Reframing your focus leads to unbelievable changes in your employees and your business

Focus on the solution, not on the problem

Are you happy with the outcomes you’re getting in your business?

If the answer is no, you probably already have a sense that generating, balancing, and maintaining outcomes is a complex and delicate exercise. There are so many factors involved, like your finances, your employees, the economy, your health, your attitude, your personal life, your good or bad fortune, your fears…. The list goes on and on.

Let’s look at just one of those factors: your employees. The challenge you face is getting the best performance possible out of your people in order to achieve the best outcomes possible.

But you’ve been at this for years and, over time, you’ve come to the conclusion that employees need to be spoon fed.

They don’t always do what you to tell them to do in the way you want them to do it.

You find yourself frequently pulled away from more important tasks in order to solve their problem.

Or worse, you’re taking some of their work on yourself, increasing your own workload, and negatively impacting pretty much every part of your own life and, ultimately, the company’s bottom line.

You’ve come to feel like an overbearing parent scolding their children, but you don’t see any other way that’s timely and effective.

I’m in the middle of reading Quiet Leadership by David Rock. This book has reminded me of two basic things. First, effective communication is at the core of successful relationships and, second, you get what you focus on.

Undoubtedly, you’ve had people in your life or have known people who are constantly asking questions like, “What’s wrong with you?” “Why didn’t you do it yet?” “How many times have I told you…?”

Oftentimes, says Rock, it’s far more effective to shift from a hindsight-driven, problem-focused (P-F) approach of communication to a foresight- or even insight-driven solution-focused (S-F) approach.  

Here are some simple ways to make the shift:

P-F: Why didn’t you hit your targets?

S-F: What do you need to do next time to hit your targets?


P-F: Why did this happen?

S-F: What do you want to achieve here?


P-F: Where did it all start to go wrong?

S-F: What do you need to do to move this forward?


P-F: Why do you think you’re not good at this?

S-F: How can you develop strength in this area?


P-F: What’s wrong with your team?

S-F: What does your team need to do to win?


P-F: Why did you do that?

S-F: What do you want to do next?

The problem-focused approach tends to center on origins and causes of the problem or criticism and blame, and is not very useful in changing the behavior of the person. The solution-focused approach centers on shifting responsibility for the solution back to the employee, in the process encouraging the employee to do their own thinking instead of relying on supervisors or managers for answers.  

Here’s a secret for you: Shifting your communication style to focus on solutions rather than problems also works in relationships with your spouse, partner, kids, and most other interactions.


About Joe Serio

Dr. Joe Serio is a keynote speaker, trainer, and author who helps the people in your organization navigate resistance to change so they can move forward successfully.

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