Management Monday: Opportunities vs. Problems

I believe that the way you approach a problem is the key to finding a successful solution and for managing change.  I don’t have problems … I only have “opportunities”.  And trust me, I have lots of opportunities.

So here are my tips for successfully turning problems into opportunities at work:

  1. The Problem Employee that Used to be Great

Ex: The employee who is _______ (Rude, Inappropriate, Late, Out, etc…) – This is an employee who used to be great not one that has always been a problem. (Problems need to leave in their first 90 days)

Problem: I promise that I will spend more time on HR another day – but if you think of this as a “problem” – I find people put it off to avoid the confrontation or they just keep counseling the person until they have fulfilled the red tape to fire them.

Opportunity:  This attitude change, is “Hey  ____, I think you bring value to our team and I would like to the work through this opportunity.”  In my experience, I end up with a better employee as opposed to one with one foot out the door.


  1. The Problem Vendor that Used to be Great

Ex: The vendor who used to be great, but who is now providing poor service in some way.  Problems should be terminated quickly.

Problem: If you think of this as a problem, you may go through quite a few vendors without getting what you want.

Opportunity: I treat vendors who used to be great, the same way I would want my customers to do – let me know there is a problem, so I can learn from it.  So that is how I approach great vendors that have an opportunity.  I give them a chance to fix it.  It actually builds a better relationship, and I usually end up with a WIN through a credit or freebie or something.


  1. Your Crisis Does NOT have to be My Crisis, But it Can Be Our WIN.

Ex: The parent who forgot that they needed their child’s physical form filled out for today’s soccer registration.

Problem: If you brush the parent off stating we require 2 business days, most likely they are going to find a new pediatrician.

Opportunity: This can be a real win for your office in terms of customer service.  I have the staff explain that our normal request is 2 business days, but that we will be happy to try to accommodate.  We then suggest, while they wait they could start following us on one of our social media sites and they could also leave us a great review.


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