Coaching on Problem Solving

We have a new project engineer that I recently trained on steps to take for problem-solving and asking good questions. The person was struggling to take ownership of assignments and was relying too heavily on co-workers and his supervisor to solve problems for him.

This is an outline of what we went over, you may find it helpful for yourself, or for training new team members on how to solve problems.

Goal:

  • The team member takes ownership of a problem from start to completion.

Questions to ask yourself prior to asking a co-worker or supervisor for help solving a problem:

  • Do I already know the answer? (trust your instincts)
  • Is the answer available in notes I have taken?
  • Is the answer available within other resources provided to me? (AISC or other codebooks, supplier catalogs, company quality manual, etc.)
  • Is the answer already within an e-mail previously sent to me?
  • Can I find the answer in ten minutes or less searching online?
  • How would the best employee in the world, working in my position, handle this situation?
  • Are there any other resources available for the answer to my question?
  • What is the best possible solution I have come up with based on all of the information available to me? (even if the solution may be partially wrong)

If the problem is not resolved after answering the questions outlined above. Take these steps in presenting to your supervisor:

  • State the problem, or question, clearly and succinctly.
  • List all the steps you have taken to resolve the problem on your own.
  • Provide your suggested action, next step.

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