Your Career and You: “The Old Way Doesn’t Work? Try A New Way!”

Publication1One of the fringe benefits of being a “veteran” public relations professional now teaching the next generation(s) of PR practitioners at Curry College is that of providing advice, counsel, and general “talk ‘em off the ledge” reassurance to young…and sometimes not-so-young…students.

They’ve been told, time and again, to face up to their challenges and work through them. The problem, though, is that they’re usually not given any pointers on exactly how to “work through them.”

The simple answer here is that there rarely is just one simple answer to a problem. Different people have different ways of dealing with situations, and you have to figure out what will work best for your particular challenge.

The one thing I do know for sure is that you can’t just keep banging your head against the wall. The wall might fall…someday…but odds are you will go down first!

So what to do?!? Here’s a thought…try a new way of tackling the problem!

A gazillion years ago, in my early Air Force days, I worked in a three-person audiovisual library. My boss and I were early-birds, so we always got to the office at 8 o’clock to open up for the day and serve our customers. The third member of our team was (for a variety of marginally acceptable reasons) incapable of meeting that start-time.

Thanks to some very successful promotions that I was doing for our operation, business had nearly doubled and with that growth had come increasingly longer…unscheduled…working hours. Some of our new customers needed to come by earlier than 8 to get their film and equipment; others needed to come by later than our traditional 5 p.m. closing.

An ad hoc planning session gave us a solution that also allowed us to avoid disciplinary actions against my sleepy-head colleague….my boss and I (habitual early risers) switched to a 7 a.m.-4 p.m. work shift; Roger took on a 9 a.m.-6 p.m. shift.

Bear in mind, this was 40 years ago, and “flexible work hours”…especially in the military…were unheard of! But Roger was a good worker, and we wanted to find positive resolution to the issue while meeting the needs of our growing customer base.

The result?? Not only were we able to get around a smoldering disciplinary problem (this was the military, remember…timeliness is a big deal). We also added two hours to our open-for-business day!

Business grew even more, and our late-to-work problem was solved.

I mention this particular example because, when I shared it in later years with other military and civilian co-workers, the majority of the responses fell into the “I would have written the lazy bum up” category.

That is an alternative solution, and one that often is used… “my way or the highway.” It just didn’t work for us. We didn’t like the alternative…so we changed it.

Explore your options. Try new ways of doing things. Take chances (within reason). You might just find you’ve solved your problem!


About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 20 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
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4 Responses to Your Career and You: “The Old Way Doesn’t Work? Try A New Way!”

  1. Corina Manea says:

    Love your approach Kirk. It proves that when one wants to find solutions, he finds them. When he only wants to point fingers and do nothing, he can do that too, but it doesn´t mean the problem is solved.
    Everything has a solution if you are willing to search for it. We are all different and special in our own way, we don´t have to fit in the same pattern and if the only problem your colleague had was waking up late, you find the best solution for all of you and for the business. That´s the idea, when you value your team member and know each one´s worth, you know you have to find a solutions to make everybody happy.
    When you don´t care and only want people to attain your rigid rules, in the end you end up loosing: people are unhappy, they won´t give everything for you and, at some point, they´ll leave.


    • kirkhazlett says:

      I’m not sure if I responded to this, Corina, so running the risk of repeating myself…Thanks so much for your feedback! It really helps when I can get insightful comments from folks like yourself who have “been there; done that.” Helps me keep focused!


      • Corina Manea says:

        You responded Kirk, thanks so much. I really believe we need more people like you, who understand there are different ways to solve a situation and not wait till it becomes an issues. And I hope the next PR generations will bring more to the table in this respect.


  2. kirkhazlett says:

    Thanks so much, Corina! This has always been my approach as a manager…and professor. Not everyone with whom I’ve worked has agreed with me. So be it. I’m comfortable with my decisions, and folks who have worked for me have, to a great extent, gone on to bigger and better opportunities because they were given a chance when I tried a “new way”!


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