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We all have to deal with support organisations from time to time, whether that’s the building maintenance department, the IT guys or even our GP.

Here’s a really simple tip to get the best from any support organisation.

Consider Susan, who walks into the meeting room and notices one of the ceiling lights isn’t working. She contacts building maintenance and asks that they replace the bulb. Later, she visits her GP and tells him that she cut her finger a week ago, but it’s still quite painful, and now a little red and swollen.

See the difference?

In the first case, she told the support organisation (building maintenance) what to do. In the second (her GP), she told him what problem she was trying to solve.

It’s a subtle difference, but it can have a huge impact. For a start, the first approach may not yield the results you’re looking for (there’s no guarantee that the light problem is caused by a faulty  bulb).

More importantly, though, you aren’t getting the best from the support organisation if you tell them what to do. Whether they are building maintenance, a doctor or IT support staff, the chances are that they know more about their discipline than you do – that’s why you’re using them.

So let them use their skills and knowledge. Tell them what result you want, share with them the “why” rather than the “how”. Not only is that more likely to get the result you want, but it will also lead to a more productive relationship with the support person.

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