Capstone Project: : Leadership/Management Problem Solving/Decision Making Paper DUE-You may do it early if you want!
Due Feb 15 by 11:59pm Submitting a text entry box or a file upload Available until Feb 15 at 11:59pm
The final assignment in this course (due week 4) asks you to identify a problem you have or are currently experiencing in the workplace or your personal life.
Provide a comprehensive introduction to the situation, including the background and scope of the problem, all individuals involved in the situation, any solutions that were attempted, as well as the outcome of those solutions. Make sure you have clearly identified who owns the problem and why. (Remember that you cannot always control the actions of others, so it should be a problem you own and thus have control over the alternatives for action.)
Then apply a formal problem-solving or decision-making model and apply each step of the model to reach a decision about the best way to address the problem. Make sure you identify whether a maximizing or satisfying solution was needed and why. Also make sure you have specific evaluation criteria that include both process (how you will measure the quality of your decision making itself) and outcome measures (actual outcomes).
Authenticity is important in this paper. Be realistic in your problem solving in terms of the time, energy, and power you must implement the chosen alternative. In addition, it is important to demonstrate self-awareness in your analysis by discussing what personal values or beliefs might have influenced your choices.
Writing Expectations—6 to 8 pages, double-spaced, in length, not counting title page and references. APA format required (title page, citations in body of paper, and reference list). An introduction and conclusion are required. The steps of the problem-solving or decision-making model chosen are recommended as additional subheadings for the paper.
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Leadership/Management Problem Solving
Steven Community College
Leadership/Management Problem Solving
Problems at the workplace or in personal life are normal as it is difficult to have the role, expectations, and personalities of every person working perfectly without differences. Problem solving skills are crucial to address the differences and conflicts to achieve the desired outcomes since problems can be major sources of stress. Problems can also lead to psychological issues, impacting the performance or outcomes in the workplace and in personal life (Kapur, 2018). This paper seeks to provide an example of a work-related problem, its scope and background, people involved and the attempted solutions, outcomes of the solutions, and application of a formal decision-making model to achieve a better outcome.
Comprehensive Introduction to the Situation
Background and Scope of the Problem
A few months ago, I experienced a strained relationship with a colleague in a machine shop. There was a change in the shift, and having a new partner proved more difficult than expected. The colleague was a Hispanic and ten years older than me. We worked a busy shift, and communication was crucial in providing satisfactory services to the clients. For the first week, I felt that the colleague was avoiding interactions between us. I am a very talkative person and like maintaining eye contact during communication as a sign of attention and engagement in the discussion while observing the other person’s moods and response to the issue at hand. The colleague always had a frowny face though, at first, I thought it was tension since we were strangers. Effective communication became a struggle for us, and it affected our working relationship and performance. The shift was characterized by missed deadlines, absenteeism of the colleague, and minimal collaboration, which resulted in delays in service delivery to the clients. The manager received complaints from clients, with the majority citing the possibility of the inconveniences being from the new staff member. Previously I had worked with a colleague from the same community, and we had maintained a very close relationship even at a personal level. Working with the new colleague was a stressful experience as all efforts proved ineffective in addressing the strained relationship.
Individuals Involved in the Situation
I was the key player in the situation as my communication style was ineffective in enhancing interaction with the workmate. My communication with the workmate was characterized by minimal feedback, less eye contact with the colleague, minimal consultation, and collaboration especially in terms of delivery of orders. The workmate was also involved in the situation, and their response signified a problem in our interaction. The manager was also involved in the situation as they received concerns from the clients. The manager was responsible for the hiring and scheduling of the shift. It was also the duty of the manager to address any issues and conflicts between the staff members. The clients were also involved in the situation as they suffered the poor outcomes associated with the strained relationship, including delays in delivery of services, poor experiences, and unsatisfactory services.
