Workplace Problems: How to Solve Any Problem in 4 Steps


If there is one skill that can influence all aspects of our life, it has to be Problem Solving!

Problem-solving is a critical skill that you can use to address problems (starting from very basic to complex ones) related to:

  • Personal Life
  • Family Life
  • Professional Life
  • Business Problems
  • Human Resource Management

Our ability to make the right decision and address the problem can make life much easier for our co-workers, family, and us.

Problem-solving skill is a mix of Core Skills: Creativity, Collaboration, and Decision making.

If Problem-solving skills have so many applications and benefits, then

  • Why do most of us still struggle to make effective decisions?
  • Why only some of us are good at it that they always seem to have a solution for any situation?
  • Why do some people able to solve problems without even breaking a sweat?

The real reason practical problem-solving skills are so rare to be found is that our education system does not guide us on how to master them. However, the good news is that anyone can master this particular skill with little effort, persistence, and the right approach.

Most of us, whenever we encounter a problem, our immediate reaction is to look for immediate solutions some of us may rush to collect some data consult some experts

Soon we may find ourselves with a solution to the problem. This approach may work in some cases; however, in most cases, it does not work and may counterproductive and may turn a simple issue into a much more complex one!

Problem-solving is all about finding the RIGHT solution for the problem and implementing it EFFICIENTLY.

You can only find the RIGHT solution if you ask the RIGHT QUESTIONS! Else you are just wasting your time and precious resources of your company.

For this reason, all of us must learn fundamental proven tactics of problem-solving. However, it is equally vital to remember that knowing fundamentals will be just a starting point. Over a while, with experimenting, you need to know how to develop tactics and learn which tactic is suitable for which situation.

Do check out our latest training courses covering the latest tactics and methods to address any issue related to human resource management.


This article gives you a fundamental 4 step problem-solving framework. You are welcome to optimize it as per your situation.

Problem Solving is a 4-step process:

Step 1: Identify the Problem
Step 2: Break the problem down into smaller parts
Step 3: Generate potential solutions
Step 4: Choose the best solution for short-term as well as long-term


Step 1: Identify the Problem


Resist the urge to find immediate solutions! On the contrary, it is vital to start the problem-solving process by first defining what questions you are trying to answer clearly.

This list of questions will ensure that you focus on the right areas without getting distracted by the unwanted information around the problem.

To find the correct solutions, you need to define the problem correctly.

Failing to define a problem correctly can have very adverse outcomes, as you will be working on implementing an ineffective solution.

That high iteration rate you are facing, is that because of low wages or due to bad workplace culture, or a lack of clarity about future career prospects?

Each of these issues can result in top performers leaving the team; however, your solution to the problem will be very different depending upon the root cause.

A problem situation is a triggered outcome of one or more factors. Identifying the correct key factor triggering the crisis is the key to implementing an effective problem-solving system.

Ask yourself:

  • What would success look like?
  • How will I know if I have achieved it?
  • What can be the potential triggers behind the problem situation?
  • What is my timeframe to solve the problem?

Asking questions like these will help you avoid coming up with great answers to the wrong questions.

Below given are 2 frameworks you can use to find the right cause behind any problem:

  1. Asking 5 Whys Method: Keep digging deeper until you find out the real cause of the bigger problem.) Sometimes each Why can give you a further Tree of causes that you need to investigate individually further
  2. Pareto Analysis: Fundamental meaning is that few underlying causes are causing your most problems. Eradicate 20% of your concerns to save 80% of the cost, time, money, and energy.


Step 2: Break the problem down into smaller parts


Breaking your more significant problem down into smaller parts will make it easier to solve.

Logic Tree method is a great way to break down a problem. But, first, let us look at our example of a high iteration rate.

  • Write down a hypothesis or a problem statement: I should find out the most prominent factor behind leaving my top performers. This gives you clarity about what you are looking for.
  • Now, to find the most significant factor, what criteria will you use? Maybe if any element has a contributing percentage of more than 50% or more, that can be the most significant factor behind people leaving my team. This gives you clarity that you are choosing the correct factor.
  • Next, you know you need to gather data about the top reasons employees have left the organization in the last 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. This clarifies what type of data and where to look for it.


This is the beauty of the Logic Tree method; when you state your hypothesis clearly and define the criteria to accept or reject the idea, you can easily decide what kind of data you would need to solve your problem.


With this approach, you will be able to come up with the most significant factor or factors behind your problem situation. Once you have defined the root cause clearly, the next step would be to identify the right solution or set of solutions.


Step 3: Generate potential solutions


This step aims to generate a list of potential solutions and not find out the best solution. Therefore, avoid the urge to drop any solution at this stage.

Below are a few tools you can use to come up with a list of possible solutions.

  • Fast (RIGHT Brain) and Slow (LEFT Brain) thinking: There are 2 parts of our brain that we use to solve problems: The intuitive Part (more based on gut feeling and is fast in coming up with solutions) and the Logical Part (more based on data, logical thinking and takes time to find answers). You need to make use of both parts to address tricky problems.
  • Brainstorming (Group brainstorming): With this approach, you use a diverse opinion set, which can offer you a wide range of potential solutions from different angles.

Once you have a list of solutions, now you are ready to find out the best possible solution for the problem.


Step 4: Choose the best solution for short-term as well as long-term


A solution can be termed as the right solution if and only if it effectively addresses the problem in time bound manner with the available resources at hand and without creating more significant problems in the long term.

Choosing any solution from the list won’t serve the purpose. Instead, ask yourself if your solution meets the above conditions.

There are so many potential solutions with limited resources that we cannot rely only on our gut feeling while choosing the best solution.


Effectively defining the impact of potential solutions and prioritizing them accordingly is a crucial step in problem-solving. The real question is finding a solution that gives the most bang for your buck.


You need to carefully evaluate your solutions against factors like:

  • Impact of the solution
  • Timeline to implement the solution
  • Stakeholders involved in the successful implementation
  • Resources required


A successful solution to the problem will have a sufficient impact on the issue, can be implemented within a set timeline with available resources, as well as you should be able to influence involved stakeholders to move forward adequately.


Problem-solving is one of the most critical skills in the modern workplace. The most important of problem-solving is getting your definition of the problem right. Once you have clearly defined the problem, you can start breaking it into smaller parts to prioritize the solutions at hand.

We hope the above tips give you some direction in approaching your problems. In addition, please feel free to check our high-quality training courses, where you can learn proven tactics and frameworks to handle any workplace-related challenge.

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