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WEEK 8: Problem Solving
Every day you are faced with little or big problems or situations where you have to be solution oriented. This week, Joan Burge gives you 7 effective techniques to solving problems and challenges you with a skill-building activity!
Welcome to week eight, Problem Solving. I hope you’ve been following along on the program and partaking in the activities I’ve assigned.
Moving forward, this is one of those advanced competencies. This by far is a competency that some years ago, we would have a problem and pass it on to the supervisor/manager. But in today’s time, that method is long gone! In my book, Become an Inner Circle Assistant, page 151, we see under Team: Making Problems Transparent to Management. It reads: “The old paradigms are quickly going out the window. Organizations today expect their employees to be responsible and accountable for their own actions and even their department’s or team’s actions. All employees must help their organizations streamline, cut costs, gain new customers and maintain a competitive edge. Employees are being challenged to develop new ideas and be catalysts for change. As upper management shifts their ways of interacting with employees, employees must learn to handle problems and even bring answers and new ideas to the table.” That last piece is the part you really want to pay attention to; you’re expected to look at a problem or a potential problem and find a solution. So, I will give you seven steps to assist you in this process, in case you don’t have the book, you may want to jot these down. They are:
- Make sure you understand the problem/issue. Nothing would be worse than trying to solve the wrong problem. This requires communication, asking questions, listening, getting all the information; especially when multiple parties are involved.
- Consider the options that are available or possible solutions.
- For each option or solution, you need to think of the possible out come: Try to think ahead and have a pros and cons to see the outcome of each suggestion for a solution.
- Gather relevant ideas that support your solutions or supports the issue or problem.
- Present your options or solutions to your manager or a department. In doing this, I would like for you to also consider how you would present these options. Are you presenting to an audio audience? Or maybe a visual audience? This is also very important to ensure that your presentation will adhere to the type of learner you are presenting to.
- Be prepared with a backup plan. In the event that your first idea isn’t accepted, you’ll have a second, third, or even a fourth solution to the presented problem. That’s why it’s good to have three or four solutions to a problem, in the event the first doesn’t work out.
- Evaluate the outcome of your solution. How did it work? What went well, what didn’t go well, what can you change for the next time you have to present a solution to a problem?
Activities for the week:
Get some of your administrative peers together and analyze a current problem or situation. Whether it is a problem for the administrative professionals themselves or a problem seen throughout the organization and using the strategies I’ve given you, work through that situation to try to find a solution. The beauty of this will be the ability to work on an issue or something that has meaning to you! Secondly, you’ll be developing answers to the problem or issue and thirdly you’ll be practicing problem solving.
One topic that I’d like to suggest you practice problem solving on is how do you as an administrative professional maintain excellence when you’re feeling overloaded? With the current situation in the economy, and the downsizing of companies, many of administrative professionals are taking on a lot more responsibility than before. Ask yourself, with a full plate and more to come, how to do you maintain excellence? How do you maintain quality? Have a great week!