7 Easy Steps to Manage Change

Palm, Kodak and Borders—do you know what these three companies have in common? They are all former industry leaders that failed to listen to or understand the market. Examples like this are everywhere and prove that businesses must grow and evolve. Whether it’s because of growth, a shift in business focus, or a change in technology, in order to survive, you MUST be able to understand and manage change.

Change management is a term that is thrown about freely. It’s a structured approach for ensuring that changes are thoroughly and smoothly implemented and that the lasting benefits of change are achieved. As a leader, following an actual change management process helps you implement change easier and with more efficient results.

Leaders, here are the 7 steps necessary to manage change:

What You Do Every Day

Step 1: Be Prepared

You need to continually evaluate sales data, changes in the marketplace, and activity by the competition to be able to anticipate change. When you do this, you can see change coming--it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Step 2: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Ongoing communication keeps employees informed of the conditions that may cause a change. Change is easier to implement when communication has already been happening. When employees understand what causes change, it helps to break down resistance to that change.

What You Do When You Implement a Change:

Step 3: Build and Document a Strong Case

When you implement a change in your business, it is typically to accomplish one goal--to make your business better. Establishing and documenting the case for the change is the foundation to successful implementation.

 A written plan should include the vision for the future, the purpose of the change, the resources allocated, the departments affected by the change, a time line, the measurements of success, the training needed, the communication plan, the review dates, and contingency plans.

 Step 4: Follow Your Communication Plan

This enables everyone to see exactly what is happening and the direction your business is taking. Share such things as: Why is the change necessary? What will the organization look like once the change is implemented? How does this change make the organization better? How will it make each employee’s life better? When questions occur, make sure you take time to listen to and address employees’ concerns. When team members can explain the long-term benefits of the change, you know you’ve shared the plan successfully.

 Step 5: Implement and Learn to Flow with Change

Many times, outside factors, such as moves by the competition or shifts in the marketplace, can be out of your control and will alter your plans. When this happens--DO NOT PANIC. You need to flow with the changes and alter your plans accordingly. Analyze the factors as thoroughly as possible before adjusting the phases of your change management plan. Make sure to communicate this adjustment.

 Step 6: Celebrate and Recognize Success

Many times, this doesn’t happen. In order to keep up the morale and the momentum, make sure you recognize and celebrate group and individual successes.

 Step 7: Document the Action-Action Review

The final step is the after-action review. Evaluate what went well and what needs to be improved for the next change.

 If your business doesn’t change – it WILL become obsolete. Be prepared with a process that ensures you implement change effectively and efficiently.

4 Tips to Create True Collaboration Within Your Company Culture

I worked with someone who repeatedly says “We’re going to collaborate on this.  Everyone in favor, hold up their hand.” 

Is that really collaboration? NO... Despite all the hype in businesses about the importance of people & departments collaborating, the majority of them function using competition.

Competition has its limitations & doesn't work well in the today’s world of uncertainty, low trust, and dwindling resources. Today, people have to change how they work.

Collaboration is when a shared interest or conflict that cannot be addressed by any single individual is addressed by team members in order to do, create, or invent something better or otherwise considered impossible. Collaboration is really looking at what is best for the organization.

Guess where this must start--with leaders who don’t just support using collaboration but actively encourage it by collaborating themselves.

Leaders, here are 4 tips to effectively collaborate:

Tip 1 - Set Group Expectations.  All of us are usually good at setting individual goals; but this is what “the group” (or the team) is going to achieve. Not just individuals.

Tip 2 - Define Collaborative Behavior. Once expectations are set in Tip 1, what behavior are you looking for when you talk about collaborating? This word can have many meanings – so how will you & everyone know when they are collaborating?

Tip 3 - Embrace Team Diversity.  I’m not talking about what you usually think when you hear the words “diversity”.  I’m talking about embracing personality differences. Are you aware that personality differences can make or break teams? You have to learn to understand & accept one another & what that person brings. Odds are that the guy that drives you & everyone else nuts is the person you need the most. 

Once everyone understands & accepts his/her own personality & those of other team members – you can move closer to collaboration.

Tip 4 - Provide Accountability through Feedback. As a leader, you need to observe individual & group behavior & then provide FEEDBACK. This helps guide team members through desired changes & help them enjoy the new culture. 

