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When I'm at work: Solving problems - Trainer's guide

Chapters

Using the resource

This resource has been developed to be used as a stand-alone training program. You could also integrate it into a larger training program that your workplace may already have in place.

The resource is intended to be interactive and experiential, using a variety of techniques including the presentation of a slide show, completion of a worksheet by learners with assistance from the trainer, and guided questioning of learners by the trainer. The structure is as follows.

  1. Learners are asked by the trainer to think about problems they have experienced at work, which they could have handled better.
  2. Learners are then introduced to the concept of problem solving.
  3. A scenario is presented and the learners are guided by questioning through the Four steps to solving problems.
  4. Options for solving problems are discussed.
  5. The Four steps to solving problems model is presented diagrammatically and discussed.
  6. Learners are further questioned to encourage them to express how they would feel in a variety of different negative situations. They are also asked how they would now act if having a problem at work.
  7. Additional scenarios can then be introduced. Either or both of the scenarios outlined in Appendix 3 can be used, or substituted with other actual work problems, if considered to be more appropriate.
  8. The trainer introduces the 'dos and don'ts' of problem solving and the session is concluded.

Each scenario comprises a workplace incident to reinforce the need to solve workplace problems. The scenarios describe different examples of workplace problems. They are short and are designed to be:

These scenarios have been developed for you to use as triggers to encourage discussion of the workplace issues with supported employees. They can be customised to reflect current problems that the workplace may have and wants to address. If you are not using a computer/slide presentation to deliver the material you will need to read the audio script, which appears in Appendix 3, aloud to the learners.

The Four steps to solving problems worksheet may also be used at a later date if a workplace problem arises and the workplace wants to encourage supported employees to take responsibility for solving a problem.

Your role as a trainer

Your role as a trainer is to guide supported employees in their learning. You need to provide a safe and secure learning environment where learners feel that they are respected and their input valued. You need to have clear learning outcomes, a plan for how the learning program will go, and what you want to achieve within a given timeframe.

As an effective trainer, you will:

A useful resource to help you plan and present this learning is Training and Assessing, a resource package developed to assist workplace trainers to deliver training to supported employees in Disability Business Services. It includes a manual, a toolkit with sample sheets and checklists, and an implementation guide. The Work Talk resources are also useful.

Planning the training session

Delivering the training session

The time you take to deliver this resource will be your decision, based on the experience of the group to participate in new learning and remain involved, the time available, and so on. The format may look something like this.

Show slide number Learning activities and discussion points
1 Welcome the learners and explain that they will be learning about how to solve workplace problems.
2 Introduce the session with the two questions, 'Have you had a problem at work?' and 'Do you wish you had handled it better?'

Encourage learners to think about and discuss these questions and to think of some real workplace problems or experiences they may have had at work.

Allow time to discuss generally some of their experiences or problems.

NB. It is recommended you seek a commitment from the learners that people are not identified in general discussion and/or real names used
.
3 Explain that 'If you have a problem at work it is a good idea to sort it out' and that 'This is called problem solving'.

You may like to ask the learners why they think it is important to solve problems and list their responses on a sheet of butcher's paper. This list with a heading can be built on when you discuss slide 11.
4 Listen to Samantha's story. If necessary re-listen to the story. Provide a print copy of the story for learners if appropriate. See Appendix 3 Samantha's story.

For slides 5 to 8 a sample problem solving worksheet has been developed – Refer to the Appendix 1 Worksheet 1 Four steps to solving problems.

It may be necessary to replay Samantha's story after showing each of the What? Who? Why? How? Questions
.
5 Using Samantha's story:

Ask the question 'Is there a problem?'

'What is the problem?'

Have a sheet of butcher's paper prepared with the heading 'What is the problem?'

List learner's responses.

Try and come to a consensus of what the problem is.

Highlight this on the butcher's paper.
6 Using Samantha's story:

Ask the question 'Who is involved in the problem?' Have a sheet of butcher's paper prepared with the heading 'Who is involved in the problem?'

List learner's responses.

Try and come to a consensus of who is involved in the problem.

Highlight this on the butcher's paper.
7 Using Samantha's story:

Ask the question 'Why is there a problem?'

