I must say, we’re pretty lucky to work in such an awesome field where we help children and adults communicate and connect with others every day. What could be better? But let’s get real—no job is problem-free. That’s just part of life!
So, I recommend finding a strategy for approaching and solving workplace issues. The more we practice, the better we get. If you seek advancement and leadership opportunities, this skill also sets you apart. As a manager, when I see a clinician with a consistent, positive approach to problem-solving and change, I know I discovered a great leader.
I find challenges sometimes occur when we look at a problem only from our own perspective. So I developed a little tool I call “telescoping” to help me change my viewpoint. Let’s take a look at an issue using the lens of telescoping.
Say your organization starts requiring a new documentation system. The new reports take significantly more time to write. Ugh! Dislike! Take this opportunity to think more in-depth about it. Use telescoping to view the new requirements in a bigger context:
- What do I see and know? To begin, I definitely don’t like anything that makes my paperwork longer. My schedule is already tight.
- What do others around me see and know? My colleagues don’t seem thrilled about the new requirement either. So, we decided to ask our supervisor for more information and she let us know that it’s related to a new Medicaid requirement.
- What bigger purpose or issues might be involved? Since we accept Medicaid at our facility, we must meet the documentation requirements to get reimbursed for treating patients. Perhaps we can brainstorm different—less time-consuming—approaches to meet the requirements.
- How does this fit into the vision or structure of the organization? If we figure out a more streamlined way to meet the requirements, we’ll comply with Medicaid, which meets the needs of the organization. Plus, we’ll still get our paperwork done in a timely fashion!
So this example is a win-win. We know, however, that in real life not everything works out quite that nicely. Sometimes policies and changes present more complex challenges. In these situations, the telescoping tool still helps us develop a better understanding of the reason for change.
It simply offers a different perspective to consider. When problems arise, telescoping helps us study various points and perspectives to formulate a holistic solution.
Give telescoping a try this week if problems appear. Then let me know how this strategy worked for you. How did it help? I look forward to hearing your feedback about telescoping for problem-solving.
Suzanne Bonifert, MS, CCC-SLP, is a rehabilitation services manager at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Ft. Worth, Texas. She enjoys helping clinicians develop leadership skills. firstname.lastname@example.org