The job of an entrepreneur is to solve a problem for their customer base by providing an effective solution. This problem-solving ability rewards you with financial compensation . As a problem solver, you are the one who wants to be in charge of resolving all the problems that occur within your business. This might be a good trait to have as a solo entrepreneur but not so much when you become a business owner. Having the need to be the ultimate problem solver can lead to long-term issues for your business.
When you constantly act as the sole problem-solver, micro-manage your employees and mandate that all decisions can be made only after conferring with you, you are interfering with your employees’ specific duties and hindering their development as effective problem-solvers. They will eventually be frustrated by your inability to trust their abilities as professionals. Your employees become resentful because you treat them as children, rather than adults who can do things on their own.
The best business leaders understand that trust is one of the major factors that lead to the development of a successful business. If you want to scale your operations, and consequentially your revenue, it is your employees who will build your vision into the successful business that you desire. This can only be accomplished when you give them the tools, the trust and the freedom to do their jobs. A major part of their job will be having to deal with problems and solving them. The better they are at performing such duties the better your organization performs overall all. This allows you to keep your customers happy and gain more market share in the process.
Therefore, it is very important that your employees understand how to solve problems. The following steps will help to ensure that you develop your employees’ problem-solving abilities.
1) Communicate the importance of problem-solving during the hiring process
It needs to be communicated to the candidate being interviewed that problem solving is a skill that is highly valued in your organization – something that you prefer all of your employees to have. The qualifications on paper may look good but they do not automatically make the candidate the right or best fit for your business. Anyone can listen to and follow instructions, but not everybody possesses the critical thinking skills to act in an effective manner when presented with a difficult challenge. Although candidates will most certainly say that they can handle unforeseen problems, you will need to test their capability of doing so. Present them with problems to solve on the spot and grade their performance. How they perform will provide you with first-hand proof of how they will perform under such circumstances when it comes to the actual job. If they fold under pressure then they are not the person you need to hire. If they handle themselves well then they are the person who needs to fulfill the available position.
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2) Place your trust in them
Do not hire problem solvers only to try to hold their hand during the entire process of them performing their job. This is backward and it shows that you have no trust in your employees. You make them dependent on your continued assistance and also make them frustrated in the process. The key to being a good business leader is knowing when to let go to let your employees do their jobs. Let them make mistakes so that that they can learn how to fix them. The more that they are pushed to step up to challenges the better they become at doing so. This helps to create all-star employees who are great at their job because their performances help your business continually grow.
3) Give them goals instead of instructions
There is a difference between goals and instructions. Instructions tell your employees exactly how they need to accomplish their tasks. Goals state what needs to be accomplished and allow your employee the opportunity to determine how they will achieve the goal. Doing this forces your employees to apply their critical thinking skills so that they can learn how to solve problems without having the solution provided to them. This allows you as the owner to focus on the growth of your entire organization, instead of having to spend your time continuously putting out fires that your employees should be handling.
4) Promote creative thinking
Solving problems does not always involve straight-forward thinking. There will be plenty of times when your employees will need to apply creative thinking skills to properly handle the problem they are presented with. This can be difficult for them to do if they have not really engaged their creative thinking skills in the past to solve problems. One such way that this can be accomplished is by playing creative games in the workplace. This helps to develop your employees critical thinking skills, which means their creativity evolves as a result. This is especially helpful when dealing with issues that have never been encountered before. Instead of your employees trying to run from the difficulty of the situation, they will fully embrace the challenge being presented to them because their creative mind has been made strong. Your customers are more satisfied as a result and your business continues to prosper due to their satisfaction.
5) Provide plenty of resources
Problem-solving is a multi-step process. This means that more than your employee’s mind alone will be needed to provide viable solutions. They will need to be provided with the resources that help to lead them to the best solution possible.These resources include the best tools such as software that can analyze data to present the most suitable solution possible. Doing this helps to reduce the amount of time spent on searching for the answer so that it can be found quicker. This reduces the frustration experienced by your employee, your customers, and you. This is a win-win-win for all involved which means all parties are left feeling happier.
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6) Incorporate team brainstorming
Usually, problem solvers like to work alone so that they do not have to deal with the distraction of others disturbing their thinking process. While it can be good that your employees are capable of solving their problems alone, even better results can be produced if they learned how to solve problems as a cohesive unit. This helps to promote team building, trust, and an environment where ideas flow freely. As a result, qefficiency is increased due to problems being solved much faster by a team rather than one individual.
7) Appreciate new ideas
Your employees will be better problem solvers if you allow them to be open about the ideas they have. Encourage them to speak up and share their ideas. Not only does this make them feel valued for their opinions, it also helps you become a better leader – onw who is open to other ideas, consultative in approach and highly-focused on customer-benefit-driven solutions rather than ego-driven control of processes. This open communication can lead to new ideas that increase the performance of your organization, which means more profit being earned in the process. This is why you should have an open policy where people are encouraged to share their thoughts since they could lead to the improvement of your business.
8) Get in the habit of asking questions
When you are presented with problems faced by your employees, you will naturally want to be the one to solve the issue. You will instead need to discipline yourself to not respond with a solution. Rather, ask open-ended questions to help lead them towards a solution. These questions should include:
- How do you think we should work to address this problem in the most effective manner?
- Are there any examples of what has worked in the past to resolve this?
- What is your experience of dealing with this issue in other places you have worked? How was the problem resolved at that organization?
- Why does this problem recur frequently?
- If you were in my position, how would you work to resolve the problem you are asking me?
9) Be a coach and mentor
You need to give your employees one-on-one face time so that they understand exactly what you want from them and so that you both can communicate the expectations that they are required to meet. If your employees are having a hard time being a problem solver, this time is given to them will help them learn the best ways to improve this skill set. Instead of solving their problem directly when you meet them, discuss similar case studies, your experience handling a similar issue, motivate them and give them the assurance they need that you trust them to do a good job. Their performance and productivity will improve as they get more experience solving problems every day. You and your business can only profit from coaching and mentor your employees. Make sure that you carve out the time to meet with your employees so that you can help them improve their performance.
Your employees will need to be given the ability to be problem solvers if you want your business to continuously grow. You cannot possibly grow your business while micromanaging your employees so it is best to put the power of solving problems directly in their hands.
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