Blog: Characteristics of a Professional – Be Part of the Solution

In October, I began a blog series about the characteristics of a professional; you can read the introduction to the series here. This post is the 4th in a series of 10 that will be posted over the coming weeks.

Be Part of the Solution

It is easy to criticize and point out what is wrong with someone or something. Anybody can do that. However, I do not think that any of us want to be just “anyone.” We want to be someone better, someone who is well above average. If that is what we want to be, we need to show our intelligence and critical thinking not only identifying what is wrong, but also having a solution about what can be done to improve the situation. Just like taking responsibility for your actions that I discussed in the first post in this series, being part of the solution is taking responsibility for the actions in a broader scale – at the company level rather than a personal level.

When I was actively managing my companies in Russia, people often came to me in various capacities with comments about what we did not do well or what we could do better. While I always welcomed those comments, it would have been much more helpful if the person would have identified how we could improve. The very first manager that I worked for as an auditor was an Australian who had a specific phrase that he used. He said, “Do not come to me with just a question. Come to me with a question and an idea for a solution.” He also said that even if the suggested solution was wrong, it was a place to start. Starting from somewhere is always easier than starting from nowhere.

In order to be part of the solution, we need to show up. We need to be present and actually being present – showing up – is more than half the battle. If you do not show up and you do not participate, you have delegated the decision-making process to others and you are hoping that they will be part of the solution. Others will be making decisions that might impact you, your company, your future, and/or your career. Are you comfortable giving that control to someone else? If not, you need to show up and be part of the solution.

A couple of specific things that you can do are to be a part of the solution are:

  1. Participate in meetings. Do not just attend the meetings, but participate in them. Provide ideas and not just criticism. Speak up when something is going wrong and offer a solution. Lend a helping hand to someone who is only learning.
  2. Do not assume. Whenever you make an assumption, you eliminate any possibility of a positive outcome. When you assume that the supplier will not give a discount, when you assume that your boss will decide that your proposal costs too much, or when you assume that the client will not pay that much for an improvement in the product, you have limited the possible outcomes with an assumption that may not be valid.

How else can we be a part of the solution?

Brian Hock, CMA, CIA
HOCK international