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Escalate, Escalate, Escalate!

What is escalation at organizations? Is it a way to solve problems? Is it a way to report things? Is it a way to put more pressure? Is it a CYA technique? What is it? How do you use it at your organization? How other colleagues of yours use escalation? Really, think about it and observe.

At IT service companies, leadership measures the performance of IT Help Desk by number of escalated work items over a period of time. The less escalation the better. The reasons are simple:

  1. It is cheaper for companies if an IT Help Desk Specialist resolves an issue than an experienced technical specialist at one or two level higher. This is simple math, one gets $X and the other get $X*2
  2. And when client gets result fast, he/she will be happier. So, less escalation equals happier client in IT Services. Client raise an issue, IT Help Desk Specialist resolve it, BOOM, Next!

At organizations, It is amazing (sadly) to see how much lower level managers escalate problems, that they and their fellows can resolve without escalation  to more senior managers, these days. How much money is wasted?! Studies show that escalating a problem that can be resolved at lower level of organization will increase the cost and the duration of  the resolution time. So, why do you do this? either the organization has a lot of money to waste, or the senior manager has nothing do and has lots of time to waste? or this is again a CYA strategy. And yes, 90% is CYA by escalation.

The relationship issues and conflicts that happen because of escalation is even more expensive than the time senior management spends on investigating and resolving a problem that could be resolved by a lower level manager at the first place.

Here are 6 simple and common sense use of escalation:
  1. Escalate only, if you are not able to solve the problem on your own or at your level.
  2. Do not create artificial problems to exaggerate the main problem to justify your escalation.
  3. Do not blame when escalating, Simply concentrate on resolving the problem at hand and preventing it from happening again.
  4. As a senior manager, advise your directs to escalate less, unless your help is really needed.
  5. As senior manager, reward those who solve problems before informing you about the problem!
  6. Do not cover escalation by "informing" excuse. Sometimes, people escalate indirectly and they call it informing. But, in reality they do not have the courage to handle problems alone, therefore they escalate indirectly!


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