Problem Solving with Perfectionists — June 29, 2021

Problem Solving with Perfectionists

I have a team member who is bright and conscientious. She is the resident expert on our systems and work processes. Most of the time, her approach to solving problems and implementing solutions is spot-on. However, when a solution doesn’t immediately present itself, she can get stuck. Her high need to ‘be the best’ gets in the way of coming up with ‘good enough’ solutions.

This happened in a meeting today. She identified a hurdle in extracting some data to upload into a new system. I felt like there was a solution lurking somewhere in the background and it just had to be flushed out. In the past, I would jump straight into brainstorming mode. I find when I do this she puts up a wall and we make little progress.

Today, I tried something different. I took a more rational approach by breaking the problem down into three distinct parts: filters, date ranges, and data extraction. At each step I asked open-ended questions and tested her assumptions. We got to the root cause of her issue at step 2 and then I was able to brainstorm potential solutions. Less defensive, she was in a better mindset that allowed her to consider each of my ideas and pick the best one.