronic problems, such as those that cause operational disruptions and cause customers to take their business elsewhere. These tips are excerpted from her book, When Stuff Happens: A Practical Guide to Solving Problems Permanently. Find out about it, and get more free information on problem solving at her web site: http://www.sawyerpartnership.com/.