Too often people play the victim. You know them when you hear them. They have all the excuses (often disguised as reasons)."It's not our fault; that department made the mistake." "They didn't give me the information I need, so I couldn't get the job done." "It's not my job!" This sort of attitude misses the big picture. While at work, each interaction that we have represents Wittenberg. If you do not care, neither does Wittenberg. If you do not have time, neither does Wittenberg. As staff members of the Wittenberg community, most of us take pride in our work, pride in this place. We believe in the motto "Wittenberg tradition.expect the best!" Despite trying our best, we know that mishaps and problems will occur. Sometimes we will be responsible for the problem, and other times we'll be called on to clean up a situation created by someone else. Whichever the case, it is our responsibility to solve the problem and take care of the customer. Just like we hear people who like to play the victim, we hear people who look for solutions. ."I don't know, but I'll find out." "I'm sorry it went off track, but this is what I can do to fix it." "How can we prevent this problem from happening again?"
Ask yourself, which statements would you like to hear? With whom would you like to work? Which of these people are going nowhere and which will get results? Which type of person are you-victim-focused or solution-oriented?
To self-assess how you handle problems, think about the last time that you were faced with a customer service problem. How did you respond? What did you think? A key question you should ask yourself about that situation is, "What could I have done differently?" Maybe-just maybe-you had a part to play in it too. Think about that tough situation and look at what your role was in helping create it. What did you do that might have contributed to the outcome? Or, what didn't you do that let the outcome happen?
Was there something more that you could have done or said to avoid the outcome? Maybe you could have seen the situation coming and avoided it. Maybe you could have listened better. Maybe you could have communicated your expectations more clearly. Maybe you could have tried a bit harder to find a solution.
In almost every situation there is something more that you can do to create the outcome you desire. That is being accountable for the result. Accountable people don't wait and hope for things to get better. Accountable people recognize problems early, before they get out of hand, and they recognize their role in achieving the result. They "own the problem." They find solutions. And, most importantly, they make solutions happen.
Now for a dose of realism. On the one hand, if you really try, you can solve a lot more problems than you think you can. That's accountable. But, on the other hand, you can't solve everything. Some things are just beyond your control. Part of being accountable is to recognize those things that are out of your control and just move on. If you try to solve the things that are out of your control, or worse just complain about them (play the victim), you simply waste time, money and energy. For instance, there are rules and regulations you have to follow; the weather will do what it will do; the economy is too big for any one person to solve, and what someone else does is their choice not yours.
Service Recovery through Problem Solving is one of the topics in Wittenberg's on-going customer service training. In these sessions, we learn tools and techniques, such as the problem-solving questions in the left bar, from the customer service program designed by Noel-Levitz, an enrollment management consultation firm for colleges and universities.
These sessions remind us that our work is part of a bigger and noble mission-helping students to learn and grow. Wittenberg's objective is to serve the individual student on a personal path to understanding, achievement and purpose. And, Wittenberg is judged by the work and performance of each one of us.