Imagine there is a rift between two of your employees. One employee states a fact about the argument, and another employee states a contradictory fact. On top of that, there is confusion about how to handle the issue, who to talk to for resolution, and how to move forward with the team’s best interest in mind.
What I just described is every business-owner’s worst nightmare. Maybe your blood pressure even started to rise as I was describing this fictional situation!
Problem-solving team forums are the answer to this predicament.
Problems are bound to happen when more than one person is involved in a business or organization. We’re all different, and we all have unique opinions on life. People clash heads and cause hurt feelings in the process. So, with all of this in mind, it’s essential for you as a business owner or entrepreneur to master the art of hosting a problem-solving forum.
How to Have a Problem-Solving Team Forum
Below is a list of steps that should be followed as you host a Problem Solving Team Forum.
1. Invite those impacted by the problem.
In other words, all of your invitees should be people who have “skin” in the game. Don’t invite the whole office just for the sake of having a well-rounded team meeting. Rather, consider those who do have skin in the game – I’m sure they don’t want their dirty laundry aired for everyone to see.
As you plan and schedule your problem-solving forum, invite only those affected by the problem.
2. Then, list all of the symptoms.
At the start of the meeting, it’s essential to get all of the problem symptoms, questions, and trouble indications into the open. Many of these may be only apparent symptoms. But it’s important to get them all out right away.
This is not a time for passing judgment on whether the symptoms are part of the true problem or not. Respect all of the team member’s opinions by allowing them time to speak.
3. Now, define the real problem.
After listing all of the problem symptoms, it’s time to arrive at a definition of the real problem. You do this based on careful consideration of each apparent symptom, or facet, of the problem. Work hard to bring the real problem into focus.
For example, it may seem like the issue is that an employee arrives twenty minutes late every morning and, therefore, doesn’t get her work done. You might assume that her tardiness is the problem. However, the real problem is that her computer experiences glitches where she loses work unexpectedly. Now the real problem is out in the open, and it’s time to move on to the next step.
4. Consider alternate solutions.
Brainstorm all of the possible solutions. Keeping with our example above, these alternate solutions may be purchasing a new computer for the employee, giving her a day off to go get the computer fixed, or hiring someone to come to the office and fix the computer.
5. Select the best solution for the whole business.
What we want is an integrated solution, not a compromised or dominated solution. Arrive at a conclusion that is best for the organization and all parties involved.
6. Develop a plan to integrate the solution.
Take the time to map out the details of your solution. Maybe your problem has to do with office communication. Tasks aren’t being completed because there is no way to track who is doing the work. In this case, arrive at a solution and then spend time explaining and integrating the new solution.
7. Finally, monitor the solution to track it’s efficiency.
If you plan a solution only to forget about it weeks later, no one benefits. The purpose of a problem-solving team forum is simple: to solve a problem. So, keep everyone’s best interest in mind and track the efficiency of the new system. If it’s not working, you’ll need to host another forum.
A Problem-Solving Team Forum is an eye opener to those who have never participated in this type of meeting before. They find they do not attend the meeting to be educated or lectured, but are expected to participate and contribute. The people who best know the operations and problems come give their insight and advice.
They have the opportunity to see the problem as a whole – not just their portion of it. This is powerful for a business or organization.
Next time you have a work-place conflict, schedule a problem-solving forum. I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly the problem gets solved. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
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This is good advice! It’s amazing how when looked at logically, the problem you thought you had is often not really the actual problem at all.
Having a balanced symptom identification session might be one of the challenging stages, as each partner seems to want to emphasize their sides as the safe area. How do you arrive at achieving a balanced discussion on problem diagnosis?
Hi Dennis! Thanks for your question. You have to start with two basic values. One is honesty- everyone has to have a willingness not only to be honest about their opinion, but to be honest about what’s really happening when you identify the problem. In other words you can’t just take your side and not be willing to see the other. Second is that there has to be a safe harbor in the discussion, meaning that there should be an expectation that people will not criticize each other’s comments. If honesty and a safe harbor don’t do it then there has to be a mediator that comes in during the problem solving discussion to keep everybody focused on coming to a resolution. God bless you!