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Problem solving the right situation

July 21, 2011

“Sarah doesn’t know what she’s doing”

There are so many situations where we need to apply a bit of thinking and use our interactive skills so that we can resolve a potentially challenging situation. Most often small problems can be quickly sorted out, but at other times we need to use joint problem solving techniques to fix major situations and disruptions in the work place. But before steaming ahead and fixing every situation… be aware… Clarify the situation carefully before you resolve anything.

 “What doesn’t Sarah understand?”

IDENTIFY – is such a crucial stage to problem solving that it’s often overlooked to speed up the process of “fixing things”. Find out what the “Root Cause” is first. This will give you tremendous insight into the situation and gain clarity of the issues at hand.

For example: A manager may be confronted with a situation, of what he believes is one of conflicting personalities between two key employees who are continually “bumping heads” and unable to resolve team issues in a mature manner.

But after running through a process of clarifying the situation the manager realises that neither of the employees have a clear understanding of what the organisations overall goals are, what the key focus areas are and where each persons’ responsibility starts and ends within the organisational structure.

No wonder there’s a fight breaking out!

Because situations come in different forms and complexity, narrowing the situation down to a clear statement of concern provides a useful starting point, but it can be tough to find out what that is.

But here are a few “HR Balance Top Tips” to help.

  •  Look and listen to what is happening around you and what is being said – take note of the “here and now”
  • Allow the discussion to run freely when getting people to talk about the situation
  • Try to capture the situation in a few words free of jargon. Keep it plain and simple
  • The situation MUST capture the major concern and be agreed by those involved.
  • Then go ahead and work on jointly fixing the situation.

Acknowledgement:  Hugo Misselhorn (2011). The Head and Heart of Leadership – Joint Problem Solving.

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