There are times you need a mallet.

Your approach to problems: Caddyshack? Or Whack-a-Mole?

Some days you have one problem that just won’t go away. No matter how hard you try, how determined your approach, the problem always slips away at the last moment, which can leave you as crazy as Bill Murray’s character in Caddyshack.

Other days, problems seem to come up one after the other, another popping up immediately after you hit the last one with a large mallet.

A credit union is a complex organization, dependent upon a multitude of people and processes to function. When one critical component (such as you) becomes overly focused on a single problem, progress can grind to a halt. Likewise, if you are forever bouncing from one issue to the next, you never get down to the underlying reason why these problems are appearing in the first place. So what’s a problem-solver to do?

That will likely depend upon your job description.

If you are the CEO, put down that mallet. You don’t need to handle everything that pops up. Your primary role is to provide the plan for future growth and build culture of trust with your staff. Prioritize goals, put someone in charge of getting it done, then get out of the way. Coach your team only when asked, and confirm the problem is solved at the end.

If you are the person (or team) tasked to solve a problem, then you need to channel just a tiny bit of your inner Carl and focus on one problem at a time. Start by writing down the problem, then ask why it is happening. If the solution to the root problem isn’t obvious, then keep asking “why?” until you get to the core issue. This approach may sound a little fixated, but it works (as long as you don’t resort to plastic explosives). Then, once one varmint has been taken care of, you can move to the next problem that pops up.

Just don’t forget your mallet. There are times you need one.



Kent Dicken

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