Have a sheet of butcher's paper prepared with the heading 'Why is there a problem?'

List learner's responses.

Read through these and discuss and clarify any differences. Explain to the learners that there may be one or several reasons why there is a problem.
8 Using Samantha's story:

Ask the question 'How can the problem be solved?'

Have a sheet of butcher's paper prepared with the heading 'How can the problem be solved?'

List learner's responses.

You now have four sheets of learner's information about a workplace problem.

Explain these four sheets are the Four steps to solving problems.

Encourage learners to ask questions for clarification of the four steps to problem solving.
9 Read the statement 'If you think you have a problem at work, there are a number of ways to sort things out …'

Read these and allow time to discuss each of the ways. Ask learners to consider when one way may be better than another to solve a problem.

Allow time for discussion and clarification of learner's understanding.
10 Review the learning so far and summarise the Four steps to problem solving by explaining the cycle.

If your learners have good literacy skills you will have printed copies of Worksheet 1 available.

Distribute the worksheet to each learner and explain that 'if they think they have a problem at work', it can be worked through asking the questions What? Who? Why? How?

At this point it may be suitable to take a break for 10 or 15 minutes or if necessary reconvene at another time
.

If a break is taken here it will be important to recommence the training with a review of the learning with questions such as 'If you think you have problem at work what can you do?'
11 Have prepared a sheet of butcher's paper with the heading 'Why is it important to solve work problems?'

Commence the session referring to the question 'Why is it important to solve problems?' and ask learners to tell you 'What happens when problems are not solved?' List these responses.

Compare these responses with the information on slide 11.

Allow time for discussion and clarification.
12 Introduce discussion that workplace problems have an effect on people and it is important to think about how people feel when there is a problem or they think there is a problem.

Explain that you are going to spend some time discussing people's feelings and what happens when there are problems at work.

Read the statement 'A job you would like to do has been given to someone else'.

Hand out the 'How would you feel if this happened to you?' worksheet and ask learners to highlight the face and if appropriate write the words that express how they would feel.

Encourage discussion from learners about how important it is to solve workplace problems.
13 Read the statement 'Someone tells you they do not want to work with you anymore'.

Using the 'How would you feel if this happened to you?' worksheet ask learners to highlight the face and if appropriate write the words that express how they would feel.

Ask the question 'What would you do?'

Encourage discussion from learners about how important it is to solve workplace problems.
14 Read the statement 'Another worker tells you that you are doing your job wrong, when you know this is not true'.

Using the 'How would you feel if this happened to you?' worksheet ask learners to highlight the face and if appropriate write the words that express how they would feel.

Ask the question 'What would you do?'

Encourage discussion from learners about how important it is to solve workplace problems.
15 To review the learning to date, ask learners the question, 'So, what will you do now if you have a problem at work?'

Complete another exercise using the Four steps to solving problems worksheet.

You may wish to use the two case studies provided or develop your own case studies that reflect a workplace problem that needs solving.

Learners can work in pairs or groups to solve a problem using the Four steps to solving problems worksheet.
16 Listen to Bruce's story and provide a print copy of the story if appropriate.

After learners have developed the information in the four step process, discuss the information gathered and the solution learners agreed to.
17 Listen to Lily's story and provide a print copy of the story if appropriate.

After learners have developed the information in the four step process, discuss the information gathered and the solution learners agreed to.
18 Discuss with learners what they have learned from this training session.

Using butcher's paper with the heading 'Dos of problem solving' ask learners to tell you what they think these are. List them.

Compare their list to the information on slide 18.
19 Using butcher's paper with the heading 'Don'ts of problem solving' ask learners to tell you what they think these are. List them.

Compare their list to slide 19.

Close the session by thanking learners for their involvement, ask if there are any further questions or assistance needed.

Offer yourself or someone in your organisation who could be available at a later date to help the learners solve a real workplace problem if required.

It is important for you to explain to supported employees that some workplace problems require disciplinary action because they contravene the workplace's code of conduct and require that appropriate action be taken. Some problems may only be able to be resolved by externally managed and/or facilitated processes such as mediation.

Evaluating/following up

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