How Does Your Team Problem Solve?
What does your team do with a problem? Stop for a moment and think about how well your team handles problems within your organization. Do they handle it themselves? Do they ignore them? Do they tend to make them seem larger than what they are? Do they bring those problems to you to solve?
Problem solving is a skill set that too often businesses assume that everyone on the team has mastered, but in truth is a skill set that should be taught. We solve problems day in and day out, but we all approach how to solve problems slightly differently. And unfortunately, that means some may not have a great solution for solving problems. Many times, the way people solve problems may include bad habits that they previously learned.
When you take the time to teach problem solving to your team you ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to how to approach solving a problem. It won’t be perfect. It’ll take time to get right, but over time you’ll see that your team’s approach to problem solving will evolve. As it evolves, you’ll see your team take ownership of their work, you and your managers will see less interruptions or fires, and your clients will most likely have better experiences.
To start teaching problem solving, consider the following insights:
- Empower your team to solve problems. Take a hard look at your culture. Does your business encourage problem solving? Does your team know what problems they can and should solve on their own? Do they have guidelines regarding how much their solution can cost? Before you expect your team to solve problems you must first ensure that they are set up for success. Your team won’t risk solving problems if they feel like they don't have authority or the solution could cause them to get in trouble.
- Teach problem solving. A system for solving problems may seem silly, at first, but when you stop and think about it you probably have your own way of solving problems. There are so many ways to teach problem solving. If you don’t feel like creating your own, you can quickly google “problem solving process” and find several. Or, if you’re one of our clients, ask your business coach about “Solutions Based Thinking.” Of course you can always create your own method; however, it's a mistake to assume that everyone is great at problem solving. Teaching your team to be on the same page when it comes to solving problems creates consistency when discussing issues. It helps them gain confidence. And it helps them practice solving problems. You can create a generic problem-solving system or specific ones such as:
- Take the H.E.A.T – a problem-solving system we offer to our clients to deal with difficult clients.
- Employee Issues - a problem-solving system used by owners or managers to deal with employee issues.
- You can also work on a more industry-specific problem-solving system that handles the majority of problems within your industry. Chances are you already have a method you follow; you just need to work with one of our coaches to get that system documented.
- Create coaching moments. When your team brings you a problem or misses a chance to solve a problem, turn it into a coaching moment. For instance, if they bring you a problem to solve, don’t solve it. Instead of giving answers, stop and ask questions. If you’ve implemented a problem-solving system as suggested above, walk them through the steps. It will be tempting to give answers and it often seems easier. However, remember that by helping them solve the problem you increase their confidence, you teach them that the path of least resistance is to solve it themselves, and it will save time as you won’t have to give them the answer the next time. If they missed a chance to solve a problem, schedule time to discuss the missed opportunity. Discuss why it was missed and ideas for how they can handle it or other similar problems in the future.
Just remember, problem solving is a skill set that can always be taught and we can help you.