Are YOU Solving the Real “Root Cause” of Your Career Problems?
One of the things I learned in the high-tech world was the concept of “root-cause”. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s the idea that when you solve a problem, you want to ensure you are solving the root-cause of a problem and not a symptom.
A lot of times in medicine they treat the symptom because they don’t know what is the root cause.
Example: I have a constantly runny nose. Not an allergy or infection. Had it for years and my mother did as well. Not knowing a root cause, they give me a nasal spray to stop it from running. The root-cause isn’t really solved but the nasal spray provides a temporary solution.
I bring this up as I all too often discover when working with clients that they are trying to solve a symptom. The problem with solving a symptom is that it will continue, just like my nose if I don’t use the nasal spray. In your career, you want to solve root cause issues so you can move forward.
Granted, it’s not always easy to identify a root cause, so let me give you an example so I can illustrate how this might work for you. I have a trained eye and ear but you can develop yours and hopefully start becoming more aware.
- I spoke to a gal who had a very specialized career and associated degrees and education to support it. She loved her work but had been fairly transient, moving from one job to another. When we spoke, she had concluded that she needed to change careers entirely because she was convinced her industry produced too many flaky, dysfunctional leaders. As she spoke, I discovered she worked well with the people reporting to her, had spotty peers relationships but always had problems with her managers. After giving me several examples of issues that cropped up with her managers, I learned this pattern existed in all her previous jobs. That’s why she concluded what she did.
- I came to a different conclusion. She had failed to develop both peer and upper-level relationships. Her communication to those 2 levels was bare minimum at most. She had little to no support with either group and to her, it looked like they were all lined up against her. When a pattern like this emerges; you have to look to the one thing constant and that was her. These people who didn’t support her, didn’t support her because she wasn’t technically good, they didn’t support her because she didn’t support them. If she didn’t change, the problem would follow her to another career and industry. After I shared this with her it was like a light bulb went off for her.
See what I mean? I’d have to say I see this type of situation almost every day.
It’s easy to get caught up in symptoms and fail to see how we can be the source of career problems. (I think there is a saying “It’s hard to remember you were here to drain the swamp when you’re waist deep in alligators.”)
When you fail to get promoted or continually have problems with your boss or peers, the instant solution most people seek is to find a new job. The problem will persist if you don’t solve the root-cause. A new job is only a temporary fix.
So, my friends, if you have a problem in your career and you’re not sure what to do, dig deeper.
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