Apply Critical Thinking Skills in a Team Environment.
In this unit you will learn how to;
Prepare to address workplace problems
Evaluate solutions for workplace problems, and
Finalise and review solution development
No matter what industry you are in, methods of “doing business” are common across most of them. There are certain skills and knowledge elements that are useful and, indeed, necessary in order to be successful.
One of these skills is the ability to think clearly and with a critical mind. Much time and effort can be wasted by jumping enthusiastically into an idea or exercising a strategy without giving it proper thought and thinking through the ramifications or exploring all the options available to you. There are always choices in every situation and the choices you make can either lead to success, problems or even failure if that choice is not based on solid foundations.
Prepare to address workplace problems
There is no such thing as a workplace that “works” 100% problem free. There will always be issues whether they are staff, admin, service or product related. How serious these problems are, or become, depends on what action is taken about them and whenthat action is taken.
Problems left unattended can fester and cause significant damage to an organisation and its relationship with its staff and customers, so they must be addressed effectively, and as soon as they have been noticed.
Identify and select workplace problem to be addressed
Most organisations will have procedures in place when dealing with workplace related issues. Depending on the nature of the problem, it might be an issue for senior management to address as it might impact on the entire company. It could, however, also be an issue contained within your own department or team.
Regardless of this, there are things to be considered when dealing with problems that you feel need to be resolved. You may, for example, need to consider if the issue affects others in the organisation, or just yourself. If it affects only you, you should be able to find a solution quickly and without impacting on the organisation too much, if at all.
It may also be a question of whether the problem is a systemic one or localized within a small area of the company. If it is a systemic problem, then it is a larger issue that needs to be investigated and resolved at management levels. If it is a localized problem, then it may, again, be within the scope of your role and your team to find a solution within your department.
When identifying problems that need to be addressed you should view them in terms of priority; which is the most important and will have the biggest negative impact on your team or organisation.
You might also look at them in terms of urgency. A big problem may not always be urgent, just as an urgent problem may not always be big.
Properly identifying the level of urgency and importance a task can be done by using the Eisenhower Matrix.
Urgent tasks demand immediate attention and carry clear consequences for not satisfying or completing them on time.
Important tasks contribute to longer-term objectives and goals that sometimes require planning in order to complete.
The matrix (shown in the learner guide) is divided into four quadrants. To use it you consider the urgency and importance of individual activities, and sort them into the appropriate quadrants. Each quadrant has a specific call to action; do, schedule, delegate or eliminate. Each quadrant has its own priority level: Quadrant 1 tasks should be done first, while Quadrant 4 tasks should be done last or eliminated.
Quadrant 1: “Do first.” These tasks are both urgent and important, demanding immediate attention and action. Quadrant 1 activities are the highest priority group with clear deadlines, and carry consequences for poor work quality or not meeting the deadline.
Quadrant 2: “Schedule it.” These tasks are important, but not urgent. They may or may not have defined deadlines, but are still critical for long-term goals. Proactive management of activities in this quadrant can help lighten the load of Q1 tasks. Q2 activities should have the second highest priority after Q1 activities
Quadrant 3: “Delegate, if possible.”These tasks are urgent, but not important. Though there is a level of time sensitivity, the tasks don’t contribute significantly to long-term goals. This is where the ability to distinguish between urgency and importance comes into play. Typically perceived as “busy work,” tasks that fall into this quadrant can be delegated without significant issue. Q3 activities have the third highest priority.
Quadrant 4: “Eliminate, or do last.” These tasks are neither urgent, nor important. Tasks in this quadrant are not necessary, and do not contribute to long-term goals or interests. It is recommended to either do these activities last or eliminate them altogether, and they constitute the lowest priority group.
As an example, an organisation’s computer systems may be old and unable to handle new methods of online sales. This is, potentially, a big problem for the organisation as introducing a new system can be complex, costly and involve long timeframes. In the mean time it is missing out on online sales that would help pay for system improvements. Such a task could be placed in quadrant 2; while it is certainly important, it is not a matter of great urgency and is a project that needs to be properly planned. A smaller issue might occur when an expected stock delivery fails to show up. This might not be a huge problem but it is important to the store, and it is a of an urgent nature if the stock is needed for an advertised sale that is due to start within hours. So this problem could fall into quadrant 1; it is urgent, important and, in this case, can be accomplished relatively quickly.
Identify organisational and legislative frameworks
Before looking at how to address problems, however, you may have to consider if there are any organisational policies, procedures or any legal aspects that need to be taken into account when developing solutions.
For example; working in hospitality you will need to ensure that all hygiene regulations are observed if any changes are to be made in solving the problem. Equally you will need to keep liquor laws in mind when making alterations to workplace procedures in a bar.
If changes are made to staffing levels or conditions, you will need to bear EEO legislation in mind to ensure you are not discriminating against anyone (this also applies to diversity regulations), while workplace health and safety regulations must also be kept in mind at all times.
So in order to avoid further problems, or generate whole new ones, these, and other, industry related legislation and codes of practice as well as organisational standards should be considered when addressing issues and developing solutions. This, in turn means that you need to be able to read and comprehend textual information and integrate ideas and concepts from various sources in order to develop a well rounded and well thought through solution.