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How to Teach Employees to Resolve Problems?

Problems are part of our every day and maybe one of the sources of stress. It is even more likely to negatively impact our performance if we don’t have the skill to solve them. In an organization, having a problem isn’t a problem. Problems can lead to new ideas, adapting to the situation, forcing us to be more creative and resourceful.

We may face many different organizations’ problems, from individual employee`s issues, team problems and conflicts, and organization-wide problems. No matter the source of a problem, we need to teach employees how to become a good problem solver. By helping them to resolve problems efficiently, we can also minimize the risk of stress related to work issues or bad interpersonal relationship caused by conflicts.

One logical way to problem solve is to seek support. While it is logical to seek advice, don’t forget that the final decision is still yours to make. It is typically easier to advise others how to react in a particularly problematic situation than to confront that same or similar situation ourselves. This is the main reason individuals seek solutions by consulting others for outside opinions.
It is common to get caught up in a problematic situation where we don’t see a possible or straightforward solution. It is difficult to dissociate and remain neutral while accurately assessing a problem at hand to recognize possible solutions. Strong emotional ties make this process incredibly difficult. Like many of us, we’ve likely offered advice to a friend that didn’t produce optimal results. They may be said something along the lines of “Why did I listen to you?”.

People often seek outside advice to remove responsibility from their shoulders. Taking responsibility for one’s actions and words are the most challenging part of making decisions and resolving issues. Doubt and negative thoughts form quickly: “What if I haven’t made the right choice?”, “What if I don’t succeed?” “Am I making the right decision?”.
How to teach your employees not to ask for a solution but rather find it?

7 Steps for Effective Problem Solving

Below are concise descriptions of the seven steps for practical problem-solving. This problem-solving technique is commonly used by psychologists in the counselling process to help individuals find a solution on their own and put it to use in a real scenario.

Step 1: Identifying the Problem
Ask yourself what the problem is. There may be multiple issues within a single situation. Make a list of these issues and define why each one is a problem for you. Focus on behaviours rather than on yourself or a person (Incorrect example: “The problem is that I am stupid.”) (Correct example: “The problem is that I easily allow others to betray or disappoint me because I trust people too quickly.”).

Step 2: Defining Goals
Try to define your goals specifically while making them as realistic and attainable as possible. An example of a poor or broad goal is “I want to be happy.” First, define what happiness means to you and what you can do to feel happier overall. Try to form your goals in the sense of actions you can take to achieve the desired goal.

Step 3: Brainstorming
Take time to brainstorm possible ways to resolve the problem. Do not rush this process- People often want to prevent and solve problems before they even appear. Write down all ideas, even the ones that seem absurd or bizarre. Try to find 6-8 varying alternatives when resolving a particular problem.

Step 4: Assessing Alternatives
For every alternative you formed in the previous step, weigh the positive effects and negative consequences that each solution would bring. For every and any option, determine its advantages and its risks.

Step 5: Choosing the Solution
Carefully weigh all solutions. The best solution is not necessarily the option with the most pros and/or the least cons. Think about what means more to you, which solution can highlight the positive effects that matter the most to you, and which solution produces the mildest consequences. When you decide on a solution, it is important to create a timeline for achieving your ultimate goal.

Step 6: Active Execution of the Chosen Solution
Don’t worry about failure. In this phase, concentrate on the journey that will lead you to your goal- don’t concern yourself with potential problems. It’s time to evaluate your success if you were successful. Congratulations! If not, no worries. Maybe you didn’t quite choose the right solution, or the situation changed. You have learned something. Take this newfound knowledge, return to the beginning steps, and try again!

Eva Kovač
Eva.Kovac@24alife.com

Eva Kovac is a performance psychologist working in the field of talent management, organizational psychology, and performance psychology. She is educated as a cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist, a medical hypnotherapist. Eva has rich global experiences working with international organizations on employee well-being programs and professional athletes, teams, managers, and talents. Eva is also a guest speaker at many international conferences on psychology-related topics. Stress managment facilitator for Apollo Hospitals, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, NSIC, AIMA, Roseate Hotels and many others.