Recognizing and Resolving Problems
Generally, there are two types of problems: task problems and process problems. The two are interrelated, though an advisor should be able to recognize each independently of the other. Task problems are problems that refer to the programs, the projects, and the activities that the organization was formed to achieve.
Process problems refer to the interrelationships among organization members. Process problems have to do with how organization members interact. For example:
A programming council was unsuccessful in the planning and implementation of programs because it was disorganized = Task problem
A programming council was unsuccessful in the planning and the implementation of programs because the members did not like each other = Process problem.
The best time to observe organization problems is during meetings. The advisor should be aware of a silence that could indicate anger, boredom, frustration, or something else. The advisor should be aware of body language or facial expressions that can indicate important emotions.
If the advisor decides that a problem exists, he/she should intervene and help the organization solve the problem. The advisor should decide when it is appropriate to intervene by asking two questions:
“To what extent does the problem interfere with the organization’s task?”
“To what extent does the problem interfere with the organization process or the satisfaction of organization members?” (Lorenz & Shipton, 1984, pp. 79-80)
As advisors, we are reminded that “depending upon the nature of the organization and the problem, it may be useful for the advisor to involve the leaders and members in this process (the process of diagnosis and intervention). The use of consultants or resource people is also desirable. It should be remembered that problem diagnosis and intervention is a process that requires careful observation, thought, and consideration of the impact of alternative remedies. Quick solutions rarely occur. The advisor continually must assess the situation, scrutinize the ramifications of the intervention, and be flexible enough to make alterations or changes when necessary” (Lorenz & Shipton, 1984, p. 80).
[Adapted from: Lorenz, N. & Shipton, W. (1984). A Practical Approach to Group Advising and Problem Sol ving. A Handbook for Student Group Advisors. Schuh, J.H. (Ed.). American College Personnel Association.]