Don’t Present a Problem to Your Boss Unless You Can Solve It!


Maybe you are working as part of a collective public relations team or you are an employee at a PR Firm working for an employer. Perhaps you are a reporter and you are stymied on a source or you realize your entire story is hinging on a source or sources who have lost their credibility, but your story is due to be filed within 24 hours. You could be part of a tech team at a startup and you realize your developer’s coding is not sound and won’t scale down the road.

Most people’s first instinct is to scream “Fire!” You want to declare that there is a problem. You realize something isn’t working and a project is going to go south if you don’t speak up. Your feelings are valid, but here’s the rub. When announcing to your co-workers or employer that you have identified a problem, be prepared to offer a solution or solutions to that problem. Take a breath, do a little homework, put out inquires and present the problem with an innovative and viable solution.

Problems create stress. Solutions are empowering. Many times, especially at crunch time, when presented with a sudden problem, a team leader will immediately retort to your observation of what’s not working with something along the lines of, “So what do you suggest?” The last thing you want is to be all “Hamana- hamana-hamana…”

That will likely create frustration, and watch how fast your boss goes to someone else in search of a solution. A good troubleshooter can identify a problem and suggest a solid solution. Next time you find yourself in this challenging position, be ready to answer the question, “What do you suggest?” You’ll score major points.

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