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Commentary Detail

Take Your Boss Solutions, Not Undigested Problems
Commentary by: Anna Navarro
Aired September 28, 2009

Mastering the subtle art of taking your boss solutions instead of problems can be very helpful to your career.

Burt was just starting out in sales. He was apprenticed to an older man. He relied heavily on him to solve problems.

When the older man retired, Burt thought his new boss, the VP of Sales, would provide similar help. But the VP didnít have the time. So Burt had to learn to solve his own problems.

He was doing great - then he committed a classic beginner's mistake. He failed to talk to his boss about a backlog in deliveries he didnít have the clout to resolve. The customer threatened to go to the competition. Burtís boss got mad because the crisis could have been averted if Burt had consulted him earlier.

The next time Burt encountered a major problem, he stopped to assess whether he could solve it on his own or needed help. He concluded he needed help, but before going to his boss, he wisely took the time to develop a potential solution. His boss was impressed with that approach. Burt not only made the sale, he got a great review and a pay increase.

Burt had learned some crucial lessons. Never just dump problems on your boss. Try to resolve them on your own. If a problem requires more clout than you have, or involves taking risks or committing resources, take it to your boss. But before you do that, develop a proposed solution. Most bosses appreciate subordinates who are low maintenance.

(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

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Anna Navarro

Anna Navarro


Anna Navarro is the founder of Work Transitions, a nationwide organization dedicated to helping individuals find satisfaction and fulfillment in their work.


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