Benchmark Business Group

Reshaping Your Employee's Problem Solving

October 10, 2023

Frustrated business owners often grapple with a common challenge: how to empower their employees to solve problems, cease creating new ones, and achieve better outcomes. It's a multifaceted issue without a one-size-fits-all solution. While systems and processes play a significant role in achieving these goals, there's another critical factor that's often overlooked: changing the way people think about their work.

If you want your team to yield different results, it's essential to shift their perspectives on their tasks. Challenging their thought processes can pave the way for embracing the structures and tools needed to achieve improved results. Here are three tips to help challenge and reshape your team's thinking:

1. Encourage Them to Show Their Work

Remember back in school when your math teacher insisted that you show your work, not just provide the final answer? There was wisdom in that approach. Obtaining the correct answer is essential, but it doesn't guarantee a deep understanding of the problem-solving process. Without that understanding, the next time a similar problem arises, you might find yourself stumped. And if you only have the final answer, you’re lacking insight into where they are going wrong.

The same principle applies to your team's problem-solving efforts. Gain insight into their problem-solving approach by asking, "Can you walk me through your thought process on this?" During this conversation, practice active listening. Resist the urge to immediately offer solutions or corrections. Instead, take notes, listen attentively, and then collaboratively explore what aspects need adjustment.

2. Connect Them to a Greater Purpose

Often, when confronted with a problem, individuals tend to view it solely from their perspective. However, most problems extend beyond individual impacts and affect various aspects of the business. Create an impact map with quadrants that consider how the problem influences customers, vendors, employees, and the overall business.

This visual representation helps team members recognize the broader consequences of their actions. By highlighting the ripple effects, you can motivate them to take ownership of their role in creating change and improving outcomes.

3. Identify Their Comfort Zone

Understanding whether your team is comfortable or uncomfortable with the current situation is crucial. When individuals are content with their results, they may resist change. In such cases, it's essential to pinpoint what makes them uncomfortable. This discomfort can stem from recognizing the pain the problem causes or a desire for different outcomes.

Knowing your team's comfort level enables you to tailor your approach effectively. If they're comfortable, focus on bridging the gap between their current state and the desire for improvement. Conversely, if they're uncomfortable, use their discomfort as a catalyst for change, emphasizing the need for different results.

By encouraging transparency, fostering a sense of purpose, and recognizing comfort zones, you can drive meaningful change and enhance your business's efficiency and effectiveness.

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