How to create a problem solving culture at your workplace
September 25, 2019
To stay afloat in a fast-changing competitive environment, businesses need to work with strategic innovation and top-rate productivity. To do this, a business needs to operate with a problem-solving culture and nurse values that drive growth.
A problem-solving culture means a practical approach applied systematically towards improving results in all levels and departments of a business, from customer care to quality control, inventories, and accounting. With this culture, the spotlight is on everyone, not just the leaders only, dissuading anyone from hiding behind a desk and making no significant contributions.
In this piece, we explore techniques and tips to help you assemble and develop a team of proactive problem-solvers, not just a group of yes men waiting to take orders.
Problem-Solving Techniques for an Energetic Problem-Solving Culture
The unique business management process of every business requires unique problem-solving techniques. However, some common techniques work effectively across the board.
The following is a breakdown of a simple, yet effective problem solving model that can drive an excellent problem solving culture.
1. Identifying and Analyzing Problems
Your employee should develop a knack for identifying problems and their nature and causes. This is the foundation of this problem solving technique. At this stage, team members need to ask themselves the whats and the whys of problems and settle only for the most plausible answers.
Some questions to ask at this stage include:
- Where does the problem stem from?
- What impact will the problem have on relevant aspects of the business?
- Who’s behind it?
- Have we dealt with a similar problem before?
- Can we apply the methods that worked in the past to this current situation?
2. Creating a Proposal
From the discussions about the problems, multiple solutions can be elicited. Team members can then draft a proposal with three or more of the most viable solution. At this stage, the problems are already half solved.
3. Forwarding the Proposal to Get Approval
A hierarchical environment that obscures two-way communication between those at the top and low-level staff is antithetic to a problem-solving culture. For the problem-solving culture to thrive, your employees should be encouraged to brainstorm solutions and then present the issues and viable solutions to those in charge. The final part of this problem-solving technique entails putting forward proposals in a presentable, easy-to-digest format to executives, explaining why they need to take action and the most effective actions they can take.
How to Create a Problem-Solving Culture
A problem-solving technique is only as effective as your employee’s commitment to it. So how do you get your employees to embrace a problem-solving culture?
Lead by Example
First, the leaders at the top need to set the tone and create an atmosphere where employees are encouraged to think for themselves. The leaders need to offer mentorship, support, and active relationships to employees. By so doing, they foster values, visions, and principles that help achieve the primary objectives of the business. This also empowers everyone to take initiatives and make effective individual efforts to drive the company faster in a positive direction.
Assign Unequivocal Responsibilities
The next important thing to do is to make sure everyone clearly understands their responsibilities and which areas they need to focus their energies on. Lay out expectations and targets, and encourage them to keep an eye out for problems and brainstorm possible solutions before informing executives about the problem. The aim is to foster accountability, critical thinking, and ownership.
Outline a Clear Framework
Adopt processes and frameworks that stimulate a problem-solving culture. You can institute periodic updates from various teams. The aim is to increase employee engagement by showing team members that they’re valued and their efforts are necessary to keep the business running smoothly. This will also help ensure that management identifies and solves problems.
Although this might undermine your tight control over your business, it will actually work in your favor when employees serve you with full-heartedly. Your employees need to be able to come up with efforts and witness their efforts make a difference in the daily operations of the business. Offer rewards for independent thinking that yielded good results.
Equip your Workers With Necessary Tools
A problem-solving culture is impossible if your employees don’t have access to the necessary tools they need. You need to empower your employees with tools necessary for identifying, analyzing and solving problems.
How to Sustain a Problem-Solving Culture
After putting the necessary measures in place to create a problem-solving culture, how do you prevent your business from sliding back into the old regime?
Here are tips to keep the fire burning for long:
All eyes must be on the ball at all times. You need to set targets and ensure your employees don’t come short of it. Let them be clear about the things that can slide and others that are critical. This requires effective communication at all times.
Reward Achievements and Be Tactful with Failures
Giving a strong-handed response to failure can backfire and cause more failures. You need to handle damage control with tactics, not anger. Confront failures by analyzing the root cause of the failure and then challenging your employees to come up with ways to improve their performance going forward.
Also make it a point to celebrate every success, major or minor. A problem-solving culture cannot thrive in a tense atmosphere.
Encourage Individual Efforts
Use frameworks, meetings, and communication channels to encourage individuals to use the tools available to them maximally. They’ll get to identify problems more quickly and find the best tenable solutions when they’re making optimal use of tools resources.
Conduct Effective Supervision
You want to allow your workers to think independently, but at the same time, you also want to ensure that daily operations are flowing smoothly. You need an effective measure in place for monitoring progress and making team audits. This will allow you easily notice and resolve any issue that’s counterproductive to the problem-solving culture.
Train and Innovate Continuously
You need to ensure the problem-solving skills of your employees are always cutting-edge. They should be trained continually through seminars, team meetings, and retreats to ensure they work with industry-best practices.
A problem-solving environment empowers employees to adopt, create, innovate and sustain industry-best practices. With this atmosphere, the executives no longer have to work like they’re heart and soul of the business; everyone is an integral part of the businesses, and their efforts are deterministic to the business.
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