Your boss needs solutions not problems

Your Boss needs practical solutions not emotional problems.

Identify the problem objectively

Identify the problem objectively, describe the impact, and propose a solution.

No matter what company you work for or what country you work in, there will be times when a problem within the company negatively affects you and gets under your skin.

Unfortunately, all too often, the way we communicate these problems is with a good old whine, and we seem to enjoy whining at our boss as if their only purpose in life is to listen to our complaints.

There’s a couple of things wrong with this and I’ll try to unpack those things in this post but before I go any further, I’d like to remind people of the phrase, “Walk a mile in their shoes”.


Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll be a little more sympathetic towards your boss and begin processing problems at work in a completely different way.

Verbally complaining about what’s wrong in your company.

Verbally complaining about what’s wrong in your company

If the only time you ever talk to your boss is to complain about what’s wrong with the company, they may not always look forwards to you opening your mouth when you’re in their presence. If you don’t understand this, consider a situation in which your company has 100 employees and the majority of these employees communicate problems with the company only verbally to the boss.

One thing for sure is that your boss is going to go through several diaries over the course of a year from writing down all your complaints.     The other to consider is that if your boss is to constantly receive verbal bombardment of complaints over a long enough period of time, they might start to reconsider how much they value that job.   

This could end up being a tragic mistake for all those that love complaining so much, as you may have got rid of a pretty good boss and the one that follows might send you all packing if you were to try all that same stuff on with them.

Change the way you communicate problems to your boss.

Change the way you communicate problems to your boss

If you only change one thing about dealing with problems at work, have everyone start writing down their complaints. Along with any words they want to string together, have them start taking photos, drawing sketches, and so on, and then send it all to your boss as one package. (Letter, envelope, or email).

When you can start compiling a problem into a single, concise package, you’re providing your boss with all the information they need to try and identify with the problem on the same level you are.

Your boss can then review all of your well-organized information and make their own assessment; if they agree, you may even receive a thank you from your boss for putting together such an excellent package and initiating positive change in the workplace that will benefit everyone.

Instead of only submitting a problem, offer a solution and strategy.

Instead of only submitting a problem, offer a solution and strategy

Then, if you want to go a step further, why not offer a solution in addition to the problem?

Why not convene a meeting of those who have the most to say about everything that is wrong with the company and devise a standard format for taking a problem from identification to completion?

Then, decide on a single method of communicating these issues to management.

The 4 step problem resolution process.

The 4 step problem resolution process

Step 1 – Describe the problem.

1.     Describe the problem, be sure to summarise it, and get right to the point. State the issue objectively and without emotion.

2.    How long has this problem existed?

3.    Describe how serious this problem is

4.    Is it a standalone problem or are external factors causing this?

a.    Identify and explain those factors

b.    How they are contributing (Equipment, Systems, or People).

Notes on problem identification:

a)    Make sure to distinguish between fact and opinion and to specify underlying causes.

b)   Specify the issue and, if applicable, identify which procedure, standard, policy, or regulation is not being adhered to.

c)    Determine whether the issue is one of people, processes, or systems.

·         It could be a specific manufacturing process, a process or system that is part of a machine, a specific business process, an information processing system, or a lack of people employed to perform certain tasks.

d)   It is usually best to avoid attempting to submit a problem without adequate data to back it up.

Step 2 – Explain the impact the problem is causing.

1.     Explain the current impact of this problem now.

a.    Who/What is it affecting and how

2.    Could the severity of this problem worsen if it was ignored?

3.    Is anyone tracking the impact/s experienced by this problem?

Step 3 – What is the solution to this problem?

1.     What solution(s) have you identified and need to put in place?

2.    What is the most powerful or effective step I or others could take to move this issue forwards?

3.    What difference will it make once this problem is resolved?

4.    What do you anticipate the final results or outcomes to be?

5.    What am I visualising when I imagine these outcomes?

6.    What roadblocks might arise in the course of attempting to achieve this solution, and how will we overcome them?

Notes on the solution.

a)    When assessing whether your solution was successfully implemented, gather opinions from all parties who were impacted and look for acceptance or agreement from everyone.

b)   Establish ongoing controls and monitoring over the long term to make sure your solution will stand the test of time.

Step 4 – What is the ideal timetable for implementation?.

1.     When is it realistic to expect the solution to be implemented and completed?

2.    What are the identified milestones that must be met?

Notes on the timeline.

a)    Create a detailed scope, and then break it down into actionable tasks.

b)   Determine which tasks have start or finish dependencies on others.

c)    Assign a resource type to each task and specify the total duration for each task and the quantity of each resource type required.

d)   Specify the timeline milestone tasks.

·         A milestone is a point in the overall timeline with one clearly defined deliverable/accomplishment and a specific date to which is must be completed.

The Plan for actioning your solution.

1.     What are the goals?  (specific and measureable)

2.    What is your strategy

3.    What are the related actionable tasks?

4.    Assign people’s names to each actionable task.

5.    What are the potential threats to successful implementation of the solution?

6.    What are costs associated with the solution?

7.    Who will review & report on progress solution implementation?

Notes on actioning your plan.

a)    It is commonly assumed that everyone involved in putting a plan into action has the same goals, but this is not always true. As a result, close interval progress reporting can highlight any issues that arise during the implementation.

b)   The focus of a project may shift due to unidentified roadblocks encountered, feedback received, or when the goal posts are moved.

c)    Be as detailed as possible with your plan to minimise disruption throughout the solution’s implementation. This way, if changes are required, you may only need to tweak one small task, rather than a large chunk of the overall scope.

Use your CMMS to process your People, Process & System (PPS) problems.

Use your CMMS to process your People, Process and System problems

There is no need to purchase additional software to manage PPS problems/complaints. You almost certainly already have a very good software product for dealing with these issues.

Guess what? You can use your CMMS for much more than just initiating, planning, scheduling, and executing maintenance activities.

Assuming your CMMS can be personalized somewhat, you could get the ball rolling by simply adding a few additional codes:

1.     An Asset No/Equipment No/Functional Location that can be used for PPS requests (With SAP, a dummy FLOC can be used).

2.    Type of work request (PPS)

3.    Type of Work Order (PPS)

4.    Planner Group (MG) – Management

5.    Work Centre MGTM – Management Team

Put together a Business Process & procedure for initiating, planning, scheduling, executing and completing PPS activities.

Then work out whom in the management team is going to look for new PPS type work requests each day and then review the content (I’m guessing they would take turns or develop a schedule).

Reviewed PPS work requests should be reviewed by a panel (3 or more managers) and then if approved made into a work order.

Non-approved PPS work requests will be rejected and will have a reason provided.


The great thing about all of this is that because it’s all managed through your CMMS, it’s all completely visible to everyone. Nobody has to bother any of the managers about what’s going on with their PPS request; they can simply log into the CMMS and look for themselves.

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