This Problem Solving Strategy
Whenever I have a problem, I always go through these motions in order to get everything cleared up fast and effectively.
Don’t Get Emotional
First of all you need to look at the problem without emotion, there’s no point in getting all worried, panicked or upset because in actual fact, your emotion is not solving anything, all it’s doing is burning up your energy. If you have to deal with people regarding the problem, you need to stay calm, and not rant, rave, argue or blame. It’s all just BLAH and won’t get you any closer to solving the issue. The quickest way to solve problems is to deal with them rationally rather than emotionally.
Question: Am I in a rational state of mind? If yes, progress on.
Focus On The Actual Problem
You need focus on the problem to start with so you can understand what you need to do – not all the fluff and nonsense surrounding it, because it’s the fluff and nonsense that will cause you to stress out and lose focus. You need to work out how this problem came about, where it stemmed from, what the outcome has been, if there are any further repercussions, and what can actually be done about it. Don’t worry for now about anything else – you need to stay on form and deal with this issue. So focus JUST on the problem itself and understanding it.
Question: Do I fully understand the problem? If yes, progress on.
Know Who Is In Control
The best kind of problems are the ones you can do something about, for example, a client has spotted a mistake in their work, this is something you can rectify ASAP, if you can – do it, whatever it takes. But there are things outside of your control, such as 3rd party systems or technology for example, people who have said things they shouldn’t have, or done something silly and created a problem for you, these things are not in your control, you need to simply accept it and work around the issue to the best of your ability. You can’t ‘do’ anything about things which are not within your control.
Question: Am I completely clear on what I personally am in control of? If yes, progress on.
VOWELS – AEIOU
Action, Explain, Inform, Own Up!
Now you need to take action immediately – be productive in doing whatever is in your control regarding the problem. If the problem was caused by you, or is your responsibility, the only option is to own up and be honest about it, but also explain to the people affected what you’re doing to resolve it (or what you have done to resolve it – even better). Resolution is the key to quickly getting problems off your plate, if the resolution is out of your control, you need to explain who is responsible and what you know about what they are doing to resolve it – keep people informed. If it’s absolutely necessary to keep people in the dark, fine, don’t tell them every little detail, be general, but the point is, if the problem may have an impact on their business or work, you have to say something… Them finding out from another source is going to be a million times worse, than coming from you. Once you have taken the action and you have the situation in hand, explain and inform to the people involved what has happened, what is being done, and the outcome and timeline, and if this was your fault, own up to it and apologise.
Question: Have I worked out what action I need to take, and taken it? If yes, progress on.
The first thing that used to pop into my head with any problem was, “What’s this going to do to my virtual assistant services business?” As long as you always do your best, you are honest and give it your all as a business owner, your problems will be few, and the likelihood is that in the grand scheme of things it won’t have a major impact on your business, maybe a minor one at the time, but not to the brink of total destruction. Minor problems soon become yesterday’s news and you’ll wonder why you worried about it in the first place. As long as you can honestly say that you have done everything you can, that’s all you can do. Relax, and periodically monitor the situation and provide updates if it’s not yet finalised.
Question: Have I stopped beating myself up over this and/or know that I have done everything I could? If yes, progress on.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
If my website would go down for the day because of the hosting for example, I would worry about it the whole time unnecessarily. That’s an entire day that I would be terribly unproductive, not really getting anything done, because I was too busy worrying about something that I had no control over – worrying is a total waste of time, and seriously, limit your worrying to times when you actually have something serious to worry about – minor setbacks or issues don’t warrant the stress factor. Now with every problem I have, I will always look to see if there is a way I can prevent it next time, if it’s feasible for me, then I will do it. Last year I invested in a more expensive but super-reliable dedicated server, and ‘touch wood’ I don’t have that issue anymore. Yes it costs me several hundred dollars a month, (I have a lot of systems/sites) but I will happily pay it for peace of mind and elimination of that concern.
Question: Can I now do something to prevent the problem in future? If yes, then do it!
Whenever you have a problem arise in your business, and of course it’s inevitable one day you might, ask yourself these questions and deal with the situation efficiently, go through the strategy for solving the problem, rather than let it burn you out. You’ll find that your time is better spent getting perspective — then taking action, as opposed to worrying and feeling anxious.