Chapter 39 – If You Cannot Get to the Answer, Escalate the Problem
When the workday ends, we expect all tasks to be completed, as tomorrow will bring its own set of challenges.
A guideline that may serve you well is to un-brood the issues. If something cannot be solved, it must be escalated early – bearing in mind the rule that when it reaches the next level up, the recipient won’t carry out the task himself, but will only help the junior who is stuck to find the answer.
The escalation elevator must go to the top, hopefully one level at a time. Sometimes a minor delegation ambushes me, with the expectation of the deus ex machina of the CEO’s magic touch. Tragically, I am fallible and so are you. More often my inspiration and guidance is wanted and needed, not my witty and pointed solution.
There is some ego involved and you would be well advised to get rid of the culture of: “I can’t do it!” If it cannot be solved, escalate it.
Escalation should become a habit, as it fosters learning. Can’t get a recalcitrant debtor on the phone? Call his boss. Then the boss’s boss. Then get your CEO to call his CEO, or to drop him a friendly line, requesting someone down there to call your anxious department.
It is not only interactions that should be escalated. Frustrations should be, too. PC slow? Scratchy phone line? Damp washroom? All these are the classic demotivating ‘hygiene factors’ that impede performance if left unsolved.
Is there a perfect workplace? Yours might be exactly that for some people. Others march to the beat of the free lunch, an air-conditioned parking spot, which you may not be able or willing to provide. There are hordes of little time nibblers that constrain staff. Make it a project to find them and eliminate them. Open the channels if these persist. You may not be able to solve everything, but, hey, that’s where delegation comes in. It’s reverse escalation!
The Unconventional CEO offers succinct, compelling advice from one successful CEO Mario Pretorius, to you The Cape Messenger reader.
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