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26 Good Examples of Problem Solving (Interview Answers)
By Biron Clark
Published: October 31, 2023
Employers like to hire people who can solve problems and work well under pressure. A job rarely goes 100% according to plan, so hiring managers will be more likely to hire you if you seem like you can handle unexpected challenges while staying calm and logical in your approach.
But how do they measure this?
They’re going to ask you interview questions about these problem solving skills, and they might also look for examples of problem solving on your resume and cover letter. So coming up, I’m going to share a list of examples of problem solving, whether you’re an experienced job seeker or recent graduate.
Then I’ll share sample interview answers to, “Give an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem?”
It is the ability to identify the problem, prioritize based on gravity and urgency, analyze the root cause, gather relevant information, develop and evaluate viable solutions, decide on the most effective and logical solution, and plan and execute implementation.
Problem-solving also involves critical thinking, communication , listening, creativity, research, data gathering, risk assessment, continuous learning, decision-making, and other soft and technical skills.
Solving problems not only prevent losses or damages but also boosts self-confidence and reputation when you successfully execute it. The spotlight shines on you when people see you handle issues with ease and savvy despite the challenges. Your ability and potential to be a future leader that can take on more significant roles and tackle bigger setbacks shine through. Problem-solving is a skill you can master by learning from others and acquiring wisdom from their and your own experiences.
It takes a village to come up with solutions, but a good problem solver can steer the team towards the best choice and implement it to achieve the desired result.
Watch: 26 Good Examples of Problem Solving
Examples of problem solving scenarios in the workplace.
- Correcting a mistake at work, whether it was made by you or someone else
- Overcoming a delay at work through problem solving and communication
- Resolving an issue with a difficult or upset customer
- Overcoming issues related to a limited budget, and still delivering good work through the use of creative problem solving
- Overcoming a scheduling/staffing shortage in the department to still deliver excellent work
- Troubleshooting and resolving technical issues
- Handling and resolving a conflict with a coworker
- Solving any problems related to money, customer billing, accounting and bookkeeping, etc.
- Taking initiative when another team member overlooked or missed something important
- Taking initiative to meet with your superior to discuss a problem before it became potentially worse
- Solving a safety issue at work or reporting the issue to those who could solve it
- Using problem solving abilities to reduce/eliminate a company expense
- Finding a way to make the company more profitable through new service or product offerings, new pricing ideas, promotion and sale ideas, etc.
- Changing how a process, team, or task is organized to make it more efficient
- Using creative thinking to come up with a solution that the company hasn’t used before
- Performing research to collect data and information to find a new solution to a problem
- Boosting a company or team’s performance by improving some aspect of communication among employees
- Finding a new piece of data that can guide a company’s decisions or strategy better in a certain area
Problem Solving Examples for Recent Grads/Entry Level Job Seekers
- Coordinating work between team members in a class project
- Reassigning a missing team member’s work to other group members in a class project
- Adjusting your workflow on a project to accommodate a tight deadline
- Speaking to your professor to get help when you were struggling or unsure about a project
- Asking classmates, peers, or professors for help in an area of struggle
- Talking to your academic advisor to brainstorm solutions to a problem you were facing
- Researching solutions to an academic problem online, via Google or other methods
- Using problem solving and creative thinking to obtain an internship or other work opportunity during school after struggling at first
You can share all of the examples above when you’re asked questions about problem solving in your interview. As you can see, even if you have no professional work experience, it’s possible to think back to problems and unexpected challenges that you faced in your studies and discuss how you solved them.
Interview Answers to “Give an Example of an Occasion When You Used Logic to Solve a Problem”
Now, let’s look at some sample interview answers to, “Give me an example of a time you used logic to solve a problem,” since you’re likely to hear this interview question in all sorts of industries.
Example Answer 1:
At my current job, I recently solved a problem where a client was upset about our software pricing. They had misunderstood the sales representative who explained pricing originally, and when their package renewed for its second month, they called to complain about the invoice. I apologized for the confusion and then spoke to our billing team to see what type of solution we could come up with. We decided that the best course of action was to offer a long-term pricing package that would provide a discount. This not only solved the problem but got the customer to agree to a longer-term contract, which means we’ll keep their business for at least one year now, and they’re happy with the pricing. I feel I got the best possible outcome and the way I chose to solve the problem was effective.
Example Answer 2:
In my last job, I had to do quite a bit of problem solving related to our shift scheduling. We had four people quit within a week and the department was severely understaffed. I coordinated a ramp-up of our hiring efforts, I got approval from the department head to offer bonuses for overtime work, and then I found eight employees who were willing to do overtime this month. I think the key problem solving skills here were taking initiative, communicating clearly, and reacting quickly to solve this problem before it became an even bigger issue.
Example Answer 3:
In my current marketing role, my manager asked me to come up with a solution to our declining social media engagement. I assessed our current strategy and recent results, analyzed what some of our top competitors were doing, and then came up with an exact blueprint we could follow this year to emulate our best competitors but also stand out and develop a unique voice as a brand. I feel this is a good example of using logic to solve a problem because it was based on analysis and observation of competitors, rather than guessing or quickly reacting to the situation without reliable data. I always use logic and data to solve problems when possible. The project turned out to be a success and we increased our social media engagement by an average of 82% by the end of the year.
Answering Questions About Problem Solving with the STAR Method
When you answer interview questions about problem solving scenarios, or if you decide to demonstrate your problem solving skills in a cover letter (which is a good idea any time the job description mention problem solving as a necessary skill), I recommend using the STAR method to tell your story.
STAR stands for:
It’s a simple way of walking the listener or reader through the story in a way that will make sense to them. So before jumping in and talking about the problem that needed solving, make sure to describe the general situation. What job/company were you working at? When was this? Then, you can describe the task at hand and the problem that needed solving. After this, describe the course of action you chose and why. Ideally, show that you evaluated all the information you could given the time you had, and made a decision based on logic and fact.
Finally, describe a positive result you got.
Whether you’re answering interview questions about problem solving or writing a cover letter, you should only choose examples where you got a positive result and successfully solved the issue.
Situation : We had an irate client who was a social media influencer and had impossible delivery time demands we could not meet. She spoke negatively about us in her vlog and asked her followers to boycott our products. (Task : To develop an official statement to explain our company’s side, clarify the issue, and prevent it from getting out of hand). Action : I drafted a statement that balanced empathy, understanding, and utmost customer service with facts, logic, and fairness. It was direct, simple, succinct, and phrased to highlight our brand values while addressing the issue in a logical yet sensitive way. We also tapped our influencer partners to subtly and indirectly share their positive experiences with our brand so we could counter the negative content being shared online. Result : We got the results we worked for through proper communication and a positive and strategic campaign. The irate client agreed to have a dialogue with us. She apologized to us, and we reaffirmed our commitment to delivering quality service to all. We assured her that she can reach out to us anytime regarding her purchases and that we’d gladly accommodate her requests whenever possible. She also retracted her negative statements in her vlog and urged her followers to keep supporting our brand.
What Are Good Outcomes of Problem Solving?
Whenever you answer interview questions about problem solving or share examples of problem solving in a cover letter, you want to be sure you’re sharing a positive outcome.
Below are good outcomes of problem solving:
- Saving the company time or money
- Making the company money
- Pleasing/keeping a customer
- Obtaining new customers
- Solving a safety issue
- Solving a staffing/scheduling issue
- Solving a logistical issue
- Solving a company hiring issue
- Solving a technical/software issue
- Making a process more efficient and faster for the company
- Creating a new business process to make the company more profitable
- Improving the company’s brand/image/reputation
- Getting the company positive reviews from customers/clients
Every employer wants to make more money, save money, and save time. If you can assess your problem solving experience and think about how you’ve helped past employers in those three areas, then that’s a great start. That’s where I recommend you begin looking for stories of times you had to solve problems.
Tips to Improve Your Problem Solving Skills
Throughout your career, you’re going to get hired for better jobs and earn more money if you can show employers that you’re a problem solver. So to improve your problem solving skills, I recommend always analyzing a problem and situation before acting. When discussing problem solving with employers, you never want to sound like you rush or make impulsive decisions. They want to see fact-based or data-based decisions when you solve problems.
Next, to get better at solving problems, analyze the outcomes of past solutions you came up with. You can recognize what works and what doesn’t. Think about how you can get better at researching and analyzing a situation, but also how you can get better at communicating, deciding the right people in the organization to talk to and “pull in” to help you if needed, etc.
Finally, practice staying calm even in stressful situations. Take a few minutes to walk outside if needed. Step away from your phone and computer to clear your head. A work problem is rarely so urgent that you cannot take five minutes to think (with the possible exception of safety problems), and you’ll get better outcomes if you solve problems by acting logically instead of rushing to react in a panic.
You can use all of the ideas above to describe your problem solving skills when asked interview questions about the topic. If you say that you do the things above, employers will be impressed when they assess your problem solving ability.
If you practice the tips above, you’ll be ready to share detailed, impressive stories and problem solving examples that will make hiring managers want to offer you the job. Every employer appreciates a problem solver, whether solving problems is a requirement listed on the job description or not. And you never know which hiring manager or interviewer will ask you about a time you solved a problem, so you should always be ready to discuss this when applying for a job.
Related interview questions & answers:
- How do you handle stress?
- How do you handle conflict?
- Tell me about a time when you failed
About the Author
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7 Examples of Problem-Solving Scenarios in the Workplace (With Solutions)
What is problem-solving anyway, problem-solving scenario #1: tight deadlines and heavy workload.
- Problem-solving Scenario #2: Handling a Product Launch
Problem-solving Scenario #3: Internal Conflicts in the Team
Problem-solving scenario #4: team not meeting targets, problem-solving scenario #5: team facing high turnover, problem-solving scenario #6: team member facing discrimination, problem-solving scenario #7: new manager unable to motivate a team, building an effective problem-solving framework, wrapping up, frequently asked questions for managers.
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Problem-Solving Scenarios for Managers
- Talk to the team members: John begins by asking what’s holding them back. Based on their responses, he realizes that he needs to delegate better. Immediately, John schedules meetings to clarify each member’s expectations , priorities, and roles and ensure everyone is on the same page. He also makes a note to work on his delegation skills.
- Plan things: John creates a project timeline or task list that outlines the deadlines and deliverables for each team member and shares this with the team to ensure that everyone is aware of what is expected of them.
- Support the team: The team sits together to establish regular check-ins or progress updates to ensure members can ask questions or raise concerns.
Problem-solving Scenario # 2 : Handling a Product Launch
- Review and redraw plans: Emily revisited the project plan and identified areas where the team could reduce the scope or prioritize features to meet the budget constraints.
- Go for alternatives: The team then explored alternative resources or suppliers to find cost-effective options. Are there any underutilized resources, equipment, or personnel from other projects or departments that can be temporarily assigned to this project? Moreover, they revisited their suppliers and negotiated further.
- Outsourcing parts of the project: Emily considered outsourcing some project functions to external contractors or freelancers. Eventually, they outsourced the marketing to another team and continued working on the core features.
- Upgrade the available capacity: Emily and her team invested in upskilling the present workforce with additional skills. It allowed some team members to explore exciting areas and supplemented the team.
- Get both sides onboard: Taylor begins the conflict resolution process by talking to both team members. She recognizes the issue and first goes into individual discussions with both. Later, she sets up a meeting for both to share their perspectives.
- Mediation: In the next step, the manager encourages the two team members to talk to each other and resolve the conflict independently. Taylor describes how the optimal contribution can look different for different team members. Additionally, she encourages them to be more open and collaborative so that they understand what the other one does.
- Preventing mistakes again: The team holds a meeting to discuss the issue and allow other team members to express their thoughts and feelings. By not hiding the problem that happened in front of everyone, Taylor acknowledges the issues and shows that she cares about the things happening inside the team. Further, by discussing and sharing, they can build a healthy relationship to prevent similar issues in the future.
- Use formal tools: Lastly, they establish clear guidelines and expectations for behavior and communication within the team to prevent future conflicts. Training and coaching are also added to help team members improve their communication and conflict-resolution skills.
- Discussions with the Sales Representatives: Donna starts by having one-on-one conversations with each team member to understand their perspectives on why the targets are not being met. After gathering insights from personal discussions, Donna calls for a team meeting. During the session, she allows team members to share their experiences, challenges, and suggestions openly.
- Analysis of Sales Process: Donna conducts a detailed sales process analysis, from lead generation to closing deals. She identifies bottlenecks and areas where the team might be facing difficulties. This analysis helps her pinpoint specific stages that need improvement.
- Setting Realistic Targets: Donna understands that overly ambitious targets might be demotivating. She collaborates with her team to develop more achievable yet challenging sales targets based on their current performance and market conditions. She organizes training sessions and workshops to help team members develop the necessary skills and knowledge to excel.
- Recognition and Incentives: Donna introduces a recognition program and incentives for meeting and exceeding targets to motivate the team. This helps boost morale and encourages healthy competition within the team. She closely monitors the team’s progress toward the revised targets.
- Conduct Exit Interviews: As the stream of resignation continues, Neil adopts a realistic approach and starts by attempting to understand the issues his former team members face. He conducts exit interviews with the people leaving and tries to determine what’s wrong.
- Understand the current team: In the next step, Neil tries to learn the perspectives of staying people. Through surveys and conversations, he lists the good parts of working in his team and emphasizes them. He also finds the challenges and works on reducing them.
- Change and adapt to employee needs: These conversations help Neil enable a better work environment to help him contain turnover and attract top talent. Moving forward, he ensures that pay is competitive and work is aligned with the employee’s goals. He also involves stakeholders to create development and growth opportunities for his team.
- Be approachable and open: Erica first ensures she can gather all the details from the team members. She provides them with a safe space and comfort to express their concern and ensures that action will be taken. She supports the targeted team members, such as access to counselling or other resources.
- Adopt and follow an official policy: Developing and enforcing anti-discrimination policies that clearly state the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is the first step to creating a safe workplace. Erica refers to the policy and takes immediate action accordingly, including a thorough investigation.
- Reiterating commitment and goals: Providing diversity and inclusion training to all team members to help them understand the impact of discrimination and how to prevent it is essential to create a safe workplace. Erica ensures that the team members are aware of the provisions, the DEI goals set by the organization, and
- Connect with the team: Andrew starts by conducting one-on-one meetings with team members to understand their personal and professional goals, challenges, and strengths. Observing team dynamics and identifying any issues or obstacles hindering motivation and productivity also helps.
