5 Tasty Problem Solving Tips for HR Professionals

Human Resources.  Should it be this stressful?

I do know it doesn’t get easier with time. It changes.  There are good days, bad days, great days, and days I just say, “YES! I am thankful, happy, and blessed to be in this profession.” Then, there are other days.

I had a stressful morning.  You know, one of those where things occurred at the office that were human-related and I was frustrated. Once the emotion settled, I knew I needed to problem solve – but not before I had an ice cream cone. In order to enjoy my dipped cone on this warm day in my car, I needed 4 napkins to cover my lap, my windows up, sunroof closed, and the air conditioning on.  No need  to add any more stress – like quickly melting ice cream!

As I was driving, I likened Human Resources problem solving to that ice cream cone and offer you these tasty tips:

Take time to understand varying viewpoints 

When I have a stressful day, it is important for me to consider the issues and the various perspectives and viewpoints and to cover all aspects.  I also needed to create the right conditions for working through the issues at hand. (Hence, the alone time driving to and from Mc-fast food.)

A little problem-solving time for me to understand the various viewpoints in preparing my response was necessary to create the right conditions to address the issue.

Savor all aspects of an issue, but do it quickly

I wanted to enjoy the cool ice cream, the chocolate flavor, and the crunchy cone yet I couldn't take much time in relishing those individual flavors because, no matter what the conditions, ice cream is going to melt quickly.

To be credible, HR professionals must be able to help find a solution in a timely manner.  Sometimes that means making a tough decision yourself.  Often it means coaching a manager toward making that tough decision – quickly. Without timely decision-making,  the opportunity to be seen as a partner to other departments will be lost.

Enjoy what you like

I so enjoy the chocolate that is delicately wrapped around the soft-serve ice cream – it tastes wonderful to me, and in just the right amount!

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I take pride in helping our team work solve sometimes simple, sometimes complex people-issues.  I am humbled to be called upon by many to help and I appreciate having a seat at the C–suite table.  It is important to remember all the wonderful aspects of this job we call Human Resources.  Maybe, or  particularly, when we are dealing with something we don’t like as much.

Deal with the things you don’t like

Believe it or not, I don’t love the vanilla ice cream except as part of the chocolate-dipped cone.  Yet, as I finished the chocolate and continued to keep the vanilla ice cream in check (aka, not dripping on to me), I found myself enjoying the cool, refreshing vanilla ice cream.

As I worked through the morning’s frustrations in my head during my Mc-drive, I came up with some viable solutions to present forward. When you deal with the things you don’t like, you may will find value, and even learning, in the experience. 

Don’t lose sight of the big picture

Sometimes the single things are not as relishing as the entire bundle.

That lovely, crunchy wafer ice cream cone held together all that I had desired – my chocolate-dipped, soft-serve vanilla ice cream.  I love the crunch of that cone as much as the rest of it, if not more.  I felt satisfied as I finished it off. That ice cream cone was good. As well, I had thought through my earlier frustrations, seeking resolution, and framing the coming conversation.

So, tell me. What food related analogies have come to your human resource rescue?

Photo credit: iStockphoto

About the author:  Dorothy Douglass is an HR professional who has served in HR and management roles for 20 years+ who considers herself  fairly tech-UNsavvy.  She is the VP of HR for MutualBank , has been with them for 10 years  and is in her third year at the Graduate School of Banking in Madison, Wisconsin. She is one of few HR professionals privileged to attend the full 3-year banking program rather than the 1-year HR program. Masochist?  Maybe.  But it's made her a better banker, for sure.


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Dorothy Douglass

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