Who sees the benefits of problem solving? Everyone – organizational performance and reliability will improve, a culture of prevention and ownership will result, and employees will be better equipped to deal with challenges. In this article, we will explore just how organizational problem solving affects the bottom line AND the employees.
1. Problem solving drives positive results
An organization demonstrates the effectiveness of problem solving with the results that are achieved. When a problem happens, an organization must understand the cost of the problem and demonstrate the ability to improve how work is performed. This will give the organization confidence that the problem will not happen again.
People often think that in order to effectively solve problems, they need software or a complex methodology. In order to drive results, an organization needs problem solving based in the foundation of the scientific method. By using evidence-based cause-and-effect, problem solving allows the knowledge of each employee to drive the investigation, thereby improving your work processes, and driving results for how work is performed.
2. Problem solving is a career skill
On a personal level, for each of your employees, problem solving is a career skill. It is something that aids an individual’s performance because that employee gains a deeper knowledge of the company’s processes and procedures.
Let’s say your organization is considering two candidates for a promotion. Both candidates have worked for the company for approximately 5 years. Both candidates have supervisory experience working with frontline employees and have technical expertise in your field. Now you ask each employee – what kinds of problems did you face and how did you handle them? Do you hire the employee who says – “I’ve never really had to deal with any problems?” Or do you go with the employee who shares an example of a time they faced a challenge and how they addressed it. Is it better to go with the employee who has avoided the problems or the one who takes them head on.
I’d assume that the majority of you will hire the problem solving employee. By having a problem solving method, you are not only improving how work is performed, but also giving employees the skills to advance within their field. Further, being able to change your work environment for the better is an empowering skill. If employees are given the opportunity to improve the processes around them, then they likely will.
3. Problem solving creates a prevention-focused culture
Focusing on problem solving in your organization will demonstrate to employees that the organization is motivated to prevent future problems from occurring. Work process documentation is an asset to every organization and who knows the work process the best? If you answered “the people doing the work,” you are absolutely correct. So if they know the process the best, then who do you think is most likely to be able to fix the weak links in the process? Right again – “the people closest to the work.”
When someone doesn’t follow the procedure and an organization responds by firing that person, what does that indicate to the rest of the organization? It indicates that if an employee tells their manager about a problem, they are likely to get fired. This behavior results in people hiding or ignoring problems. This is the culture shift and people have to see this through problem solving. It is very easy to say “we have a prevention culture,” but only through practice, can an organization actually have a prevention culture. By acknowledging problems, involving employees close to the problem in the investigation, and implementing best practices to avoid similar problems from occurring again in the future, you can achieve a robust prevention-focused culture.
The benefits of problem solving
If problem solving is implemented effectively, all three criteria above can be achieved. If you prove that solving problems can improve the work environment then people will want to do it. When many people within your organization start problem solving then you start moving toward preventing problems instead of reacting to them.
There are two ways to deal with problems. You can avoid them or try to solve them. Ultimately, solving them is better for your business and your employees.