- Involving team members in the process: Seeking feedback from team members on what motivates them and what they want to see from their manager to feel more inspired.
- Enabling and empowering: Offering opportunities for growth and development, such as training, mentoring, or leadership roles, helped Andrew contribute to his team’s development.
- Take help from Merlin: Andrew reached out to Merlin, the AI chatbot of Risely, to get tips whenever he got stuck. Merlin sought details about his issues and shared some tips to help out Andrew. Here is what it looked like:
- Develop a problem-solving process: To get problem-solving right for multiple scenarios repeatedly, the key is to remember and set a problem-solving approach that works across the board. A wide-ranged problem-solving process that begins with identification and concludes at the resolution helps managers navigate various challenges the profession throws us.
- Learn to identify problems: The key to solving problems is placing them at the right moment. If you let some problems pester for long, they can become more significant issues for the teams. Hence, building the understanding to identify issues is essential for managers.
- Think from multiple perspectives: As a problem-solver, you must care for various parties and stakeholders. Thus, thinking from numerous perspectives and considering ideas from a broad spectrum of people is a core skill.
- Consistently work on skills: Like other managerial skills, problem-solving skills need constant practice and review. Over time, your skills can become more robust with the help of assessments and toolkits. Tools like Risely can help you with resources and constant guidance to overcome managerial challenges. Check out Risely today to start reaching your true potential.
How well do you perform in different problem-solving scenarios?
Learn more about your problem-solving skills with the help of a free assessment now.
What are some problem-solving scenarios?
What are problem scenarios, what is one example of problem-solving.
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What Are Soft Skills? 12 Examples to Benefit You Personally & Professionally
Soft skills, often referred to as “interpersonal skills” or “people skills,” are the attributes, behaviors and qualities that help you interact with others more effectively in the workplace. These skills assist you in becoming more confident, competent, better acknowledged and even more liked within your professional environment. Developing these soft skills examples as a growth challenge will do more than accelerate your career. It will pave the way to lasting professional success and personal empowerment.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are distinct from technical or hard skills . Hard skills include core competencies in your field such as programming, graphic design or accounting. These skills are often learned in college, trade schools or job training. Soft skills, on the other hand, provide distinct personal value through your ability to communicate effectively and contribute as a team player. Collectively, these skills play a pivotal role in professional development and your future success.
Examples of soft skills encompass a wide range of abilities, including communication, empathy, adaptability, problem-solving, leadership and teamwork. Traits such as punctuality and emotional resilience also play a role in soft skills. Combined, they shape how you navigate professional environments and interact with colleagues, employers, clients and stakeholders. By developing these skills, others will find you more dependable and valuable for your work ethic.
The benefits of developing soft skills
As an aspect of personal development , soft skills become increasingly important throughout your career. For example, as an entry-level IT professional, you will need to possess the hard skills required for application maintenance, data storage and digital infrastructure. But to advance within the IT department, you must possess the interpersonal skills required to build co-worker confidence and lead a diverse team.
Likewise, soft skills contribute significantly to a positive work culture by fostering an inclusive environment where employees collaborate harmoniously, resolve conflicts efficiently and adapt with resilience amid dynamic circumstances. Ultimately, soft skills lay the foundation for productive teamwork, exemplary leadership and career advancement. As such, they play a critical role in any professional growth strategy.
What are some examples of soft skills?
To better understand the wide range of professional development opportunities, consider these 12 soft skill examples.
1. Emotional intelligence
Growth in emotional intelligence or EQ enables individuals to recognize, understand and manage their own emotions effectively, which leads to better self-regulation and reduced stress. The broadest and most complex among our soft skills examples, emotional intelligence includes personal attributes such as self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills and personal motivation. To better understand your own emotional intelligence, consider taking an online EQ test .
Empathy allows you to better understand and connect with others at a more personal level. It involves recognizing the feelings of employers, subordinates and colleagues, which can improve teamwork and streamline conflict resolution. For example, a manager who listens attentively to a subordinate’s personal challenges while imagining themselves in a similar situation shows empathy.
Effective communication is crucial for conveying ideas, resolving issues and building relationships within a department, across teams and with clients. Clear and active listening as well as careful and measured expression are key components of communication. For instance, a salesperson’s ability to communicate persuasively can lead to more successful client negotiations.
In a rapidly changing world, adaptability allows you to embrace emerging challenges as fresh opportunities for growth. A crucial component in developing a growth mindset , adaptability allows you to transition more effectively amid change. For instance, an adaptable employee will embrace the benefits of a new software system rather than focusing exclusively on faults.
Problem-solving skills enable individuals to analyze complex issues, identify solutions, and make informed decisions for resolution. These skills are equally valuable to adaptability but include the added benefit of figuring out a way to overcome a challenge. For example, a project manager might use the soft skill of problem-solving to resolve unexpected issues during a project’s execution.
Creativity fosters innovation and novel ideas, essential to staying ahead as new technologies and markets emerge. As a creative thinker, you can resolve an issue through problem-solving, but you can also find more efficient means to that end. Unlocking your creativity requires a careful balance of skills that include critical thinking, open-mindedness and a willingness to take risks.
7. Stress management
Managing stress is crucial for maintaining mental and physical well-being. It includes tactics that help you remain focused and motivated during critical times while preventing burnout. Examples of this soft skill may include building morning routines, evening routines or daily meditation.
Resilience helps individuals bounce back from setbacks and maintain a positive attitude despite challenges. This skill is crucial for maintaining mental health well-being. An entrepreneur facing business setbacks may rely on resilience to persevere and eventually succeed.
9. Conflict resolution
Conflict resolution skills allow you to manage disagreements and assist in reaching mutually beneficial solutions. They enhance team cohesion and reduce workplace drama. This skill can also assist with client disputes. For example, a customer service associate can use the soft skills of communication, empathy and creative problem-solving skills to resolve a client complaint while increasing customer loyalty.
10. Cultural sensitivity
In a globalized world, cultural sensitivity is critical for respecting diverse perspectives and fostering inclusivity. Once the domain of international sales and trade, this skill is now essential within any team or organization. For instance, an HR manager needs to remain vigilant of internal or unconscious biases to promote a diverse workplace.
11. Time management
Efficiently managing time helps individuals prioritize tasks, meet deadlines and reduce stress. Proven time management strategies not only help you get your work done on time without stressing the rest of your team, but they also free more personal time for you to enjoy better work-life balance. For instance, advanced organization, prioritization and personal discipline skills can assist you in obtaining your degree while holding a full-time job.
Skills in effective communication, adaptability, problem-solving, cultural sensitivity and other soft skills do not exist in isolation. They merge within you, making you a stronger, more versatile and more influential leader. By growing and developing each of these traits, you will not only get on the radar for company advancement. You will be better prepared to embrace a leadership role with the full support of your team.
Photo by Rido/Shutterstock.com
Bryan enjoys the digital space where arts and technology meet. As a writer, he has worked in education, health and wellbeing, and manufacturing. He also assists smaller businesses in web development including accessibility and content development. In his free time, he hikes trails in central Florida.
- Bryan Lindenberger https://www.success.com/author/bryan-lindenberger/ How to Craft Your Professional Development Plan in Just 5 Steps
- Bryan Lindenberger https://www.success.com/author/bryan-lindenberger/ How to Establish Professional Development Goals to Help Build Your Dream Career
- Bryan Lindenberger https://www.success.com/author/bryan-lindenberger/ What Is Professional Development? We Unpack the Essentials
- Bryan Lindenberger https://www.success.com/author/bryan-lindenberger/ Maximize Your Potential With a Personal Development Plan
- Bryan Lindenberger https://www.success.com/author/bryan-lindenberger/ Meeting Your True Potential: What Is Personal Development?
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How to Be a More Creative Problem-Solver at Work: 8 Tips
- 01 Mar 2022
The importance of creativity in the workplace—particularly when problem-solving—is undeniable. Business leaders can’t approach new problems with old solutions and expect the same result.
This is where innovation-based processes need to guide problem-solving. Here’s an overview of what creative problem-solving is, along with tips on how to use it in conjunction with design thinking.
What Is Creative Problem-Solving?
Encountering problems with no clear cause can be frustrating. This occurs when there’s disagreement around a defined problem or research yields unclear results. In such situations, creative problem-solving helps develop solutions, despite a lack of clarity.
While creative problem-solving is less structured than other forms of innovation, it encourages exploring open-ended ideas and shifting perspectives—thereby fostering innovation and easier adaptation in the workplace. It also works best when paired with other innovation-based processes, such as design thinking .
Creative Problem-Solving and Design Thinking
Design thinking is a solutions-based mentality that encourages innovation and problem-solving. It’s guided by an iterative process that Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar outlines in four stages in the online course Design Thinking and Innovation :
- Clarify: This stage involves researching a problem through empathic observation and insights.
- Ideate: This stage focuses on generating ideas and asking open-ended questions based on observations made during the clarification stage.
- Develop: The development stage involves exploring possible solutions based on the ideas you generate. Experimentation and prototyping are both encouraged.
- Implement: The final stage is a culmination of the previous three. It involves finalizing a solution’s development and communicating its value to stakeholders.
Although user research is an essential first step in the design thinking process, there are times when it can’t identify a problem’s root cause. Creative problem-solving addresses this challenge by promoting the development of new perspectives.
Leveraging tools like design thinking and creativity at work can further your problem-solving abilities. Here are eight tips for doing so.
8 Creative Problem-Solving Tips
1. empathize with your audience.
A fundamental practice of design thinking’s clarify stage is empathy. Understanding your target audience can help you find creative and relevant solutions for their pain points through observing them and asking questions.
Practice empathy by paying attention to others’ needs and avoiding personal comparisons. The more you understand your audience, the more effective your solutions will be.
2. Reframe Problems as Questions
If a problem is difficult to define, reframe it as a question rather than a statement. For example, instead of saying, "The problem is," try framing around a question like, "How might we?" Think creatively by shifting your focus from the problem to potential solutions.
Consider this hypothetical case study: You’re the owner of a local coffee shop trying to fill your tip jar. Approaching the situation with a problem-focused mindset frames this as: "We need to find a way to get customers to tip more." If you reframe this as a question, however, you can explore: "How might we make it easier for customers to tip?" When you shift your focus from the shop to the customer, you empathize with your audience. You can take this train of thought one step further and consider questions such as: "How might we provide a tipping method for customers who don't carry cash?"
Whether you work at a coffee shop, a startup, or a Fortune 500 company, reframing can help surface creative solutions to problems that are difficult to define.
3. Defer Judgment of Ideas
If you encounter an idea that seems outlandish or unreasonable, a natural response would be to reject it. This instant judgment impedes creativity. Even if ideas seem implausible, they can play a huge part in ideation. It's important to permit the exploration of original ideas.
While judgment can be perceived as negative, it’s crucial to avoid accepting ideas too quickly. If you love an idea, don’t immediately pursue it. Give equal consideration to each proposal and build on different concepts instead of acting on them immediately.
4. Overcome Cognitive Fixedness
Cognitive fixedness is a state of mind that prevents you from recognizing a situation’s alternative solutions or interpretations instead of considering every situation through the lens of past experiences.
Although it's efficient in the short-term, cognitive fixedness interferes with creative thinking because it prevents you from approaching situations unbiased. It's important to be aware of this tendency so you can avoid it.
5. Balance Divergent and Convergent Thinking
One of the key principles of creative problem-solving is the balance of divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking is the process of brainstorming multiple ideas without limitation; open-ended creativity is encouraged. It’s an effective tool for generating ideas, but not every idea can be explored. Divergent thinking eventually needs to be grounded in reality.
Convergent thinking, on the other hand, is the process of narrowing ideas down into a few options. While converging ideas too quickly stifles creativity, it’s an important step that bridges the gap between ideation and development. It's important to strike a healthy balance between both to allow for the ideation and exploration of creative ideas.
6. Use Creative Tools
Using creative tools is another way to foster innovation. Without a clear cause for a problem, such tools can help you avoid cognitive fixedness and abrupt decision-making. Here are several examples:
Creating a problem story requires identifying undesired phenomena (UDP) and taking note of events that precede and result from them. The goal is to reframe the situations to visualize their cause and effect.
To start, identify a UDP. Then, discover what events led to it. Observe and ask questions of your consumer base to determine the UDP’s cause.
Next, identify why the UDP is a problem. What effect does the UDP have that necessitates changing the status quo? It's helpful to visualize each event in boxes adjacent to one another when answering such questions.
The problem story can be extended in either direction, as long as there are additional cause-and-effect relationships. Once complete, focus on breaking the chains connecting two subsequent events by disrupting the cause-and-effect relationship between them.
The alternate worlds tool encourages you to consider how people from different backgrounds would approach similar situations. For instance, how would someone in hospitality versus manufacturing approach the same problem? This tool isn't intended to instantly solve problems but, rather, to encourage idea generation and creativity.
7. Use Positive Language
It's vital to maintain a positive mindset when problem-solving and avoid negative words that interfere with creativity. Positive language prevents quick judgments and overcomes cognitive fixedness. Instead of "no, but," use words like "yes, and."
Positive language makes others feel heard and valued rather than shut down. This practice doesn’t necessitate agreeing with every idea but instead approaching each from a positive perspective.
Using “yes, and” as a tool for further idea exploration is also effective. If someone presents an idea, build upon it using “yes, and.” What additional features could improve it? How could it benefit consumers beyond its intended purpose?
While it may not seem essential, this small adjustment can make a big difference in encouraging creativity.
8. Practice Design Thinking
Practicing design thinking can make you a more creative problem-solver. While commonly associated with the workplace, adopting a design thinking mentality can also improve your everyday life. Here are several ways you can practice design thinking:
- Learn from others: There are many examples of design thinking in business . Review case studies to learn from others’ successes, research problems companies haven't addressed, and consider alternative solutions using the design thinking process.
- Approach everyday problems with a design thinking mentality: One of the best ways to practice design thinking is to apply it to your daily life. Approach everyday problems using design thinking’s four-stage framework to uncover what solutions it yields.
- Study design thinking: While learning design thinking independently is a great place to start, taking an online course can offer more insight and practical experience. The right course can teach you important skills , increase your marketability, and provide valuable networking opportunities.
Ready to Become a Creative Problem-Solver?
Though creativity comes naturally to some, it's an acquired skill for many. Regardless of which category you're in, improving your ability to innovate is a valuable endeavor. Whether you want to bolster your creativity or expand your professional skill set, taking an innovation-based course can enhance your problem-solving.
