Last month we began this conversation about being open about problems as well as work well done and how communication was the foundation of this element of a healthy work environment. Let’s continue that conversation now.
So, you have learned how to open the door to problem solving by identifying the problem. You see the value of “I” Messages, I hope. The opposite of an “I” Message is a “YOU” Message. A You Message is a “put down” message and will, most certainly cause the other person to become defensive and less likely to be interested in working with you to solve a problem. For Example:
“Mary, you don’t seem to realize how devastating it is to have broken appointments and no shows. I have to pay the bills, you know. I thought you knew how to handle this, but I see that you don’t.”
Wow. That will get you no where. A person receiving a message like that one will, more than likely pull backwards and will either become defensive or will lsoe any interest in helping you. If you decide the problem you have is having a concrete, negative impact on you, your performance, or your organization ( or your family) and you decide to step up to the plate and address the problem, do so in a constructive manner with an intention to resolve the issue.
There are 7 steps to Problem Solving:
- Identify the problem in terms of the needs of both parties
- Brainstorm solutions
- Discuss the pros and cons of all suggested solutions
- Come to a consensus agreement on the solution that both parties believe will be the best.
- Design a plan of action: what will you do, who will do what, and why do you feel each step is important. Determine both deadlines and timelines. A deadline is when the job is to be completed and the timelines are the steps along the way. Deadline= work is done. Timelines: when the work is done.
- Implement the plan. Put the plan into action. “Just Do It!!”
- Evaluate your progress. Is it working? If it isn’t working, make necessary alterations and go on.
Follow this proven method of Problem Solving (Thomas Gordon) and you can work through most any issue. Become accountability partners with anyone with whom you are working on a project. Ask if you can check in and see how they are doing and if you can give honest feedback along the way. If there are timelines and deadlines established, check on each other to make sure that these are workable and being honored.
The only way to work through a problem is to face it head on and to work through it. You can do this—most every time. A problem is only a problem until it is identified. Once it is identified, you have taken the first step to resolving that problem.
Do yourself and your team members a favor by openly addressing issues rather than skirting around them, tucking them away and pretending they are not there, or blaming others for things not being done properly. Avoidance or blaming are not a part of effective problem solving.
Successful people and successful organizations learn how to identify a problem and how to address it constructively. And remember: THE GOAL IS RESOLUTION AND LONG TERM, HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS.