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Problem solving & decision making at the workplace

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Problem solving & decision making at the workplace

  1. 1. Problem Solving & Decision Making at the Workplace
  2. 2. Objectives • At the end of this session, you will be able to: ▫ Identify problems that are general to every workplace and those that are specific to your organization ▫ Determine how to solve problems you face as a Supervisor using a problem solving model or fishbone analysis ▫ Identify the characteristics of an effective problem solver ▫ Determine the ingredients for good decision making ▫ Effectively make collaborative decisions with your team using the gradients of agreement tool.
  3. 3. Content 1. Introduction to Problem Solving and Decision Making 2. Problem Solving Types of Problems encountered at the Workplace Approach to Problem Solving Characteristics of an Effective Problem Solver 3. Decision Making  Types of Decisions  Ingredients for Good Decision Making  The Decision Making Process Gradients of Agreement How to Improve Decision Making
  4. 4. Introduction to problem solving & decision making • Problem solving… ▫ Is bridging the gap between the way things are and the way they ought to be ▫ It is focused on the past  Usually analytical  Operational  Done at lower levels • A problem is ▫ A present unsatisfactory state that needs to be changed to a desired state as soon as possible ▫ Some deviation from the expected standard which prevent the achievement of objectives
  5. 5. Introduction to problem solving & decision making • Decision making… ▫ Is a broader concept ▫ It is the act of making a choice between two or more options ▫ It is focused on the future  Often creative  Directional  Done at senior levels • Problem solving is therefore ▫ part of decision making ▫ a subset of decision making
  6. 6. Types of Problems encountered at the Workplace • Problems abound in every workplace due to various issues such as the need to ▫ collaborate and work with various types of people, ▫ meet targets and deadlines, ▫ work within tight budgets, ▫ gain the endorsement and praise of supervisors ▫ work within the norms and culture of the organization etc
  7. 7. Types of Problems encountered at the Workplace • There are specific problems which are common to every workplace because workplaces are human institutions and human beings are the same every where. ▫ Communication problems ▫ Attitude problems ▫ Interpersonal challenges between supervisor and subordinate or among your subordinates ▫ Ethical problems ▫ Poor performance ▫ Discrimination and/or harassment What are some of these problems?
  8. 8. Types of Problems encountered at the Workplace • There are another set of problems that are peculiar to an organization for various reasons for example as a result of ▫ Policies that are unique to your workplace ▫ Processes that should be followed for various work related issues ▫ Types of clients the organization provides services to ▫ Other constraints at work ie. Inadequate resources, equipment etc. List some of the unique problems you face as Supervisors in your workplace
  9. 9. Types of Problems encountered at the Workplace • How do you presently resolve such problems? ▫ Do you take any specific steps or you approach the problems randomly depending on your mood or the person/people causing the problem? If you do, what are these steps? ▫ Have you observed how your subordinates react/respond to your approach to solving problems? ▫ What has been your success rate so far?  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least and 10 the highest, rate yourself on how effective you have been at resolving problems.
  10. 10. Approach to problem solving • To effectively solve problems at the workplace, it is important to keep the following in mind: ▫ Problems are not manageable when they are conceived in large global terms:  “Everything is going wrong.” “He will never change.” “There is no hope.” etc. You need to establish and obtain relevant facts. ▫ Problems should not be allowed to linger.  Addressing issues as they occur is a much strategy than waiting for things to get better and work themselves out.
  11. 11. Approach to problem solving ▫ Practice fairness in solving problems  Commend or criticize the team, (where relevant) not the players, and establish a culture of fairness in the decisions you make and the actions you take ▫ If there is any punishment, let it fit the crime  Not too excessive, not too lenient
  12. 12. Approach to problem solving • There are countless approaches that have been developed for problem solving, some very simple and others complicated. Some of these include: ▫ Trial-and-error method :one solution after another is tried until the problem is solved or appears to be improving. ▫ Experimentation: a theory is tested to enhance knowledge, understanding , or prediction. ▫ Affinity map : a tool used to identify problems. ▫ Problem solving models ▫ Fishbone analysis ▫ We would look at two of such approaches.