If you're ready to become a more creative problem-solver, explore Design Thinking and Innovation , one of our online entrepreneurship and innovation courses . If you aren't sure which course is the right fit, download our free course flowchart to determine which best aligns with your goals.
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Turn your team into skilled problem solvers with these problem-solving strategies
Picture this, you're handling your daily tasks at work and your boss calls you in and says, "We have a problem."
Unfortunately, we don't live in a world in which problems are instantly resolved with the snap of our fingers. Knowing how to effectively solve problems is an important professional skill to hone. If you have a problem that needs to be solved, what is the right process to use to ensure you get the most effective solution?
In this article we'll break down the problem-solving process and how you can find the most effective solutions for complex problems.
What is problem solving?
Problem solving is the process of finding a resolution for a specific issue or conflict. There are many possible solutions for solving a problem, which is why it's important to go through a problem-solving process to find the best solution. You could use a flathead screwdriver to unscrew a Phillips head screw, but there is a better tool for the situation. Utilizing common problem-solving techniques helps you find the best solution to fit the needs of the specific situation, much like using the right tools.
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4 steps to better problem solving
While it might be tempting to dive into a problem head first, take the time to move step by step. Here’s how you can effectively break down the problem-solving process with your team:
1. Identify the problem that needs to be solved
One of the easiest ways to identify a problem is to ask questions. A good place to start is to ask journalistic questions, like:
Who : Who is involved with this problem? Who caused the problem? Who is most affected by this issue?
What: What is happening? What is the extent of the issue? What does this problem prevent from moving forward?
Where: Where did this problem take place? Does this problem affect anything else in the immediate area?
When: When did this problem happen? When does this problem take effect? Is this an urgent issue that needs to be solved within a certain timeframe?
Why: Why is it happening? Why does it impact workflows?
How: How did this problem occur? How is it affecting workflows and team members from being productive?
Asking journalistic questions can help you define a strong problem statement so you can highlight the current situation objectively, and create a plan around that situation.
Here’s an example of how a design team uses journalistic questions to identify their problem:
Overarching problem: Design requests are being missed
Who: Design team, digital marketing team, web development team
What: Design requests are forgotten, lost, or being created ad hoc.
Where: Email requests, design request spreadsheet
When: Missed requests on January 20th, January 31st, February 4th, February 6th
How : Email request was lost in inbox and the intake spreadsheet was not updated correctly. The digital marketing team had to delay launching ads for a few days while design requests were bottlenecked. Designers had to work extra hours to ensure all requests were completed.
In this example, there are many different aspects of this problem that can be solved. Using journalistic questions can help you identify different issues and who you should involve in the process.
2. Brainstorm multiple solutions
If at all possible, bring in a facilitator who doesn't have a major stake in the solution. Bringing an individual who has little-to-no stake in the matter can help keep your team on track and encourage good problem-solving skills.
Here are a few brainstorming techniques to encourage creative thinking:
Brainstorm alone before hand: Before you come together as a group, provide some context to your team on what exactly the issue is that you're brainstorming. This will give time for you and your teammates to have some ideas ready by the time you meet.
Say yes to everything (at first): When you first start brainstorming, don't say no to any ideas just yet—try to get as many ideas down as possible. Having as many ideas as possible ensures that you’ll get a variety of solutions. Save the trimming for the next step of the strategy.
Talk to team members one-on-one: Some people may be less comfortable sharing their ideas in a group setting. Discuss the issue with team members individually and encourage them to share their opinions without restrictions—you might find some more detailed insights than originally anticipated.
Break out of your routine: If you're used to brainstorming in a conference room or over Zoom calls, do something a little different! Take your brainstorming meeting to a coffee shop or have your Zoom call while you're taking a walk. Getting out of your routine can force your brain out of its usual rut and increase critical thinking.
3. Define the solution
After you brainstorm with team members to get their unique perspectives on a scenario, it's time to look at the different strategies and decide which option is the best solution for the problem at hand. When defining the solution, consider these main two questions: What is the desired outcome of this solution and who stands to benefit from this solution?
Set a deadline for when this decision needs to be made and update stakeholders accordingly. Sometimes there's too many people who need to make a decision. Use your best judgement based on the limitations provided to do great things fast.
4. Implement the solution
To implement your solution, start by working with the individuals who are as closest to the problem. This can help those most affected by the problem get unblocked. Then move farther out to those who are less affected, and so on and so forth. Some solutions are simple enough that you don’t need to work through multiple teams.
After you prioritize implementation with the right teams, assign out the ongoing work that needs to be completed by the rest of the team. This can prevent people from becoming overburdened during the implementation plan . Once your solution is in place, schedule check-ins to see how the solution is working and course-correct if necessary.
Implement common problem-solving strategies
There are a few ways to go about identifying problems (and solutions). Here are some strategies you can try, as well as common ways to apply them:
Trial and error
Trial and error problem solving doesn't usually require a whole team of people to solve. To use trial and error problem solving, identify the cause of the problem, and then rapidly test possible solutions to see if anything changes.
This problem-solving method is often used in tech support teams through troubleshooting.
The 5 whys problem-solving method helps get to the root cause of an issue. You start by asking once, “Why did this issue happen?” After answering the first why, ask again, “Why did that happen?” You'll do this five times until you can attribute the problem to a root cause.
This technique can help you dig in and find the human error that caused something to go wrong. More importantly, it also helps you and your team develop an actionable plan so that you can prevent the issue from happening again.
Here’s an example:
Problem: The email marketing campaign was accidentally sent to the wrong audience.
“Why did this happen?” Because the audience name was not updated in our email platform.
“Why were the audience names not changed?” Because the audience segment was not renamed after editing.
“Why was the audience segment not renamed?” Because everybody has an individual way of creating an audience segment.
“Why does everybody have an individual way of creating an audience segment?” Because there is no standardized process for creating audience segments.
“Why is there no standardized process for creating audience segments?” Because the team hasn't decided on a way to standardize the process as the team introduced new members.
In this example, we can see a few areas that could be optimized to prevent this mistake from happening again. When working through these questions, make sure that everyone who was involved in the situation is present so that you can co-create next steps to avoid the same problem.
A SWOT analysis
A SWOT analysis can help you highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a specific solution. SWOT stands for:
Strength: Why is this specific solution a good fit for this problem?
Weaknesses: What are the weak points of this solution? Is there anything that you can do to strengthen those weaknesses?
Opportunities: What other benefits could arise from implementing this solution?
Threats: Is there anything about this decision that can detrimentally impact your team?
As you identify specific solutions, you can highlight the different strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each solution.
This particular problem-solving strategy is good to use when you're narrowing down the answers and need to compare and contrast the differences between different solutions.
Even more successful problem solving
After you’ve worked through a tough problem, don't forget to celebrate how far you've come. Not only is this important for your team of problem solvers to see their work in action, but this can also help you become a more efficient, effective , and flexible team. The more problems you tackle together, the more you’ll achieve.
Looking for a tool to help solve problems on your team? Track project implementation with a work management tool like Asana .
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Problem-Solving Skills: 5 Ways to Evaluate Them When Hiring
Knowing how to hire employees with strong problem-solving skills can make all the difference in becoming the next Netflix – or Blockbuster.
Because every role, from the penthouse corner office to the high street, involves a degree of problem-solving. Whether managing a team, developing a web page, or resolving a customer complaint, what matters is how people deal with the problems they face .
To ensure your company is prepared to tackle even the most challenging situations, we’ll first look at what problem solving skills are, using some real-life applications, before walking you through 5 of the best ways to test for them.
TL;DR – Key Takeaways
- Problem-solving skills encompass all the skills that employees use in the workplace to analyze problems and come up with solutions .
- Examples of typical problem-solving skills include good communication skills , active listening skills, decision-making skills, analytical skills, creativity, and collaboration.
- Different problem-solving skills are required from a manager compared to an individual contributor, so hiring managers should look for different competencies according to the seniority of the role.
- There are several ways to assess a candidate’s problem-solving skills when hiring, such as asking behavioral interview questions, running assessment tests or job simulations , conducting reference checks, and asking cultural fit questions.
- Toggl Hire has an impressive library of customizable skills tests and homework assignments that hiring managers can plug into their hiring pipeline to help identify the best problem-solvers right from the start.
What are problem-solving skills?
“Problem solving skills” refers to someone’s ability to identify problems , analyze possible solutions , and think through the steps required to solve those problems. For example, an HR specialist faced with the problem of filling a new position might first analyze whether it would be best filled internally or externally before posting a job description .
Problem solving skills are critical for every possible industry, role, and level of seniority, because at the bottom of each job is solving some type of problem.
Examples of typical problems in the workplace include:
- Finding out the reason behind increased customer complaints
- Improving the efficiency of outbound cold calls for your sales team
- Overhauling a landing page so that it drives more people to subscribe to a software
As you can see, every possible role that exists requires people to solve problems effectively.
What skills make up the problem-solving competency?
“Problem solving skills” is an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of different skills . Here are some examples of typical problem solving abilities that an employee may need for any given role:
- Communication skills
- Decision-making skills
- Research skills
- Analytical skills
- Active listening skills
Not all of them are necessary for every role, but these examples of hard and soft skills are a great starting point if you’re putting together a job description for your next role.
Problem-solving skills examples at different levels
In addition to the variety of skills that fall under the term “problem-solving”, there are also different competency levels of problem-solving.
Just like the difference between hiring an intern , a manager , and a director, choosing the right level of problem-solving competency will depend on the role you’re hiring for.
To explain this further, let’s dig into the 3 basic levels of problem-solving skills.
Entry-level problem-solving skills
A candidate with entry-level problem-solving skills is capable of identifying what the problem is and considering the potential solution. However, they struggle to move beyond this point. These types of skills are suitable if you’re looking to hire for a junior position.
Intermediate-level problem-solving skills
At an intermediate level, the candidate not only identifies problems and finds potential solutions for them, but also uses different types of problem-solving skills and strategies to tackle them from different angles.
However, for more complex problems, they might struggle to implement the solution and will look for assistance from other team members.
Expert-level problem-solving skills
At an expert level, a candidate is capable of solving problems from beginning to end . They are skilled in different problem-solving strategies, including how to gather and analyze relevant information. They are able to see creative solutions where others do not and can anticipate potential obstacles before they happen.
Why are problem-solving skills so important at work?
The modern workplace is full of problems that need solving. Solution-focused employees are a valuable asset to any company in any possible role. They help your company save money , keep customers happy , and inspire colleagues by coming up with new ways to solve old problems .
Employers like to see good problem-solving skills because it also helps to show them you have a range of other competencies such as logic, creativity, resilience, imagination, lateral thinking, and determination.
Here are some of the benefits amazing problem solvers bring to an organization and those around them:
Problem-Solvers Work Well Under Pressure
When a problem arises, it needs to be fixed quickly. Employees with amazing problem-solving skills roll with the punches and tight deadlines to deliver when it matters.
To do this, expert problem-solvers react quickly to short-term situations while thinking proactively about future problems. That ability to act fast and effectively exuberates confidence, creating a sense of calm across the wider team.
They Create Amazing New Ideas
Problem-solving and creative thinking go hand-in-hand. The best problem-solvers don’t just put bandaids over an issue, they fix them in a dynamic, value-adding way.
Exciting, out-of-the-box thinking isn’t just good in the moment but creates an exciting, innovative culture across the organization. That helps organizations stay ahead of the curve and attracts other expert problem-solvers to join the organization, improving the workforce’s capability over time.
Problems Create Risk, and Problem-Solvers Fix Problems
From an organizational perspective, problems create risk. Even if a business process is slightly off-kilter, it can become a much greater issue.
Problem-solvers help organizations reduce risk in the moment while mitigating future risks before they even occur. That helps everyone sleep sounder at night and also removes financial liability from the C-suite.
Problem-Solvers Beat The Competition
Ultimately, excellent problem-solvers help organizations stay ahead of their competition. Whether through creative ideas, faster outputs, or reduced risk, organizations with awesome problem solvers deliver better products and services to their clients.
As we all know, it’s the people that make an organization great, and problem-solvers are some of the best people out there!
Next, let’s take a closer look at how problem-solving skills may differ between individual contributors and managers.
Example of using problem-solving skills in the workplace: manager vs individual contributor
While their approaches may differ, both the manager and the individual contributor go through the same stages of the problem-solving process.
Managers look at the broader perspective of solving a problem and the different ways of coordinating their team and the organization. Their focus is the long-term success of their team and the company.
The individual contributor, on the other hand, is more concerned with individual tasks and technical problems, as well as instant solutions to a problem at hand.
Both sides of the coin are important if you want to succeed at problem solving in the long run and thrive as a team and as a company.
Step 1 – Problem definition
Quick example – A Sales Exec goes to their manager with a problem – they’re struggling to hit their sales target. The Sales Manager sits down with them to understand the situation, where they are with their sales, and the gap to the target.
Step 2 – Problem analysis
Quick example – The Sales Manager goes away and gathers some information about the Sales Exec. They look at their CRM notes, speak with other team members, and shadow the Sales Exec on the job.
Step 3 – Generating the possible solutions
Quick example – The Sales Manager comes up with some solutions to help their Sales Exec. Options on the table include additional training, a structured work plan, and re-prioritizing their workload.
Step 4 – Implementing the best solution(s)
Quick example – The Sales Manager lays out the next steps with the Sales Exec, explaining the proposed solutions. The Sales Exec will do some re-training on the sales process and will re-prioritize their workload to focus on particular, high-value customers.
5 Ways to Evaluate Problem-Solving Skills When Hiring
There are many practical ways to evaluate how people solve problems during the hiring process. Depending on your needs, you can use one, more, or all of these in combination.
#1 – Behavioral interview questions
These are questions you ask candidates to find out how they solved problems in the past and behaved in a certain situation. Here are some examples:
- How do you handle setbacks at work?
- A customer came back to you with a complaint and the fault is on your company’s end. How do you resolve the issue?
- Your employees have a conflict and you need to resolve it without taking sides. How do you go about this?
- You have a certain timeframe to complete a complex task. How do you prioritize the work to ensure you meet the deadline and not burn out?
You can use the STAR method to assess how they solve problems in specific situations:
S – Situation: how well did they explain the situation they faced?
T – Task: what was the task they had to complete in that situation?
A – Action: did they clearly show the action they took to resolve the problem?
R – Result: how did they explain the result, and measure success?