The attempted solutions to address the strained relationship were influenced by past experiences, personal values, and beliefs. Personal values, which are defined as trans-situational goals serving as guiding principles, have been determined as significant determinants in decision-making (Nilsson & Lundmark, 2020). Two factors, including the value of sharing and the belief that gifts are a powerful tool in making amends with a person and cultivating friendships, influenced attempted solutions. I have always thought of gifts are a sign of care, love, and appreciation for the other person. Based on past experiences, gifting a colleague has always been fruitful in building a relationship. The gifts may include delicious dishes, jewelry, a notebook, pens, and work-related accessories. In this case, I gifted my colleague with a cup of coffee on various occasions. Also, I invited the colleague to lunch and dinner on several occasions, but they always cited other commitments. I believed spending time with them outside the work environment would improve the relationship by lessening the tension that may have been created by the demanding work environment. Other attempted solutions included incorporating jokes in our conversation to reduce the tension, complimenting their efforts to show appreciation for the workmate, and asking questions to gain attention and increase the contact. The last solution that was implemented is minimizing eye contact during conversation.
Outcomes of the Solutions
Most of the solutions implemented had short-term effects or no impact at all. Gifting the workmate coffee on several occasions improved their moods for some time, but no long-term impact was achieved. The outcomes showed that the solution did not address the main source of the problem. The effort to invite the workmate for lunch and dinner were unfruitful as the requests were declined politely, citing other commitments. The workmate was not willing to suggest the days that they were free. I interpreted that as unwillingness to interact outside the work environment. The use of jokes and compliments also changed the workplace mood temporarily but had no long-term effects. All the solutions implemented failed to improve the relationship by enhancing communication and collaboration. Communication remained as brief as before, with the tendency of the workmate to avoid interactions increasing. The relationship became more strained, and at some point, it became stressful on my part as it was hard to identify the cause of the problem. On some occasions, I thought maybe the problem could not be fixed, and I start thinking that the only way to address the issue was asking for a shift transfer or seeking another job, especially when the request was not granted. However, learning the culture of the workmate in detail led to reduced eye contact, which decreased tension during communication, improving data sharing and interaction with the colleague.
Application of the Formal Problem-Solving Model
Problem-solving skills are essential in nursing to provide high-quality care to patients. One of the skills is critical thinking, which enables generation of effective solutions. According to Ahmady and Shahbazi (2020), nurses face two major problems, mainly those related to patient care and occupational problems, which are related to work for context and teams. The model to be adopted for the problem with the workmate is the six-step problem solving model. The model is most preferred since it ensures consistency, helps to eliminate bias, removes divisions and confusion, and provides a justifiable solution. The six steps include identifying the problem, defining it, determining the root cause, developing alternative solutions, selecting a suitable alternative, implementing the solution, and evaluating the outcome (Western Australia Department of Health, n.d).
Defining the Problem
Defining the problem involves diagnosing the problem in terms of the background, context, and symptoms. It also involves determining who is affected by the problem and the importance of solving the problem (Western Australia Department of Health, n.d). In the experience shared above, the problem involved communication, and major symptoms included minimal feedback, lack of collaboration, avoidance, and use of unfamiliar cues such as unfamiliar face expressions. Addressing the problem was crucial as it would affect the quality of services offered to clients. It would also affect productivity, my psychological well-being and that of the workmate, and the overall performance of the facility.
Determining the Root Cause
Root causes refer to a major source of the problem (Western Australia Department of Health, n.d). Based on the ineffectiveness of the solutions implemented earlier, the root cause step was not determined at first. Major possible causes of poor communication and poor work relationships based on analysis of the experience with the workmate included tension, wrong choice of communication style, negative attitudes, cultural differences, age differences, and others. The determined root causes include cultural differences and wrong choice of communication styles. Other causes would have ceased with time, resulting in improved interaction since they can associate with new interaction and environment.
Developing Alternative Solutions
This step involves listing all the possible solutions to the problem and how each solution relates to the root cause. Possible solutions include approaching the colleague and discussing it; learning about cultural differences, including beliefs, values, and attitudes of the workmate’s cultural group; or handing over the issue to the management team. Having a discussion would facilitate open communication on the cause of the problem although it would not be effective since effective communication was already a problem. while handing the issue to the manager would have created more friction.