Many changes are happening in the modern workplace such as increased diversity, growing workloads, organization changes, and a global workforce.  This is why you must invest time & energy in your team’s culture.  While you can’t control external factors, you do have ability to directly influence how your team responds to these factors as you develop a positive team culture.

Develop Your Own Personal BOD

You are never too young or old to start building your own Personal Board of Directors. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have people in my life where there is mutual respect. When I started my own company, I asked their advice on many items – the name of my company, the logo, brochures, etc. With every career milestone, I reassess my board and make sure nobody needs to be retired. Here are the “roles” you need on your BOD.

The Supporter. This person is a master listener. They know a ton about management but also about me as a person. They are always there to lend an encouraging ear, a hug, or a kick in the bottom.

The Bridge. Otherwise known as the connector – predictably, this is the matchmaker for your career. Connectors love to engender relationships among people who might not otherwise have met. Connectors are infectious; these people inspire others to be more like them.

The Sage. Everyone needs a sage – a director they admire, somebody who has done it all in your field, made the mistakes, learned from them and triumphed. This is one of the most trusted positions on the board.

The Questioner. This is an imperative board seat. It pays to surround yourself with people who will question your motives, decisions, and intentions. My questioner makes me a better professional and helps me understand and process judgments and next steps.

The Risk Taker. This person is an inspiration. They have made mistakes and wrong decisions, but they have learned from them, and they will encourage you to do the same. Their mantra is “you won’t know if you never try”.

The Maven. My maven is an expert in business (especially in my speciality -  manufacturing). They are often ahead of the curve but their expertise goes beyond B2B and B2E. These are the folks who help us make informed decisions. I trust the way my maven thinks – she helps me make smarter career judgments.

Remember, you want your BOD to give you honest feedback.  Sometimes this feedback isn’t very positive and isn’t something you want to hear.  You have to be able to make that voice in your head say “These are people that you respect & trust.  You will grow from this.

If You Want to Attract Better People, Develop a Job Description!

In their eagerness to start interviewing, many managers launch their search before they have clarified what they are looking for in a new employee.  This causes a host of problems.  Of course you’ll get some candidates you can consider, but you won’t have a basis for evaluating them.  Result?  You’re going to make a bad hire.

Writing a Job Description – Step-by-Step

  • Decide on the job title and to whom it will report
  • Determine the type of position:  full-time, part-time, contractor, or intern
  • Review & define the difference between an exempt, nonexempt, and hourly position
  • If the job is hourly, determine the number of hours to be worked/weekly
  • Write a general description of the position
  • List the key duties, responsibilities, and tasks (begin each duty with a verb such as manage, control, publish, etc.)
  •  Define the work experience requirements
  • Define education requirements

Remember to focus on the job itself and not so much on the person who last held it. It’s often the case that because of particular circumstances, the incumbent did certain things that aren’t really part of the job.

Recruiting: How to Find the Awesome Candidates

The success of your business depends on hiring quality people. So the ability to recruit makes a difference.  Recruiting is the process of finding potential candidates for job openings. If you’re looking for free or low-cost recruiting tools, fortunately there are several at your disposal:

1)   Genuinely Social – leverages word-of-mouth referrals & personal and professional relationships.

Ask your friends and colleagues if they know anyone with the skills you need. Ask them to be objective and explore their connection.

If you’re out somewhere & you run across someone who is providing excellent customer service, give him or her one of your cards.

2) Online & Social Recruiting – includes searching for them online

Advertise open positions on social networking sites. Use Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. If someone seems interested and asks for more information, respond publically to get even more exposure.

Another free method – includes searching for candidates online. Numerous sites host resumes such as Craigslist, Zerply, and Linkedin. Unfortunately, most resume sites require individuals to pay fees in order to search for resumes. Despite this setback you should look at what free search capabilities are offered.

3)   Post Job Advertisements

An excellent way to post your job for free is to find a local news blog. Reach out to them & identify yourself as a local startup. Mention that you are looking to hire & are local.

This one is obvious but you’d be surprised how many startups forget this step. It’s so simple -  make a section of your website that advertises new job openings.

4)   Passive Recruiting – Market your company as a great place to work.

Emphasize how much your current employees love the company and how much your company loves them.  Potential candidates may come flocking to the Careers section of your website.

Ask your current employees to write for your company blog or to use Twitter to spread the word about your business..

Recognize your employees.