  13. 13. a. The problem solving model • The problem solving model is a step by step approach to solving problems developed by various writers and modified by many more. Some have it in 5, 6, and even 8 steps. The approach is as follows: ▫ 1- Recognize that there is a problem and define it ▫ 2- gather information ▫ 3- analyze the information What is the specific problem you are faced with? Write this down in clear simple language and as objectively as possible Ask: Who – is causing it and who does it affect What – are the visible signs of a problem When –does/did it occur Where – does it occur/have an impact Why – did it occur How –Should the ideal situation be? Analysis of past solutions
  14. 14. The problem solving model ▫ 4- develop solutions and choose the best ▫ 5- implement the solution ▫ 6- evaluate the solution •Identify all the features of an ideal solution, including the conditions it has to satisfy •Eliminate solutions which do not satisfy the conditions/requirements •Assess the risks associated with the 'best' solution •Decide to implement this solution Take the appropriate action and monitor its effects Review the ultimate success of the action
  15. 15. The problem solving model • The importance of understanding and using a model is that the solution will be the result of facts and analysis rather than of opinions and feelings. ▫ Identification of the real problem is extremely important. ▫ If the wrong cause and solution for that cause is selected, the problem will still be there.
  16. 16. b. Fishbone analysis • What is the fishbone analysis tool? ▫ Fishbone diagram is an analysis tool which provides a systematic way of understanding problems and the root causes of those problems. The design of the diagram looks like the skeleton of a fish hence, it is referred to as the fishbone diagram. ▫ Invented by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa, a Japanese quality control statistician, also referred to as the Ishikawa diagram or cause-and-effect diagram. ▫ Fishbone diagram is of great value in assisting teams in categorizing the many potential causes of problems or issues in a systematic way and helps identify root causes.
  17. 17. Fishbone analysis • It is drawn as part of a brainstorming session, the central problem is visualized as the head of the fish, with the skeleton divided into branches showing contributing causes of different parts of the problem. • It is used when ▫ You need to study a problem to determine the root cause ▫ Want to study all the possible reasons why a process is having difficulties or problems. ▫ To study why a process is not performing properly and/or producing the expected results
  18. 18. Fishbone analysis • How is it used? ▫ Draw a fishbone diagram ▫ List the problem/issue to be studied in the head of the fish ▫ Label each bone of the fish. The major categories typically used are:  The 6 M‟s: Methods, Machines, Materials, Manpower, Measurement, Manageme nt  The 4 P‟s: Place, Procedure, People, Policies  The 4 S‟s: Surroundings, Suppliers, Systems, Skills ▫ Label each bone with one of these categories and for each category try to identify factors that account for the problem in each category. Continue asking, “Why is this happening?” and put additional factors .
  19. 19. Fishbone analysis ▫ Continue until you no longer get useful information as you ask, “Why is that happening?” ▫ Analyze the results of the fishbone after you and your team members agree that an adequate amount of detail has been provided under each major category.  Do this by looking for those items that appear in more than one category. These become the „most likely causes”. ▫ For those items identified as the “most likely causes”, the team should reach consensus on listing those items in priority order with the first item being the most probable” cause. • Use the fishbone diagram on the next slide to solve a key problem
  20. 20. Fishbone Analysis Diagram for 6M‟s 6M‟s Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Problem Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here Name Your Cause Here
  21. 21. Fishbone analysis • It is possible to customize your fishbone with categories that best suit or describe your problem. This involves substituting the traditional categories ie. 6Ms, 4P‟s, 4S‟s with your own categories  The 6 M‟s: Methods, Machines, Materials, Manpower, Measurement, Manageme nt  The 4 P‟s: Place, Procedure, People, Policies  The 4 S‟s: Surroundings, Suppliers, Systems, Skills An example is on the next slide
  22. 22. Fishbone analysis
  23. 23. Fishbone analysis • What was the outcome of your fishbone analysis?
  24. 24. Characteristics of an effective problem solver • Effective problem solvers: ▫ have confidence in their ability to learn and their ability to solve problems. ▫ rely on their own judgment. Though they know there is wisdom in counsel, they respect their own decision-making abilities. ▫ are not fearful of being wrong or of making mistakes. ▫ are not fast answerers. ▫ are flexible and are often capable of seeing more than one answer to a question or a problem.
