How to Propose a Solution

Every business owner and manager knows how frequently problems arise in the workplace. From small quarrels between employees to strategic issues that affect the bottom line, you will face a multitude of problems in business. The key is understanding how and when to propose a solution. Your team members and employees may come up against a challenge and ask for your help. Be sure to carefully consider all of the information before offering a solution.

Understand the Problem Before You Propose a Solution

Prior to figuring out the solution, it’s important to understand the full issue being presented. Take the time to learn the background information on how the problem arose in the first place. Ask whether different solutions have already been tried. Find out what the team has done previously when faced with similar issues or circumstances.

For example, if a customer service representative is dealing with an irate customer and requires your help to diffuse the situation and find a solution, it’s prudent to listen to both the employee and the customer to get a comprehensive view of the problem. This way, you’re in a better position to propose a solution where both parties accept the outcome.

Be Compassionate Toward Team Members

Your solution statement needs to take into account how your employees feel about the problem. Blaming an employee for causing the issue or chastising team members for not finding a solution themselves can be hurtful and unproductive. Instead, be kind when figuring out a solution. Ask the employees questions about their opinion and take into account what they suggest.

If an employee has made a mistake when creating a product for your business, he may already feel demoralized and disheartened for causing the error. Use this as a teachable moment to figure out why the problem occurred and what the employee can do differently next time. Be encouraging and show faith in your employee so he feels that he has your support to do a better job next time.

Offer Different Scenarios

Many problems don’t only have one correct solution. Often, there are many different roads you can take to fix an issue. Consider offering a few different kinds of solutions before narrowing down the best way to solve the problem. Different kinds of solutions include:

  • Short-term fixes.
  • Long-term sustainable solutions.
  • Cost-effective resolutions.
  • Time-sensitive processes.
  • Labor-intensive methods.

Present a couple of different options to your team and discuss the value, benefits and disadvantages of each of them. Depending on the problem and the resources available, one kind of solution may be a clear choice in some cases. In other scenarios, two or more solutions can have the same advantages. Be sure to ask your team what their thoughts are on each solution and which solution they think is the best choice.

Leave the Decision to the Stakeholders

If you are not a direct stakeholder to the problem, enable your team to make the final decision on which solution to use. This process helps your team to gain confidence in their own abilities. It also helps them to learn how to come up with solutions on their own. By creating a culture where employees can be self-sufficient, you can increase productivity and efficiency in your business.

For example, if a senior manager on your team is in charge of scheduling and is having difficulty ensuring the business is properly staffed, take a step back after presenting your solutions to let her decide how to move forward. This shows your manager that you have trust in her capabilities and know that she will make the best choice for her department.

References

About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.