Problems, we all have them. Personal ones, work-related ones, corporate ones, everywhere you look there are issues. Sometimes we try to run from them or avoid them for as long as we can, but that strategy usually ends up backfiring on us in the long run.

So what happens when you encounter problems?

Here are the steps that help me navigate through issues when I run across them.

  • Define the problem – If I am working on a client’s website and I can’t decide whether to place social icons on a sidebar or a footer, that’s not a problem, that’s a choice. On the other hand if I’m updating the operating system on a website and it modifies or even erases the Style Sheet that is a problem.
  • Prioritize problems – If there are multiple problems don’t try to solve everything at once. Review all of them and determine which one needs attention immediately and which ones can be placed on the back burner. For example, if I’m building out a development site for a new customer and an existing client’s site crashes, the crash becomes the priority.
  • Ask the right questions – If you know there is a problem, then you have a general idea of what’s going on. Don’t ask vague questions, be specific focusing on the symptoms, potential causes and the impact of changes. You don’t want to solve one problem only to cause another.
  • Ask for help – Many people are afraid to ask for help because they think it is a sign of weakness. I disagree. When you ask for help you are acknowledging the issue is beyond your scope either in expertise or man hours. You are seeking counsel or hands on help.
  • Get the Facts –  Once the facts are gathered, the decisions typically are staring you right in the face. If updating a client’s site has erased their Style Sheet, I can’t just look at the front end of their site and say, “Oh no it’s broken, what do I do?” I have to look through everything and find out why the site is broken.
  • Get Involved – So we have defined the problem, talked to the right people and gathered the facts. Now develop a plan. Take the initiative to execute the solution yourself rather than passing it off to your boss. My role is to manage fires no matter how small or large they seem. If your supervisor is anything like mine, new projects are his priority but I can call on his expertise when necessary. In that scenario, I learn from a master and the next time a similar situation occurs, I can manage the solution on my own.

When you have problems, breaking them down into steps and working on one piece at a time helps you get to the best solution.

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One of the inspirations for this blog post was In the book Coaching for Improved Work Performanceby F.F Fournies.  It is a great read if you are looking for more problem solving strategy tips.

Roundpeg is an Indianapolis marketing strategy firm.