Key Problem Solving Skills At Work

One of the essential skills that leaders, managers, and effective people possess is to solve problems. Solving problems in the workplace leads to better decisions, improved revenue, and happier employees.

Every day, new problems emerge, in your team, in your industry, and your relationships. Dealing with these problems successfully and calmly and identifying solutions impacts your promotion velocity and the monthly paycheck. Companies of all sizes rely on employees that have such skills to grow their business and manage people.

What Is Problem Solving?

Problem solving is the process of analyzing a problem and finding a solution, typically in a step-by-step approach. It involves gathering information, evaluating possible solutions, and making decisions based on the available data. Problem solving can be used to solve a wide variety of problems, from personal to professional issues.

The importance of problem-solving skills

Problem solvers are essential within the workplace. They are the professionals that will handle the unusual demands with confidence. They have good judgment, analytical perspectives and act confidently when needed. Managers who master problem-solving skills are not afraid of the unknown, which becomes essential within any business.

When it comes to the benefits of handling problems with confidence, some advantages will emerge:

  • Improved time management
  • Better planning, prioritization, and execution
  • Thinking outside of the box
  • Working under pressure
  • Address risks adequately.

What is the Problem-Solving Process?

Since problem-solving is a learnable skill, you need to master its process. Here is a step-by-step method that has been validated by experts and helps to deal effectively with problems that you will encounter within the workplace. Use it as a recipe that will bring excellent results.

Here is the problem-solving process:

  1. Identify the issue. Reflect on what is the problem. Define it. Look for facts, the real ones. 
  2. Understand each part's point of view (Generating ideas). How and why did it happen. Try to identify the origin of the problem, the circumstances, and the likelihood of happening again.
  3. List possible solutions (and evaluate them). The more solution you will generate, the more possible ways to solve the problem you will have.
  4. Decide. Making a decision is much better than making no decisions. And as a best practice, think about the Pareto principle. Eighty percent of the problems can be handled instantly, and only 20 percent of them require more delicate attention, time, and additional research.
  5. Implement the solution. Do it yourself, or delegate by assigning the responsibility to the right person to implement the solution. Think about who exactly will do what, when, and to what standard. If you do it, answer yourself when you will do it and what standards you will achieve it. Remember that acting is everything.
  6. Monitor implementation. Having a set of reporting intervals, milestones, and deadlines to evaluate if the decision has been implemented correctly and generated satisfactory results.

Problem-solving skills examples in the workplace

Several skills are very relevant for professionals that want to become problem-solving masters:

  1. Active listening. Someone who can listen carefully to multiple points of view possesses such skills. Listening skills help gain details from various peers to inform the decision-making process.
  2. Research. Once you have a set of directions where to look for possible solutions, you need to start your quest in evaluating methods on how you can reach the desired end goal.
  3. Analytical thinking. Refers to the method of tackling a complex set of details in a structured and systematic way to reach the correct conclusion.
  4. Creativity. Creative thinking allows one to promptly reflect on the cause and effects, review the long-term impact of the desired solution, and shift gears if the team encounters a bottleneck.
  5. Communication. Handling conversations is a plus within every domain. However, to gain extra information, leverage other people's know-how, and delegate the implementation, you need to be a good communicator.
  6. Decision-making. After the research is done and the list of possible solutions is created, the next step is to decide on the correct one. Which one will you select, why, and why not the others?
  7. Teamwork. Author Helen Keller summarizes this point in a simple statement: "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."  And this is true. We want to solve the problem ourselves; however, so many times, it's about a mix of people with different skills that work together on solving a problem, not one sole individual.

Fortunate enough – problem-solving is a skill you can learn and worth practicing and getting better constantly.

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