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The 5 essentials for problem solving at work

Problem SolvingThere are many things that can become ‘problems’ each day. When something unexpected strikes, it can present a business with a series of issues. The impact of a problem can be relatively minor, or far-reaching. However, all problems – no matter how big or small – need to be solved.

Problem solving is, fortunately, a skill that can be taught. These are the five essentials for solving problems at work:

1. Remain objective

When the unexpected happens it affects how we feel. These emotions, if they override our judgment, mean that we become subjective in how we deal with it. Being objective means taking the emotion out of the situation and seeing the whole picture as clearly as possible.

2. List obstacles

Problems are rarely isolated. There will be other obstacles and issues that prevent something from working in the way it should or it is needed to. Jot down all the potential factors, no matter how small or inconsequential they may seem, so that you can appreciate the bigger picture. It sometimes helps to get other people involved in order to bring multiple perspectives to bear.

3. Identify opportunities

Every cloud has a silver lining. It is sometimes said that opportunities come in disguise. And the most common disguise is a problem! Recognising that this is the case, a great approach is to list the ways in which the ‘solved problem’ is in fact an opportunity.

4. Communicate

Just as problems do not happen in isolation, neither does the search for successful solutions. Two employees can work in the same room, and have no idea what the other is doing or working on. Problem solving is often about facilitating communication between people. Bringing people together can often be enough to solve a problem or move a situation forward.

5. Ego is not helpful

Problem solving can be simple or it can be a complex process. What complicates the situation, exacerbating what is happening and the search for possible solutions, is when someone allows their ego to come into play. Having the ability to listen – really listen – to other peopleโ€™s ideas, is paramount to being able to consider all options – especially those of other people.

Finding solutions to problems and issues can be an exhilarating challenge – and one which many businesses have been built on. Problems are a learning point for many businesses and staff too, and this is why many businesses perceive problem solving training as a real benefit for their staff, whatever industry theyโ€™re in.

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