Market musings

How Do You Build a Problem-solving Culture?

by Sasha Viasasha
October 10, 2017

How do you create a culture where people solve problems and work together?

It’s simple: you have to have regular, direct conversations.

However, in our internet age it doesn’t seem so simple anymore. People are drowning in email correspondence while productivity is plummeting. Text and chat, useful for communicating low context information, are a poor substitutes for real conversations.

Conversation anxiety

Direct communication has become challenging for many people, particularly young people who grew up on social media and texting and may have never even answered a household telephone.

But it isn’t just a millennial problem.

We’ve all become addicted to the ease of asynchronous communication, and the illusion that once we’ve fired off an email, text or message, we’ve done our part.

The hard work of consensus-building, of being challenged to defend our ideas happens in conversations.

Communication is hard work.

Problem-solving is hard work.

It’s easy to bypass this work when you avoid one-on-one conversations. It can seem to make things go easier. ‘Frictionless’ has become a buzz word for the way technology helps us glide past each other, seemingly without any tension or conflict.

But by avoiding direct confrontation, misunderstandings and resentments can flourish beneath the surface, undermining your mission. Obstacles aren’t voiced, but they don’t just go away.

Conversation serves a critical function, and make us test our ideas. Without this critical element, bad ideas can gain traction. By the time you realize there is a problem it’s reached critical mass. How do you build a problem-solving culture that prevents these breakdowns before they start?

Having regular conversations with partners, employees, contractors and customers is the best way to solve problems and move your business forward, eliminating what isn’t working and finding what does.

Science validates conversation

Researchers recently confirmed what anecdotal evidence has so often upheld: conversation is a powerful way to connect. A recent study showed how verbal communication establishes a brain-to-brain link between interlocutors, a phenomena scientists are calling brain entrainment. This link was established even with a lack of visual cues.

Although science is still studying how and why brains link up when we talk to each other, most people can validate the effectiveness of a conversation for clearing up misunderstandings, gaining clarity, and problem-solving. So why do we avoid talking to each other? There are many reasons why people may avoid talking, but there are some big ones we see again and again:

  • People don’t want to take or receive cold phone calls
  • It seems easier to send a text or email
  • It’s difficult to locate contact information
  • We’ve just forgotten how to talk to one another
  • It’s not part of the culture (no one talks, so no one talks)

As a business owner, how do you get past these barriers and build a problem-solving culture? Maybe your employees are reluctant to talk to one another, or have trouble talking to customers. Or perhaps your employees are reluctant to talk to you.

You have to build a conversation of culture from the ground up. Make yourself available to talk, in person or over the phone. Insist that employees pick up the phone to resolve problems, work together, and help customers. Have positive, helpful conversations as well: if conversations are always difficult and painful, few people will want to have them. Use conversations to announce good news, or give a shout out for a job well done.

Training on phone etiquette and conversational skills might be as important as keeping up on the latest technology trends or productivity hacks. Conversation can be difficult, but it’s how we process and contextualize information. Having conversations means developing the basket of skills known as soft skills. These skills, from empathy to negotiation, are becoming increasingly important in our digital world and they are all developed by having conversations.

At Spoke, we firmly believe that talking still has value. We’ve seen over and over again—across across the room or across the world—how picking up the phone is still the most effective way to solve problems quickly.

Does your business phone system help you solve problems?

It seems obvious, but some business phone systems don't actually help people talk. They are too hard to set up and too hard to use. At Spoke, we believe that talking is the best way to solve problems fast, so we focus on getting more calls made and answered.

We've built a simple, intuitive interface that employees and customers will love to use. Based off how small and medium sized companies actually use their phones, we've learned that less is more when it comes to business phone systems. We've designed Spoke around the core phone system features small companies need and want. It's built to be deployed across your mobile phone infrastructure and administered from a simple app. Simple to install and easy to use.

Our smart directory keeps track of all your business calls and supports your company with features like an AI receptionist, easy call transfer, and group calling. You can choose a business phone line or port over the number you're already using. The Spoke app masks employees numbers so you can feel secure when they use their own device. It provides call context and presence, combining the low pressure of texting with the high problem resolution power of a phone call.

Start building a problem-solving culture today

Want to learn more about how Spoke can help your business talk more and solve more problems? Contact us for a demo, and let's figure out how we can get you talking.