Solve people's problems differently

Problem solving strategy: How to find a solution

Almost every day we encounter one or the other problem. Sometimes the train fails - sometimes again -, sometimes the project just doesn't make progress for the new customer. In order not to fall into stress and blind actionism in such a situation, the right problem-solving strategy is necessary. The good news: You can train them with some effective means. The even better one: Even very different problem-solving strategies lead to the goal ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

What is a problem-solving strategy needed for?

We understand a problem to be a task or a dispute that you must overcome certain obstacles to solve. Whether we develop and apply an efficient problem-solving strategy depends on various factors: How important or unimportant is the problem? What are the consequences if you don't act?

Apart from personal importance for you (or people who are important to you) it also depends on the complexity of the problem whether we have the necessary energy (and motivation) to take action. If your own well-being or, from the perspective of a self-employed person, depends on the future of your company, the motivation should be high. Lighter problems - for example in the form of harmless disputes with a colleague - can be easily solved with the LEAF method. Complex problems, the scope of which may affect others, clearly require a problem-solving strategy.

Stop poring over problems

If you are one of those contemporaries who think twice about a course of action before taking action, this can be an advantage. Without question, there are some situations in which it is preferable to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of the various options for a long time instead of hastily coming to a decision that you may later regret. However, rolling over problems is rarely a good idea.

This leads to wild associations that take you away from the core problem. If you're looking for an effective problem-solving strategy, this is the wrong way to go. Instead of finding a solution to the problem, you are left with questions that do not get you anywhere; instead, new difficulties pile up. Of course, it can be useful to consider why you got into the current situation. But only in terms of what you can learn from it so that you don't make the same mistake again. Brooding for the sake of brooding rarely produces results.

Good problem-solving strategies are forward-looking

If you only dwell on the background, that will not get you anywhere in the long term. The reason for this is pretty simple: questions about guilt and responsibility are directed towards the past. If you want to clarify these questions, concern yourself only with what has already been and how the problem came about. You are, however, miles away from an effective problem-solving strategy.

Who wants to solve problems has to deal with the future and look for a solution. In short, a really good problem-solving strategy is not problem-centered, but solution-oriented. It can look like this, for example:

The history of origin

The first step must always be that you become aware of the problem. To do this, it can be helpful to compare the output, i.e. the current state, with the state that was originally intended to be achieved. Do you see the differences? Then you can use this to come to a solution in the further course. This brings us to the problem itself, but we use the question as a way of solving it. What happened in the first place and are there ways of recognizing at an early stage what went wrong? Are promising approaches that you can use in your problem solving strategy. You have the solution in mind and are not looking for someone to blame.

The polluter

Do you have any ideas what you could do better in the future so that the situation no longer arises in which you are currently? With that you would not need a problem-solving strategy at all.

The rest of the people involved

You may not be solely responsible for making the situation a real problem. Can you spot behaviors or strategies in your co-workers that contributed to this?

The surrounding

Sometimes it is the circumstances and not the people involved that are responsible for causing problems. Another question in an effective problem-solving strategy is therefore about possible changes in the environment:

  • Can you implement control mechanisms?
  • Are there ways to identify the problem early on?
  • Can you improve the framework conditions so that the problem does not recur?
  • Under what circumstances can you react faster?

Under certain circumstances, an approach to a solution emerges from the analysis. If not, you should rummage through your memory. Have you ever been in a comparable situation? Was there anything that was particularly helpful to you? If not, you can also use creativity techniques to come up with new ideas and an effective problem-solving strategy.

The review

Only at the very end is it a matter of evaluating the various possible solutions. You can compare and evaluate different ideas with one another. Of course, you should only choose the problem-solving strategy that will get you the furthest. Our tip: Use the so-called STAR method for an effective problem-solving strategy

Keep this in mind

If you want to solve problems efficiently, you don't just need a structured problem-solving strategy. You can also do more to eliminate problems and prevent new ones from arising in the first place. Most of the time, the work environment plays a role in causing problems. The result: the next time you notice that there are inconsistencies on the horizon, you can think of the following things and find a satisfactory solution more quickly:

1. Mistakes happen

Even if it may seem different to you in the specific situation: Most employees (and people in general) do not make mistakes out of bad faith. On the contrary. As a rule, you try to get the best out of every situation and complete the project quickly and professionally, thus impressing your boss.

The following procedure could therefore pay off: Instead of loudly venting your displeasure with the mistake, you can make the colleague concerned aware of the problem and get them to fix the situation themselves. The drive to perform well and iron out your own mistakes can be a very powerful and effective motivation - and saves you from having to deal with different problem-solving strategies for a long time.

2. Many hands, quick end

Who says that you always have to solve problems alone? Why shouldn't you use the concentrated manpower of your colleagues for your problem-solving strategy? After all, there are some indications that the group can come up with better and faster solutions.

But don't make the mistake of to involve only a select part of the colleagues. That, in turn, could lead to other conflicts. Another possibility: address the problematic situation in front of the assembled team at the next meeting and ask for suggested solutions.

3. More motivation, better results

The problem cannot be solved in the entire team? Then, for better or worse, one employee has to apply his problem-solving strategy alone. If this is a colleague who has been ordered to do so from above, it does not necessarily have to lead to the best possible result. Another option: Raise the problem in the meeting and encourage suggestions. Perhaps there will be a colleague who is scrambling to solve the problem. That is certainly more promising than urging a colleague to do it.

Solve problems by waiting

The problem-solving strategies presented are not for you? Then we have another option: Instead of looking for a solution to the problem with excessive actionism and, in the worst case, getting lost in it, you can simply do the opposite. Namely nothing, or rather, wait and see.

Some problems can be solved without it Problem-solving strategy simply with the necessary composure. However, this is not for everyone. Perhaps, however, our flowchart will help you with a successful problem-solving strategy. Although it is admittedly not meant very seriously in all places ...

Problem-solving strategy in the application

Before you can put your problem-solving strategies to the test in your day-to-day work, you usually first have to master the interview. And here, too, it becomes clear that anyone who has an effective strategy for dealing with problems has an advantage, because this competence is often required in the job advertisement. Therefore, if you want your application to be successful, you should definitely address it.

Unfortunately, it is not enough only to mention the competence. You must also be able to prove this - and it is best to do this as specifically and vividly as possible. Means: Before the interview, think about the problems and challenges you overcame in your last job. Describe the problem-solving strategy you used. If you want to convince across the board, you should select examples that could also be relevant for your potential new employer. If the HR manager notices that you have already dealt with the question of how you can advance the new company in advance, you have a stone in the board.

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[Photo credit: Jiw Ingka by,]