In an ideal work environment, things would always run smoothly, and there would never be any problems. However, in any workplace, issues and tension are going to bubble up every now and then. Despite these conflicts arising at work, viewing them as a way to improve workflow, relationships, and overall job performance is important. Here are a couple of ways that you can help resolve any problem at work that makes both all invested parties feel good about the end outcome.
First things first, make sure that there is an actual problem occurring. If so, be precise in identifying what the problem is, and remember that other people might view the problem in a different light than you do.[i] Great problem solvers can see through all the extracurriculars, and identify the very root of the problem. While remaining objective throughout the process can be difficult, it’s critical to view the problem as an outsider looking in with no clear agenda.
Even if there’s only one real problem, there’ll possibly be several solutions and options that are best suited to solve that problem – and they need to be evaluated. For each possible solution, you need to weigh the pros and cons of that particular option and the effects it could have if you decide to take that route. Communication with all involved parties is beneficial in solving the problem, as you can gather feedback on what they think of your options, or if they believe there is a better course of action. Steve Jobs used to suggest that when his team was confronted with a problem they had to search for “an elegant, really beautiful solution that works.” [ii]
This is an obvious step, but acting on resolving the problem is best done quickly and efficiently. Creating a plan and sticking to it is what will successfully solve the problem. All the work you have done up to that point won’t matter if no action step is taken. Once a decision has been made and the resolution has been agreed upon, monitoring how the ordeal unfolds, and stepping in if necessary is important to keep an eye on as well.
Becoming skilled at problem-solving takes time, patience, and focused attention. You won’t be able to solve a problem right away, and the process can sometimes take longer than anticipated. The bigger the problem, the longer and more difficult the process can be. However, take your time and make use of these three tips next time you encounter a problem at work.