Solution-focused work isn’t just for therapy. I encourage all my clients to bring solution-focused positive language into their everyday lives. Even better, you can easily apply solution-focused work in the workplace, too.
Here are some ideas on how changing your language and perspective in a solution-focused way will get great results for yourself and your team:
1. Start with what’s been good
Just like solution-focused sessions begin with this question, try starting your meetings with this question as well.
It’s all too easy for people to dread a meeting or interaction with their boss. But by focusing on the positives first, you will calm everyone down and get them into the more objective and rational part of the brain. This means that you can tackle problems and sensitive issues less emotionally – with more intelligent and creative results.
It’s often good to end meetings with this question, too – letting everyone leave in a more motivated state of mind.
2. Focus on the outcome
“If this was to go really well, how would it look?”
Just like driving, if you keep the destination in mind, you’re far more likely to get there than when you’re observing all the obstacles that block your view. We call this the ‘preferred future’ in sessions. To implement solution-focused work in the workplace, try to visualise the ideal outcome and work backwards from there.
You’ll also be surprised how much this will enable you and your team to overcome any obstacles. You’re keeping your mind creative and rational – you’ll find the solutions.
3. Small steps
Often projects are so big that they can be overwhelming and cause panic and stress. The brain will go into fight-flight-freeze, and nothing will get done.
Once you know the final outcome, start to break it down into smaller steps. What are the small actions you can take every single day to get you there? It’s good to have the big picture at the back of your mind. But once you’ve established that, each individual step needs some vision too.
At work and in life, every journey begins with a small step in the right direction. The sum of small steps is often greater than 1 giant leap.
4. Celebrate the wins
When my clients tell me what’s been good about their week, I celebrate every single one, even if they are tiny. Do the same for your team.
When you use solution-focused work in the workplace like this, you are showing encouragement and that will drive the team forward much quicker than just taking those small steps for granted. That feedback to the brain creates a positive feeling of safety and will encourage more drive to succeed again.
Remember, what may be easy for you could be difficult for someone else. So keep the praise coming to make sure you keep your team motivated.
5. Focus on strengths
The first thing that comes to mind whenever we want to hit a target is ‘what is lacking’ and we look for the problems that may occur. It’s a natural evolutionary response to look for the dangers on the horizon.
But it’s a shame, really. We all have strengths that we can utilise to at least get the ball rolling. By focusing on strengths first you’ll start to feel empowered and the obstacles won’t feel like obstacles anymore.
I’m sure there have been times you’ve procrastinated over a problem, worrying about the dangers that lie ahead only to finish that task in record time when you did finally get around to it.
The mind can really hold you back if you’re not careful. We spend a lot of time and energy worrying about things that never actually happen. Focus on your strengths and ask for help on any weaker points.
6. Recall past successes
Although we always look to the future in solution-focused work it doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate the past. I’m sure there have been many successes and achievements in your past, that we often forget or take for granted once the moment has passed.
If your team has a new project to work on, take some time to compare it to past projects; what worked well last time? Why did it work so well? How good did that make you feel?
By doing this you and your team will feel more capable and empowered to tackle what is before you now. Maybe look at the final results or read past reviews or testimonials. It’s hugely motivating and something I do in my business when I need some motivation and a reminder of how much of a difference I can make.
Solution-focused work in the workplace
Lastly, here are some solution-focused questions to get you going:
- If this task was to succeed, what do you imagine the final result to be?
- What would you be most proud of if this was to work?
- What skills can you draw on to make this work?
- What would help you notice that you are progressing and moving forwards?
- How did you make that last successful project work so well?
- What do you think is your favourite thing about this project/task?
- How would the rest of the team know that you were succeeding?
The clients I have worked with have taken the solution-focused approach to their workplace with great success. Often they don’t even realise they are doing it as it has become an intrinsic part of their thinking.
Everyone has stress at work, but by using solution-focused work in the workplace, you’re guaranteed to nurture a positive and psychologically safe culture for everyone. And that can only be a good thing.