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Effective Problem Solving


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As a manager and leader, problem solving is a core part of your role. In a few instances you need to solve the problem immediately, for example, when the fire alarm is ringing. In the vast majority of cases you can however take a more structured approach.

So what are the key steps in effective problem solving?

Clearly Identify the Problem

While this might seem like stating the obvious, managers can fall into the trap of starting to leap into action before they have got clarity on what the problem is.

To avoid this take time to get clear and write down the problem.

Establish the Facts

Getting a clear understanding of the facts is essential. This is particularly important when dealing with a staffing problem such as a breakdown in a relationship between colleagues. In these situations everyone will want to give you their views some of which might be factual or some which might be personal opinions. It is the facts that matter.

Identify Potential Solutions

The key at this stage is to identify possible solutions. Brainstorming or mind maps are two excellent tools to use for identifying potential solutions. Adopt an anything is possible approach to the process and don't start eliminating things at this stage.

Review and Refine Potential Solutions

Go through all of the potential solutions and eliminate those that are clearly not workable in this situation. Carry on this process until you have a short list of 3-5 solutions. Weigh up the benefits and drawbacks of the 3-5 solutions.

Select a Solution

Decide on what solution you are going to adopt in this particular case.

Implement Solution

Once you have decided on your solution put it into action as quickly as you can.


Set up an appointment to review success and identify learning points.

At the end of the day, problems will always arise that need to be addressed. Make sure that you stand out from the crowd when it comes to problem solving.

About the Author

Duncan Brodie is a Leadership Development Coach and Management Trainer at Goals and Achievements

He specialises in helping accountants and professionals to make the transition from technical expert to manager and leader.

As a former Finance Director he has real experience of the challenges faced by professionals moving from technical expert to manager and leader.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-06-12 00:51:03 in Employee Articles

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