Working in IT, whatever your role, you will encounter problems. Systems are down, deadlines are missed, code isn’t ready…etc. The list of problems you may face are endless. When faced with a problem, it’s easy to either escalate it or communicate the issue out to a wider audience. It’s harder to come up with solutions and take action on a path towards getting it resolved.

When you encounter problems, I suggest taking actions toward a solution before anything else. Once you have taken steps towards resolution, then communicate the issue to a wider audience. This way when you do communicate, you’re not just raising a problem, you are also bringing a solution. Chances are, your leadership team will look to you anyway to get the problem resolved.

Here’s the thing, people get frustrated when others bring them problems without solutions. When I worked in software QA and someone told me the system wasn’t working, I would begin a series of questions like…is the environment down? Have you reached out to the deployment team? Have you logged a defect? Have you done anything?

The point is, don’t just raise problems and expect others to do the work of getting it resolved. Go above and beyond. If you’re going to communicate an issue to leadership, tell them your plan to resolve it.  Even better, also tell them your plan to avoid it happening again in the future.

Now, there are sometimes when you should communicate issues before having a solution. If the house is on fire, everyone needs to know immediately. You can figure out cause and prevention later. But for most issues, you will have time to work on a solution before communicating to leadership.

For those of us who are project managers, managing and resolving problems is our job. When fires occur on our projects, it is our responsibility to get them put out. Project management is tough work. If you don’t enjoy taking the lead to resolve issues, while being the center point of communication, project management may not be for you. No matter how well you plan, your projects will hit turbulence.

For me, I actually enjoy the chaos that can come with project management. I like being the one to lead an “all hands on deck” war room fire drill. This doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes get stressed. I’ve been through enough projects now to know that dealing with problems is normal and part of the job.

Next time you encounter a problem, I challenge you to come up with solutions before you escalate. Start taking action to get the issue resolved. This way, your leadership team and stakeholders will know you are taking the lead.

Don’t just bring a problem, bring a solution.

For my next post, I’ll talk about how to not let someone else make their problem, your problem.

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