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Overcoming obstacles through the workday

Mike Hawkins
Vail CO, Colorado

Work is as much about overcoming obstacles as anything else. Employees and managers must be adept at confronting and overcoming obstacles in order to maintain high performance.

Obstacles and their resolutions vary widely. They are typically associated with products, services, technologies, processes, customers, partners, employees and legalities. Despite their variety, there is a consistent trade-off that must be considered ” do you put a quick-fix in place or do you invest the extra resources needed to put a more permanent solution in place?

If, for example, your organization spends significant time on completing progress reports, do you put a quick fix in place such as a standardized report template or a more permanent standardized online computer application?



Or, if your work involves a series of process steps that interface with other people or companies, do you pick up the phone to smooth out any process mishaps informally or do you take the time to analyze the entire process for more effective long term solutions?

How you approach these decisions can be vitally important. If you typically rely on your intuition, be careful. Intuition often includes built-in biases that lead to errors in judgment. Here are four objective questions to consider when evaluating solution alternatives and the trade-offs between putting a quick fix in place or investing extra time and money in a more permanent resolution:

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– Which solution is best for all parties involved? If one is primarily in your best interest, but not in others, it probably won’t last. Win-lose solutions quickly fall apart and in the end can be much more costly to you. Favor the solution that has the support of all those involved.

– Which solution best supports your organizational vision and values? All too often an organization’s vision and values are relegated to generic platitudes when decisions are being made. Consider which solution best meets your organization’s values and can be used as a symbol to drive the culture, behavior and results you desire.

– Which solution represents the optimal financial return? Analyze the financial return, especially on solutions that represent significant investments or cost savings. A solution that doesn’t cost much can be less preferable compared with a solution that costs much more yet offers longer-term financial rewards. While this is obvious, studies show that financial analysis is often not done, and most poor business decisions neglected an accurate return on investment examination.



– Which solution is least risky? Considerations such as length of time of implementation, resource availability, solution complexity, the competition’s reaction and employee buy-in represent significant risk to any solution implementation. Other matters such as physical safety, contractual obligations, ethics, law and personnel policies also can represent significant risks. Consider which solution best minimizes your risk.

When faced with workplace obstacles, develop several alternative solutions. When evaluating them, don’t over-rely on your intuition. Think about how each affects other stakeholders, supports organizational values, provides financial return and minimizes risk in determining the trade-off between a quick-fix and a more permanent, long-term solution.

Mike Hawkins is a resident of Summit County and president of Alpine Link Corp., a management-consulting and leadership-development company. He can be reached at mike@alpinelink.com.

Mike Hawkins is with the Alpine Link Corp.


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