Ana avoids problems. She thinks that any problem that her staff creates reflects her ability as a supervisor. Problems stressed her out.

Successful supervisors are effective problem solvers. And you can learn to solve problems systematically.

1. Define the problem. Is there really a problem? Determine exactly what it is.

You will sometimes discover that your problem is a beautiful one that once solved will bring you better opportunities. There are problems that although you cannot fully eliminate, you can minimize.

2. Gather information. Gather as much data. Jumping to your default solution may not solve the problem. It is likely that Einstein is right. Your present problem is a product of your present thinking. But don’t take too long. Some problems need solution now.

3. Consider the alternate solutions to the problems. Your first solution in mind is not always the best solution. That’s your default. Don’t jump into that.

Make a list of possible solutions. Combine solutions to create new ones. Consider opposite solutions too. Compare solutions, then prioritize them from most likely to least likely

When necessary, encourage your staff to share possible solutions to the problems.

4. Pick the best solution. Choose the best solution at the top of your list. This is not democracy. You do not have to make your staff vote for the best solution. Take charge. Remember that the management will hold you accountable to your decisions.

5. Apply the best solution. Understand that many meetings produced bright ideas that were not put into action. Monitor how your staff apply the best solution.

6. Evaluate the impact of the best solution. When everything is done according to your plan, you will be able to determine the true impact of your solution. If your best solution solves the problem, let your staff know. Document when necessary.

7. Adjust. Even the best solutions can be improved. Find out how you can make your solutions work better and faster.

You can find other systematic and creative ways to solve problems. Always remember that there are better ways.

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