5)   There may come a time where you may need help with Recruiting.  As your company grows, you should assess how often you hire new employees.

If you have high turnover, a full-time internal recruiter may be the best solution.

If your turnover is average, a Human Resources Generalist can function as a part-time recruiter while filling other talent management roles such as performance management and ensuring compliance with laws and regulations in the industry.

You can also hire a contract recruiter or third-party recruiting firm. Organizations that hire contract recruiters tend to have unusually high demand for a short period of time. So consider how normal the level of demand you are experiencing is, and think about how long the demand is expected to last.

Remember – recruiting is a time-intensive process.  But it’s worth it!  The organization with the best people wins!

Interviewing: Ask Right to Hire Right

Why do companies interview? Why can’t they hire anyone that comes in the door?
Bottom-line, it’s the first opportunity a prospective employer has to see if the applicant is the person he claims to be on paper.

Much time & money goes into interviewing. You want to find the right person for that job. So what are you looking for? From each candidate, you want to find out:

  • Can you do the job?
  • Will you do the job?
  • Will you fit in?

Before you ever start interviewing, you must prepare. How do you do that? You need to have written questions for each candidate & your need to take notes during each interview. And you need to know what answers you’re looking for.

First, prepare:

  • Don’t write on the resume or application
  • Write down individual questions that are developed from each individual person’s application or resume
  • Write the questions down in the order you want to interview to go.
  • Jot down the answers that you’re looking for

There are 3 categories of questions that you should ask each candidate:

  • Individual questions that are developed from each person’s application or resume
  • Standard questions for all candidate
  • Experience questions

Resume/application Review Questions

  • Read each resume so that you know as much as possible about each candidate before the interview. Prepare by listing each job he’s done on paper with blanks so you can find out:
  • Where did the applicant work and for how long. What did he like best? Why did he leave?
  • Look for gaps in unemployment. Ask “what did you do for the year you weren’t employed”?
  • Do the same thing for education – say “you attended…”•

Standard Questions:

    You want to find out what the applicant wants to work for you company, so ask:

  • Why are you interested in working for this company?
  • Give me an example of a time you felt really excited about your work?
  • How do you feel this job would help you reach your goals?

Experience Questions:
This is where you want to find out if the applicant has the skills and experiences required for THIS job. You want to ask each candidate questions that closely mirror situations that he would encounter while working for you. You want to ask Behavioral Interview Questions where past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.

You can find “best-fit” candidates by identifying behavior patterns during the interview process.

This gives you, the employer, a much better chance of getting to know who the candidate is, not just what the candidate can do.

Instead of asking a yes/no question such as: “You’ve used Word & Excel – haven’t you? “, ask this question: “Tell me about a time when you added formulas to an Excel spreadsheet”. You’re looking for what was the situation, the candidate’s actions, and the result.

Situation, the actions, & the result:
When the interview is completed, you will analyze the responses to see how they mesh with your organization. With this knowledge, the you are more likely to select the right person for the job and for your company’s culture.


Managing Performance: Give Feedforward, not Feedback

How excited do you get when someone tells yo they want to give you some feedback? What about when you hear that it’s time for a Performance Review or Appraisals? What usually follows this type of offer? Usually something that sounds much more like criticism, blame, and analysis of what we did wrong. Not many of us find this very appealing.

Instead of feedback, give Feedforward – this is a continuous coaching process focused on future performance & career pathing. Imagine envisioning & focusing on a positive future instead of the mistakes of the past.

One of the primary drivers of employee engagement is a sense of growth and development, and another is having a manager that cares about you. Feedforward addresses both of these drivers.

Here are the 4 keys to giving Feedforward:

1) Focus on goals, and organizational alignment.

• The manager and direct-report should work together to identify goals that are specific to the individual’s role and are aligned to corporate objectives

• This should define “what is expected of me”, which is another key driver of engagement and performance.

• This frames the conversation in a meaningful way so so the discussion can be about: “Are the goals on track or not? Why? What can the individual do to improve? What can others do to provide support?”

2) Focus on career guidance.

• The manager should help the employee identify career goals and assist with career pathing.

• Discuss what skills, experiences, and contacts the individual needs to acquire to fulfill career goals.

• Help direct report close “the skill gap” by identifying mentors, assigning developmental opportunities, allowing for short-term job-rotations and allowing time and money for training.

3) Include various data points, not just one manager’s opinion.

