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My son, who is applying to Ph.D. programs across the country, recently told me about his experience with the process. He shared (or complained more accurately) that none of the professors were replying to his outreach. When I asked him why he thought that was the case, I received an avalanche of “reasons”:

  1. They are too busy

  2. COVID

  3. They don’t reply to emails.

  4. “And the list goes on…

At Butler Street, we refer to these as socially accepted excuses, and we know…”People fail IN DIRECT proportion to their willingness to accept these excuses for failure”!

This conversation forced me to think more deeply about the current challenges companies, especially their leaders, face with COVID and its impact on performance and results. As we focus on building a better normal, it is critical to remember that it is not the biggest or strongest that survives, it is those who are most adaptable to change. So, the question becomes, “are you part of the solution or part of the blame.”

Interestingly, in the movie Rising Sun, actor Sean Connery said:

The Japanese have a saying: ‘Fix the problem, not the blame.’ Find out what’s [screwed] up and fix it. Nobody gets blamed. We’re always after who [screwed] up. Their way is better.

So, how does this thinking impact leaders, their approach to their people, and what can we do to ensure this is NOT the culture we create?

What happens in your organization when something doesn’t go as planned – a below quota month, a lost deal, internal discontent between sales and operations? Do we stalk the halls (or maybe stalk on Zoom or Microsoft Teams these days,) asking, “Whose fault is this? I want answers now!” How many times have you seen a situation where blaming the responsible party took precedence over fixing things? We lose such valuable time working to determine where fault lies.

The right thing to do is exactly the opposite. Here are 3 essential steps:

1. Find the source of the problem.

Our focus must be on solving problems, especially those related to our customers.

"If we solve our customers' problems, we will solve our own."®

To be an effective problem solver, focus your efforts on identifying the root cause. By having your team expend their energies on the underlying cause, the team will learn and grow into a cohesive unit, focused on a better outcome. For instance, Butler Street’s Strategic Selling training introduces a Deal Review to be used as the foundation for knowing what you don’t know in your most important opportunities. This document is vital for developing a system of sustainable winning.

2. Don't fear failure.

The Deal Review is equally as relevant when the deal is lost. It provides a way to have a “successful failure.” Ask yourself:

What did we miss? What will we do differently the next time we run into the same situation? What adjustments will we make?

When we lose a deal at Butler Street (it does happen occasionally), we must say the words, "I got outsold, and these are the adjustments we need to make going forward." That begins the process of fixing the problem that caused the loss.

3. Foster a growth mindset.

Designing a culture where teams are not afraid to take chances, make mistakes, or create new paths should be encouraged. Push them to “break what’s working” and find new ways to expand the company’s ability to solve problems. Your team’s engagement will grow, customers will recognize the focus the organization has on solving problems, and sustainable high performance will follow.

My son may not have known the real reason his professors were not responding, but his first inclination was of common socially accepted excuses. Are you doing the same with non-receptive clients or prospects?

Butler Street will work with you to determine the root of your challenges and provide the processes and methodologies for growth and success. Our customized discovery, diagnose, develop, and perfect process helps retain and grow both talent and clients and create a company culture that is not optional. We help companies and their people grow.®

Ready to be a problem solver? Let’s talk.


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