Problems are a part of our lives at work. We are faced with multi-faceted problems in daily work life. Successful leaders are good at problem-solving. They can identify the problems early and formulate effective solutions that are in everyone’s best interests. The salient 7 problem-solving techniques are discussed below:
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Identify the Problem
The first step in problem-solving skills is to identify the problem. You cannot solve a problem if you do not identify and understand it clearly. Find answers to – who is affected by the problem, when and where the problem occurs, what is the problem, etc. You must be specific about the problem identification. Problems may affect different people differently. You must identify the problem objectively and free from any bias or prejudices.
Analyze the Problem
Once the problem has been identified, the next step is to analyze it. You should understand the seriousness of the problem and at what stage it is. A problem in the emergent stage is just beginning to occur. It will not cause a potent threat to your business. You will have time to address emergent problems. Problems in the mature stage can damage your business. They generally would have caused some damage already. You need to respond proactively to address it and minimize further damage. The third stage is the crisis stage. Problems in this stage are very serious and must be addressed immediately. They would have done considerable damage to the business already and could affect long-term business viability.
Be an Attentive Listener
You should be an attentive listener for identifying potential solutions. Listening is an art. You should pay attention to the opinions of your subordinates, colleagues, and superiors. This will help you collect valuable information and process it before trying to solve the problem. Listening to others around you offer an opportunity to listen to different perspectives and ideas. These ideas can help you devise better solutions.
Look for the Root Causes of the Problem
You should look for the root causes of the problem. This will involve deeper analysis and brainstorming. Try to answer questions like- what caused the problem? When did this problem emerge? Which situations are responsible for the problem? How the problem can impact business? Getting answers to these questions will go a long way in a permanent resolution of the problem.
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List Down All Possible Solutions
You must list down all possible solutions to a problem. In this stage, you should be open to all ideas and solutions. Do not discard any solution as irrational or not workable. Write down all potential solutions and brainstorm with your team. Refine your solutions as you go along. This will give you an effective solution set to choose from.
Be Playful and Relaxed
Problem-solving methods can be intensive and challenging. You should approach the process with a playful and relaxed mind. Being too intense can make it very difficult to work out the best solution. If you are too fixated and obsessed with finding solutions, it can drain you mentally. You should enjoy the process instead of looking at it as a difficult burden to carry. Having a playful and relaxed mindset can often lead to finding innovative and much better solutions.
Document all Agreements
A key element in problem-solving skills is to document all agreements. Do not rely on your memory, instead of documents all agreements during the problem-solving process. This will give you a reference point for the problem being solved. You can go back to the documented agreements and explore the possible changes. Having documented agreements also help the teams in the future to approach similar problems better.