Perhaps you are feeling stuck on a project or how to resolve a technical issue. You might even be having a hard time trying to work with someone who has a challenging personality. The truth is, problems exist in every job. The good news is that so do solutions. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel stuck on a problem and you are unsure of what to do next, start by asking yourself a few important questions. All too often we jump straight into action without taking the time to truly understand what is causing the problem in the first place. Consider the following questions to help you gain clarity and find a pathway to solving problems the right way.
1. What is the problem you are facing?
It may seem obvious but oftentimes we get frustrated but we aren’t sure exactly what we are frustrated about. Take some time to ponder your situation and try to identify the specific problem. It’s not until you fully understand the problem that you can begin working on a solution.
2. What is your ideal outcome?
You cannot solve a problem without having an end goal in mind. What is it that you are trying to accomplish? What would it take to make this happen? Once you have a clear understanding of your ideal outcome, you can then start taking the necessary steps to make that happen.
3. Is there anything that could be contributing to this problem?
It’s not enough to identify a problem if you don’t know why it is a problem. Research is an incredibly valuable component in the problem-solving process. Though it may take a little more time on the front end, understanding the root causes of the problem can help you prevent it from happening again. You should do your research before jumping into action.
4. What can YOU do to fix the problem?
All too often we immediately place blame on others for problems in our lives and we fail to look at ourselves. Don’t jump the gun and start looking for a culprit. Instead, consider whether or not you could be a contributing factor to the problem and if so, what can you do to fix that.
5. Do I need additional tools or resources to solve the problem?
It could be that some of the problems you encounter at work are the result of a lack of resources. Think about whether or not you could benefit from additional tools and resources such as additional training, professional development, one-on-one feedback, or even physical tools and equipment. Be prepared to address these needs with a manager and explain why they would be helpful.
6. What support do I need from my manager to improve my performance?
One of your manager’s most important responsibilities is to ensure that their employees can perform their jobs successfully. This may mean that your manager needs to communicate expectations more clearly or perhaps they need to be more involved in their employees’ roles. It might also require the manager to step in and take steps to solve the problem. Sometimes the solution is dependent on the help and support of the manager.