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Mastering Problem Solving as a Skill to Navigate Workplace Change

March 15, 2024

Mastering Problem Solving as a Skill to Navigate Workplace Change

In the dynamic environment of the workplace, change is both inevitable and essential. Managing this change successfully requires robust leadership and strategic problem-solving skills. Effective leaders, like Nazir Razak during his tenure at CIMB, demonstrate how leveraging problem solving as a skill can guide organisations through significant transformations.

Understanding the Role of Problem Solving in Managing Change

Problem solving is not just about resolving immediate issues; it’s about anticipating potential challenges and devising strategic solutions that align with long-term organizational goals. When CIMB was transitioning from a niche investment bank to a dominant universal bank, Razak’s foresight in anticipating market changes and strategically positioning the bank to capitalize on these changes was a prime example of problem solving as a critical leadership skill.

Anticipation: The First Step in Problem Solving

Anticipation allows leaders to foresee and prepare for potential challenges. Razak emphasized the importance of this skill when he led CIMB through various economic cycles, notably preparing for the Asian financial crisis by diversifying into the bond market well before the crisis hit. This proactive approach not only safeguarded the bank but also positioned it to thrive when equities markets were struggling. Thus, problem-solving involves not just reacting to current conditions but also preparing for future scenarios.

Strategic Decision Making in Times of Change

Effective problem solving requires making tough decisions that may not be immediately popular but are necessary for the long-term success of the organization. For instance, Razak’s decision to transform CIMB into a universal banking entity was based on the strategic assessment that investment banking alone would not sustain long-term growth. This decision involved not only recognizing the problem but also crafting a solution that involved significant changes to the bank’s business model.

Effective Communication

A key aspect of managing change through problem solving is communication. Leaders must clearly articulate the rationale behind changes and the expected outcomes. During CIMB’s transformation, Razak regularly communicated with his team through various platforms. Some examples included face-to-face meetings to blogs and social media. This ensures that the message of change was consistently and effectively conveyed. This transparency helps in aligning the team’s efforts with the organisation’s strategic objectives and mitigates resistance to change.

Building a Culture of Problem Solving

Leaders like Razak understand that problem solving is a skill that needs to be ingrained into the organisation’s culture. By encouraging a culture where anticipating challenges and developing solutions are valued, leaders can foster an environment that embraces change rather than fears it. This involves training teams to approach problems with a strategic mindset and to view challenges as opportunities to innovate and improve.

Problem solving as a skill is crucial for leaders who aim to manage change effectively in the workplace. By anticipating future challenges, making informed strategic decisions, communicating effectively, and fostering a problem-solving culture, leaders can steer their organisations through the complexities of change. As demonstrated by Nazir Razak’s leadership at CIMB, it is not just about solving problems as they arise but about foreseeing challenges and preparing the organisation to face them head-on, ensuring sustained growth and success in an ever-evolving business landscape. Learn more about Nazir Razak’s journey here!

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