Selecting a Solution
Based on the solutions listed, the most effective solution is researching and learning about cultural differences. Learning about cultural differences forms a solid foundation for other solutions and is a long-term solution as the knowledge gained can be used in the future to inform other areas when interacting with the workmate and people from the cultural group. By learning about their culture, I achieved cultural competence, which is essential in the nursing field, especially while dealing with patients. Approaching the colleague may not be effective due to poor communication, and the possibility of being misinterpreted is high. Approaching the management may strain the relationship even further, creating more barriers. According to Kaihlanen (2019), lack of cultural understanding or awareness increases negative attitudes and anxiety when interacting with others and may lead to a decrease in effective communication and stereotyping.
Implementing the Solution
Implementing the selected solution, in this case, requires personal efforts to learn the differences between the culture. Cultural knowledge was gained through research of online materials discussing the cultural practice, values, and beliefs of the community. It could also be achieved through interaction with people from the community and interviewing them. Learning from scholarly and peer-reviewed materials is less costly, time-consuming, and has fewer barriers to obtaining accurate and reliable information. After learning about the culture, it was clear that eye contact during communication is interpreted as disrespect, especially when talking to people older than oneself. This explains the avoidance by the workmate as they felt disrespected. This facilitated reduction of eye contact during my conversation with the colleague. Some improvements were not although no instant repair to the relationship.
Evaluating the Outcome
Evaluating the outcomes promotes the success of the selected solution by ensuring effectiveness in addressing the problem and facilitates addressing the barriers and identifying areas of weakness (Pásztor-Kovács et al., 2021). The quality of the decision made is measured by the ease of implementing the solution. This includes the availability of time, resources such as learning materials and finances, skills required, and potential outcomes. The outcome of the selected solution will be measured through improvements made in terms of communication and collaboration. Effective communication characterized by proper feedback, and adequate interaction indicates positive outcomes and success (Pásztor-Kovács et al., 2021). I evaluated the outcome and changes were evident within the first work as the colleague became more engaging. Indicators of success included lengthy conversations, instant feedback, and telling of jokes.
How the Tool Helped to Solve the Problem
The tool helped solve the problem as it provided a framework that facilitated an improved view of the problem and steps that I could use to address the issues at hand. The tool facilitated consistency, elimination of bias, removal of divisions and confusion, and provided a justifiable solution. The steps of problem-solving as outlined in the tool effectively broke down the problem and found proper solutions. A step like root causes analysis effectively identified the major cause of the misunderstanding. I generated a better solution that involved minimizing eye contact with the colleague.
Problems such as the experience of a strained relationship with the colleague at work are part of life and require critical thinking to be solved in an effective manner. From the discussion, the six-step problem-solving model generated a better solution which was effective in addressing the problem with the colleague at the workplace. Without the framework, the solutions implemented to solve the problem were not effective as the details of the event were not considered. The framework also facilitates the evaluation of the process and the outcomes.
Ahmady, S., & Shahbazi, S. (2020). Impact of Social Problem-Solving Training on Critical Thinking and Decision Making of Nursing Students. BMC Nursing, 19(1), 1-8. https://bmcnurs.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12912-020-00487-x
Kaihlanen, A. M., Hietapakka, L., & Heponiemi, T. (2019). Increasing Cultural Awareness: Qualitative Study of Nurses’ Perceptions About Cultural Competence Training. BMC Nursing, 18(1), 1-9. https://bmcnurs.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12912-019-0363-x
Kapur, R. (2018). Problems and Issues at the Workplace. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323700827_Problems_and_Issues_at_the_Workplace
Pásztor-Kovács, A., Pásztor, A., & Molnár, G. (2021). Measuring collaborative problem solving: research agenda and assessment instrument. Interactive Learning Environments, 1-21. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10494820.2021.1999273
Nilsson, J., & Lundmark, C. (2020). The Effect of Personal Values and The Roles on Representational Principles in Natural Resource Management Decision-Making. Heliyon, 6(5), E04032. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405844020308768
Western Australia Department of Health. (n.d). Problem Solving. https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/N_R/Problem-solving
Consider revising the areas I noted to add in a bit more discussion about your problem and solution. As your reader, I wanted to know what happened when you tried your solution.
You have submitted three times, and your essay is very well written and ready for submission in my opinion (even if you do not add in the information about what happened when you applied the solution).
You missed an important paragraph explaining how this tool solves the problem that you describe connected to solving the problem.
I appreciate the opportunity to work with you today, Romer!
With warm regards,