Key learning outcomes:
- Learn about the benefits a solution-driven team member can bring to your business.
- Adopt a policy that it is acceptable to make mistakes, but learning from these mistakes is the key.
- Acknowledge the importance of identifying problems before they take hold.
- Implement a program of continuing education and training to learn about new techniques and processes.
We have all observed someone who has a solution-driven mindset. They tend to be more productive, have more energy and have a buzz about them. When you multiply this through an entire team it creates a culture that is appealing to outsiders – people want to work in that type of environment and customers are keen to deal with you, wanting to feel part of something special. How then can you create this feeling in your own business and team? In this article we share with you some of the ways to help your team to become more solution-driven.
What is a solution-driven mindset?
When you are solution-driven it means that you are proactively working to find solutions to problems rather than looking for excuses or trying to avoid dealing with issues. In any business there will be things that go wrong, mistakes will be made and times when you will fall short of a goal or target. A solution-driven team understands this but seeks to resolve issues as quickly as possible. They learn to foresee when things are heading in the wrong direction and always seek to learn from their mistakes.[wlm_ismember]
When a problem occurs
When a business is not operating with a solution-driven mindset a problem can become a barrier to positive results, productivity and progress. People spend time talking about the problem, looking for someone to blame or making excuses for why it happened. In a solution-driven business, the first response is to determine how the problem can be solved or how to mitigate the impact it will have on the business. There is plenty of time later to work out what went wrong and what caused the problem. The first priority is always to find a solution promptly, calmly and efficiently.
Always look at the bigger picture
A solution-driven business aims to spot problems well before they become big issues. The leader takes time each day, week and month to look at the business’s bigger picture. They are looking for potential blockages that might halt or slow progress in the business. They run regular short and sharp work-in-progress meetings that are focused on where each project is up to, what potential barriers or blockages could arise and how best to move forward. In a solution-driven business you will see these sorts of meetings happening regularly; they rarely go for more than 15 minutes and are most effective when they are held standing up.
Learn from mistakes
A solution-driven business understands that mistakes happen. The leader who is driving a business with a solution-driven mindset will never discipline someone for making a wrong decision unless the person fails to learn from it. Mistakes are a great opportunity to find a better way of doing things the next time around. When something goes wrong, the first step is to fix the problem. The next step is to determine the cause and rectify the problem so it does not happen over and over again.
You will find that in a solution-driven business there is a sense of curiosity and a philosophy of learning. If you are solution-driven, you are always looking for better ways to do things and you have a thirst for knowledge and training. People in a solution-driven business who are unsure about how to do something will do some research and seek help rather than use their lack of skills or knowledge as an excuse for not producing the desired result or achieving satisfactory progress.
A solution-driven person is not just aware of a problem and what should be done about it. They are also prepared to take action, or as they say “put their money where their mouth is”. People who are solution-driven will get in and actively help to solve a problem rather than just stand back and tell people what they should do.
How to lead and build a solution-driven team
Not everyone in a business or team will have a natural tendency towards being solution- driven. You will find that some people by their nature like to sit back and adopt a wait-and- see approach. Others will feel much more comfortable following your lead and be told what to do for fear of making a mistake. This is often due to their personality or even the environment they have been brought up in. For example, you will find that there are some cultures, for example in some Asian countries, where it is considered the height of rudeness to question someone of authority or to even speak up in a group. It is essential that as a leader you take time to work with the individual members of your team and that you follow a few of the following tips so you become more solution-driven over time:
- Maintain a policy that your door is always open and that you are always available to help. However, when someone comes to you with a problem, make it clear that they should come with a potential solution as well. Always take the time to listen and acknowledge the good points in the suggested solution before offering your advice. Through positive reinforcement you will encourage the person to again come up with a solution when they next have a problem until they eventually feel confident enough to take action themselves.
- Never overreact to mistakes or problems. None of us is perfect and it can be tempting when a big mistake is made to let your anger or frustration show. It is important to acknowledge that the situation is not ideal; however, the first thing that needs to be done is to deal with the situation and find a solution. You are then able to determine how the mistake happened and how to avoid it when everyone’s emotions, including your own, are under control. Remember that the team will follow your lead; if you show panic when a problem arises they will too.
- Be open with your communication. The more open and transparent you are, the more open and transparent your team will be with you. This will mean you can keep an eye on the bigger picture and are more likely to avert problems before they happen or become larger issues.
- Ignorance is not bliss. It is important that you listen not just to the big issues but the smaller ones too. A great leader has their finger on the pulse of the entire business and they understand that what might to management seem like a small thing can seem a big deal to someone working in an entry-level position. A great example is the story of a new manager who took over the running of a production facility for a large organisation. The new manager found that the workers on the shop floor were disgruntled because the car park was not sealed and this meant that they got wet and muddy getting in and out of work each day. Senior management did not believe it was necessary to spend the money on sealing the car park; however, the new manager pushed for it and the job got done. Not only did it result in a happier culture, the facility’s production and productivity increased significantly.
- Lead my example. One of the best ways to develop a solution-driven mindset is to lead by Be open when things have gone wrong and show how you were able to fix them. Invest in learning and training not just for yourself but for the entire team, and be willing to help others in your business achieve their learning goals.
Once you have become solution-driven, it allows you to look at your business from a more optimistic point of view. When everyone works together to find solutions and better ways of doing things, you will experience gains in both productivity and profitability. Use this article to decide what changes your team needs to make to ensure they are operating with a solution-driven mindset.[/wlm_ismember]
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