• In addition to the manager’s and employee’s perspect, feedback from peers can be gathered from formal 360 degree surveys, informal input from team members, or data gathered in peer-reward systems not he-said she-said, to, “Let’s look at everyone’s input…”

4) Take place throughout the year, not arbitrarily annually.

• Give Feedforward in the context of projects (i.e., goals) which of course have varying durations.

• Goals lasting a year or more should be broken down into smaller objectives so the feedback loop is more frequent.

• Career path discussions should happen as needed, but at least every six months.

The time has come to stop giving feedback and start giving feedforward. You must become leaders of people not just managers of tasks. Feedforward has the power to turn everyday workers into engaged workplace super heroes.

Adapted from Kevin Kruse

Onboarding Your New Employees

You’ve recruited & found great candidates, & you’ve interviewed & hired the very best fit for the job. So when your new employee hits your door, I want you to imagine that he’s like a running parked car – it’s fueled up, sitting there just waiting for someone to drive it to a destination by following a roadmap & to make adjustments when it gets off track. Likewise your new employee is ready to roll, but he needs to understand about your company, the vision, performance expectations, & that their leader will guide them & keep them on track.

We all know that it takes time and money to bring a new employee onboard.  You want to ensure that person will stay, and you want them to start being productive as soon as possible. Because you see, employees are most vulnerable to leaving an organization for 18 months after they are hired. Think of the cost to bring that employee onboard & then to train that new hire. And think of the frustration when a new employee leaves company before he’s up to speed.

What can you do to do to ensure this doesn’t happen? Well making a good first impression is crucial because it:

{C}.                     Engages the employee and gets him up to speed more quickly

{C}.                     Gets a new employee to a productive level quickly – where they’re contributing value to the organization

{C}.                     Increases the bottom line, client satisfaction,   and engagement

Traditionally, new employee orientation has consisted of:

{C}                        Review of the employee handbook and the completion of necessary payroll and benefits paperwork.

{C}                        Maybe a quick review of the organization’s structure, mission, and policies

How is “Onboarding” different from orientation? Onboarding is a process that begins the moment an offer is extended & ends when the new employee is classified as a fully functioning employee, so it’s last step of recruitment & the first step towards retention.

In other words “Onboarding” is:

  • The ongoing process of assimilation and integration.
  • A comprehensive strategic approach that starts before orientation and extends well beyond the first few days – it can last from 3 months to two years, depending on the positions.

Make sure you include the following in your Onboarding process:

  • Communication of vision, goals, culture and values
  • Discussion of customers/clients requirements
  • Discussion of the product/service provided and characteristics/benefits of it
  • Discussion of the key business processes, policies and procedures
  • Introductions to critical Internal and external people
  • Discussion and documenting of short and longer-term performance expectations
  • Establishing regular meetings to review progress, job performance and results
  • Establishing a training calendar

As you can see, all of this involves keeping communication channels open – not 1-way communication, but an actual 2-way dialogue.

An onboarding process takes time to plan and implement; however it builds the leader and employee relationship.   New employees who went through a structured on-boarding program were 58 % more likely to be with the organization after three years (Wynnurst Group).   So you can see that it’s worth it!

How Do I Ask Better Questions?

How important is it to ask good questions? It’s very important. It’s important you use questioning skills to help you completely understand the caller’s situation. Otherwise, you could be responding to what you guess the caller means, which may or may not be correct. Questioning goes beyond listening.

Effective questioning is a real compliment to your skills. It shows that you have the ability to understand the caller’s real needs. It shows that you are looking for meaning that’s deeper than the spoken message. Effective questioning is a powerful, learned skill. It says to the caller, “I’m interested in determining your needs.”

Questioning can be put into two divisions: Open-Ended Questions and Closed-Ended Questions.

Open-Ended Questions: Open-ended questions are questions without a fixed limit. They encourage continued conversation, and help you get more information. Plus, they often provide opportunities to gain insight into the other person’s feelings. Open-ended questions draw out more information. If you want the caller to open up, use open-ended questions that start with who, what, where, why, when, and how. A few examples are:

“What are some of the things you look for in a hotel?”

“How do you feel government could be more responsive to your needs?”

“What are your concerns about this new program?”

