Nurturing Proficient Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Abilities - EmployeeConnect HRIS
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Nurturing Proficient Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Abilities



In times of pressure and stress, individuals commonly resort to a default strategy, often choosing a decision that has proven effective in the past. While this tactic can yield results, it carries a significant risk of trapping one in a cycle of repeatedly addressing the same issue. Therefore, embracing a methodical approach to problem-solving and decision-making is recommended. It’s important to acknowledge that not all predicaments can be resolved through logical means alone. This article aims to outline fundamental principles that can serve as a starting point, refining your proficiency with practice. Over time, these principles will become ingrained, transforming problem-solving and decision-making into seamless endeavours.

Principles for Effective Problem Solving and Optimal Decision Making


1. Identify and define the problem.

This domain often presents a challenge for individuals, as their responses frequently stem from assumptions about the nature of the problem. Instead of hastily reacting, it’s advisable to delve deeper into the reasons behind perceiving an issue. The most effective approach involves pinpointing and defining the problem by seeking insights from various sources, not solely relying on personal perspectives. Consider the following inquiries for introspection and for discussions with others:

  • What triggers your perception of a problem?
  • Where does the problem typically manifest?
  • In what manner does the problem manifest?
  • When does the problem tend to arise?
  • With whom does the problem usually involve? (Hint: Steer clear of premature conclusions and assigning blame)
  • Why does the problem come about?

For intricate problems, dismantle them by iterating through the steps until descriptions of interconnected issues emerge.

Assure your comprehension of the problem’s essence and then prioritise these issues. When grappling with interconnected problems, prioritise those that warrant immediate attention.

Differentiate between problems that are “significant” and those that are “urgent.” Occasionally, issues considered important may, in fact, demand immediate attention. At times, vital issues need more consideration than urgent ones.

Reflect on your role in the issue. For instance, during periods of stress, it’s common to project one’s own stress onto others, leading to hasty assumptions and placing blame.

2. Examine the Root Causes of the Issue

  • In various instances, you might find yourself lacking comprehensive knowledge about a given problem. Consequently, seeking insights from individuals directly affected by the issue becomes vital.
  • When gathering input from others, it’s advisable to approach each individual separately, especially initially. People tend to feel more at ease sharing their thoughts in private settings.
  • Document your understanding of the perspectives you’ve gathered from others.
  • For challenges linked to an employee’s performance, consulting a colleague or supervisor can offer a well-rounded perspective on the issue.
  • Compose a comprehensive account of the problem’s origin, noting its occurrence, timing, method, involved parties, and reasons.


3. Generate Ideas to Address the Issue

Inclusion of multiple perspectives is consistently recommended, as the synergy of diverse minds often outperforms individual efforts. Collaborate with others to engage in a collective ideation process aimed at resolving the issue. Amass a multitude of ideas, subsequently sifting through them to pinpoint the most suitable solution. It’s imperative to maintain a nonjudgmental stance while gathering ideas, recording them precisely as presented.

4. Choose the Optimal Strategy for Problem Resolution

During the process of determining the most suitable approach, it’s essential to contemplate the following aspects:

  • Which of these approaches holds the highest potential for effectively addressing the problem?
  • Which approach is presently the most attainable and pragmatic?
  • Do you possess the necessary resources to implement this chosen approach?
  • Are the required resources within budgetary reach?
  • Is there a feasible timeframe to carry out the chosen approach?
  • What level of risk is associated with each available option?


5. Formulate Your Course of Action

  1. Deliberate thoughtfully on the envisioned end result upon the resolution of this issue.
  2. Delineate the necessary steps for enacting the most effective problem-solving approach.
  3. Identify the organisational systems or procedures that warrant modification for its implementation.
  4. Establish methods for monitoring the adherence to the steps associated with the chosen approach—a key determinant of your plan’s success.
  5. Evaluate the required resources, encompassing personnel, finances, and facilities, imperative for the approach’s execution.
  6. Calculate the time frame indispensable for solution implementation, outlining a comprehensive schedule encompassing commencement and conclusion dates.
  7. Delegate the primary responsibility for executing the plan to a designated individual.
  8. Record the responses to the aforementioned inquiries, constituting your action plan.
  9. Disseminate the devised plan to both your team and immediate supervisor.


6. Supervise the Execution Progress of Your Plan

  1. Is the plan aligning with your projected outcomes as indicated by the indicators?
  2. Is the plan on track for completion within the designated timetable?
  3. In the event that the plan is deviating from anticipated outcomes, it’s prudent to inquire about its feasibility.
  4. Evaluate the adequacy of available resources for adhering to the plan’s schedule. Additionally, contemplate whether specific plan components demand heightened prioritisation. Is the prospect of modifying the plan worth considering?


7. Confirm the Successful Resolution of the Issue

To validate the problem’s resolution status, assess the restoration of regular operations within the organisation. During the verification process, it’s essential to address the following considerations:

  1. Identify necessary alterations to prevent a recurrence of this issue. This could involve amending policies, procedures, or implementing training initiatives.
  2. Extract valuable insights from the experience of tackling this specific problem.
  3. Draft a succinct memorandum outlining the accomplishments achieved through the problem-solving endeavour, as well as the insights gleaned. Distribute this memo among colleagues, supervisors, and subordinates.


Comparing Approaches: Rational vs. Organic


Rational Approach:

The rational approach involves a meticulous and logical methodology, elaborated in the preceding section. It encompasses the following steps:

  1. Defining the problem clearly.
  2. Investigating all potential causes of the problem.
  3. Identifying a range of alternatives for resolving the problem.
  4. Carefully selecting the most suitable alternative.
  5. Structuring an organised action plan to implement the chosen approach.
  6. Vigilantly overseeing the execution of the action plan.
  7. Confirming whether the problem has been effectively resolved.

A key advantage of the rational approach lies in its ability to establish order amidst chaos and provide a reference point for addressing similar situations in the future. However, its notable drawback is the time-intensive nature of the process.

Organic Approach:

For proponents of the organic approach, the intricate dynamics of organisations and human interactions resist resolution through a linear problem-solving sequence. Instead, they contend that an organisations quality is measured by its ability to navigate challenges as they arise, rather than waiting for a destination to be reached.

The organic approach excels in its adaptability to interpret and elucidate the complex, unpredictable shifts inherent in day-to-day projects. Yet, it falls short in providing a clear framework for effective communication among individuals. Additionally, gauging progress within this approach poses a formidable challenge.


For more relevant posts:

  1. How to Set Team Goals to Create Success. 
  2. 7 Best Practices for Effective Communication in the Workplace.
  3. A Guide to Coaching Employees in a Way That Works. 
Matthew Dedes