With the right set of questions and the application of the STAR method, you can see if your candidates have good problem solving skills or not. However, this method is not 100% reliable as your candidates could be less than honest in their responses, which brings us to the other methods.
#2 – Job simulation exercises
Instead of asking candidates to think of past experiences, you can put them in a real-life situation to judge how they think and react in real time. And see for yourself how analytical, creative, and competent they are. The best way to do this is with a simulation exercise .
Note that these job simulation tasks only resemble what the candidate will be doing in their job but shouldn’t include real data or customers to protect your business.
One such example is our Homework assessments . Designed as an assessment tool for hiring managers, Homework assessments offer 500 pre-built tasks you can give to potential candidates before inviting them for an interview or extending an offer.
Candidates can do these tasks on their own and in their free time. In our library, you can choose from a variety of tasks where candidates can show off their analytical skills and proficiency in solving problems.
Once they’re done, you can review the tasks and create shared notes for your entire team to review. Just like that, you’re one step closer to making a more confident hiring decision, and your candidates can practice solving problems without causing risks for your ongoing work.
#3 – Assessment tools
Putting candidates in different situations is a solid way to find out more about their problem solving skills. However, another fantastic way to see how they solve problems is by using skills assessment tools .
Tools like Toggl Hire allow you to create pre-employment tests often used in the first step of the hiring process. That way, you can tell early on how good someone is at solving problems and whether they have the key skills to meet the requirements for the job .
In our problem-solving skills test, we test for four crucial skills:
- Problem solving
- Innovative thinking
- Logical reasoning
- Decision making
Problem solving assessment template
The assessment takes only 15 minutes , making it a great alternative to submitting a resume and cover letter. Applicants love Toggl Hire because they get feedback rapidly, and know within minutes of completing the test if they are a good fit for the role. [ Grab the template here ]
#4 – References and past performance
Reference checking is a simple but effective way to evaluate the skills of potential candidates. To understand if someone has the right problem-solving skills for the job, simply ring up their past employers and ask!
The more specific your questions, the better. Ask about objectives and goals that they completed that stand out during their time with the company. Moreover, you need to make sure that they have a pattern in their performance. In other words, were they consistent in finding new ways to solve problems and tackle complex issues?
A word of caution.
References are not always reliable. Past employers may refuse to comment on an employee’s performance, or they could be forbidden from doing so by their contracts. Sometimes, you may be unable to get ahold of the point of contact. Other times, their feedback can be overly positive.
This is why it’s important to consider other possible solutions for assessing problem solving skills in combination with reference checks.
#5 – Cultural fit
When you have all of this information in one place, it’s time to find the last piece of the puzzle. In other words, to see if the way a candidate solves problems aligns with your values and company culture.
For example, you may have a customer who has a problem with their account and wants a full subscription refund. One approach to problem-solving, in this case, would be to give the full refund because the customer is right – no matter what.
On the other hand, someone else might try and talk to the customer and get them to stay. You can come up with different problem solving skills examples to inquire about during the interview stage.
The candidate should be able not just to solve problems, but also do it in a way that matches your company culture .
Employees with great problem-solving skills will always be in demand, no matter the profession or seniority level. However, testing for those skills can present a challenge for recruiters.
With the right tools, problem solving interview questions , and reference checks, you can determine if a candidate is a good problem solver or not.
If you need a bit more guidance on how to test for problem solving skills, try a ready-made Toggl Hire skills test to quickly screen candidates and determine who will continue to the job interview.
Juste loves investigating through writing. A copywriter by trade, she spent the last ten years in startups, telling stories and building marketing teams. She works at Toggl Hire and writes about how businesses can recruit really great people.
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How to improve your problem-solving at work: skills, models and examples
Highly valued by employers, problem-solving is needed in just about any line of work. We’ll show you how to step up your ability to take on workplace challenges below…
Whether you’re a seasoned manager or in a junior role, you’re bound to encounter challenges that need tackling head on during your week. And when it comes to overcoming them, fine-tuned, well-honed problem-solving skills are the way to do it.
If your problem-solving has been off in the past, then it can be difficult to take a step back before you act. Luckily, problem-solving is a skill to be learned like any other.
To help you get to grips with this valued skill, we’ll define problem-solving in detail, show you why it matters, and offer some pointers for improving your problem-solving skills.
What are problem-solving skills?
Problem-solving skills let us take on issues without resorting to hasty decisions and snap judgements. They’re what allow us to better understand the challenges before us so we can come up with solutions for dealing with them.
Depending on what the problem is, such skills may call on things like active listening , teamwork, creative thinking or mathematical analysis. Whatever you use to reach a solution, problem-solving is a valuable soft skill that most employers will look for in potential employees.
Why are problem-solving skills important?
Problem-solvers are equipped to take on what comes their way. When they have the right tools at their disposal, they’re in a better position to observe the issue, judge it accordingly, and act in the most effective way. And through experience, these skills become more refined and precise, allowing them to take on tougher problems.
So, why else are they important? Let’s look at what else problem-solving can add to an employee’s skillset…
Greater time management skills
When you know how to approach a problem, greater time management skills tend to come naturally. Because you can balance your time more efficiently, your ability to weigh up your options becomes more precise and considered, allowing you to make less hasty decisions that could make a problem worse.
More creative thinking
Those with strong problem-solving skills can always see the opportunity in a challenge. By tackling problems with innovative solutions, you might find that the result is stronger than you expect.
Improved performance under pressure
When deadlines loom or change is on the horizon, a lack of problem-solving skills could be what leads to poor or half-baked solutions. Because they’re naturally geared towards dealing with the unknown and the unexpected, problem-solvers are less inclined to feel pressure when it arises.
Greater addressing of risk
As well as the ability to deal with the issue itself, problem-solvers are well-equipped to address problems that could spring up later down the line based on trends, patterns and current events . This allows them to possess a degree of control over the future.
How to improve your problem-solving skills
So, how can you improve your ability to solve problems in the workplace? The following tips can help give you an edge whatever your position in a company may be.
Look for opportunities to solve problems
If you’re not used to taking them on, it can be easy to sit back and let someone else deal with problems. Instead of shying away from them, put yourself in situations where problems can arise.
We don’t mean deliberately making mistakes here, but taking on more duties in your current role, with another team or outside your organisation can help familiarise you with the kind of problems that can occur and ways to deal with them.
Observe how others solve problems
By shadowing your colleagues, you can learn problem-solving techniques and put them into practice yourself. Ask a colleague if you can observe their strategy, or schedule in a one-to-one to ask about how they take on problems.
Familiarise yourself with practice problems
There’s a wealth of resources in print and online that you can use to improve your problem-solving skills. These materials offer all sorts of scenarios to put your abilities to the test, unearthing skills you didn’t know you had.
An example problem-solving model
There are several problem-solving models out there, but typically, they follow the broad steps below.
1. Define the problem
Take a step back and analyse the situation. Are there multiple problems? What is causing them? How do these problems affect you and others involved?
Then, drill into the problem by doing the following:
• Separate facts from opinion
• Identify what has caused the problem
• Discuss with team members to gather more information
• Gather relevant data
At this stage, don’t be tempted to come up with a solution. You’re simply trying to find out what the problem is.
2. Identify potential solutions
While you may have only come up with one solution to a problem in the past, brainstorming several alternatives is a better approach. Ask colleagues for their input and get some insights from those with experience of similar problems.
In coming up with alternatives, consider the following:
• Weigh up what might slow down solving the problem
• Ensure your ideas align with goals and objectives
• Identify long and short-term solutions
• Write down the solutions you come up with
3. Evaluate your solutions
Once you have a list of solutions, you need to evaluate them further before acting. What are the positive and negative consequences of each? What resources will you need to carry them out? How much time and, if necessary, who else will you need to put the solution in place?
4. Choose a solution
Your evaluation should clarify which solution best suits the problem. Now it’s time to put that solution into practice.
Before you do, consider:
• Does it solve the problem without creating another?
• Have you reached a group consensus over the solution?
• Is implementing it practical and straightforward?
• Does it fit within company policies and procedures?
5. Put the solution into action
Once you’ve decided on the right solution, it needs to be implemented. Your action plan should include measurable objectives that allow you to monitor its success, as well as timelines and feedback channels your team can use during implementation.
Making sure this plan is communicated to everyone involved will also be key to its success.
6. Assess how effective the solution is
Your work isn’t done just yet! You’ll need to measure how things are progressing to ensure the solution is working as intended. Doing so means you can course-correct should further surprises arise, or else go back to alternative solutions.
How to show problem-solving skills on your CV and at interviews
As we said up top, problem-solving is highly valued by employers, so you’ll want to highlight such abilities on your CV, cover letter and in interviews.
Think back to previous roles for examples of when you used problem-solving skills. It’s not enough to say you’re good at problem-solving; employers will be looking for concrete examples, so be sure to mention them in your cover letter and use bullet points on your CV with specifics.
In interviews, you might be called on to describe times when you encountered problems in previous roles. Here, you should mention the processes you followed to address these issues, the skills you used, and the outcomes achieved.
Likewise, you may be asked hypothetical questions to show how you would solve problems. Base your answers on the steps above, and use the STARR method in conjunction with previous instances of problem-solving to give a detailed yet concise response.
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10 Problem Solving Skills Examples: How To Improve
Problem-solving skills have suitable examples and are inevitable that employers look for in candidates before and after employment. This process has some effective steps, with examples of every possible skill, and how to demonstrate that you have strong problem-solving skills with examples. When employers talk about analytical and problem-solving skills examples, they often mention the ability to work in difficult places and in complex business challenges to handle difficult or unexpected situations.
Companies can both evaluate and reliably depend on people who can solve the solution by dint of problem-solving examples in the workplace.
Problem-solving skills are what you are capable of doing. Although problem-solving skills are valued by employers, they are also very beneficial in relation to relationships and other areas of lifestyle decisions.
Related: Problem Solving Skills – Definitions, Importance, Steps, and Examples
What are problem-solving skills?
A soft skill (a personal strength, in contrast to the difficult skills, learned through education or training), the competence to solve creative and functional problems, yet, employers are among the most valuable qualities of their job applicants. Problem-solving skills have suitable examples and are inevitable that employers look for in candidates before and after employment.
For example, a cable television technician is trying to solve customer problems with weak signals. A teacher needs to determine how to improve the performance of his students in the writing skills test. A store manager might try to reduce the theft of goods. A computer expert may be looking for a way to speed up a slow program.
The problem-solving skills help you to determine the source of the problem and find effective solutions. Although problem-solving is often identified as its own skill, other skills contribute to problem-solving interview questions and answer examples.
Some important problem-solving skills include:
- Active hearing
- Decision was taken
- Form a team
Problem-solving skills are important in each career at each level. As a result, industrial or work-specific technical skills may be needed to solve the effective problem.
For example, a registered nurse needs active listening and communication skills in interacting with patients, but also requires effective technical knowledge about diseases and medicines. In many cases, a nurse will need to know when consulting a doctor for a patient’s treatment as part of the solution.
Problem-solving skills examples
To solve a problem effectively, you probably need to use a few different skills. Here are some problem-solving skills selection criteria answers you can use to solve problems here:
Problem-solving skills have suitable examples and are inevitable that employers look for in candidates before and after employment. When identifying possible solutions, you need to know how to communicate the problem to others.
If you want help, you need to know which communication channels are most appropriate. Once finding solutions, it will be easy to communicate clearly and reduce confusion and implement the solution.
Dependency is one of the most important skills for problem solvers. The problem is solved in a timely manner. Employers can trust both very valuable person to identify and then implement quick and effective solutions.
An essential skill related to research problem-solving. As a troubleshooter, you will be able to identify the cause of the problem and fully understand it.
You can begin to gather more information about an issue by consulting with other team members, collecting more experienced information, giving advice to more experienced colleagues, or acquiring knowledge through online research or curriculum.
The first step to solving the problem is to analyze the situation. Your analytical skills will help you to understand the problem and develop solutions effectively.
You need analytical skills during research to help differentiate between effective and viable solutions. Problem-solving skills have suitable examples and are inevitable that employers look for in candidates before and after employment.
5. Decision making
Finally, you have to decide on the solution to the problems that you solve. At times (and with industry experience), you can be able to make quick decisions and good examples of problem-solving for an interview.
How to show the problem-solving skills
Showing your problem-solving skills in your resume and cover letter can help you understand how Employers can be quick to their team as a part of examples of problem-solving interview questions.
The problem-solving problem for your resume can only be considered if it is particularly relevant to the position you have applied for For example, customer service, engineering, and management positions, with the ability to solve problems, will be good candidates.
Problem-solving skills for resume
In your resume, you can highlight your problem-solving skills in various places: By giving a specific example in the “Skills” section, the “Success” category, troubleshooting solutions in your “Experience” section, and application of life skills and solving the problem in a real-life situation.
In the proficiency section, you can list the key problem-solving skills you have instead of just writing more complicated terms “problem solving”. For example, you can keep certain technical skills with you that will help you solve problems or solve soft skills, such as your research ability or your ability to make decisions.
Remember, stories are powerful. Keep a specific example in mind while you solve a problem. This is useful for your resume but will help you to answer the interview question, “Tell me about the obstruction that you have me.”
Problem Solving Skills for Cover Letter
Your cover letter is also a great opportunity to expand your problem solving skills. Here, you can give a brief example of the time to successfully solve a problem. Otherwise, you can identify a challenge that this potential employer is trying to solve and explain how you can solve a proactive approach to problem solving examples.
For example, if a job posting mentions that the company is looking for someone to help improve its social media presence, you can identify how to help increase awareness of the brand through various social media platforms.
The steps to solve the problem
Now you’ve made a list of possible issues intelligent, your next step is to think of effective solutions for this problem, to mention the skills needed to solve them. Here are some of the most commonly used steps in solving problems, their related skills, and the different career areas where they are used.
1. Analysis of reasons or reasons contributing to unwanted situations
To solve a problem, you must first determine the reason for this. For this, you have to identify and evaluate the data, detach the potential given situations, and identify the main reasons for resolving the problem as a part of demonstrated analytical and problem-solving skills examples.
- Historical analysis
- Reason Analysis
- Process Analysis
- Need identification
- Data collection
- Data analysis
Examples: Determining illness, identifying the causes of social problems, explaining the data to determine the extent of problems, conflicts of marital affidavits, recognition of illegal research models
2. Create a set of alternative interventions to achieve your last goal
Once you are making a problem once, it’s time to come up with possible alternative solutions. Sometimes this involves teamwork, two (or more) minds are often better than one. This is a complex strategy that is the obvious way of solving complex problems; Creating a set of options helps you cover your bases and helps reduce your risk exposure that your first strategy fails.
