To solve problems better, be like Columbo!



I have mentioned in the past that one of the best business books I have read is ‘Leadership’ by former lawyer and politician from New York, Rudi Giuliani.

One of the insights I have previously written about is to ‘choose your battles’. You can read more about this here.

Another key message that I have adopted relates to the action I take when people come to me with issues they have about staff. The staff member or patient will express a concern or complaint that then prompts action to resolve the problem. I would often discover that the information I received didn’t reflect the whole situation, and upon reflection I would have reacted differently. A poorly managed problem is, in itself, another problem to manage. Giuliani advised that rather accept what others say, it is best to go to the front line and make your own decisions about what is going on. Other’s input should be encouraged, however take it as their perception of events, not fact.  

Different people also bring different levels of ‘drama’ to a situation. I have experienced getting carried away by others’ upset over a situation, only to later realise it never warranted the degree of upset.

Next time you are faced with a complaint, go to the source and get their viewpoint. Avoid being accusatory. After all, you do not have any facts yet, just someone else’s perception. Find out the details for yourself then determine what your action should be based upon:

  • Supporting your practice culture (if you have not developed your practice culture, I advise yo do)
  • Empowering staff
  • Being solutions-driven rather dwelling in the problem

Be mindful that not all situations require action. As JPPS co-founder Charles Kovess states in his presentations, there are benefits and drawbacks to every scenario. Ensure the benefit is strong enough to warrant the drawback of tackling any particular problem.