Problem Solving in Organizations: Skills, Steps & Strategies

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  • 0:01 Problem Solving in…
  • 0:26 Skills
  • 1:35 Steps
  • 3:33 Strategies
  • 5:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Anthony Aparicio

Tony taught Business and Aeronautics courses for eight years; he holds a Master's degree in Management and is completing a PhD in Organizational Psychology

We all have a variety of problems to solve at work each day. You can learn more about some of the ways that effective managers deal with problems and overcome even the toughest challenges in this lesson.

Problem Solving in Organizations

Effective managers and productive workers share one thing in common - they are good at solving problems! Problem-solving is the system of thoughts and actions that people take to fix an issue (or challenge) for themselves or others. Managers even have a term for problem-solving called 'putting out fires.'. This lesson will give you some skills, steps, and strategies to help you be a better problem-solver.


There are three main skills that good problem solvers have:

  • Listening
  • Evaluating
  • Communicating

Listening is more than just sound waves hitting your eardrum; it is more about gaining a better understanding of a situation by discovering what the core of the problem is and how it is affecting others. You may have to listen to someone coming to you and telling you about a problem that needs to be solved or you may be listening to a supervisor to get advice on how to solve it.

Evaluating is a process where you take the information gathered from listening and make a determination about the source of the problem. At that point, you would evaluate your available options. Your options may be to take action, consult with others, pay someone to fix the problem, or do nothing.

Communicating is the skill needed to let others know about the decision that has been made. It does not do anyone else any good if you know the answer but keep it to yourself. Select the most appropriate form of communication that fits your message. For example, if your decision as a manager is to fire Billy, then it would not be fitting to communicate this through a text message.


When it comes to solving problems, you will find a variety of resources that go through very similar processes. Some of them may be only four steps while others are eight or more but they all have a lot of similarities in common.

1. Play the role of a detective and find out as much as you can in order to define the actual problem.

Many times we may think that what we see is the problem when it is only a symptom. Think of a trip to the doctor's office when you have a cold. If you are coughing, the doctor might have you take cough medicine, but he is not actually treating your cold, only a symptom. As an effective problem solver, you want to do your best to find the root cause of any problem.

2. Analyze the potential solutions for the problem.

Each possible solution is likely to have its good and bad points, so spend some time really thinking about each one so that you are not causing yourself more problems for later.

3. Select the best course of action and take action.

Once you have made a decision, you can now begin to take steps in your attempt to solve the problem so that you and maybe others can remain productive in your organization. Take action! Do not be afraid to start taking the first steps to solve the problem at hand. Anyone can be a leader regardless of your position, so take the initiative and put your plan to work.

4. Follow up on your actions to ensure that the problem is actually solved.

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