Solving Problems as a Team
According to Forbes, “Problem solving is the essence of what leaders exist to do. As leaders, the goal is to minimize the occurrence of problems – which means we must be courageous enough to tackle them head-on before circumstances force our hand.” They go on to say that the best leaders are the best problem solvers. As I think of my own experiences with those I respect as great leaders, it is a reality for all to grip. Strong leaders have the ability to guide teams through the problem solving process and come out with positive results. They realize that the team has to have a guide to take them through the problem solving process and keep the team on track.
Based on the Forbes report, there are four things necessary for leaders to effectively solve problems:
1. Communication has to be transparent so everything can be discussed to get to the root of the problem.
2. Silos must be broken down to eliminate self-interest and promote trust and minimize or eliminate hidden agendas for the good of the whole.
3. People have to be open-minded to see beyond their own concerns and see the opportunity a problem may bring.
4. Develop a good strategy for dealing with the problem that leads to a solution.
There is one more piece that I thought of that I’d like to share with you:
Provide team members with skills needed so they can flourish as a team. Strong leaders responsible for teams know that to be a successful team, team members may need to have some training on critical skills to achieve their goals.
If you’ve been successful in this economic environment, you have been solving problems and issues on an ongoing basis. So much so, that you instinctively make your decisions to figure out how to solve the issue or remove the obstruction in your way. Many people do that just fine individually; they’re independent, responsible for themselves and can move barriers with minimal restraints. But put that same successful problem solving individual in a team environment and challenges can begin. It’s been said that problem solving in a team can be harder than the dealing with the problem!
It doesn’t have to be that way. We recognized that many professionals spout that teams can accomplish more than the individual. Teams have been able to be more productive, have more ideas and creativity at work far beyond that of an individual trying to do it alone. So what makes solving problems in a team difficult?
Team members need basic skills in order to function and contribute to a team’s success. In addition to the skills needed to produce the job, they need to develop skills that will help the team thrive. These skills include communication, how to give and receive feedback, and how to solve conflict. One important skill required for teams to flourish is: they must know how to solve problems.
As leaders we need to not only help our teams with these skills, we have to know how to practice them ourselves. We have to understand, and follow, a tried true process that the team can incorporate in their activities until the problem is resolved, a process that can be taught to team members, and a process the entire team can benefit from with the key result of: success.
Processes can be intimidating and almost feel restrictive – but here’s more good news: processes can be customized to fit your industry, and your team. Success comes when your process includes some fundamental rules, like make sure you define the problem – the right problem, and a few more to boot.
Join us for our Team Problem Solving Program delivered through the Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce on September 11th. We are going to provide you with a simple process to introduce to your teams to help the team solve problems.
For a link to the Forbes article on the 4 Most Effective Ways Leaders Solve Problems, click here.