By Matthias Müller,Managing Director Eastern Switzerland at AS Elevators
Have you ever wondered which skills your good employees differ from the average? One of their most relevant ones is their behavior how they solve problems – especially in project business. But this scheme can also be applied to most of the other areas. Let’s consider the following degrees of maturity regarding the problem solving skills of your employees:
Level 1: Unaware – There are people in your organization, who are not even able to identify and recognize a problem. They are just not aware of the issues – I call them the ‘lucky ones’.
Level 2: Blame others – People of this level recognize a problem, but they always find some invincible dependencies caused by others, which are preventing them to fix the issue. They are blaming others.
Level 3: I can’t – In this stage, a problem has been identified and anybody can’t be blamed for it, but for some obscure reason, they can’t fix it themselves... because they don’t have access to this tool, because they don’t have the know how, because they have an appointment with the doctor...
Level 4: Wait and hope – Here, we are confronted with a mixture of coolness and helplessness. You can hear them mumbling “Keep calm, it’s gonna be alright” – but nothing happens.
Level 5: Acknowledge reality – People are talking about problems in an informal, frank, impartial, but non-binding way, e.g., during coffee breaks or over lunch time. But no actions will be taken, because they expect that someone else is attending to the issue.
Level 6: Own it - Now the trough has just been passed... Here we have people, who feel responsible for the problem – they own it.
Level 7: Find solutions – From people of this level, you get an e-mail with a short problem description, three possible proposals how to solve it and their preferred solution (out of the three) - and if you do not respond by noon, they are going to realize their indicated, preferred solution.
Level 8: Make it happen! You can just hand over a dossier to your employee without any additional comment and you know the task will completed to your utmost satisfaction. You can fully rely on her/him, she/he is gonna make it happen!
I had a time, when I hung up the problem-solving pyramid in my office - and each time, when an employee has entered the office complaining about a nasty problem, behaving like a victim, I showed him his actual level in the pyramid and asked him to come in 10 minutes again – with 3 three possible solutions how to resolve the issue. As a consequence, I had less visits, but with more qualified questions.
Because I spent a lot of time and I don’t want to be annoyed anymore, I always try to find out more about the problem-solving skills of a candidate during an interview – regardless of her/his quite impressive bunch of diplomas and certificates, because some of the most important skills you do not learn at school.
To Increase Your Problem Solving Skills