  25. 25. Characteristics of an effective problem solver • Effective problem solvers ▫ know the difference between fact and opinion and understand the need for valid evidence. ▫ do not need to have an absolute, final, irrevocable solution to every problem. ▫ have methods for approaching and solving problems. ▫ think about their thinking and review their problem solving methods in order to sharpen these tools for future problems they will encounter
  26. 26. Characteristics of an effective problem solver • Effective problem solvers ▫ have a "can do" attitude! ▫ consider every position as though it were their own ▫ avoid the experience trap. ▫ gain commitment from all parties involved ▫ seek win-win solutions
  27. 27. As part of problem solving… • The supervisor is not expected to solve ALL problems instead s/he should know how to ▫ refer the problem to the proper people, ▫ delegate appropriately, and ▫ keep work moving. • The supervisor needs to take complete responsibility for getting the facts needed.
  28. 28. As part of problem solving… • Avoid making a major issue out of each problem. ▫ Good planning can avert many crises ▫ Put each issue into perspective so that alternatives can be evaluated and an appropriate amount of time can be devoted to finding the solution. • Avoid inappropriate responses to failure. ▫ Acknowledge mistakes, but do not dwell and agonize over them.  It is more important to learn whatever lesson the mistake can teach, and then move on.
  29. 29. As part of problem solving… • Remember to draw on easily available information. ▫ Have some of the alternatives been tried before? ▫ If so, what was the outcome? ▫ Also consult with other colleagues in the organization or with outside experts. • Beware of promising too much. ▫ Don‟t make promises you can‟t keep to your subordinates or your boss.
  30. 30. Types of Decisions • ThereareTHREEmaintypesofdecisions that Supervisorscanbefacedwith: ▫ routine,adaptive,andinnovativedecisions. • Routinedecisionsaredecisionsmadewhenproblemsarerelativelywelldefinedand commonandwhenestablishedrules,policies,andprocedurescanbeusedtosolvethem. e.g.shortageofapplicationforms orclientassessmentforms • Adaptivedecisionsaredecisionsmadewhenproblemsandalternativesolutionsare somewhatunusualandonlypartiallyunderstood.e.g.changingworkingtime,work patternormethodsofassignment • Innovativedecisionsaredecisionsmadewhenproblemsareunusualandunclearand creativesolutionsarenecessary.
  31. 31. Types of Decisions • What would be your approach to the 3 types of decisions? ▫ How would you go about making a  Routine decision?  Adaptive decision?  Innovative decision? Who would you involve? Would you delegate the decision making? Would you pass it on to your boss? Would you consult a colleague or an outside expert? Would you ask your team members for their input? What process would you use? Would you insist on what you believe is the best decision or discard yours in favour of what the team decides?
  32. 32. 1- experience and knowledge . 2- creating thinking. 3- self concept. 4- stress 5- interpersonal conflict 6- time available, money, energy Factors affecting decision making
  33. 33. Factors affecting decision making 7-Routine versus non routine decision. 8-Risk associated with the decision. 9- Critical nature of work. 10-Written guidelines. 11-Organization‟s attitude toward decision making. 12-Amount and kind of information available. 13-Degree of acceptance of decision and support. 14-Manager‟s personal ability
  34. 34. Ingredients for Good Decision Making • Follow a systematic process ▫ This process is usually similar to the problem solving process involving between 5 and 8 steps • Involve the team • Delegate ▫ Usually routine decisions can be delegated • Brainstorm ▫ This gives you a variety of alternatives to a decision • Be creative • Be objective ▫ Don‟t be emotionally attached to a particular decision even when it may not be the best.
  35. 35. The decision making process • Characteristics of an effective decision making process: • Effective decisions: • Are conducted in a systematic, comprehensive way of thinking. • The consequences of the implemented decision are determined. • They result in positive outcomes and fewer negative consequences. • Are based on a "Goal-oriented" analysis of the situation, its problems, and their alternative solutions.
