How do you approach problem solving in your team?

There are many barriers to change in an organisation and the ability to resolve problems individually and collectively is one of them. When faced with a problem there are 3 common responses people have: they become uncomfortable and wish it would go away; they believe they have to have an answer and that it must be the right one; they look for somebody to blame. So, being faced with a problem, often causes problems. People tend to see problems as difficult because of the need to solve them, coupled with being unsure of how to find the best solution. In addition, people managers are often wary of the conflicts that may arise within a team, due to differing solutions.

The goal of developing good problem-solving to make individuals and the company more conflict-friendly and conflict-competent.

Here are a few steps you can take towards creating an effective problem-solving process:

Identify the issues

Make sure that the problem itself is clear and that everyone understands what it is asking of them. Remember that everyone will have different opinions on what the issues are.

Make sure you understand everyone’s interests

Interests can best be described as the needs you want satisfied by a given solution, we often lose sight of these as we become obsessed with the solution itself. The best solution satisfies everyone’s interests. This is a time for ACTIVE LISTENING! Listen to understand someone else’s approach to the problem.

Make a list of possible solutions and evaluate them

This is a time for creativity and brainstorming! Be as imaginative as you want but try to consider the advantages and possible disadvantages of your solution.

Select a solution or solutions

See which offers the most balanced approach. Perhaps that involves “bundling” a few potential solutions together to create a brand new one that is more satisfactory.

Document your solutions and agreements

Writing information down will help you to think and evaluate the details and implications.

Try to agree on contingencies, monitoring and evaluation

It is possible that conditions may change and by making contingency agreements about foreseeable future circumstances, you, your employees and your company are protected. Think about how you will monitor compliance and follow-through when you launch this new solution too.


Furthermore, create the opportunities to re-evaluate the agreements and their implementation. For example, you could say “Let’s try it this way for 3 months and then have another look at it”

This process may not always be linear and you may have to cycle back to previous steps but that is nothing to worry about because it is important to have the correct solution!

Tim Hicks (director of the Master’s Program of Conflict and Dispute Resolution at University of Oregon) once said “Problem solving is like a bend in the road, take it right and you’ll find yourself in a good position for the straightaway that follows. Take it too fast and you might not be in as good a shape.”