Extraordinary Team Blog

Attempt to Solve Problems Before Running to Team Leader

Posted by Kristin Arnold on September 5, 2008

Your team has a problem.  What to do?  You can go running to the team leader (Mom or Dad) and ask the parents to fix it for you.  Or, as a team, you can learn how to fix problems:

Focus.  What’s the perceived problem?  Does everyone agree that it’s a problem or do you have one lone renegade who insists that “everyone knows this is a problem.”

Assess.  Before leaping to solution, figure out what is causing the problem in the first place.  Rather than treating the symptom, discover the root cause by asking, “Why is this a problem?”  Your gut instinct is a good place to start, but check out your subjective conclusions.  Verify your observations with data, where available.   Who knows?  You might find out that your perceptions are NOT reality.  You might even find the objective information leads you to a completely different cause of the problem!

Solutions.  Once you have identified the root cause to the problem, now comes the fun part!  Brainstorm all the possible solutions — even the crazy ideas!  From these ideas, look for the most promising solutions to your problem, based on time, interest and resourcing issues.  Make sure the “benefits” exceed the “costs” of implementing your solution.  Make sure your solution will “fix” the problem rather than bandage the symptom.

Test.  Make a plan to test your solution on a small scale.  Did it fix the problem?  Did you gain the benefits expected?  Were your cost projections realistic?  If you can answer yes, then roll out your solution to the rest of the team, division or organization.  Make sure you monitor the results to make sure the problem stays fixed.

As team leaders, it’s easier to fix the problem and move on.  Take the time to develop your team members’ problem-solving skills.  Walk your team members through your thought processes, giving them insight on what you would consider (or not) and do (or not do).

In time, they won’t have to keep running to you to fix all their troubles!

Question:  Do you follow the right procedure in solving problems that occur on your team?