Effective problem-solving strategies


In every business environment problem solving is necessary. Even at entry level you will come across situations where your initiative and problem-solving skills come into play. Understanding some of the strategies behind problem solving and how to apply them can position you perfectly for your next career move.

Problem solving strategies vary dependent on the task in hand. The strategies help you to analyse the problem in hand and develop an effective solution to put into practice. There may be industry specific problems you face or more general workplace issues, and in all instances, finding the right strategy makes a real difference. Let’s look more closely at some effective strategies for workplace problem solving.


The most important question to ask when assessing any problem is why. Prioritise finding out why the problem is occurring, and this should lead to the next steps and the problem’s solution. You will find many leaders and supervisors forget the importance of why the problem is occurring and switch naturally into solution mode. Sometimes this might work, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution to problem-solving and the chosen solution may not fit the issue in question.


Once you have prioritised and discovered the “why” for your problem, you need to look for its root cause. Without the root cause of a problem, you’re simply firefighting against its symptoms. Your resources and energy are going into dealing with the symptoms of the problem. The root cause remains and therefore, so does the problem. For example, you may find mistakes in your call centre are resulting in unhappy customers. You can ask the team members or supervisors to deal with the mistakes but to solve the problem, you need to find the root cause. Could it be you need additional training or more qualified senior staff? With the root cause you can plan the best course of action for solving the problem.


Once you have ascertained why the problem is occurring and its root cause, it’s time to act. Prematurely acting with proper planning often results in incomplete solutions and you may find the problem comes back. Planning your action is essential so you can act appropriately for the situation. Once you’ve carried through with your solution, you need to properly review and evaluate the results. Maybe you’ll find there could have been a better approach or ways to tweak your solution after a first attempt. This is the learning curve essential for ensuring your problem-solving skills are honed and you can improve your solutions where necessary.

Problem-solving skills are a real asset for any employee. They are highly transferrable and as they develop, employees position themselves well for more senior roles including team leading and management.

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