By Christian Green, Kepner-Tregoe

Managers form the critical link between the leaders setting the strategic direction of your organization and the individual employees responsible for doing the work. It is the role of managers to make sense of the environment, provide clarity when needed and ensure people, processes and technology are all working together efficiently to create value for the organization. Conflicting priorities create confusion for the team, it is the manager’s job to provide clarity. Managers are bombarded with information and pressure from all different directions and this can be overwhelming at times.

Problem solving skills can provide managers a versatile toolset to bring structure to their job and their teams. Including problem solving in management development programs reinforces the value of managers to the organization and your desire to give them the skills they need to be successful. Even though every department is unique, promoting a consistent set of problem solving techniques and methods across the management community will enable better collaboration when there are cross-functional issues that need to be addressed and can help your company address some of its biggest problems. 

It is common for new manager training programs to include content on problem solving as one of the fundamental skills to enable new managers to effectively facilitate the activities of their teams and ensure proper stewardship of organizational processes. Experience has shown that establishing foundational skills in new managers is a highly effective way of embedding them into company culture with durable long-term impact. New managers often have malleable perspectives and are eager to adopt and apply the techniques they learn through training as a way of demonstrating upward growth potential

Problem solving training isn’t just for new managers. As employees ascend through the organizational hierarchy, the problems they are asked to address become both more difficult to resolve and more impactful to the organization. Including problem solving in your ongoing management development initiatives will help prepare the rising-stars within your organization to take on greater management and leadership responsibilities in the future. 

Many simple problems can be solved using informal and intuitive methods, but as problems become more complex and difficult, more structured approaches are necessary to achieve desired results. Advanced problem-solving techniques, cross-functional collaboration in problem solving, and extending problem-solving processes through your partner and supplier ecosystem are topics that (if mastered) can help even the most seasoned managers improve their impact to the organization. Senior managers are often responsible for solving problems in more complex operating environments involving not only the teams they directly manage but also other internal teams and external organizations. As they address these problems, interpersonal skills, persuasion, negotiation and structured communications become critical tools for influencing and guiding the team to decisions and actions that the company needs.

Organizations are in a constant state of atrophy – without proper care they will quickly decline in performance and value. Proper care involves taking care of your people, taking care of your processes, taking care of your data and taking care of your partners. Including problem-solving in your management training program can ensure this critical set of individuals have the skills they need to effectively leverage the barrage of signals from their environment, resolve issues when they occur, and provide the solid leadership that their employees expect from them.

Kepner-Tregoe has been providing problem-solving training and consulting to companies for over 60 years and we know what it takes to help managers grow throughout their career.

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