How to Develop Problem Solvers in Your Organization
Situation: An employee tells you about a business problem they are experiencing, and asks for your advice on how to handle it.
Your Response: You give them your opinion and recommendation on what to do.
Does this sound familiar? If so, then you are not effectively developing and nurturing Problem Solvers in your organization.
So What? Well, There are Many Reasons:
- It creates a bottleneck at the top and thwarts forward progress when the decision-maker in the company can’t be reached or has too many things on their plate.
- Top performers can become frustrated. They don’t respond well to micro-management and need and want the ability to think through solutions and resolve problems.
- Critical thinkers and problem solvers are in high demand in the business world. If you don’t nurture and promote their professional development, a competitor of yours will jump on the chance.
How to Develop Good Problem-Solvers:
- View problems as opportunities. Opportunity for improvement; opportunity for learning. History has shown that the secret to creativity begins with good problems.
- Einstein’s theory of relativity was about working out a discrepancy between electromagnetism and physics.
- Post-It Notes were about discovering a use for not very sticky glue.
- Picasso’s cubistic paintings were about working out the problem of mapping cubic space onto flat canvases.
- Turn problems into challenges for your team to brainstorm and tackle. Never let them settle at just one solution or the first idea that comes to mind. Encourage them to analyze the problem and ask questions.
- What is the problem and what is causing this?
- What additional matters are at stake?
- What are the possible repercussions of the various potential solutions?
- For employees more junior in their career who need practice with decision-making, establish a process, and make it safe for them to share their ideas without judgment.
- Have the team write down the problem on a whiteboard or type it up along with all of the potential solutions and possible consequences.
- Have them (not you) decide which would be the best course of action and why. After they have stated their case, state your opinion (and why), and have a healthy debate before deciding which solution to choose.
- As a manager, it’s important to keep open to the fact that someone else’s approach and solution may be better than yours in the end.
- With your experienced managers, allow them to make day-to-day decisions without getting your approval. Keep the door open for occasional touchpoints, but get out of the way. Every decision along the way may not be how you would’ve solved the problem, but if people are fearful of making decisions or being criticized for bad decisions, they simply will stop trying.
The Bottom Line?
Stifling your company’s up-and-coming leaders, and preventing them from becoming stronger at problem identification and resolution is harmful to the organization. Empowering your team to critically think and problem solve results in more engaged employees and an agile organization that will be able to succeed and grow.
September 8, 2020, Hrnewslibrary.tradepub.com. “How To Nurture Problem Solvers”, by Tresha Moreland, Founder of HR C-Suite.
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