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Are You The Problem Or The Solution


Jim Cavalluzzi

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As an employee you interact with your co-workers and supervisors on a continuous basis. You work hard to do your job; to get along with others; and hopefully, to do your part as a team player by keeping a watchful eye on the day to day procedures of the manufacturing process and looking for those areas that could benefit from improvement. Yet, whenever you relate those observations to others it seems your concerns go unnoticed and you cannot understand why. Perhaps it is not what you are doing, but how you are doing it!


Someone told me a long time ago that it is usually not what you are doing, but what you are perceived to be doing; not who you are, but rather, who you are perceived to be. Most individuals have a profound tendency to make a few observations and pass judgment. They will compare these observations to past experiences and quickly infer what they believe is happening without asking if there could possibly be any other reasons for what seems to be unfolding before their very eyes. As a result, you will often times be judged improperly and unfairly. This is a fact of life, it is simply human nature, and if you are to succeed, you need to be aware of how you are perceived by others.

One common example of this misconception is the employee who is well organized, focused and productive. If you are diligent, organized and adept at multitasking, you will undoubtedly be seen by some people as a slacker. They will see others with a cluttered work area, running around frantically, complaining that they have too much on their plate and since they are typically the status quo, you will stand out. Since you are not complaining and appear to be relaxed and in control, they will assume you are not doing enough, when in fact, you may have already accomplished more in one day than they will in a week.

It is usually the unique or distinct persons who stand out, but standing out is not always a good thing. You need to balance being noticed with being understood and the first step in accomplishing this feat is to be aware of how others perceive your actions, or in many cases, inactions.


Whatever your actions or intentions you must realize, in no uncertain terms, that you will be categorized into one of two areas: others will see you as either part of the problem or part of the solution. There should be no middle of the road, no fence sitting. Plain and simple; if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.

Take a stand whenever possible. If you really don’t have a stand, you still need to work toward the common goal, so always strive to be part of the solution to the problems that arise. If you do not have specific positive input you still need to relate your willingness to work toward a successful solution. If you do not offer solutions you will either be perceived as; unwilling to solve the problem, incapable of solving the problem, or often times, just another whiner.


Nobody likes another whiner; there are far too many of them out there already. When you approach a problem by stating: “you do not like this”, or “someone ought to do something about that”, then you are a whiner, period. By not offering solutions you are simply stating what most others already know. You are wasting their time and you are indirectly stating your unwillingness or inability to help.

Instead, you should approach every problem as an opportunity. You should analyze the situation and try to determine a few reasonable approaches to solving the problem. If you find there are no reasonable solutions that come to mind, you may want to hold off on calling attention to the issue until you have had some time to study the situation further. If you still cannot come up with any suggestions, be careful, you just might be whining!

In bringing the problem to light, you should be prepared to first state your observations, then offer your solutions, and finally, make known your willingness to participate in resolving the issue. Now you will be seen as part of the solution. Now you will be perceived as a team player. Only now will your comments be taken seriously.


It is not enough to point out problems. You need to take ownership of them as well. This lends you credibility and makes you stand out as an asset to the organization. Anyone can find fault, not everyone can offer solutions, and fewer still will step up to the plate and take responsibility for improvement. So make the problem your problem and be part of the solution.

Offer to solve the problem. If you don’t have an immediate solution, then offer to serve on a team which will address the problem. Better yet, offer to put that team together and to head it up yourself. In doing so you will ensure your concerns are dealt with. It is very difficult to tell someone you do not want them to fix something that needs to be fixed. So when you bring forth solutions to problems and demonstrate a willingness to work towards a positive resolution, you will not only be taken seriously, but more often than not, you will be given the resources you need to be successful.


Treat others in the same manner you wish to be treated. Take their concerns seriously. Don’t be judgmental, instead, give them the benefit of the doubt and avoid letting the facts get in the way of the truth. Ask yourself if there could be any other reasons for the actions you observe. Determine their true intentions and find out what they are really doing, not just what they might be perceived to be doing.


  • Be aware of how you perceive others and how they perceive you
  • Don’t look for problems, search for opportunities
  • Bring only legitimate opportunities forward
  • Don’t whine, get off the fence and take a stand
  • Offer solutions
  • Take ownership
  • Participate in improvement

    In doing so, you will have removed the possibility of being perceived incorrectly. You will be seen as a take charge type of individual rather than just another whiner. You will be perceived as an effective and useful employee, who not only has the ability to see problems, but one who can bring forward solutions and who is willing to take charge and ensure the problem is dealt with in an effective manner. You are no longer part of the problem; you are now part of the solution.

    © by James Cavalluzzi: June 26, 2007

    About the Author

    Mr. Cavalluzzi is the founder and owner of CONSOLUTE, LLC engineering support and consulting services providing site search, industrial, manufacturing and design engineering support. His extensive background in engineering dates back over 30 years and includes the robotics, automotive, aerospace, metals and plastics industries.

    Visit them at: Consolute, LLC – Engineering and Consulting Services

    Follow us @Scopulus_News

    Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-07-28 11:15:48 in Personal Articles

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