Leadership’s most effective methods for solving problems
There are so many problems we face in work and personal life that it seems impossible to find the time to fix them all without facing some kind of adversity. We find ourselves constantly faced with new problems and finding shortcuts to relieve the tension so that we can move on to the next one. We fail to resolve the root cause of every problem we face and are thus trapped in a never-ending cycle of problems that makes it hard to find real solutions. Do you feel this?
Leaders exist to solve problems. Leaders have to reduce the likelihood of problems occurring. This means that we need to be able to face them head-on before the circumstances force us to. To build and sustain momentum in the organization, and for the people we serve, we must be resilient. The reality is that we are often faced with people who try to impose their corporate politics, power-plays, and other ploys on others. People are less productive when there is a silo, lack of resources and budgets, or other circumstances.
We also have problems when our competitors unexpectedly convert long-standing clients, establish new industry relationships, or launch new products, brands, or corporate strategies. Mergers and acquisitions keep us busy, but they also distract us from solving problems that already exist.
People who lack this wisdom see only the problem in front of them and block the potential solutions. They don’t see the whole picture of the problem and can’t see how it can be used to enhance existing best practices, protocols, and standard operating procedures that will help them grow and compete in the market. They don’t realize that all problems are ultimately the same, just packaged differently.
Leaders must not view problems as distractions, but as strategic enablers for continual improvement and new opportunities.
My first venture in the food business was a failure with adhesion. This affected almost 25% of my initial shipment. This was my first shipment to a client who was “testing” the new products in 220 stores. We have the opportunity to expand our distribution to more than 2700 nationwide. We didn’t panic and took multiple steps to solve the problem. This led to a full-blown change management process with our label supplier and manufacturer as well as our trucking company. Instead of viewing the problem as a problem that could lead to us losing the client, we took proactive steps (and made a financial investment) to prove that we are capable of solving the problem. We also responded quickly and efficiently with an incident report that included our management efforts.
We learned many valuable lessons from this experience and were able to avoid any unexpected problems. We were able to see many aspects that we didn’t consider before this incident, which helped us grow our business.
These are the top four ways to solve problems, regardless of whether you’re a leader in a large company or a small-business owner.
Transparency is key to problem-solving. Everyone’s views and concerns must be heard. It is difficult to find the root cause of a problem quickly when people don’t speak up.
Communication is essential. Communication is a fundamental necessity. When people involved in a problem are afraid to express themselves, or risk exposing their wrong-doings, the problem-solving process becomes a treasure hunt. A leader’s ability and willingness to allow people to communicate their thoughts and offer solutions is key to problem-solving.
After all, viewpoints have been considered, the leader and her team can jointly map out a way to a sustainable and viable solution. Communication is fundamental, but don’t assume people will be comfortable sharing their true thoughts. A leader must be able to trust her intuition and challenge her team until they are accountable and can reach a solution.
Transparent communication means you have to eliminate silos and create a culture that is open to all. This culture will promote a better world. Silos that are unnecessary invite hidden agendas and hinder cross-functional collaboration.
Silos in organizations are the main cause of workplace problems. Many of these problems never get solved. Today’s workplace must foster an entrepreneurial spirit that allows employees to freely navigate the workplace and collaborate to solve problems. You will have a greater understanding of your workplace dot. It is nearly impossible to measure this if you work in silos, which could limit your influence.
Problem-solving in a siloed workplace is harder because you’re more likely to deal with self-promoters rather than team players encouraged by cross-functional environments. It becomes more difficult to make anyone or anything better when you work in silos. Problem-solving becomes difficult when this happens.
Leaders can break down silos and engage employees to solve problems together. This is less about corporate politics and more about solving problems and strengthening the organization.
People must be open-minded to break down silos and communication gaps. Problem-solving is about people working together for the benefit of the organization and its people. If you work with closed-minded people, effective problem solving can become a frustrating and difficult process.
Many people enjoy creating chaos in the workplace so their inefficiencies don’t get exposed. These people are leeches and loafers. They slow down the process while trying to be more important. You will find examples of how being open-minded can lead to greater innovation and initiative by identifying the high-potential and lifters within your organization.
Open-minded people look beyond the obvious and see risk as their best friend. They can tackle the problems head-on, and then get on with the business — driving growth and innovation. Employees with similar values turn the tables and make it about them, rather than what’s required to solve a problem.
Keep this in mind as you consider the actions of others when faced with a real problem.
Change without strategy is not transformation, but substitution. To solve any problem, a solid strategy must be in place. Many leaders try to solve a problem by attempting to deconstruct it rather than identifying the strategy that can be used to fix it.
Leaders who are good at problem-solving know how to get the right people, budget, and experience. They encourage people to improve their game by making problem-solving collaborative. For them, it’s a chance to bring people closer together. You can’t see the real potential or character of someone until you see how they solve problems.
Leaders who are effective connect the dots and create a plan of action ahead of time. They create a strategy to guide them in how they will approach the problem and manage it. They can anticipate the unexpected and draw on the strengths of their employees to ensure that the strategy leads them to a sustainable solution.
When problem-solving, don’t shoot from the hip. Avoid guessing. It is important to take the time to look at the whole picture and evaluate the potential solutions. Recognize that every problem is unique and may require a different strategy to solve it.
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