Five Steps to Better Problem-Solving

When a problem arises in your office or practice, your people often look to you to take action and provide a solution. And as a leader or manager, it is often expected that you resolve those problems promptly so that normal productivity resumes. For most of us, however, priorities, other commitments and sheer lack of time present challenges to immediately handling problems as they occur. Often we resort to providing a quick or temporary solution that may actually be more damaging in the long run.

Investing the time to address the issue adequately the first time AND involving your people in the process will not only help you avoid the risk of experiencing the same problems repeatedly, but also empower your team to take care of the issue before it falls in your lap.

Below are five simple steps that will guide your problem-solving efforts and help you and your team make better decisions:

1)      Identify the Goal and Barriers: Take time to clearly define the problem, understanding the root cause of the issue; ask yourself what the ultimate goal or outcome is and identify any barriers that exist to resolving the problem.

2)      Analyze the Situation: Examine what may have, or have not, been learned from past experiences and any actions that may have been taken in the past.

3)      Develop Options: Brainstorm ideas; then evaluate the quality of those ideas.

4)      Create an Action Plan: Identify what you will do, who is involved, when you’re going to do it, why you are taking action and how you will determine success.

5)      Monitor: Once the plan has been executed, ensure that you’ve achieved the desired outcome – if not, adjust the plan as necessary.

Remember: Try to resist the temptation to handle problems on your own. Involve your team in the process and teach them how to fix problems on their own.