Problem solving is a key skill required by team leaders and managers. Either they will solve a problem themselves or, better still they will empower their team to solve the problem.
There are four steps to Problem Solving
- Identify the problem
- Collect the information
- Analyse the information
- Prepare the Plan
This four-step approach to solving problems is a very simple and structured approach. Remember – problems are good as they show you what needs to be done to improve business operations – so seek out problems and develop your skills as a problem solver.
Identifying the problem is often obvious however customer complaints, observation of poor work practices and the data collection concerning various activities may all highlight where a problem is. Also, it is important to rely on data whenever possible as facts are more compelling than opinions!
The Five ‘W’s and an ‘H’
To problem solve a manager needs to ask the following questions: –
- Who is causing the problem?
- What is causing the problem?
- When does it happen?
- Where does it occur?
- Why does it occur?
- How does it happen?
A manager can either have no control, some control or full control over problems so therefore focus only on those problems where you have control.
Problem Solving Road Map
Use the following road map to help you solve problems.
- Define the Problem (state the opportunity succinctly)
- Find the cause (investigate all possibilities & narrow down to the most likely cause)
- Find solutions (Be creative. Pick the best. Involve others, as employees, customers)
- Plan Implementation (List actions, dates and who will assume responsibility)
- Implement (Carry out actions according to plan)
- Monitor (Measure progress)
Once you have solved a problem it is important to make sure that is does not re occur on a regular basis so take the time to feedback to your staff any changes you have made to your processes and practices. It might be that you need to create a new standard operating procedure which ensures that you minimise the chance of the problem happening again.
Neville Stein MBA
Horticultural Business Consultant
Tel: 0044 7778 005105