After a recent medical procedure, I received a booklet about pain management to assist me after I arrived at home. In this flyer there were several aids to help the patient describe the pain to their caregiver.

One section suggested a list of consequences because of the pain: unable to sleep, difficulty in climbing stairs, pain when moving shoulder, etc. Another section provided a list of adjectives to use to describe the pain: burning, cutting, pressing, radiating, shooting, throbbing, etc. The booklet also had a numerical rating scale as well as a set of faces that illustrated various stages of grimacing to help doctors know the degree of discomfort.

While my “number 4” may be different than your “number 4”, the information helps set a scale as to the direction your pain is moving and how it compares to previous visits. The list of words also provide much greater specificity than a general “it hurts,” significantly increasing the likelihood that the caregiver will be able to provide relief.

What is the equivalent to “pain” in your organization? Do you need to help your customers find language to articulate their satisfaction/dissatisfaction in a more in depth way than just a Likert scale on a survey? Is there a way to give your employees a range of descriptors to gauge their morale and likely retention? Can you provide your board with a comprehensive array of words/drawings to communicate their feelings about the upper management or the direction the organization is heading?

The more specific you can become in the description, the more targeted you can become with the solution. Prescribe a framework to cure the vagueness in your pain points.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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