- Project design
- Project planning
- Creative thinking
Examples: Brainstorming Solutions, Development Treatment Plans, Devising and Testing Hypotheses
3. Best solution evaluation
Depending on the nature of the problem and your discipline, the best solutions can be guided by the evaluated teams, parties, or leadership, or may move forward to big corporate decision-makers.
Anyone who decides on possible costs, necessary resources, and possible breakthroughs to implement successful solutions should be evaluated for effective problem-solving skills in nursing examples.
- Test development
For example: evaluating alternate options to reduce pressure, offering diplomatic solutions in conflict, opting out of employees during business hours, troubleshooting computer goods
4. Implement a plan
Once a decision has been made, it must be applied, with a benchmark that can quickly and accurately determine whether it is working to solve a problem. The implementation of the plan generally involves the workers being careful to change their standard operating system (SOPs).
- Time management
- Benchmark development
- Project management
- Project implementation
For example implementation barrier, implementation solution, interpersonal conflict intermediation, repair of retrofitted equipment, as a part of analytical and problem-solving skills selection criteria answers
5. Evaluate the effectiveness of your intervention
Once the solution is implemented, the best problem-solvent system is to determine how quickly and fast its function is, as well as business problem-solving examples. In this way, they will know whether the problem has been solved as soon as possible, or alternatively, they will know whether their reaction to the medium flow is changed.
- Customer feedback
- Problem solve
For example Surveying End Users, Comparing Production Statistics, YYY Sales Statistics Evaluation
Tips for answering a question about the problem solving interview
You do not have to answer a cookie-cutter. Employers are always interested in people who can think out of the box and present new solutions, especially when older people do not work.
The most important thing is to show your answers to your problem solving skills. If interviews offer a possible problem, share how you would solve it.
When you explain your thinking process, use the steps listed above (from the analysis of the reason for evaluating the effectiveness of your interventions). Or, share an example of the problem you solved in the previous introduction. Explain how and why you solved this problem.
Sample interview answer skills solution skills
Problem solving skills have suitable examples and are inevitable that employers look for in candidates before and after employment and problem-solving skills examples for resume. Here are some examples of how job applicants can describe their problem-solving skills in different occupations:
As a nurse practitioner, my primary responsibility is to use my problem-solving skills to diagnose illnesses and develop treatment plans. With each patient, I can determine whether we can determine whether they can analyze their medical history, their symptoms, and their possible exposure to various diseases, or see immediately if we need blood tests. I then develop a care plan and, if warranted, perform follow-up calls to check the recovery process.
When I first rented as parallel, I inherited a set of 35 backlinks that needed summary summaries, each hundred pages were long. However, at the same time, I had to help in preparing the attorney for three main cases, and there was not enough time just for the day. After explaining the problem to my supervisor, he and the attorney agreed to pay me for the coming Saturday morning to focus on the backlog. I was thus able to extract it in one month.
When I joined Great Graphics as an article director, the designer becomes deficient and unknowable due to being a former director trying to micromanage at every stage of the design process as creative problem-solving examples for interviews.
I used weekly round-table talks to request creative inputs and made sure that every designer was given full autonomy to do their best work. I also introduced the monthly team-based competition that helped build psychology, spread exciting new ideas, and improve cooperation.
Interviews can also provide an example of possible problems and then ask you to outline the steps to address them. To prepare, the problem arising from your case is usually brainstorming.
More problem solving solutions
The list below includes general strategies involved in solving problems. An answer to this problem-solving problem can be useful to include your answers to an interview question.
- Implementation barriers
- Interference Performance Evaluation
- Brainstorming Solutions
- Define the causes of stress effects
- Development Planning Plan
- Devising a classroom management plan to address student abuse
- Devising hypothesis
- Draw a compromise around a set of solutions
- Optional strategy assessment to reduce pressure
- Find Middle Ground
- Flexibility to try new methods
- Identify the reasons for social problems
- Identify the interests of all parties
- Implementation solution
- Explain the information to explain the problem
- Interpersonal conflict intermediation
- Contribution to the marital plight of discretion
- The resolution of diplomatic solutions to settle border disputes
- Recognition of illegal research models
- Recommend ways to improve communication between relationships
- Repair of repair equipment
- A customer complaint solution
- A budget reconstruction after a fiscal short-cut
- Selection of Lay Off staff during a business recession
- Test hypotheses
- Computer Malfunctions Problem Solving
- Verifying the data to correctly identify the problem
The solution to the problem is to be reasonable, to imagine, to create a situation, and to bring an intelligent solution. In fact, the best troubleshooter hopes for possible potential future problems and works to prevent them or reduce their effects.
The problem-solving skills are associated with other skills, including:
- Analytical skills
- Innovative and creative thinking
- A difference mentality
- Adaptation and flexibility
- Layer locks
- Elasticity (for reassessing when your first idea does not work)
- team working (problem-solving is a team effort)
- Skills Impact (get colleagues, clients, and bosses to accept your solution).
Problem detection is often an essential component of the new business or product idea – and, for example, the entrepreneur of solving problems. It is an important element of good leadership.
Why all graduates need skills to solve problems at work
Turn around to find some graduate career solutions – for example, engineering, management consulting, scientific research, and technology as a part of analytical and problem-solving skills selection criteria examples.
Meanwhile, other staff graduates may be expected to resolve their growing times of employment: For example, coach managers should deal with operational problems (such as delays in the supply chain) or resolve conflicts between group members.
In fact, the ability to solve the problem is an essential part of an employee’s skill set, even if it is not specific to the job description.
How will employers evaluate your problem-solving skills?
Your problem-solving skills can be evaluated in three ways: before you ask the examples of time to solve a problem; Present certain imaginary scenarios and how you react to them, And see how many experiments and exercises apply to your problem-solving skills.
Interview questions about skill-based application and problem solving
For example, when you solve the problem of an application form – for example, an engineering company’s application form already includes the question ‘Please tell us a problem when using our technical expertise and knowledge’. But more likely to problem-solving interview questions examples include:
- Give me an example of when you run into a problem in a project. What did you do ?
- Give me an example of a difficult problem to solve outside of your course. How do you communicate it?
- Tell me about the time you work through a problem as a team.
- Have you ever disagreed with the team members? How was it resolved?
- When you see a possible problem, give it an example and it takes steps to become one.
- Give me an example of when you are managing a big crisis.
- Let me give you an example of thinking as well.
Hypothetical interview questions about problem-solving
Interviewers also want to know how to contact you with problems you might encounter at work. Specific interview questions will vary according to work, but the common ones include:
- How would you deal with the conflict at work? (Especially trainer managers and graduate HR professionals can be asked.)
- What to do if you have an unexpected delay due to supply chain issues? (This can be specifically asked in construction, supply, or retail interview).
- What do you do if a client or customer raises a complaint?
- Do you notice if a colleague is fighting with their work?
- How would you react if given a negative reaction by a director of an aspect of your performance?
- How do you judge how you will use your own initiative or ask for help?
Examination for problem-solving and undergraduate work
Various tests that employers can determine skills to solve your problem include:
Online skills, captivating, and power test. These are usually taken part in the application stage, although they can be repeated in an evaluation center. The tests for evaluating your problem-solving skills are situational judgment tests and your reasonable assessment or graphical reasoning tests that evaluate your logic.
Video ‘Immersion Experience’, game-based recruitment practice, or virtual reality assessment. These methods are not yet widely used, but they are becoming more common. They are usually interviewed before facing the interview or evaluation center.
Case study exercises. Work on this general evaluation center. You set a business problem, usually associated with the sector you are working in, and it has been asked to recommend separately or in groups to resolve it. You will usually be asked to outline your proposals in your presentation or written form, a task that will verify your ability to interpret your problem-solving process.
In-tray (or e-tray) exercise. These are always set in an evaluation center but can be part of the online testing phase nowadays. In practice, practice your time management skills initially, but assess your ability to identify a potential problem and take steps to solve it.
Job-specific or task-specific exercises are given in an evaluation center or an interview. If set, it will be related to the role you are implementing, and you will need to fix any issues or fix errors with analytical thinking and problem-solving examples.
For example, for Civil and structural engineering candidates, the answers to the client’s short and-answer questions need to be sketched in a design, and the editorial role can be asked to prove the copies or spot errors in the pages of the candidate’s page (publishing fully designed pages).
How to develop your problem-solving skills and showcase
Here are some tips on how to develop problem-solving strategies for employers.
Find opportunities to get a solution
Dealing with any problems in the following situations will help you to get the problem-solving skills, without even realizing it:
- Sort your technical problem with your phone, device, or computer.
- To solve a dispute with a clever landlord to get your deposit back.
- DIY carry out.
- A claim is to serve the customer or to resolve a complaint.
- Find a way to round a fund shortage to pay for travel or a gap year.
- Turning towards financing or increasing the membership of a struggling student community.
- Organize a student society trip abroad, unexpected difficulties beyond the way.
- A course rep and played as a mentor for other students.
You should also have the opportunity to develop problem-solving skills through your research. In many areas such as engineering and computer science, many hiring has evolved to solve the problem in a clear way, for example, there are no article articles in English literature. However, then, English literary students may also face difficulties in determining educational issues such as the best source elements.
Some professional organizations (for example, to build) compete for students, which often advocate solving problems faced by students of the industry; This can provide good evidence of your problem-solving skills.
Sudoku and chess games can strengthen your ability to think strategically and creatively.
Prior to the recruitment practice
Any candidate, a high-flying affair, can be added to an online exam or an assessment center for the first time, so please do whatever you can to practice beforehand. Free and paid-for-us-access links. Contact your carrier service and book a comedic interview or a mock assessment center.
Remember the solution to this problem
If you are available with a scenario or case study during the graduate recruitment process, you can try using the IDEAL model described in Solver, to Brandford and Stein in their book Ideal Problem Solutions. Break the problem you have to solve in order to solve the problem:
- Mark the problem
- Define the barrier
- Check your options
- Action on an agreed course of action
- See how it is active, and whether you need to make any changes.
Give the details of your answer
Explain how you have identified the problem, solve it, and implement it with examples of problem-solving skills in the workplace.
Quantifiable results are good, and perhaps in more complicated situations, more successful outcomes Qualifications-based interview questions follow the star strategy described in our article.
If you face a problem as part of a team, explain how important your role is to ensure a positive solution, but explain how your group worked together. These may be the opportunity to promote your team working skills as well.
How to Stand Out Your Skills
Highlight your skills in your resume: Your problem-solving skills should show your cover letter, resume, and application materials. Be prepared to discuss phone calls and specific ways of using your skills to solve problems during the interview.
Specify the relevant skills in your cover letter: See the previous roles-whether in academic, work, or volunteer settings-for examples of challenges and for solving your problems while carrying out each function with examples of problem-solving scenarios in the workplace.
You can highlight relevant examples in your cover letter. You can frame bullet points in your resume to show how you can solve the problem.
Be prepared to describe how you can solve the problem: At the time of the interview, the situations that you face in previous roles, to solve the problems, be prepared to describe the procedures you follow, the skills you apply, and the results of your operation. Possible employers are eager to hear a coherent description of the specific ways you’ve used the skills to solve the problem.
How to Improve skills
Dedicated research and solid analytical skills can facilitate those who have less experience in their field. There may be times when a solution may take some time or it can increase the problem to a person who is able to solve the problem.
There are several useful ways you can be able to improve your problem-solving skills. Whether you are looking for a job or working now, improving your problem-solving skills and related skills will help you to support a strong candidate and employee with examples of problem solving interview answers.
Earn more technical knowledge of your case. Depending on your industry, if you have technical knowledge of powerful work, it can be easier to solve the problem. You can make more technical knowledge through additional coursework, training, or practice.
Practice problems While learning to develop your problem-solving skills, practice, and roles may be useful tools to play. You can find solutions to professional practice books and online troubleshooting solutions for your industry. How you can solve that problem and determine whether your potential solutions are effective.
For example, how do you manage customer service such as “How to manage a gross customer?” Or “How do the customers show their reaction?” Can find a scenario like this. When they get to the job, the industry can help them with quick solutions with problem-solving interview answers examples.
Find solutions to the problem by dint of problem-solving examples for performance review.
By putting yourself in new situations, you are more likely to open up opportunities to solve the problem. In your current role, new projects have the opportunity to be volunteers, outside of the workplace for other organizations or outside the organization.
Observe how others solve the problem. The skilled problem solver who can have your colleagues. How those colleagues solve the problem can help you improve your own skills.
If possible, ask one of your more experienced colleagues if you can follow their strategy. Asking relevant questions can be helpful in applying your own career.
1. Participate in Yoga
The highly effective mixture of body consciousness, breathing, and meditation that’s required throughout yoga observe has been proven to considerably increase cognitive take look at scores.
Other outcomes from a University of Illinois research embrace shorter response times, more accuracy, and increased consideration based on problem-solving skills selection criteria example.
2. Play Some Soccer
A link has been discovered between our mind’s “executive functions” and sports activities’ success with problem solving scenario interview questions.
When in motion, our brains are shortly multitasking between shifting, anticipating, strategizing, reacting, and performing. Doing all these items directly requires an unlimited quantity of mental exercise.
This may be associated with our working world once we plan, motivate, monitor our actions, and problem-solve suddenly. Therefore, it could be concluded that if you play soccer or some other fast-moving sport, you’re rewiring your mind to be quicker at considering, processing, and reacting to issues.
3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
More than some other sleeping or awake state, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep straight enhances creative processing within the mind with analytical problem solving skills examples.
REM sleep helps “stimulate associative networks, allowing the brain to make new and useful associations between unrelated ideas” and is “not due to selective memory enhancements” equivalent to reminiscence consolidation, which happens when awake.
4. Eat Some Cheerios
The Cheerios Effect is the name physicists have given to the occasion that occurs when the previous few cheerios in a bowl at all times cling to one another. The explanation for this incidence is floor stress with the help of thinking and problem solving soft skills examples.
The takeaway is that in relation to experiencing stress while attempting to resolve an issue, cling to those around you. Rely on others’ experiences and concepts, even these from totally different professional fields. Draw connections. Brainstorm. Work collectively to get the job carried out.
5. Dance Your Heart Out
Did you recognize that dancing has an optimistic effect on neural processing, probably growing new neural pathways to go around dopamine-depleted blockages within the mind?
