Rush to Hush

3 Ways to Sustainable Problem-Solving


Employees solve problems on a daily basis

Problem-solving is a big part of employee life. And it should be. Recurring problems is what drives employees off the charts. Sustainable problem-solving is every manager’s dream, and below are some real-life proven ways to achieve it.


1. Fix reasons, not outcomes

Reactive problem-solving should be regarded as a sin. It burns motivation, time, and therefore money. If employees are left to solve recurring problems over and over again, it is only a matter of time when they quit (trying). Step one to sustainable problem-solving is therefore identifying the reasons behind the problem. A good place to start is to ask oneself the question Why until it doesn’t make sense. Thus, failing in production may lead to failing in communication to failing in cooperation to feeling unsafe in the position to the lack of feedback from the superior. And that is where the action should be directed.


2. Focus on action, not on end-result

To solve a problem, employees need 2 things only: the tools and the motivation. While the tools are obtained, motivation needs to be constantly incited. Focusing on the big-picture end-result rather than one’s daily functions sooner or later leads to disappointment. Employees need to be aware of the end-result the company is after, but they should only be measured in terms of actionable daily steps. This puts employees in power and keeps them motivated. If everyone takes care of their own little part of the job, big things get accomplished as the end-result of collective effort.


3. Improvise on the How, not on the What

When things go wrong (and they do), the first impulse is to retreat. This is a way for the brain to cope with failure. It is a critical moment in time to change means instead of shifting focus altogether. Any problem can be solved, provided the means are right. It is perfectly OK to change ways of doing work on a daily basis as long as the focus is the same. It is the opposite that is not acceptable.


So, rushing into problem-solutions is the common way to “push through”. However, in order to achieve sustainable solutions it is a better idea to start by identifying the root of the problem. If it is done well, a flexible approach to the means and putting employees in charge within their functions should do the magic.