All of us, no matter what field or career level we are in, encounter problems in the work setting that we need to solve. Some already have effective problem-solving skills and that makes them stand out from the rest of their colleagues. However, a good number of us still struggle to solve problems in the workplace efficiently and effectively.
The workplace can be a very demanding environment. Thus, it is important for every one of us to cultivate and improve our problem-solving skills. Furthermore, succeeding in the workplace means understanding and mastering problem-solving skills.
For the majority of us that want to advance our career, developing our problem-solving skills makes us one step closer towards our goal. This article looks at the meaning of problem-solving, its various steps, as well as its importance in the work setting.
Problem-solving: What is it?
The process of discerning problems and finding the best possible solution to it is called problem-solving. Problem-solving includes critical and analytical thinking, listening and communicating, decision-making, as well as creativity.
Problem-solving is a key factor for the success of any business or company. Employees and their teams that have high problem-solving skills can bring a multitude of benefits to their employers and companies. With this, employers and companies value individuals and employees that show high problem-solving skills as well as traits that contribute significantly to the functioning of the team and company.
Steps in Problem-solving
There are 6 fundamental steps in problem-solving. Each step is discussed in detail below.
1. Defining the problem
The first step in problem-solving is to understand and define the problem. In order to do this, you will need to analyze the situation carefully and completely. Oftentimes, by looking clearly at a single situation, you will realize that it involves multiple problems. With this, you will need to recognize each problem as well as its cause.
Once you have succeeded with your preliminary observation and probing, you can begin to take the following steps to have a more accurate examination of the problem.
1. Firstly, you will need to separate the facts from the opinions.
2. Secondly, you must pinpoint the process by which the problem lies.
3. Thirdly, you will need to analyze both your company’s policies as well as its procedures.
4. Fourthly, you need to confer with your team members involved. In doing this, you can start to collect more important information.
5. Fifthly, you will need to determine the problem with more specific terms.
6. Lastly, you need to start gathering all of the necessary information you will need to solve the problem.
The important thing to understand during this first step of problem-solving is that you need to define the problem, not by its solution. At least during this stage, instead of trying to define the problem in terms of its solution, you need to focus first on the actual problem.
2. Identifying other possible solutions
The next step is to brainstorm alternative solutions to the problem at hand. To effectively do this, you will need to encourage your whole team to bring out their suggestions and inputs. Furthermore, if there are people who have more experience with the problem you are dealing with, it helps a lot to consult with them and ask for their thoughts.
In identifying other possible solutions, you need to keep in mind the following things.
1. Study all the aspects that potentially slow down the problem-solving process.
2. Ensure that the ideas being thrown on the table are all consistent with relevant goals and objectives.
3. Make sure that everyone participates in the brainstorming process.
4. Identify between the short and the long-term alternatives.
5. Take note of all the proposed ideas and solutions.
3. Assessing solutions
After building your list of alternative solutions to the problem, the next step is to evaluate and assess them. In doing this, you will need to evaluate both the positive and negative outcomes that each solution potentially provides. Furthermore, you will need to analyze how these alternatives translate to the required resources such as time, data, manpower, and financing.
4. Choosing a solution
Once you are done assessing the solutions, the next step is to choose one. In selecting the most viable solution to the problem, you need to consider the extent to which this solution meets the following objectives:
1. Firstly, the solution should solve the problem without creating another problem.
2. Secondly, the solution needs to be accepted by everyone involved.
3. Thirdly, it has to be practical. This means the solution needs to be easy to implement.
4. Lastly, the solution should fit your company’s policies and procedures.
5. Implementing the chosen solution
Once you have chosen the most viable solution, the next step is to start implementing it. This part of the problem-solving process needs the following actions considered.
1. The first action you need to take is to develop an action plan that you will use to implement the chosen solution.
2. Second, you need to establish objectives and after which you will need to separate them into measurable targets. In doing this, you can monitor the implementation of the solution.
3. Third, you have to create a timeline for the implementation of the solution.
4. Fourth, you need to communicate the plan to your team as well as to everyone involved.
5. Lastly, you will need to develop a way to gather feedback during the problem-solving process.
6. Monitoring progress
The last step is to monitor the progress as well as to make adjustments along the way. In continually monitoring and measuring progress, you can ensure that the solution you implemented is actually working. As unexpected events arise, you may need to make adjustments along the way. This just shows the importance of monitoring the progress of the work.
Now that you understand the six steps you need to take to have an effective problem-solving process, you are ready to use the said steps and implement them. In doing so, you become one step closer to being more efficient and productive in your workplace.