Each day at work, managers face situations that require problem solving. These situations can arise in any area of operations.

Working as an essay writer, I understand that they can be as simple as figuring out how to fill the work schedule so all shifts are covered to as complex as resolving the complaints from supervisors that Human Resources has started sending them inappropriate job applicants.

Certainly, if the manager remembers to follow each and every step outlined below, they can find solutions in a timely manner. Sometimes, all the steps take only a few minutes to think through in the situation. Other times, the manager has to involve many people and the process might take weeks.

The key is to follow each of these problem solving steps every time.

Problem Solving Steps

1. Analyze the Problem you Need to Solve

Even the simplest problem is worth an analysis, as outlined below.

  • Define the actual problem. Usually the symptoms and the unwanted results are obvious.
  • Do some digging to determine the real problem. Speak with the people most affected.
  • Identify possible causes. Don’t accept just the obvious.
  • Collect all the relevant facts that are available. If it’s necessary to make assumptions, be sure they are as informed as possible.
  • Identify the primary cause or source of the problem based on the information gathered.

2. Develop and Test Alternative Solutions

This is where the manager definitely involves other people. They might be creative problem solvers, have specialized information, or have a sound knowledge of the people affected. The smart manager gathers whomever they need to find the best solution.

Together, the manager and these staff review all the information available about the problem situation in order to determine what is fact and what is assumption. Then, they begin to develop possible solutions. This group might stretch their productivity and creativity by brainstorming ideas. Some might develop a computer model and play around with it until a solution emerges. On the other hand, others just want to discuss and question every fact and assumption from every possible perspective.

Certainly, there is no right or wrong way to find possible solutions. Whatever process or format produces results is fine, whether it takes ten minutes or ten weeks. The scope and impact of the problem usually determines the amount of time and effort required.

When the problem is a critical one involving considerable sums of money, people or a policy matter that might have serious repercussions, it might be wise to test a number of solutions in a test operation.

3. Decision Making as Part of Problem Solving

The next step of the problem solving process is to make a decision about which option is the most appropriate solution.

There are four criteria the manager might find useful in the decision making process:

  1. Assessment of risk depending on your industry. This requires forecasting the impact of each option to determine any risks and liabilities. One consideration is: could you change the decision quickly, if necessary?
  2. Economy of Effort. Which possible solution will give the greatest result for the least amount of time, effort, and other resources?
  3. Timing. If the solution requires a significant change in people’s habits or work, it might be wise to decide on a phased implementation. This allows time for everyone to adjust thinking and behavior.
  4. Availability of resources. Are the staff, finances, equipment, space, and any other necessary resources available to implement the solutions being considered?

Certainly, to make the most effective decision, the manager and his staff must have a clear picture and understanding of all these factors for each option. Then, they decide on which solution will solve the problem.

4. Implementation of the Solution to the Problem

It is now time for the manager to move past the talking and thinking about the problem. Once the decision is made about a solution, it is time to take action to implement it.

If this is a simple solution like switching shifts and giving someone over time, the implementation might be limited to tell the staff affected and posting a new schedule.

If this is a significant change and/or an important part of the job, there should be an implementation plan that includes the following:

  • Communication plan
  • A detailed description of the changes being made
  • The rationale for change that will facilitate understanding and encourage commitment
  • The implementation process, including who is doing what
  • Timelines for implementation

The effectiveness of the solution depends as much on how the manager implements it, as on the value of the solution itself.

5. Evaluation of Results of Problem Solving

The evaluation of the results of implementing the solution is the final step. The process and tools used for evaluation should reflect how important the problem and solution are to the organization’s operations.

For example, a scheduling problem that is resolved in a few hours with a minimum of effort probably needs only a brief discussion with the staff affected after they have experienced a scheduling cycle. Therefore, a solution that requires revising the HR policies and procedures for recruitment warrants a longer trial period, and a thorough review of the effectiveness of the changes.

Ace Problem Solving

Certainly, the manager who understands and practices these five steps for problem-solving will find and implement effective solutions to all the problems, large or small, that plague the workplace.

About the author:

Bianca J. Ward is a professional online essay writer at EssayWriterFree where she provides people with qualitative works. Besides, she is a passionate photographer and traveler who has visited 52 countries all over the world. Bianca dreams about creating a photo exhibition to present her works to others.

Five Steps for Effective Problem Solving in the Workplace

  1. Analyze the problem to be solved

    Even the simplest problem is worth an analysis.

  2. Develop and test alternative solutions

    There is no right or wrong way to find possible solutions, whatever process or format produces results is fine.

  3. Decision making as part of problem solving

    Make a decision about which option is the most appropriate solution.

  4. Implementation of the solution to the problem

    Once the decision is made about a solution, it is time to take action to implement it.

  5. Evaluation of results of problem solving

    The process and tools used for evaluation should reflect how important the problem and solution are to the organization’s operations.

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