  36. 36. The decision making process 1) Define the problem ▫ State the problem in broad terms 2) Gather information: from where!!! • Stakeholders: ▫ Individuals, teams that are affected by the problem or its solution. • Facts & data ▫ Research ▫ Results from experimentation and studies. ▫ Interviews of "experts" and trusted sources. ▫ Observed events, past or present, either personally observed
  37. 37. The decision making process 3) Develop and Weigh Alternatives ▫ Look at the situation in different ways; find a new perspective that hasn‟t thought of before. Once you have listed or mapped alternatives, be open to their possibilities. ▫ After listing possible alternatives, evaluate them without prejudice, no matter how appealing or distasteful ▫ Consider all criteria. While a particular decision may solve the problem, it may not work if  resources aren't available, if people won't accept it, or if it causes new problems
  38. 38. The decision making process 4) Select the best alternative • Don't consider any alternative as "perfect solution." If there were, there probably wouldn't be a problem in the first place • Consider your intuition, or inner feelings in deciding on a course of action • Return to a trusted outsider: Is there something you missed? Does he/she see a problem with your solution?
  39. 39. The decision making process • 5) Implement the decision ▫ until it is acted on, a decision is only a good intention • 6) Monitor progress
  40. 40. In making good decisions… • Work with others … why ▫ Supervisors might encourage subordinates to come up with alternatives to a situation requiring a solution. ▫ Team members can contribute more ideas for alternatives than an individual working alone. ▫ The team will have a broader perspective since the experience of the team is broader than an individual‟s experience. ▫ People involved in the decision will better understand an alternative selected and also be more likely to support the decision.
  41. 41. In making good decisions… ▫ Involvement of subordinates in decision making provides an opportunity for improving morale and employee self- esteem. ▫ Recognition of the contributions of people is a powerful motivator. • Note however that ▫ Group decision making is slower than individual decision making. ▫ There is an opportunity cost to the organization when employees spend time in meetings rather than selling. ▫ If one person dominates the decision-making process, the value of group input is lost.
  42. 42. In making good decisions… • The supervisor should be wise to involve subordinates in some but not all decisions. ▫ When a decision must be made quickly, like in an emergency, the supervisor should probably make it alone. ▫ When the supervisor needs to build support for a solution, such as in cutting costs or improving productivity, the team process is useful. ▫ When the consequences of a poor decision are great, the benefits of the group‟s collective wisdom are worth the time and expense of gathering the input
  43. 43. In making good decisions… • Since a primary benefit of team decision making is the variety of opinions and expertise, a supervisor leading a decision-making meeting should be sure that everyone is participating. ▫ The supervisor should concentrate on listening and encouraging the input of others.  If someone is not participating, the supervisor may have to ask for his or her opinion or thoughts on the matter at hand.  Whenever supervisors ask for inputs from subordinates, you should be sure you intend to use the information
  44. 44. In making good decisions… • Brainstorm ▫ It is another way to generate ideas in a team. It is the process of coming up with as many ideas as possible. ▫ It may be structured, that is, each person takes a turn suggesting an idea or unstructured that is individuals call out whatever comes to mind. ▫ Team members state their ideas no matter how far- reaching they may seem. ▫ No one may criticize or even comment on an idea until the end of the process. ▫ All ideas are recorded. ▫ Evaluation or follow-up on ideas takes place after all ideas are suggested.
  45. 45. In making good decisions… • Be creative ▫ Creativity is the ability to bring about something imaginative or new. ▫ In decision making, creativity means being able to generate alternatives that are innovative or different from what has been used in the past.  Thinking outside the box • A fundamental way to become more creative is to be open to your own ideas. ▫ think of as many alternatives as you can ▫ jot them down ▫ don‟t evaluate them until after you have finished the list
  46. 46. Gradients of agreement • This is a tool that supports team decision making. ▫ When teams are trying to come to agreement on an issue there is rarely 100% agreement or 100% disagreement. ▫ Gradients of agreement can help to identify those “shades” between the two extremes and send an indicator to the Supervisor on whether there is strong or weak support for a decision and therefore whether to go ahead and implement even if the outcome of the team decision process is a “YES”.  Is it a strong “YES” or a weak “YES” • It allows the team to identify where each person stands on the issue and builds self awareness and ownership in the decision-making process.
