Solving Problems at Work: It doesn’t mean what you think it means!
People often think of problems as a negative thing. But what if we were to flip that perspective and approach issues as opportunities for growth? We’ve laid out important steps to take when you need to work together to find long-term solutions for issues in the workplace.
1. Define the issue
Many workplace issues develop from a simple lack of communication. If you don’t address the issue with your teammates, the problem is likely to grow over time. The faster you define and acknowledge the issue, the easier it will be to solve.
We recommend using the EOS® Issues List in the Traction® Tools software for an easy spot to put problems before they get out of hand. This provides a space to identify issues in a neutral way, avoiding any potential tension that can be associated with addressing problems at work.
2. Understand everyone’s perspective
Issues at work are rarely meant to be taken personally. When issues arise, they’re more often a reflection of a part of the strategy that needs to be ironed out, not necessarily a person’s professional capabilities. The best way to align on how to find a solution is to first align on the actual root cause of the issue. Once you’ve identified the root cause and are on the same page, you can work together to find the best way to move forward.
3. Discuss all possible solutions
There can be hurt feelings or confusion if one person takes it upon themselves to make a decision without any discussion. The best place to discuss solutions to workplace issues is in your Level 10 Meeting. Adding the issue to your Level 10 Meeting to IDS provides a dedicated space for all ideas to be Identified, Discussed, and then Solved for good.
Utilizing the IDS structure is key to unlocking the root of the issue. This gives you the space to talk about the problem as a team in a respectful, open manner. Everyone will have the opportunity to be heard, and communication will be stronger the next time a problem arises.
4. Document all discussions
Take notes! Context-Aware Issues in Traction Tools are perfect for keeping track of issues that may pop up suddenly. Relying on your memory is not the best idea when it comes to problem solving. No matter how enlightening your conversation was, you’re going to lose a lot of the nuance of the discussion as soon as you step into your next meeting. Documenting specific ideas and perspectives is key to piecing together a well-structured plan to fix the issue you’re facing on a long-term basis.
5. Agree on a solution
Once all ideas have been documented, you can piece them together to create a solution that works for everyone. Note: This does not necessarily mean everyone will get their way. Working as a team means there often needs to be some compromise. Keep in mind that everyone is working toward the same goal.
Now that you have everyone else’s perspective, be honest about how that influences the best way to solve the problem. No one has all the answers, and working together to find the best option for everyone is a team effort.
6. Implement an updated strategy
If you’ve gone through all these steps, it’s okay to stray from the strategy you already have in place. It wasn’t working before, so why rely on it working now?
Coming up with a new process is a great way to prevent similar problems from cropping up in the future. Changing things up to prevent issues is a great way for companies to continue growing. Put that new strategy in place and see what happens. There will likely be some things that need to be ironed out, and that’s okay! Using these problem-solving tools regularly will keep things running smoothly in the long run.
- Gina Richard