Solving Business Problems
Estimated Lesson Time: 5 minutes
Did you ever find yourself asking why the town does not “do something” about the busy intersection, or why your Internet service provider does not “do something” about preventing downtime, or have you found yourself identifying any problem to which you are not offering a better solution? We all have. In general, people tend to say what is wrong with the world but very few offer suggestions on how to improve it. Even fewer people will ever take action to do anything about it. In general life situations, this is acceptable. After all, the town does not rely on its citizens to plan intersections. In business, however, more should be expected from, and offered by, an organization’s team members in the form of active problem solving.
Many people who work within an organization wear two hats: 1) they are a member of an organization in which there are one or more leaders and 2) they are a leader to one or more other members of the organization. Typically, this is the employee/manager relationship. As an employee, it may be common practice to bring problems to your manager’s attention. As a success-oriented employee, don’t just point out the problem, do your best to solve the problem. Doing this without being asked will demonstrate your creativity and willingness to go the extra mile. As a manager or business owner, you should require that all those who report to you carefully consider the problem and possible solutions before bringing the problem to your attention. The benefits of taking this approach to solving business problems are:
- More efficiency with time. Fewer problems will be brought to your attention and you, as the manager, can focus on more pressing issues.
- Quicker resolution of problems. In many cases, employees who carefully examine problems will realize that they can solve the problems themselves, right there and then.
- Self-reliance and independence. This kind of policy promotes employee independence, which is one of the leading indicators of job satisfaction. It also happens to be one of the qualities most sought after by employers.
- Prevent worry. As a manager or business owner, you can significantly reduce the number of “problems” that you need to deal with by adopting this policy. Fewer problems generally equal fewer worries.
What does “carefully considering problems” mean? If you are to implement a policy in your business for solving problems, it is best to give clear directions on what should be done. Here is a six step process you can adopt for carefully considering problems and offering solutions.
- What is the problem? Most problems are never clearly defined, which makes solutions even more difficult to find.
- What are all the possible causes? At times, the cause of the problem will be unknown. Other times, there will be many possible causes. It is best to take the time to think about all possible causes so the solution can focus on these causes.
- What are all possible solutions? The employee may not be qualified to offer solutions to all problems, but in some cases, they are the most qualified by having the most hands-on experience. Asking the advice of employees gives them the sense of importance to the organization and expands their creative thinking.
- Which solution do you suggest? Let the employee choose the solution that makes the most sense to him or her. This gives you, as the manager, an insight into the problem-solving abilities and reasoning of your employees. It also exposes any hidden talents you have on your team.
- Do you see any possible side effects to the suggested solution? If you have blisters on your feet, cutting off your feet would certainly solve the problem. Of course, it would lead to much bigger problems. This step encourages employees to reconsider their solution and ensure that it makes sense.
- What resources do you think are needed to implement the solution? If you found that you had mice in your house, a solution could be to move into a new house. When considering the resources needed to implement this solution you will certainly find that another solution, perhaps buying $10 worth of mousetraps, would make more sense.
In implementing this policy of problem solving, you do not want to discourage problems from being brought to your attention. You may find that some employees would rather look the other way than take the time to go through this six-step process. To minimize the possibility of this happening, be sure you make it a point to reward those who do take the time to go through this process with positive public attention, gratitude, or even prizes.
Employees who take it upon themselves to solve problems are more often looked at for advancement within the organization. Managers and business owners who encourage problem solving at the employee level have more productive and more satisfied employees. Implement these six steps to solving problems in business and enjoy the success that comes to you as a result.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)