Empowering Your Employees to Become Better Problem-Solvers

For many things, there is no one answer. There is no clear guidance about what steps to take. We have to think through what we’re experiencing and then lay out a path to resolution.

Determining a path forward makes some people uncomfortable. They want to treat it like a math problem. What’s the specific and correct answer? When they realize there is no one path, they are unsure how to proceed.

One of the best things you can do for your business, department, or team is to equip them with tools to help solve complex problems.

I’ve heard this referred to as upskilling; I like to think of it as empowerment. If we teach our associates a solid path to problem resolution, we remove ourselves as necessary gates or toll booths, if you will. There’s only so much one person can do. When leadership allows space for associates to think through and resolve issues, they help associates build new muscles and scale their organization’s aptitude for problem resolution.

How can we do this?

There are many problem-solving frameworks. I’ve focused a large part of my career on using the DMAIC methodology within Lean Six Sigma.

DMAIC is a mnemonic for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.

1. The first step is to Define the problem. A big part of resolving anything is to get extreme clarity on the problem. Sometimes defining the problem clearly illuminates the issue. It’s hard to resolve something that you haven’t defined.

2. Next, you have to Measure. Can you leverage data to articulate the problem? Let’s move away from anecdotal stories about how the problem presents.

3. Now it’s time to Analyze. What is the gap between where we are now and where we want our performance to be? What is the root cause of this gap?

4. We know the root cause of our problem. Let’s now address the root cause with Improvements.

5. Now that we’ve put improvements in place to eradicate or reduce our exposure to the problem, what types of Controls can we implement so we don’t run into the issue again?

Again, there are a number of problem-solving methodologies. DMAIC is one I’ve used for many years in my personal and professional life. It helps associates develop a common language and approach to finding resolutions to problems. It gives guidance on how to proceed without needing step-by-step guidance from the leader or even the subject matter expert of the area experiencing the issue.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all this, it’s time for you to contact our team of Lean Six Sigma experts. We’d love to help you & your team implement clearer processes that ultimately help you become a stronger, more efficient team.


Holloway Consulting Group is an Atlanta-based firm helping corporate technology teams all over the world set goals, create plans, and solve complex problems. We aim to service organizations through our training, coaching, and project management programs. Visit our website to schedule a call with our team today!

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