Jul 212014 4 Responses

Three Things Every Employee Should Do

I’m unaware of any good boss who would debate the following advice. It is a universal way to experience success at work, further your career, find value and purpose in what you are doing, and garner respect from those for whom you work.

If you will do the following three things over and over again, there will be no limit on your career.

1. Identify a problem.

2. Determine a solution.

3. Offer to take responsibility for the implementation of your solution.

When repeated, those three steps produce an invaluable employee. (See: Work and Rest)

The problem is that few employees ever move past step one.

Anybody can identify a problem. You probably have a whole list of problems you have identified about your work, boss, co-workers, family, children, community, church, country, and every other group or organization in your life. Problems are everywhere and it does not require any skill or training to identify them.

Sadly, most people believe problem identification is a gift. They think it is the service they can best offer to those around them. They foolishly believe no one sees the problems like they do and by simply naming the problems they have contributed all they need to contribute. (See: The Devil Doesn’t Need an Advocate)

This is the root cause of many employee/employer frustrations. The employee believes they have identified the problems which the employer should fix. The employer believes the employee is stating the obvious and is unwilling to do what really matters.

Step one is easy.

Step two is more difficult. (See: Never Try to Prove Yourself)

Identifying a solution is the difference between being useful or useless. Rare is the case in which an employer needs another person on staff to simply point out problems. By themselves, any good boss can identify enough problems to keep everyone busy.

While problems are obvious, solutions are hidden. They require observation, discernment, the ability to look past the obvious, and critical thinking. Solutions require us to combine our experience, understanding, knowledge, and wisdom. For many people, determining a solution is such hard work, they give up.

Yet for those who are willing to do the work, they will always have a place to work. Solutions are hard and having people who can find solutions is a valuable resource for any employer.

Step two is difficult, but valuable. (See: How to Determine What to Do–at Work, in Marriage, and in Life)

However, step three is what sets apart great employees from everyone else.

Finding a problem is easy. Identifying a solution is difficult. Being willing to take responsibility for the implementation of a solution is brave.

For every ten employees who identify a problem, only one of them is willing to do the work to find a solution. But for every ten employees who do the work to find a solution, only one of them is brave enough to take responsibility for implementing the idea.

Responsibility is something we naturally refrain from taking. It is too risky. As long as all we do is sit back and name problems, when a problem is fixed we can say “I told you so.” When a solution fails, we can claim “It’s not our fault.” (See: You Always Have an Excuse)

Taking responsibility requires courage. We are putting ourselves in the firing line. If things don’t work, the problem identifiers will point to us as the problem.

Implementing solutions guarantees failure. No one succeeds with every idea. If problems were easily solved, we wouldn’t have so many problems. Few people have the courage necessary to fail, yet good employers want employees who have such courage.

I would far rather have an employee who regularly tries and fails than one who never attempts anything.

Having the courage to take responsibility for implementing a solution garners the respect by true leaders. While bad companies and bad leaders may scapegoat those who do step three, good companies and good bosses will reward them.

There are three basic steps to becoming an extraordinary employee and the good news is that nearly every person is already 33% of the way to becoming such an employee. You already identify problems. Now determine a solution and offer to take responsibility for implementing the solution.

4 Responses to Three Things Every Employee Should Do
  1. dennyneff Reply

    The difference between the foolish and the wise. It takes a lot to be so fearless, but I think of the Bible verse that says “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” helps us to know in all situations where these three steps apply, if we are right, God will grant us the means necessary to stand out as a good and faithful person.

    Keep p the great work Kevin. Your writings almost always touch my heart and challenge me to be a better Christ follower for His glory.

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