Finding solutions to problems in the workplace is vital. Problems arise in all shapes, sizes and levels of complexity; some involve people and some relate to business processes and decisions. Whatever the problem, here are some steps that will support effective resolution by exploring possible solutions.
Explore the problem. Be curious and ask questions, of self and others, to ensure a clear appreciation of the nature of the real problem; avoid working with assumptions, hearsay and a lack of information. Key questions may include:
- Why is this issue/ person a problem? Can you look at it differently?
- How may my behaviour and attitudes be influencing the problem?
Move on only when you have explored the problem from different perspectives and have a clearer appreciation of the nature and features of the problem. At this point, can you re-frame it as an opportunity?
THINK about the problem. Consider different perspectives and viewpoints, these may offer new ways of tackling it. What similar situations have you and others faced? What can you learn from past experiences? Aim to generate a number of alternative options. Think about it in terms of:
- facts and information;
- intuition and feelings (what is ‘your gut’ telling you?);
- risk assessment (what will happen if you do nothing?);
- potential benefits associated with various options;
- creative opportunities to behave and do something quite different.
Use your strengths. You and those you work with have proven strengths. Explore how these can support you in working on this problem. Some may have planning skills while others may be motivated by relationships. Know the strengths that are available to you and draw on these to develop a sound option for moving forward. In generating options, give those with creative talents that chance to propose new and innovative ways forward – be brave with risk taking!
Engage others. Research the problem and options for a solution by involving team members and your wider network. Draw on these to generate a range of options, assess possibilities and make a sound decision.
Then and only then should you take action. Immediate action is important when needed; when you can reflect, explore and make a reasoned decision then do so. Taking time will result in others being engaged and ultimately finding a better outcome that delivers a sustainable solution to the problem.
Good luck with working on your problems. If you have got REALLY stuck, give us a call. We can offer suggestions on how to get unstuck, take a positive look at issues and generate some creative solutions. You never know what may emerge!
Mary & John