This signifies that for those who have interaction in ballet or one other type of structured dance, doing so could facilitate convergent considering. In different phrases, it could assist you to discover a single, applicable reply to an issue examples of problem solving skills in administration.
If you need assistance with divergent considering (discovering a number of solutions to an issue), participating in additional improvised kinds of dance equivalent to hip-hop or faucet would possibly just do the trick.
6. Keep an “Idea Journal” with You
Problem solving with a journal you’ll be capable of shortly filing vital ideas, writing down private experiences, making sketches, and discovering concepts if you hold “Idea Journal” with you always with problem solving selection criteria examples.
Working out issues by sorting your ideas on paper after which viewing them more objectively is less complicated than having all of your ideas caught in your head (and can present higher problem-solving methods).
7. Use Mind Maps to Help Visualize the Problem
Mind Maps, a visible snapshot of an issue and its doable options, can assist focus thoughts, stimulate the brain, improve the capability for creative considering, and generate more concepts for options.
Make a Mind Map by drawing your drawback because of the central concept. Add “main branches” consisting of all the explanations for the issue. Use “sub-branches” to discover further particulars.
Next, make a separate Mind Map of all doable options to the central drawback. Add “main branches” exhibiting all of the ways in which your drawback may be solved, equivalent to colleagues that may assist, methods you may apply, and different assets you need to use.
Add “sub-branches” to additional discover the small print. Make a remaining department with essentially the most appropriate resolution for the main drawback. Use “sub-branches” for details for example of fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
8. Create “Psychological Distance”
What is the psychological distance? According to the construal degree theory (CLT), it’s “anything that we do not experience as occurring now, here, and to ourselves.” Some examples include taking one other particular person’s perspective or considering the issue as unlikely.
Scientists have proven that by rising the psychological distance between us and our drawbacks, we’ll have a rise in inventive options such as examples of problem-solving in everyday life.
This occurs as a result of considering more abstractly helps us kind unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, thus permitting our minds to extend their problem-solving capacity.
9. Work out to Some Tunes
Research on cardiac rehabilitation sufferers examined verbal fluency after exercising with and without music without problem-solving scenarios in job interviews.
Results confirmed that after they listened to music understanding, members greater than doubled their scores on verbal fluency assessments in distinction to those after they worked out in silence.
According to the research’s lead author, “The combination of music and exercise may stimulate and increase cognitive arousal while helping to organize the cognitive output.”
10. Work out Your Brain with Logic Puzzles or Games
The profitable technique when enjoying chess, Sudoku, a Rubik’s Cube, or different brain-boosting games is definitely to work the issue backward, not ahead. The identical technique can apply to realistic strategic-thinking conditions.
To construct your mind muscle and develop new problem-solving methods, observe some logic puzzles and different games, as an example of problem-solving skills
Problem-solving skills have suitable examples and are inevitable that employers look for in candidates before and after employment. Your problem-solving skills will be an advantage for you at every step of your career and problem-solving skills examples for the interview.
Starting from the application, in job interview interviews, the ability to effectively deal with problems can be very valuable to you after the valuable resources and candidates for the job. Here are some examples of problem-solving scenarios:
Examples of problem-solving scenarios
- Stuck in traffic and was late for work, again. – Think Alternatives
- What is that stain on the living room carpet? – Diagnose the cause and Develop Action Plan
- Why is the baby crying? – Investigation and Attention
- What is that smell coming from my teenage son’s room? – Mitigate and Make a Solution
- I don’t think the car is supposed to make that thumping noise – Diagnose and Assess the Impact
- Someone flushed an entire roll of toilet paper and water is backing up in the tub. – Thinking Quickly
- The proposal deadline got moved up to this afternoon! – Meet Deadline
- What’s for dinner? – Planning
- My daughter has a science project – due tomorrow – Action Plan
- What should I get my spouse for his/her birthday? – Decision Making
In almost every career sector, the solution to the problem is that employers are one of the key skills of finding a job applicant. It is difficult to find a blue-collar, administrative, managerial, or professional position, which does not require skill-solving skills.
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7 Problem-Solving Skills That Can Help You Be a More Successful Manager
Discover what problem-solving is, and why it's important for managers. Understand the steps of the process and learn about seven problem-solving skills.
1Managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a particular department, and sometimes a whole company, using their problem-solving skills regularly. Managers with good problem-solving skills can help ensure companies run smoothly and prosper.
If you're a current manager or are striving to become one, read this guide to discover what problem-solving skills are and why it's important for managers to have them. Learn the steps of the problem-solving process, and explore seven skills that can help make problem-solving easier and more effective.
What is problem-solving?
Problem-solving is both an ability and a process. As an ability, problem-solving can aid in resolving issues faced in different environments like home, school, abroad, and social situations, among others. As a process, problem-solving involves a series of steps for finding solutions to questions or concerns that arise throughout life.
The importance of problem-solving for managers
Managers deal with problems regularly, whether supervising a staff of two or 100. When people solve problems quickly and effectively, workplaces can benefit in a number of ways. These include:
Increased job fulfillment
Satisfied clients or customers
Better cooperation and cohesion
Improved environments for employees and customers
7 skills that make problem-solving easier
Companies depend on managers who can solve problems adeptly. Although problem-solving is a skill in its own right, a subset of seven skills can help make the process of problem-solving easier. These include analysis, communication, emotional intelligence, resilience, creativity, adaptability, and teamwork.
As a manager , you'll solve each problem by assessing the situation first. Then, you’ll use analytical skills to distinguish between ineffective and effective solutions.
Effective communication plays a significant role in problem-solving, particularly when others are involved. Some skills that can help enhance communication at work include active listening, speaking with an even tone and volume, and supporting verbal information with written communication.
3. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage emotions in any situation. People with emotional intelligence usually solve problems calmly and systematically, which often yields better results.
Emotional intelligence and resilience are closely related traits. Resiliency is the ability to cope with and bounce back quickly from difficult situations. Those who possess resilience are often capable of accurately interpreting people and situations, which can be incredibly advantageous when difficulties arise.
When brainstorming solutions to problems, creativity can help you to think outside the box. Problem-solving strategies can be enhanced with the application of creative techniques. You can use creativity to:
Approach problems from different angles
Improve your problem-solving process
Spark creativity in your employees and peers
Adaptability is the capacity to adjust to change. When a particular solution to an issue doesn't work, an adaptable person can revisit the concern to think up another one without getting frustrated.
Finding a solution to a problem regularly involves working in a team. Good teamwork requires being comfortable working with others and collaborating with them, which can result in better problem-solving overall.
Steps of the problem-solving process
Effective problem-solving involves five essential steps. One way to remember them is through the IDEAL model created in 1984 by psychology professors John D. Bransford and Barry S. Stein [ 1 ]. The steps to solving problems in this model include: identifying that there is a problem, defining the goals you hope to achieve, exploring potential solutions, choosing a solution and acting on it, and looking at (or evaluating) the outcome.
1. Identify that there is a problem and root out its cause.
To solve a problem, you must first admit that one exists to then find its root cause. Finding the cause of the problem may involve asking questions like:
Can the problem be solved?
How big of a problem is it?
Why do I think the problem is occurring?
What are some things I know about the situation?
What are some things I don't know about the situation?
Are there any people who contributed to the problem?
Are there materials or processes that contributed to the problem?
Are there any patterns I can identify?
2. Define the goals you hope to achieve.
Every problem is different. The goals you hope to achieve when problem-solving depend on the scope of the problem. Some examples of goals you might set include:
Gather as much factual information as possible.
Brainstorm many different strategies to come up with the best one.
Be flexible when considering other viewpoints.
Articulate clearly and encourage questions, so everyone involved is on the same page.
Be open to other strategies if the chosen strategy doesn't work.
Stay positive throughout the process.
3. Explore potential solutions.
Once you've defined the goals you hope to achieve when problem-solving , it's time to start the process. This involves steps that often include fact-finding, brainstorming, prioritizing solutions, and assessing the cost of top solutions in terms of time, labor, and money.
4. Choose a solution and act on it.
Evaluate the pros and cons of each potential solution, and choose the one most likely to solve the problem within your given budget, abilities, and resources. Once you choose a solution, it's important to make a commitment and see it through. Draw up a plan of action for implementation, and share it with all involved parties clearly and effectively, both verbally and in writing. Make sure everyone understands their role for a successful conclusion.
5. Look at (or evaluate) the outcome.
Evaluation offers insights into your current situation and future problem-solving. When evaluating the outcome, ask yourself questions like:
Did the solution work?
Will this solution work for other problems?
Were there any changes you would have made?
Would another solution have worked better?
As a current or future manager looking to build your problem-solving skills, it is often helpful to take a professional course. Consider Improving Communication Skills offered by the University of Pennsylvania on Coursera. You'll learn how to boost your ability to persuade, ask questions, negotiate, apologize, and more.
You might also consider taking Emotional Intelligence: Cultivating Immensely Human Interactions , offered by the University of Michigan on Coursera. You'll explore the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills common to people with emotional intelligence, and you'll learn how emotional intelligence is connected to team success and leadership.
Tennessee Tech. “ The Ideal Problem Solver (2nd ed.) , https://www.tntech.edu/cat/pdf/useful_links/idealproblemsolver.pdf.” Accessed December 6, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.
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What Are Problem-Solving Skills?
Definition & Examples of Problem-Solving Skills
Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.
- Problem-solving skills help you determine why an issue is happening and how to resolve that issue.
Learn more about problem-solving skills and how they work.
Problem-solving skills help you solve issues quickly and effectively. It's one of the key skills that employers seek in job applicants, as employees with these skills tend to be self-reliant. Problem-solving skills require quickly identifying the underlying issue and implementing a solution.
Problem-solving is considered a soft skill (a personal strength) rather than a hard skill that's learned through education or training. You can improve your problem-solving skills by familiarizing yourself with common issues in your industry and learning from more experienced employees.
How Problem-Solving Skills Work
Problem-solving starts with identifying the issue. For example, a teacher might need to figure out how to improve student performance on a writing proficiency test. To do that, the teacher will review the writing tests looking for areas of improvement. They might see that students can construct simple sentences, but they're struggling with writing paragraphs and organizing those paragraphs into an essay.
To solve the problem, the teacher would work with students on how and when to write compound sentences, how to write paragraphs, and ways to organize an essay.
Theresa Chiechi / The Balance
There are five steps typically used in problem-solving.
1. Analyze Contributing Factors
To solve a problem, you must find out what caused it. This requires you to gather and evaluate data, isolate possible contributing circumstances, and pinpoint what needs to be addressed for a resolution.
To do this, you'll use skills like :
- Data gathering
- Data analysis
- Historical analysis
2. Generate Interventions
Once you’ve determined the cause, brainstorm possible solutions. Sometimes this involves teamwork since two (or more) minds are often better than one. A single strategy is rarely the obvious route to solving a complex problem; devising a set of alternatives helps you cover your bases and reduces your risk of exposure should the first strategy you implement fail.
This involves skills like :
- Creative thinking
- Project design
- Project planning
3. Evaluate Solutions
Depending on the nature of the problem and your chain of command, evaluating best solutions may be performed by assigned teams, team leads, or forwarded to corporate decision-makers. Whoever makes the decision must evaluate potential costs, required resources, and possible barriers to successful solution implementation.
This requires several skills, including:
- Test development
4. Implement a Plan
Once a course of action has been decided, it must be implemented along with benchmarks that can quickly and accurately determine whether it’s working. Plan implementation also involves letting personnel know about changes in standard operating procedures.
This requires skills like:
- Project management
- Project implementation
- Time management
- Benchmark development
5. Assess the Solution's Effectiveness
Once a solution is implemented, the best problem-solvers have systems in place to evaluate if and how quickly it's working. This way, they know as soon as possible whether the issue has been resolved or whether they’ll have to change their response to the problem mid-stream.
- Customer feedback
Here's an example of showing your problem-solving skills in a cover letter.
When I was first hired as a paralegal, I inherited a backlog of 25 sets of medical records that needed to be summarized, each of which was hundreds of pages long. At the same time, I had to help prepare for three major cases, and there weren’t enough hours in the day. After I explained the problem to my supervisor, she agreed to pay me to come in on Saturday mornings to focus on the backlog. I was able to eliminate the backlog in a month.
Here's another example of how to show your problem-solving skills in a cover letter:
When I joined the team at Great Graphics as Artistic Director, the designers had become uninspired because of a former director who attempted to micro-manage every step in the design process. I used weekly round-table discussions to solicit creative input and ensured that each designer was given full autonomy to do their best work. I also introduced monthly team-based competitions that helped build morale, spark new ideas, and improve collaboration.
Highlighting Problem-Solving Skills
- Since this is a skill that's important to most employers, put them front and center on your resume, cover letter, and in interviews.
If you're not sure what to include, look to previous roles—whether in academic, work, or volunteer settings—for examples of challenges you met and problems you solved. Highlight relevant examples in your cover letter and use bullet points in your resume to show how you solved a problem.
During interviews, be ready to describe situations you've encountered in previous roles, the processes you followed to address problems, the skills you applied, and the results of your actions. Potential employers are eager to hear a coherent narrative of the ways you've used problem-solving skills .
Interviewers may pose hypothetical problems for you to solve. Base your answers on the five steps and refer to similar problems you've resolved, if possible. Here are tips for answering problem-solving interview questions , with examples of the best answers.
- It's one of the key skills that employers seek in job applicants.
- Problem-solving starts with identifying the issue, coming up with solutions, implementing those solutions, and evaluating their effectiveness.
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The importance of problem solving skills in the workplace
Test your candidates' problem-solving skills with testgorilla.
The importance of problem-solving skills in the workplace can’t be overstated. Every business and every job role has its problems. From entry-level hires to senior staffers, every one of your employees will face challenges that don’t can’t be answered by a quick Google search.
Table of contents
What are problem solving skills, why are problem solving skills important, how to assess problem solving skills, hire candidates who can think for themselves.
That’s why employers must hire people with problem-solving skills, especially for roles that require dealing with complex business challenges, tight deadlines, and changing variables. A good example is when you have to hire leaders in the workplace.
But what are problem-solving skills? And how do they come into play in the workplace? Most importantly, how can you evaluate candidates’ skills before you hire them.
To fully comprehend the importance of problem-solving skills in the workplace, it’s important first to understand the broad skillset they are comprised of. Generally, problem-solving refers to a person’s ability to successfully manage and find solutions for complex and unexpected situations.
