My last post discussed why problems arise in the
workplace and how we typically deal with them when they do. In this post, we
will take a closer look at the problem solving process.
"Nothing gives one so much advantage over another as to remain always
cool and unruffled under all circumstances."
A mediate.com article on
resolving conflict at work cites this Thomas Jefferson quote to point up the importance of keeping calm, cool and
collected in the face of a problem. As the article notes, we need to step back and try to see the bigger picture.
This perspective-taking includes a candid appraisal of what we might have done/be
doing to fuel the issue.
- and everyone else involved - have settled down, you can address the problem step-by-step. As an initial step, it is
important to pinpoint the issues by
fielding and clarifying different perspectives. A next step is to brainstorm solutions that satisfy
everyone's interests. To find the point (or points) of mutual interest, you
need some patience and creativity. You also need good active
When you engage in active listening, you offer physical and/or verbal signs
that you understand and appreciate what people are saying to you. Make direct
eye contact, nod your head and say "OK, go on" or "I understand." Clarity of understanding is critical here, you may even
need to repeat back, "This is what I understand and heard you say, " ---- " is
have some possible solutions on the table, you must collaborate to evaluate and select the best option or
options. To facilitate this part of the process, you can answer several key
questions set out in this article on How to Become an
Effective Problem Solver:
One added technique working well for us at our Esselte manufacturing facilities
around the globe is "Try-Storming" our options. By using mock-ups and simulations
built of various raw materials, we give the team a better, more realistic view
of the success of their idea. This process
takes mistakes and time out of the problem solving life cycle and shortens the lead time to successful outcomes.
After weighing the options and deciding on a solution,
you should memorialize the solution in a
written agreement. According to this article on
problem solving in the workplace,
any agreement should include
provisions for revisiting your solution on an ongoing basis to ensure that it still meets your
If you use a problem-solving process at work, we
want to know about it. Please share it with us here or on the Beyond Folders
Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.
by Bradley Eggers
Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates
passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization. Believing in "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.