Image taken from Wikimedia Commons
Stop, look and listen! It's a mantra we all had drummed into us at an early age, and while those three imperatives are mainly intended to keep people out of car accidents, they're quite handy when it comes to handling problems in the workplace, too. The business world could learn a thing or two from Tufty the Squirrel!
So next time you're faced with a problem in the workplace, follow these three simple steps:
Don't just spring into action without a moment's consideration. You wouldn't stride blindly into the road without pausing to check for oncoming traffic, and you shouldn't start hacking away at a problem until you know what's going on. When an issue presents itself, stop and take a breath instead of acting on the spur of the moment.
Once you're ready to tackle the problem, be sure to examine it closely. Not everything is as it first appears, and acting on false assumptions can have dire consequences further down the line. Consider the problem from every angle - this will enable you to feel a lot more confident in your actions thereafter.
Of course, you can't know everything just by looking. Cars can speed around the corner as if from nowhere, and that's why we teach our kids to use their ears as well as their eyes. If you want to make the best possible decisions, it's important to hear what everyone involved has to say, so sit everyone down and listen to each person's argument in turn. Encourage your employees to do the same; if somebody is explaining themselves, don't let anyone else interrupt them. Simply listening to the other party's opinion is sometimes enough to solve a dispute!
In the long run, resolving a workplace problem will be a far quicker, far cleaner job if you stop to think about it first. Take a good look at the situation and listen while everyone has their say. This will allow you to make an informed, effective decision and restore peace to the office!
Every manager needs good problem solving skills. If you feel that this side of your management could be improved, book your place on OSR's Managing Workplace Problems training day - the next course will take place on the 22nd of October, 2013.