Managers hire people to fix problems, not complain about them. Employees who are prepared to offer possible solutions are considered highly valuable. These problem-solvers are the ones who keep their jobs in a tight economy. They’re also the workers who are offered merit raises, and, eventually, promoted.
Forbes offers eight steps for young professionals to implement problem solving in the workplace. Any employee in any industry may apply the following three basic steps to finding solutions to problems in the workplace.
Isolate the Problem
Something at work is making things more difficult, either for people to do their jobs, or to keep costs down, or to get work done in a reasonable time frame. The first step is simply to identify exactly what is happening and, more important, why it is happening.
Finding the “why” isn’t always so simple. Every time you answer the question, ask it again. For example, in a restaurant, food is taking too long to get to tables. Why? The servers are walking the food right away, so that’s not it. The food is taking too long to come out of the kitchen. Why? All the prep work is completed before the rush, so that’s not it. But the kitchen still gets backed up … you get the idea.
Generate Multiple Solutions
Many variables are included in any potential solution, so have a collection of ideas when you talk to management about solving problems. In the above example, possible solutions include:
1. Hire another cook.
This solution involves more money from the business and your employer may or may not want to spend those funds. Another body in the kitchen takes up space, so the size of the kitchen is an important variable.
2. Schedule an employee to expedite.
This option also costs money because the expediter must be paid, but is less expensive than signing on a new hire. The expediter may work fewer hours than the rest of the kitchen staff per shift to save money. The expediter does not take up as much workspace in the kitchen as a cook.
3. Train existing cooks in speed.
This may seem like the least expensive option, but it may also be the least realistic, especially if the cooks are already attempting to work quickly.
When you approach your boss to discuss problems and solutions, have a list of actual examples in mind. Write them down if that helps you remember.
Examples should not be designed to call out any individual employee for disciplinary action. Rather, examples are to illustrate that the problem exists and that your suggested solutions are reasonable.
The most valuable employees are part of the solution.
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