Benchmark Business Group

How does your team solve problems?

March 13, 2018

A Problem-Solving Mindset

In the past,we've discussed the importance of getting your team, especially managers, to improve their problem-solving skills by always focusing on the end result. In most situations, there are multiple ways to end up with the same result.
The question becomes, how do you teach someone to focus on the end result? How do you get them to look beyond problems, stay focused on results, and become more creative problem solvers? Today we want to share two quick and easy steps to improve the problem-solving skills of your team (or yourself).
Step 1: Always ask for - and insist - that a clear result has been identified. When your business needs to address an issue too often the symptoms, not the end result that is needed, become the focus. People can get distracted solving the wrong issue if a clear result hasn't been identified.  A great solution to the wrong problem doesn't move your business forward. By always starting with a result, you train your team to think solution. You teach them to identify and be ready to communicate the needs to you, not just the problems. You'll know this is working when your team starts to communicate the needed result and not the symptoms of the issue to you, at the very beginning of the conversation - with no prompting. To focus your team on the end-result use questions such as:
  • What result are you not getting that we need?
  • How will you know when we've solved this issue? 
Step 2: Once a result is clearly communicated, make a simple rule that every problem has to have three probable solutions before a decision is made. This helps break the mindset that there is only one solution. Too many people get stuck on one solution and when it doesn't work they don't know what to do. Brainstorming multiple solutions forces your team to think of alternatives. Then, when they run into a barrier, they already have ideas of how to achieve the results that the business needs. Each solution should be evaluated based on the results that have been clarified in step one. This helps validate the solution and ensure that the right problem is being solved. It focuses the problem solver back on the result.
This process forces the problem solver to slow down, to keep in mind the end result, and to develop the mindset that barriers are temporary. Barriers won't become dead ends, but rather detours or challenges to overcomeAnd, if you repeat this process and train your team in this process, it won't be long before they start to think this way on their own.
Tip: If a problem has already occurred, but was not handled in the correct manner, use the same method to discuss what happened and to decide what should have been the correct action. Don't leap to the solution, leap to the result your business needs. Use the opportunity, and this process, to train your team to think differently. 

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