Do You Love Employee Engagement Problems?

Learn to love the problem

Houston, we have a problem.

A moon shot. The above problem was stated by  Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert. His actual line was “Houston, we had a problem,” but the movie about the event changed the line so that it would not seem that the mission had already solved the problem.  Apollo 13 was evaluated as a successful failure because they did not land on the moon but they were  successful in solving numerous life-threatening problems and bringing the crew back alive.

Past tense. I believe many of us wish our problems at work resided in the past tense. We would rather have had a problem than have a problem. Yet, problem are pervasive and continuous. What is your most pressing problem at work? Does it involve results or relationships? Do you dream that one day there will be no problems and that work will be, “a problem solved!”

Grow into interesting problems. Paul Hawken put the elimination of problems at work to rest in 1987 when he wrote Growing a Business. He believed we will always have problems and what differentiated a good business from a bad business was:

A good business has interesting problems, a bad business has boring ones. Good management is the art of making the problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. Good problems energize.

Do you? Do you find your problems interesting? Are your solutions constructive? Can you get everyone energized by working on the current interesting problem?

Mental toughness for problems. Jim Loehr, when he was focused just on sports psychology and mental toughness always talked about learning to  love your problem. When we hit the golf ball in the bunker can we approach with a sense of love for the problem or do we berate ourselves for not hitting it straight.

Another dogleg. So let’s be straight here, you will continually have problems and you can get into them with a constructive attitude and approach while also knowing full well there is another problem just around the next dogleg.

Invitations. Here are four invitations to keep you from getting off track or sidetracked with problems:

  1. Embrace problems. You don’t have to naively see all problems as opportunities but don’t miss the opportunity to fully engage with the problems you have.
  2. Be mindful while encountering problems and realize the problem and the answer are joined so we need to stay with the problem before moving to ineffective or premature solutions.
  3. Problem resolution is frequently better together. When you have a problem avoid avoiding and get connected to others.
  4. Big problems can be overwhelming so never overlook taking the small steps towards problem resolution. Remember, one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind

So, what’s your current employee engagement problem?

Photo Credit: The Never Ending Math Problem, Creative Commons Flickr,


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