Candidates with great problem-solving skills have a combination of both analytical and creative thinking. They’re comfortable with making decisions and confident enough to rise to challenges in the workplace.
These candidates possess a combination of analytical, creative, critical thinking skills and a high level of attention to detail. As a result, they will quickly identify problems when they arise and identify the most effective solutions. They’ll also identify the factors and forces that might have caused the problem and instigate changes to mitigate future challenges.
There are six key problem-solving skills that you should look for when assessing job candidates:
1. Listening skills
Active listeners are generally great problem solvers. They can listen to those around them to gather the information needed to solve the problem at hand. They recognize the importance of valuing others’ opinions and experiences to help understand why the problem occurred and the best course of action to remedy it.
2. Analytical thinking skills
Analytical thinkers can identify the logical reasons why a problem occurred, what the long-term effects of the issue could be, and identify how effective different solutions might be to select the most practical one.
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3. Creative thinking skills
Creative thinkers can balance their analytical skills with creative solutions. Creative thinking skills allow individuals to uncover innovative and progressive solutions to problems. They’re able to provide new perspectives and provide imaginative and experimental solutions to all kinds of problems.
4. Communication skills
Problem solvers should also possess great communication skills . The ability to effectively relay complex information thoroughly yet succinctly is a huge benefit for employers working in fast-paced environments.
5. Decision-making skills
Those with problem-solving skills will also possess the ability to make decisions and be confident in them. This is important, as most problem-solving steps involve making firm decisions to provide a successful outcome.
Although problem-solvers need to be independent thinkers, it’s also vital for them to work well as part of a team. Determining the best solution often requires collaboration, so it’s important that candidates can demonstrate how they can motivate others to come up with the best solutions and work with them to help develop and implement solutions.
Problem-solving skills allow you to find candidates who are cognitively equipped to handle anything their jobs throw at them.
Problem solvers can observe, judge, and act quickly when difficulties arise when they inevitably do. Moreover, they are not afraid of the unknown, which is invaluable to employers who rely on their employees to identify and solve problems.
There are several important benefits of problem-solving skills in the workplace. Below, we’ll go through five of the most significant traits that all problem solvers can bring to their roles and workplaces.
1. Ability to organize their time intelligently
Time management skills can often be underlooked as one of the benefits of problem-solving skills in the workplace. However, those with problem-solving abilities also typically possess stellar time-management skills. The ability to manage their time wisely and laser-focus on what’s important to the business will lead to better decision-making and business impact.
2. Ability to prioritize, plan, and execute strategies
Problem solvers have no issue with carefully assessing customer and client needs and how to prioritize, plan, and execute strategies for how to meet them. They can manage all moving parts since they can strategize how best to meet multiple unique demands.
3. Ability to think outside the box
Problem solvers can often identify opportunities in problems. Thinking outside of the box is an important problem-solving skill in the workplace since it can often lead to better outcomes than had been expected originally.
4. Ability to work under pressure
This is often one of the most important benefits of problem-solving skills in the workplace. Problem solvers often have personalities that respond well under pressure, including accelerated deadlines and changing project parameters.
Depending on your workplace culture, you might prefer someone who can deliver quick solutions or someone who takes their time to identify the next steps — both are valid problem-solving qualities.
5. Ability to address risk
Planning is an important problem-solving skill. Problem solvers are not just equipped to deal with the problem at hand but are also able to anticipate problems that will arise in the future based on trends, patterns, experience, and current events.
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Many organizations use problem-solving interview questions to identify the right candidates for their job openings. However, the most effective way to assess problem-solving skills is with pre-employment skills tests .
That’s because skills tests provide an objective way to quantify a candidate’s problem-solving skills in a way that isn’t possible during an interview.
How problem solving skills tests work
Tests like TestGorilla’s problem-solving skills test . assist organizations in finding candidates who quickly identify the key elements of the problem and work through the problem at speed without making mistakes. By presenting candidates with a wide range of questions related to typical problem-solving scenarios, hiring teams can rank their candidates based on an intensive assessment of each candidate’s skill level.
An example of a question offered by TestGorilla’s pre-employment problem-solving test
The test specifically evaluates whether a candidate can perform problem-solving tasks like:
creating and adjust schedules
prioritizing items based on a given set of rules
interpreting data and applying logic to make decisions
analyzing textual and numerical information to draw conclusions
As you can see, even the best interviewer would have trouble assessing each of these skill areas while still covering other questions that need to be asked in an interview.
If you’re convinced of the importance of problem-solving skills in the workplace and want to build a team of employees that can think independently and solve their own problems without needing constant supervision, assess problem-solving skills during the hiring process. Using a problem-solving assessment is an easy way to evaluate your candidates’ overall analytical skills so that you can benefit from this essential skillset.
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25+ Good Examples of Problem Solving in the Workplace
Problem-solving is a necessary skill for success in any workplace situation, but it’s especially important when you’re working with other people.
However, this skill seems to be a lost art nowadays. More and more employees— even some leaders —find it difficult to efficiently solve problems and navigate challenging situations.
According to professionals, here are good examples of problem-solving in the workplace:
Lisa Bahar, MA, LMFT, LPCC
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Philosophy of Global Leadership and Change Ph.D. Student, Pepperdine University
How are workplace environment problems assessed and evaluated?
Workplace environments problems are assessed and evaluated by completing an environmental scan conducted by an internal or external consultant .
The consultant assesses the workspace, employee interaction, culture, and leadership approaches to identify the problem and the elements supporting the issue.
There are methods and models associated with environmental scans that change experts and problem solvers use to conduct a thorough analysis of the organization for the purposes of change.
Using the effective method of Change Models
The consultant determines effective methods defined as “Change Models,” selected based on the organization’s objectives and strategic goals.
The consultant considers results from an evaluation process that provides a greater understanding of the organization on a micro-level by reviewing social, political, economic, legal, intercultural, and technology elements of the organization SPELIT (Schmeider-Ramirez and Mallette, 2007).
Implement the appropriate Change Model
SPELIT is one of several methods to use in the evaluation process of an organization. Once the consultant completes the evaluation and the problem(s) are identified, the next step is implementing the appropriate Change Model.
For example, an eight-step change model by Kotter is an easy-to-understand approach to identifying change steps in an organization (Kotter, 1996).
The Kotter model can be combined with a training approach, for example, Kirkpatrick’s four levels of training (Kirkpatrick, J.D., and Kirkpatrick, W.K., 2016).
Learn and identify the problem
An example of a learning problem could be a clinical setting needing to transition to electronic notes for client care and experiencing resistance to the change by the organization’s employees.
The evaluation is to identify if it is a:
- Reaction problem
- Learning problem
- Behavior problem
- Result problem
A consultant may start interviewing leadership, team manager, and workers to gain knowledge and comprehension of the problem.
Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom, 1972) can be used as a tool by the consultant to evaluate and identify the learning problem and the objectives that need to be implemented to create change.
The consultant will assess with surveys, interviews, discussions and design and implement training that supports the organization’s staff goals using electronic notes versus handwritten notes to maintain compliance with regulatory standards.
Bloom, B. S. (1972). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals. Kirkpatrick, J. D., & Kirkpatrick, W. K. (2016). Kirkpatrick’s four levels of training evaluation. Association for Talent Development. Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change. Harvard Business Press. Schmieder-Ramirez, J. H., D., J. S., & Mallette, L. A. (2007). The Spelit power matrix: Untangling the organizational environment with the Spelit leadership tool. Createspace Independent Pub.
Safety and Health Specialist, Nick to the Plus
As a Safety and Health Specialist in a million square foot warehouse with 200 material handling equipment on the floor, we have reduced our OSHA Recordable Injuries by over 70% in four years.
I would say keep it simple , trust your team , and know your leading indicators .
Keep it simple and trust your team — don’t overcomplicate problems and solutions
Many new “Leaders” in the workplace want to make an impression. While they are trying to make this impression, they overcomplicate problems and solutions.
They try to reinvent the wheel. Many times this will cause confusion, frustration, and double work.
An example of keeping it simple is (if you are a new Leader in a workplace):
- Know that your team are the experts and have seen many of you come through.
- Ask your team what we can do to make your process more accessible or better.
- Let your team know that you trust them by giving them ownership in their process, and that will foster trust in you.
- When your team comes to you with suggestions and/or problems, make sure you follow through with their requests.
- Crowdsource or mastermind the problem, let the team solve the problem, and provide the resources.
Know your leading indicators and how to measure them
A VP told me one time that you can improve something if you aren’t measuring. To solve problems in the workplace , you first need to know the issues and how to measure them.
For example, in safety, I know my leading indicators are:
- Have a Safety Team that meets regularly with a structured outline to follow.
- Are we up to date with safety training?
- Do we have leadership commitment? What are our follow up and follow through ratings?
- Are employees engaged in safety? Do they feel comfortable reporting hazards or injuries?
- Are we tracking near-miss incidents and correcting the hazards before it becomes an incident?
- Do we have consistent and clean housekeeping?
So in closing, keep it simple, trust your team, and know your leading indicators to solve problems in the workplace.
Attorney, Inc and Go
Give your good employees more face time with clients. Not all problems relate to clients or customers, but many of them do.
Give your workers the presence and authority to fix client problems
The first step to solving those as they come up is to give your trusted workers the presence and authority to fix client problems.
That means making your worker the company’s “face” to a particular client and giving them the latitude to make decisions. That can empower both the worker and the client to solve problems before getting involved.
Of course, you still need to be on hand for big issues, but those should lessen as time goes on.
Have fewer formal meetings
Nothing stifles creativity faster than another boring all-hands meeting. Throw in a PowerPoint Presentation and a long agenda, and your workers have completely checked out.
Sometimes meetings are necessary, but real problem-solving more often takes place in smaller, unstructured brainstorming sessions with the most personally invested in a problem.
It’s essential that you maintain personal relationships with your workers. If they are having trouble with a particular project or presentation, you can stop by their office for a few minutes to hash out a solution.
Give your ideas time to marinate
In today’s business environment, we often prize speed above all else. After you have brainstormed a solution, it’s often good to get it on paper and then let it sit for a night before coming back with a clear head .
That’s not usually a good recipe for creativity.
If your project is time-sensitive, at least take an hour before returning to it . Creative problem-solving often needs time to work, so when you give ideas time to marinate, you and your clients will probably be happier with the solutions.
Meet with your boss to evaluate the problem before it worsens
Problem-solving skills help you find the cause of a problem and an effective solution . In any case, how to reliably perceive problem-solving is very similar to its limitations, and the other related skills are significantly increased.
Problem-solving is a system that involves understanding tests and finding valuable solutions in the workplace. In everything that matters, every ally needs a worker with these qualities to consider their problem-solving skills and aid in a pleasant cycle in their everyday work.
Following are some skills for problem-solving in the workplace:
- Fully fixed duty skill
- Evaluation skill
- Research skill
- Imagination/implementation skill
Following are some examples of problem-solving in the workplace:
- Whether it be you or someone else, it promotes bad things .
- Overcoming management delays through problem-solving and response.
- Troubleshooting problematic or dissatisfied customers
- Overcome the problems associated with limited spending plans and now use creative problem solving to devise unusual action plans.
- Overcome the need to prepare/complete your workplace to deliver great work anyway.
- Exploring and solving apparent problems.
- Supervision and Dispute Resolution through Assistants.
- Solve all problems related to cash, settlement with customers, accounting, etc.
- Be truthful when other assistants miss or miss something important.
- Go ahead and meet with your boss to evaluate the problem before it worsens.
Christopher Liew, CFA
Creator, Wealth Awesome
Surprisingly, approximately 85% of American employees have experienced conflicts with peers and colleagues in their workplace.
It’s why we need to teach people problem-solving techniques in the workplace efficiently and effectively.
Use the consensus decision-making technique frequently
This type of problem-solving technique allows everyone to agree that a particular problem needs to be discussed thoroughly and needs to be solved immediately .
Ideas, opinions, suggestions, solutions, or violent reactions are voiced freely. The goal of this problem-solving technique is to make a list of recommendations that are acceptable to all members of the company.
After that, they further develop the best solution from one of the recommendations that they have all agreed on previously.
It can significantly increase group cohesion and team unity since the consensus decision-making technique allows everyone to participate freely without being judged harshly .
Use the devil’s advocate decision-making technique accordingly and moderately
This type of problem-solving technique allows the business organization to form a panel that will thoroughly scrutinize a group’s ideas and suggestions within the company.
The goal is to uncover weaknesses in the ideas and suggestions presented instantly.
However, this type of decision-making technique can only be implemented efficiently and effectively if the group presenting an idea, suggestion, or solution is open to receiving feedback and constructive criticisms.
It should be used moderately as this decision-making technique could sometimes add tension among group members within the company.
Senior HR Business Partner, Zety
Make the current process faster, more efficient, or more accurate
One of my all-time favorite ways of problem-solving in the workplace is making the current process faster, more efficient, or more accurate.
Personally, I call this “operation consolidation,” and despite the corny nickname, trust me, when completed, everyone will be appreciative (at least in the long term).
The level of inefficiency and room for improvement is never-ending .
Every dashboard, database, or process often grows in size and complexity over time as everyone is interested in adding that extra field, messing with that new factor without stopping and thinking, “Do we still need and are we using some of the original ones?”
Evolution is constant and makes sense ; however, as the new fields are populated, and processes added, it makes sense to stop and do some much-needed spring cleaning.
This is similar to Coca-Cola’s recent culling of almost half of its portfolio (which only accounted for 5% of its sales). Likewise, every organization looks to subtract before adding on new ones.
So always look to simplify , cut in half , and get rid of the excess fat , whether meetings, overblown dashboards, or processes with too many layers and stakeholders – triage ruthlessly and watch the magic happen.
Founder, Assisted Living Center
Allow each party to voice their solutions to the problem through brain dumping
Brain dumping allows each party to voice their solutions to the problem. Most conflicts involve an offender , defender , and mediator who decides on a resolution.
But opening the floor to suggestions helps implicated employees feel heard and understood, even if you don’t settle for their idea in the end.
Some people prefer to express their preferences in private, so you may want to conduct individual discussions before regrouping to resolve the issue.
All suggestions can remain anonymous to avoid the appearance of bias
From there, all suggestions can remain anonymous to avoid the appearance of bias. Hash out each option with everyone and decide upon a compromise that works best for the majority.