Closed-Ended Questions: Closed-ended questions have a fixed limit. They’re often answered with a yes or no, or with a simple statement of fact. Closed-ended questions are used to direct the conversation. They usually get specific information or confirm facts. Here are some examples.

“Do you have health insurance?”

“Do you want the new brochure?”

“Would you be interested in that?”

We use the open-ended questions to get more information and the closed-ended questions to focus in on one area.

The bottom line is to practice using a variety of questioning techniques. It will help you help every time you deal with others.

Adapted from Nancy Friedman

7 Quick Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills

Do you know how much time do you spend listening? It is estimated that half of our time is spent listening. Good listening is an essential part of active communication and makes us better managers, customers, coworkers, supervisors, parents and mates. Most of us aren’t good listeners; however, listening is a skill that you can always improve.

  •  Focus on the speaker and let them know you are listening by giving verbal cues such as, ‘yes’, ‘ I see’ and non-verbal cues such as, nodding, leaning forward and smiling. Give the speaker your full attention
  • Make eye contact, look at the person you are speaking to or who is speaking to you. Looking in another direction or distracting glances appear as though you are not listening.
  • Avoid interrupting. It’s rude and you cannot talk and listen at the same time. If you assume what people are going to say before they say it and then interrupt to respond to your assumptions, you will annoy the person you are talking with and you will miss the real message.
  •  Ask questions and try to see the other person’s point-of-view. Don’t assume that you know what the person saying if things are not making sense for you. If you are unsure of the meaning ask for clarification and then if you are still not sure repeat it back to them.
  •  Acknowledge the other person’s feelings; make them feel like you understand and that it is okay to feel the way they do.
  •  Be patient when you don’t understand; getting upset won’t solve any problems but will only create more.
  •  Express your point-of-view and make a conscious choice about your response.

Adapted from Sheila Dicks

Who or What Influences Your Leadership?

We’re all busy trying to build & extend our influence outwardly. But have you thought about what influences you? Read on to learn what you can do to reawaken that leader within.

One of John Maxwell’s more famous quotes is “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.”

But how much attention do you pay to what’s influencing you? Have you even considered this?

In one of my earlier posts, I discussed If You Want Better Answers, Ask Better Questions.  Now I’m going to show you how to apply this same process, using the 5W’s & 1H, to YOURSELF to help reawaken & grow that leader within.

The 1st “W” is WHO:  Who do you admire most & why? Are you spending time with them? Have you talked to them about the skills you admire & asked them to help you develop these skills?

On the other side, are there people you spend time with who aren’t in alignment with your values?

Who, from different backgrounds & experiences, are your seeking out?

WHAT is the 2nd “W”:  What are you reading, watching & listening to?  And what is this helping you to grow or achieve?

What gaps have you identified between where you are & where you want to be, & what will help you close the gaps?

What things distract you from meeting or advancing toward your goals? What affects your mood, energy level & creative vision?

The 3rd “W” is WHEN:  When are you most productive throughout the day? Are you using your time wisely during that period?

When is it easiest for you to lose focus of your goals & how can you keep yourself on target? When do you take time for “you” to rejuvenate?

WHERE is the next “W”:  Where do you need to be to get your best work done?

Where are you most likely to get distracted from doing the tasks that need to be completed?

Where would you like to be five years from now & what tools, resources & people will help or hurt you from getting there?

WHY is the 5th “W”:   What’s your “why” or your purpose?

Your “why” gets you out of bed in the morning & drives you throughout your day.

Communicate your purpose to others for buy-in.

Be clear on your purpose & communicate it to others for buy-in. If you’re not clear or passionate about your why, you can kiss your own influence goodbye!

And the “H” is HOW:  How will you accomplish your goals? You need a plan – what does it look like & who will be a supporter? Who will be an obstacle?

How can you further develop & grow as a leader? How will you manage your plan? How will you remain accountable to your plan? Who & what tools can help you?

When you take the time to use this process, you identify who or what is in your environment or needs to be in your environment to affect who you are now & what you want to be in the future.

Using the Impact/Difficulty Matrix for Problem Solving

You have all these solutions. How do you determine which solution/solutions to go after first?

This is where you use another tool, Impact/Difficulty Matrix.

1.    Go through each solution & plot it on this matrix according to whether the impact on the business (or area) would be low or high (horizontal scale) & whether the level of difficulty to implement the improvements would be high or low (vertical scale).

