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A Walkthrough for Problem Solving in the Workplace

Posted on March 28, 2012 by Josh Mc

Every professional knows that problem solving and decision making are two skills that are used every day in conducting business affairs. No matter what a person's official job title, he will be faced with problems that require solutions. Solving those problems quickly and effectively is what makes an individual stand out as a competent employee and leader among their peers.

Unfortunately, problem solving skills are not taught to many people. Instead, most individuals learn how to deal with problems through trial-and-error, and their methods may not be as effective as they could be. Here are the steps for confronting and solving problems at work:

1.) Identify what the problem is. Before a solution can be made, the problem must be accurately identified. Be sure that you understand not only what the issue is, but what caused the issue and what the real consequences of the issue are. By identifying a problem at its source, you can deal with it once and for all.

2.) Recognize everyone's interests. Most problems affect more than one person in the workplace, and different people may be affected differently. Before proposing solutions, be sure you understand who is affected and how; this will help you come up with an answer that will suit everyone's needs.

3.) Understand that you can't make everyone happy. Although you must take other people's concerns into account, at the end of the day it's often impossible to satisfy everyone. You must make an effort to create a solution that balances the needs of the company, the customer and the employee, but you must also accept that a perfect balance is not always possible. Do the best you can and more forward.

4.) Brainstorm solutions and weigh the possibilities. Come up with as many possible solutions as you can. Quite often, problems create anxiety because there seems to be no solution. The more potential solutions, the less problematic the concern becomes. Even if some solutions seem ridiculous, it will help to see as many options as possible. At that point you can weigh the pros and cons of any decision and decide which choice is the best for your needs.

5.) Make a contingency plan. Sometimes, a solution won't work. If the projected solution doesn't fit, make a backup plan and implement it. Understand that problem solving is an ongoing process, and not all problems have to be solved immediately. Some complex problems may take a long time to resolve, but as long as you're putting forth the effort to try, you will be rewarded by a satisfying resolution eventually.

These are the steps that I recommend when solving a problem in the workplace, if you feel I left something out please let me know in the comments.

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