How to solve a problem at work in 4 steps?

How to solve a problem at work in 4 steps?

Problems at work should be solved daily. Some of them are user complaints, quality problem, budget cuts or problems in communication and team dynamics.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of the top skills employers look for in candidates is “problem solving”.

Career coach Ashley Stahl has realized over the years of working with clients who feel stuck or don’t like their current job, that problem solving isn’t just about ability, it comes down to how much you can focus on identifying the problem itself.

As Albert Einstein said: “If I had one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute solving it.”

What is the problem we are solving?

And yet, in a world where instead of listening, we often prepare answers for others, we rarely seem to follow his advice.

In most cases, we jump straight into action to put out the fire, instead of taking the time to figure out where the flames are coming from. We don’t take the time to understand what the problem we’re actually solving is, which leads to spending time focusing on aspects that don’t really get to the root of the problem.

Problem – Solution (Pixabay)

For example, over the years of coaching clients seeking clarity, she discovered that clarity was not what they really needed. According to her, the root of their discomfort and struggle is that they need to reconnect with who they are authentically. Disconnection is the root of the problem.

Whether it’s in your professional or personal life, there are four steps to solving problems the right way, he says Forbs.

1. Check your assumptions

When you first identify the problem, make sure that your statement has no trace of a solution. If, for example, you were selling an online course and the sales weren’t what you envisioned, you may have thought it would be wise to send more emails. But what if your audience wasn’t on your email list? Or what if the product offering is not something they are interested in buying? There are many possible causes for this problem. All assumptions make the problem statement unclear.

First, understand that assumptions are an innate human characteristic and something everyone does to survive at the most primal level. Research have discovered that the brain actually rewards assumptions and convinces us that we are right, even when we may be wrong.

Problem - solution

Problem – Solution (Pixabay)

According to research conducted by Bojana Kuzmanović from the Max Planck Institute for Metabolic Research in Cologne, every time we hear information that supports our assumptions, the brain activates two areas of the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and cognitive behavior – associated with reward.

With this in mind, transform your assumptions into questions. Instead of believing the assumption, “Nobody bought my product because they didn’t see the email ads,” reframe it as the question, “Why didn’t anybody buy my product?” This immediately snaps you out of assumption mode and reveals the root of the problem.

2. Get to the root of the problem

It is not enough to identify a problem if you do not understand why it is a problem.

Research becomes an incredibly valuable component in this problem-solving process.

Start talking to your audience, whether they’re customers, prospects, or co-workers. Find out where they spend their time online and start connecting with them as a means of discovering their thoughts on your issue. Get to the books and start studying other people who live in the same professional space as you to better understand the problems they overcame and how they did it. Read reviews of competitors’ products and pay close attention to the comments section of their feed to see if they’re having the same problems. Do all this research before taking any action.

Question - solution

Question – Solution (Pixabay)

3. State the problem in as many ways as possible

Have you ever made sure that it is idea the solution? Accepting only one problem statement in this way can give you the so-called tunnel vision.

When you’re stressed, your brain is exhausted from a lack of dopamine, but when you focus on something, you activate the prefrontal cortex, triggering dopamine in your brain. Under high stress, the senses become muted in order to feel good and move forward.

To combat tunnel vision, make a list of potential reasons why you might be having a problem, no matter how silly or strange they may be. Don’t judge yourself for the problems you create, see this simply as an exercise for your brain to get things moving and reconnect with your creativity. After creating the list, go back to the original problem statement and reference the research you’ve done to see if new solutions or a real problem emerge.

Work, problem

Work, Problem (Unsplash)

4. Ask what you could do

We all want to “get it right,” which is why it’s so tempting to ask, “What should I do?” But saying “should” tends to lock our minds.

An Academy of Management experiment showed that simply switching from “should” to “could” led participants to generate more creative solutions to challenges. Be the one to ask, “What if…?” and “How about…?” You might be surprised by what comes next.

While these four steps may seem like you’re slowing things down at first, it’s important to remember that investing this extra time prevents wasting time later on implementing the wrong actions and ineffective solutions.

Source: BIZLife

Photo: Pixabay, Unsplash

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