Ep 219 – Must Have Problem Solving Strategies In HR

Solving problems in the workplace is an HR leader’s primary focus – but it’s not unique to HR. All business leaders across all industries have to work to solve problems every day.

Episode 219: Must Have Problem Solving Strategies In HR with Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg (@thomaswedell)

I’m pleased to introduce Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg on the podcast today. Thomas is an author with Harvard Business Press, and as a speaker and executive advisor, he has worked with companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, Citigroup, Time Warner and many more. His most recent book, released just last month, is What’s Your Problem?: To Solve Your Toughest Problems, Change the Problems You Solve. It offers a simple, three-step method – Frame, Reframe, Move Forward – that anyone can use to start solving the right problems.

In researching for this podcast interview with Thomas, I was surprised to learn that problem-solving skills are some of the most in-demand soft skills for leaders and workers today. The ability to navigate a changing work and life landscape in times like we are living and working in now makes problem solving skills a more valuable skill than ever before. I say this because no one could really have predicted the current global crisis we are experiencing now. I first talked with Thomas in February long before COVID-19 was global news, but the need the problem-solve solve quickly is something that HR and business leaders have had to do quickly and on the fly.

I feel of any kind of problem analysis is that people get stuck in analysis paralysis...You need to say OK, how do we figure out with our our problem is what we think it is, how can we go out and talk to people? - @thomaswedell #podcast #workplace… Click To Tweet

Why Problem Solving Matters At Work

I mention in the show notes here that our current global crisis is a strong example of why problem-solving is so important. Thomas says the biggest challenge with solving a problem is actually identifying what the problem in fact is. Many times he says were are problem-solving and treating symptoms but not getting the bigger diagnosis. For example, living in this new remote workplace, you might believe the problem is finding technology to engage your employees but the bigger issue at hand is engagement and holding employees accountable in this new workplace. We love to jump straight to the solution instead of identifying the problem and talking through the challenges at hand.

Thomas’s work helps business leaders dig deeper and use a simple framework to aid them at problem-solving in any situation. In fact, Thomas says we need to spend more time problem-solving focusing first on identifying the underlying problem and also involving a diverse group of individuals to help problem solve. It’s important to have individuals of all levels, experiences, and team members involved in sharing ideas, suggestions, and discussion when it comes to finding solutions. Everyone needs to feel safe to share their opinions, suggestions, and solutions for problem-solving to be truly effective. 


Shifting the way we think about solving problems is a process, and I love the way Thomas has outlined reframing in his book. I think we should question our objectives and our approach to setting goals, in the same way we change our approach to innovation with design thinking. I appreciate Thomas taking the time to walk us through the process on today’s podcast!

Connect with Thomas Weddell-Weddellsborg on LinkedIn.



Thomas’s book: What’s Your Problem?


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Ep 174: Design Thinking in Human Resources

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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