2.    Now you have a list of improvements that you can prioritize:

Quadrant 1: High difficulty/low impact – Forget it,

Quadrant 2: High difficulty/high impact – Maybe

Quadrant 3: Low difficult/low impact – Low priority but could be worthwhile

Quadrant 4: Low difficulty/High impact – Go for it.

Using Brainstorming for Problem Solving

Do you want to actually solve your business challenges & move beyond “just fix it”?

Previously, I’ve shared with you a 3 step problem solving process, when “Just fix it” isn’t working. I also gave you tools to use in the 1st step “Understand the Problem”

In today’s post, I’m going to give you 2 more tools – one to use in each of step 2 & 3.

Brainstorming is a tool used in the 2nd step “Generate Ideas” to generate as many ideas as you can to solve your problem.

Brainstorming combines a relaxed, informal approach while encouraging people to come up with thoughts and ideas that can, at first, seem a bit crazy.

Now I know that all of you are thinking “I know how to brainstorm”, but there are 4 tips you can use to make it more effective.

The 1st tip is Prepare the Group

Appoint 1 person to record every idea that comes from the session. Have flip charts or whiteboards for notes.

Remind everyone that brainstorming is to generate ideas. In doing this, they should avoid criticizing, rewarding, or judging the ideas.

Tip #2 is Present the situation

Use & review the problem solving statement, flowchart, & 5 Why from “Understand the Problem”. Make it clear that the meeting’s objective is to generate as many ideas as possible for solutions to the problem.

Tip #3 is Guide the discussion

Allow a few minutes for silent brainstorming so everyone can think, ponder, & get some ideas down. Record ideas exactly as they are stated while encouraging piggybacking on ideas.

Tip #4 is Reduce the list

Ask for clarification & approval to combine like ideas. For each item, ask “should this continue to be considered?

Now that you have completed step 2, Generate Ideas, you need to move to the 3rd step “Plan for Action”.

You have all these solutions. How do you determine which solution/solutions to go after first?

Defining the Problem and Finding the Root Cause - Part 2

In Part 1, we discussed the problem statement tool. In this post, we'll review another tool, The 2nd tool, 5 Whys, helps you get to the real root cause of a problem quickly.

Do you remember being a child, where you used to annoy your parents by asking “why” again and again? You can apply this same concept in your business to find the root cause of broken processes by asking “Why” at least 5 times.

Here’s an example:

Problem Statement: Your car stopped running 1 day/week for the last 3 weeks when you’re on your way home from work.

1.  Why did your car stop?

  • It ran out of gas.

2.  Why did it run out of gas?

  • I didn’t have any money to buy gas.

3.  Why didn’t you have any money?

  • I worked only 4 days/week for the last 3 weeks.

4. Why did you work 4 days each week?

  • I had to stay home with my child.

 5Why did you have to stay home with your child?

  •  My baby sitter was sick & I didn’t have a back-up.

6. Why didn’t you have a back-up?

In your business, start with the first task on your flowchart, decide what could go wrong there, and then ask your 5 Whys to get to the root cause. Then continue to the next task.

Asking “why” 5 times is a very simple method to use to drill down through the layers of symptoms to get to the root cause.

Defining the Problem and Finding the Root Cause - Part 1

Here are 2 more tools to help your business actually solve some of the challenges & move beyond “Just fix it”.

We’ve already highlighted the importance of following a problem solving process when “Just fix it” isn’t working. & I’ve given you a flowchart tool to “understand the problem”.

Here is 1 more tool to “understand the problem”. If you don’t fully understand the problem, there is no need for you to move through the rest of the problem solving process.

The 1st tool, problem statement, is necessary to clearly define the problem & provide focus.

Here’s how you define the problem statement:

1. Write down the problem as simply as you can.

2. Answer these questions about the problem:

  • When are you seeing this problem?
  • How big is the problem?
  •  Who does it affect
  • What happens?
  •  Where does it occur?

3. Then rewrite your statement using your answers to these questions; Make sure this doesn’t suggest a cause or solution.

Here’s an example:

Poor Problem Statement: Human resources is taking too long to fill open positions.

Better Problem Statement: Recruiting time for software engineers is missing the goal of 70 days 91% of the time…

You can see that we have metrics now, you know which positions are taking the time, you even know what this problem is costing.

Now you know what problem to focus on.

A well-written problem statement tells you what to solve & keeps you on track.