In Transforming Complaints Toward Solutions & Understanding Complaints May Point to Solutions, I introduced 12 General Areas of complaints & 10 Skeleton Keys that may open the door to solutions from the complaints.
10 Skeleton Keys
Imagine that you have a keyring of 10 Skeleton Keys. As you hear the complaint, a co-discovery process of ‘what does better looks like’ happens. From this Skeleton Keyring, you may be able to hand the best Skeleton Key to the person.
The Skelton Keys are:
- Direct Task Assignment;
- Reframing the Situation;
- Exceptions to Rule;
- Symptom Prescription;
- Past Successes;
- New Expectations;
- Minimal Change;
- New Location;
- When will guilt be resolved?;
- What difference will it make to them?
Each Skelton Key may work best depending on how the person frames the complaint.
“The exact nature of the trouble does not seem important to effectively generate solutions, because the intervention needs only to fit. Just a skeleton key is called for, not the one and only key designed to specifically match the specific lock. “ – Steve de Shazer
Skeleton Key – Direct Task Assignment
What does the workplace complaint look like?
A bit or sequence of behavior
- I can’t ever feel caught up with all these emails and work. Whenever I catch up, there is something more for me to do. It locks me into a place where I am doing 12 things poorly. It would be helpful when I can open an email, breathe easily and know what to work on 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.
The frequency with which the complaint happens
- Almost 8 times a week, I find myself avoiding contact with Akio. I know I need his forms to be completed for my work to get done, and he has always been helpful. It is something with me … What would be helpful is for me to contact Akio and be able to hang up with all the information I need.
What would the Direct Task Assignment – Skelton Key – Look Like?
There are many, many, many variations of Direct Task Assignments. Below are 2 of my favorites.
Direct Task Assignment: A recommendation for the person to complete a specific task and be thoughtful, so they can tell you in detail what was useful and what change occurred from that task.
Flip a Coin & Do Something
- Between now and the next time we meet, here is something you may try. Flip a coin before turning your computer on and looking at your emails. Heads, you will block out 20 minutes and list your top 3 priorities for that day, look at the emails, and only immediately open and respond to those that fit your priorities. Tails, you do nothing different. Take note of how your day is different and how much more work you accomplish.
What do you do when you are OK doing …
- Between now and the next time we meet, here is something you may try. Pay special attention to what you do when you overcome avoiding Akio; what do you do when contacting Akio? Please pay special attention to what you do before you contact him, the process you go through, how you greet, and what happens during and after the call.
All Skeleton Keys are meant to find Cooperation and be close enough to create progress. Suppose the person doesn’t try the suggested Task Assignment; that is OK. Spend time talking and try something else.
What do you think?
How can you see a Direct Task Assignment being useful? What have you tried that works?