  47. 47. Gradients of agreement • Consensus in team decision making is very important. ▫ It means that each team member indicates that they buy-in to the decision and actively support its implementation, even if they did not think it was the very best decision. ▫ The definition of consensus may be clear, but the part about “yes, I buy- in” and “no, I don‟t buy-in” is a little more complicated. • One reason for the complication is that “yes” and “no” can have many different meanings. ▫ Yes might mean “I love this decision” or it might mean “I‟ll support this decision even though I preferred a different proposal.” ▫ No might mean “I‟m not yet convinced but I‟m getting there” or it might mean “I could never ever live with that decision.”
  48. 48. Gradients of agreement • An expanded vocabulary to account for gradients of “yes” and “no” helps team members better describe their thinking and feelings about a proposal and be honest. ▫ Team members can register less-than-whole-hearted support without fearing that their statement will be interpreted as a veto. ▫ It also provides the team with a way to gauge support quickly and with less ambivalence tension. • The scale has eight gradients of agreement. ▫ from “Enthusiastic Support” to “Strong Objection”
  49. 49. Gradients of agreement 3. Agree with reservations: “I can live with it” 4. Abstain: “I have no opinion” 5. Stand Aside: I don‟t like this but I don‟t want to hold back the team Lukewarm Support 1. Fully Support: “I like it” 2. Endorsement with minor concerns: “I basically like it” Enthusiastic Support
  50. 50. Gradients of agreement 6. Disagreement, but willing to go with majority - “I want my disagreement noted, but I‟ll support the decision.” 7. Disagreement, with request not to be involved in implementation - “I don‟t want to stop anyone else, but I don‟t want to be involved in implementing it.” Meager Support I can‟t support the decision Strong Objection
  51. 51. Gradients of agreement • When using the gradients of agreement, write the gradients in a visible location in the meeting room. You can use numbers to represent the different gradients – e.g., 1 for “fully support” and 8 for “strongly object”. • 1. Clearly state the issue under discussion ▫ Remember a team may have very scattered results if the topic and focus of the discussion is vague or poorly understood. • 2. Ask team members to express their level of support at this time in the process. ▫ There are a variety of ways to capture their level of support:  Ask for a show of hands – “Please raise your hand if you are at #1, endorsement.” Then repeat for #2, etc.
  52. 52. Gradients of agreement  Individual statements –  Go around the room, one person at a time, and ask each person to state which gradient he or she prefers, and why. At this point you don‟t want group discussion; only listening for understanding  Simultaneous declaration –  Have each person write the gradient (word or number) of his or her preference on a large piece of paper. Have everyone hold up his/her paper. Record the data.  Secret ballot –  Have each person write his/her preference on a slip of paper. When everyone has finished, collect the ballots and tally the results.
  53. 53. Gradients of agreement • The tool provides team members with a wider choice of vocabulary to indicate their level of support for a decision and also gives the supervisor an indication of how strong the support is for a particular decision ▫ In other words whether to implement it or not. ▫ There may be times when the support is not so strong and this tool may help you determine this. • Using this collaborative decision-making tool can help the team to arrive at a decision that has a broad, enthusiastic level of support and will enhance the commitment and likely success of the decision.
  54. 54. How to improve decision making • 1- interpret information in more than one way. • 2- set criteria of success beforehand . • 3- ask other people • 4- scrutinize the decision making process • 5- Change your way of deciding and reevaluate your time, and learning from experience • 7- involve the team • 8- be rational and objective ▫ Detach yourself emotionally from the decision
  55. 55. How to improve decision making • 9. Educate people so they know how to make appropriate decisions. • 10.Seek support of top management for decision making at the lowest possible level ▫ decentralization • 12. Managers should deal only with those decisions requiring their level of expertise, support implementation of decisions, and credit the decision maker. • 13.Delegate decision making such as routine decisions to subordinates to gain their trust, loyalty and to raise their self-esteem.