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In an industry with so many different activities and people, problems will arise from time to time. Here are some helpful tips to use when these situations happen.
1. Don’t get mad — then you become part of the problem instead of the solution. While staying calm and working through the problem isn’t always your first instinct, it always works.
2. When a member brings a problem to your attention, listen carefully and don’t interrupt. Do not get defensive or edgy. Take notes on their feedback if necessary. Then tell the member what you can do, not what you can’t.
3. Try to educate, rather than enforce policy. Remember that most members may not be aware of the reasons for your club’s policies and procedures. A good response is never “well, that’s just our policy.”
While you may have had to deal with this situation many times, be patient and understand this is probably the first time the member has had to deal with the situation or problem.
4. Stop and think. Look for the best way to solve a problem — it might not be the most obvious.
5. Don’t blame anyone — that only exacerbates the problem. You may not agree with every decision that is made, and that is normal. If you question a policy or decision, do so intelligently and with the objective of improvement. It’s fine to discuss, question, debate and suggest improvements, but do so with your supervisor away from where members could overhear.
Once the discussion has taken place and a final decision is made (remember, someone has to make a final decision — the problem won’t resolve on its own), it needs to be followed and supported.
6. Be sure to follow-up until a mutually satisfactory solution is reached. Follow-up is important.
The key elements with problem solving are communication, compromise, teamwork and follow-up. Keep these things in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to ensuring a small problem doesn’t turn into a major issue.
Chez Misko is the COO of Wisconsin Athletic Club. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.