Implement the 5-whys technique
Problem resolution can also take a coach’s approach by implementing the 5-whys technique. The 5-whys allows employees to discover the root of their conflict without directly involving the mediator.
Start the conversation by asking one party why they reacted to the situation offensively. Then, follow up their response by inquiring why they felt or thought that way.
By the time you get to the fifth “why,” everyone should have a clearer picture of how things unraveled.
It can transform the conflict into a collaboration development exercise
This technique can transform the conflict into a collaboration development exercise by allowing colleagues to understand each other’s points of view.
Overall, it encourages more empathy and reasoning in the problem-solving process.
Marketing Manager, Zenzero
Make meaningful time to interact with your staff
Set a high standard for communication to solve this problem. Face-to-face communication is preferable whenever possible.
Phone conversations, emails, and texts are acceptable in an emergency, but they are insufficient to replace an utterly present dialogue.
Set suitable objectives and expectations
Make sure your staff grasps the essentials by referring to job descriptions. Convene a brainstorming session for unique initiatives and auxiliary goals, and define goals as a team .
Your staff could surprise you by establishing more challenging goals for themselves than you do.
Demonstrate your worth to a new team or yourself
Share your work description with your staff to solve the problem. Seriously, if you don’t already have one, make one .
It might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Communicate your priorities, and follow through on what you say you’ll do.
Founder, The Impact Investor
Implementing workplace synchrony
This concept that I call workplace synchrony is something that other forms of working may not offer. For example, it is something that the newly introduced remote work culture cannot sufficiently prove to be an alternative.
Workplace synchrony is the impeccable order of operations in which specific departments in the workplace run their proceedings.
For example, I want you to consider this; the production team in a textile factory ensures that the conveyor belt functions correctly, products are manufactured in an orderly manner, and the daily target is met.
However, if it were not for the quality control department, there would be no one to approve of the items’ standards.
Alternatively, as is self-explanatory, there is no job left for quality control inspection teams to do without the production line workers.
This is a testament to the synchrony and flow of how multiple teams get together to solve problems in a sequence and help workplaces flourish.
Brainstorming as a group regarding challenges that the company may face
Another affordance that in-person, and to some extent its remote work counterpart, also provides is the ability to brainstorm as a group regarding challenges that the company may face.
For example, there may be a demand by the labor union to increase wage rates, and also a potential that there may be a strike or a peaceful protest for the same reason.
Group meetings in workplaces allow all the potential stakeholders to be impacted by a possible decision, to be present at one moment, and put their needs, demands, and terms forward.
Hence, in the case that wages are considered to be increased , production costs are going to be deemed to increase .
Managers may talk about possible increases in price. In contrast, customer relations department employees might want to chip in to negotiate on the matter with the managers, not compromise the needs of consumers.
This is how all stakeholders walkout in content, knowing their needs are recognized.
Manage the problem with patience and tact
Emotions and perspectives like self-importance, overconfidence, and arrogance can arise even in our best coworkers, clients, and people we report to.
These people may be very good at their job, but everyone occasionally gets it wrong . Stress, burnout, ill health, fear, and feelings of insecurity can be the causes of underlying disputes, poor judgment, and mistakes in the workplace.
It is important not to lose respect for them and remember they are not only as good as their last job. You can build trust by weathering the storm with them.
If you come out the other side together as partners because you managed the problem with patience and tact, the relationship will be strengthened, and cooperation will hopefully improve.
Some problems become unmanageable, and a person’s stubbornness and refusal to cooperate seem insurmountable. Money matters can be some of the most explosive issues of all.
One thing that can be done is to draw the person’s attention to the critical facts that decide the way forward in terms of financial concerns, rather than anyone enforcing a decision on others.
Talent Acquisition Specialist, Tidio
Implementing a goal-setting system
Problem : Goal-setting and expectations-management.
No doubt, sometimes it’s hard for individual employees and whole teams to set appropriate goals and make relevant expectations.
This can be solved by implementing a goal-setting system (e.g., OKRs) for every employee individually or at least team-wide.
Using a time management system
Problem : Poor time management.
It’s a very common work problem with many solutions working for everyone individually.
A good example would be using a time management system (e.g., Pomodoro), keeping track of all tasks in a project management tool like Jira, and adding all meetings and appointments to the calendar.
Related: 42 Best Productivity and Time Management Books
Identify a mentor that you can turn to for advice and help
Problem : Asking for help.
Unfortunately, it’s challenging for many people to ask for help even if the team encourages them.
An excellent solution to this would be to identify a mentor or a buddy – the person you can turn to for advice and help.
This will be a mutually valuable relationship. You will receive the help you need, and the person will gain experience in mentoring someone.
Related: How to Ask Someone to Be Your Mentor
CEO, Champion Leadership Group LLC
Managers and coworkers will regard you as a valuable resource if you can efficiently address challenges at work. Problem-solving may draw together teams, expedite processes, create a more efficient workplace, and boost productivity.
It could also help you save expenses and raise income — two crucial areas where your boss will be pleased to see improvement.
Require a robust business-wide interaction
To guarantee that you can perform correctly every day, you require a robust business-wide interaction. It’s necessary for long-term development .
When adequate linkages are not present, processes might fall through the cracks, resulting in significant performance concerns.
Addressing communication challenges at work entails guaranteeing a two-way approach to help build a culture of accountability and transparency.
Ensure that employees are treated fairly
Extroverts with a lot of confidence are usually correlated with business success. More extroverted business owners may find it difficult to comprehend their more reserved personnel.
Some may even see the scenario as having introvert issues at work, which is a drawback in some businesses but a valuable asset.
So keep in mind that individuals with more introspective personality qualities bring various aspects to their positions, especially in creative contexts .
You must ensure that employees are treated fairly . Don’t show favoritism to anybody. Also, keep an eye out for nepotism.
Senior Job Data Content Producer, Virtual Vocations
Prioritize open communication and employee feedback
Solving workplace problems should be a goal for every business, but the process starts with understanding which workplace stressors affect employees most.
Virtual Vocations surveyed 1,158 U.S. workers and found that the biggest workplace confidence killer, which also negatively impacts productivity and employee well-being, is a micromanager boss .
Related: How to Deal With Micromanagers
Micromanaging and other common workplace problems like poor company culture , lack of transparency , and unrealistic performance expectations can be solved by prioritizing open communication and employee feedback .
Conducting employee surveys, holding the regular team and individual meetings, demonstrating respect for employees, and showing an interest in employees beyond work are all ways to keep employees engaged and ensure their ideas are heard.
When employees have a say in how they work and how they are managed, they are much more likely to perform well and stay longer .
Ahren A. Tiller, Esq.
Founder and Supervising Attorney, Bankruptcy Law Center
Confront the conflict but actively listen to what the other person says
Communication is very important to any relationship or team. Many issues arise due to lack or absence of communication .
When there is conflict, my staff doesn’t like to beat around the bush. Good problem-solvers don’t act based on their emotions. They confront the conflict but actively listen to what the other person says.
Understand the situation and consider the options to make up for the errors
It doesn’t matter whether one employee or another is at fault; correcting a mistake comes naturally to good problem-solvers.
Self-reflection is an excellent way to assess your own actions—were they helpful?
Look at your own point of view, and the other person’s to understand the situation and consider the options to make up for the errors. Rectifying a mistake requires strategy and creativity .
CEO and Founder, WinIt
Use your creative side to identify new or unusual alternatives
Using your creative side to identify new or unusual alternatives is an excellent way to problem-solve in the workplace.
Too often, you can get stuck in a pattern of thinking about what has been successful in the past, but when you are faced with a new problem , you may find it challenging to generate new ideas.
If you have a problem that seems to have no solution, try out some different techniques. Play “What if” games, for example:
“What if money was no object? How would that change the solution?”
You may find an answer you weren’t thinking of. Permit yourself to think of ideas that may seem outlandish or appear to break the rules; you may end up having a stroke of genius.
CEO and Founder, The Upper Ranks
Raise the bar for effective communication
Making meaningful time to speak with your staff is a common concern. The best way to resolve this issue is to raise the bar for effective communication . Face-to-face communication is the best way to get things done.
There is no alternative to a face-to-face conversation, yet phone conversations, emails, and messages are okay in a pinch. Online aptitude, psychometric, and ability tests are a few examples of the exams that companies could administer to see how well you solve problems.
These are often administered as part of the application process, although they may be given again at an assessment center. Situational judgment assessments and logic tests like inductive reasoning or diagrammatic reasoning will probably gauge how well you solve problems.
Effective issue resolution indeed takes both time and attention . A problem that hasn’t been solved requires more time and attention. Taking the time to slow down is all that is necessary for success .
There are no straight lines in life. You’ll be in good shape on the next straightaway if you get this one correctly. You may not be in the best shape if you move too rapidly .
Employees can weather the storm by planning for the worst-case scenario in every situation. There are a variety of approaches you may take, but the most critical is learning how to overcome the obstacle.
A workplace may be prepared for both the best and worst of times, whether a common cold or an overflowing workload.
Sales Director, VEM Tooling
It is common to face many problems in your organization several times. But what is not common is how to deal with that problem to rise above your previous self.
When we talk about a workplace, there are several difficulties that a person needs to deal with in it. Here is one of my examples of problem-solving at the workplace that I find perfect.
Observe which is more important for your business
Problem : Balance between growth and quality
When I first encountered this problem at the end of 2021. I thought it would be a lot difficult to deal with. But as time passed and I gave my thoughts on this problem repeatedly.
I found a way to deal with it. First, I need to see which is more important for my business, growth or quality.
As we all know, nothing in this world is perfect, but as a new developing firm in the market, I need to ensure my business provides quality to its customers.
When I figured it all out, I found that I would grow my organization if I could provide my customers with good quality satisfaction. That’s how I learned how to balance growth and quality to solve the problem.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can i improve my problem-solving skills.
To improve your problem-solving skills, you need to practice and be intentional. Here are some things you can do to strengthen this skill:
Identify and analyze problems as soon as possible. Once you identify a problem, try to understand it thoroughly, gather information from reliable sources, and consider possible solutions.
Think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to approach problems in unconventional ways. Draw inspiration from unrelated fields or industries.
Collaborate. Work with your colleagues to find solutions. Two heads are better than one!
Learn from your experiences. Take time to reflect on how you solved problems in the past and learn from your successes and mistakes.
Can I be a successful problem solver without being creative?
Yes, you can be a successful problem solver without being creative. While creativity can help you develop unique solutions to problems, it is not the only skill needed for problem-solving.
Logical thinking, research, analytical skills, and collaboration can also help you solve problems successfully.
These skills require a deep understanding of the problem, identifying the cause and origin of the problem, gathering information, analyzing it, and finally developing a solution based on the information gathered.
A successful problem solver is one who can objectively analyze a problem and derive optimal and workable solutions that are reasonable and achievable. Thinking outside the box and being creative can be an advantage, but it is not an essential requirement for solving problems in the workplace.
How can I encourage my team to engage in problem-solving activities?
Encouraging your team to engage in problem-solving activities can help foster a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. Some ways to encourage problem-solving in the workplace include:
– Scheduling time for team brainstorming sessions or problem-solving workshops – Encouraging team members to share their ideas and perspectives – Providing opportunities for skill-building and professional development – Recognizing and rewarding team members who contribute to problem-solving efforts – Leading by example and demonstrating a commitment to problem-solving
How can I convince my employer that I have problem-solving skills?
To convince your employer that you have problem-solving skills, you need to demonstrate them in action. Here are some tips to help you showcase your skills:
Point out instances where you have successfully solved a problem: In your resume or interview, cite specific examples of difficult workplace problems you faced and solved. Explain the steps you took, the approach you used, and the results you achieved.
Explain your problem-solving approach: Employers are looking for a systematic approach to problem-solving that will help them achieve their goals. Describe the steps you take when confronted with a problem and how you use data and other resources to determine the root cause of the problem.
Quantify your successes: Be as specific as possible about the results you achieved in solving a problem. Did you increase the company’s revenue or save them money? Provide data that shows the impact of your solution.
Market yourself as a lifelong learner: Employers know that not every problem has a defined solution. Therefore, it is valuable to have a candidate who is willing to learn and adapt to changes in the company.
Highlight this by talking about additional training or certifications you are pursuing to further enhance your problem-solving skills.
How can I tell if my problem-solving efforts are successful?
The success of a problem-solving effort can be measured in different ways, depending on the problem you’re trying to solve. However, there are some signs that your problem-solving is on the right track:
Clarity: You have a clear understanding of the problem and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Solution: You have found a solution that is effective and has already been implemented.
Feedback: You have received feedback from colleagues, supervisors, or customers that the problem has been solved.
Continuous improvement: You continuously reflect on and improve your problem-solving tactics and approaches.
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19 Ways to Improve Your Problem Solving Skills at Work
This article discusses step-by-step ways to improve your problem solving skills at work.
Topics addressed include breaking down a problem to understand it better, digging a little deeper to find out what caused the problem, and ascertaining how widespread the problem is including how many people are affected.
Other steps outlined consist of figuring out potential solutions then narrowing down to select the best possible option under the circumstances.
Once a problem has been figured out, dealt with or resolved, additional processes entail monitoring the progress of the solution and proactively taking action to prevent future problems.
Towards the tail end of problem solving is taking in the lessons learned and helping others who might be facing similar problems which we have overcome.
You can quickly skim all the 19 tips on handling problems on the table of contents below and then click on any tip to read further details. Please enjoy reading. Thank you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Defining the problem
- Finding out what caused the problem/Conducting research
- Analyzing the impact of the problem
- Brainstorming possible solutions
- Evaluating alternatives/solutions
- Choosing the best option
- Developing an action plan/Execution strategy
- Implementing the solution/Taking action
- Monitoring progress
- Evaluating the results
- If the solution does not work
- Problem solving mistakes
- Ways to increase your problem solving skills
- Challenges and obstacles in problem solving
- Causes of problems at work
- Problem solving skills
- Learning from others who have solved similar problems
- Examples of problems at work
- Best practices for problem solving
1. Defining the problem
Why is the problem a problem? The first step in problem solving is to begin by describing, explaining or outlining the problem.
In its simplest form, a problem is an issue that is out of alignment and requires to be attended to, fixed or corrected to enable desired outcomes to be achieved.
There could be a temptation to quickly jump into figuring out solutions however, if the problem is not well understood, the solutions might not be effective and valuable time and effort could have been wasted.
Write down the problem based on your own understanding. This helps in zooming into or focusing on a specific issue. Similar to how a camera zooms on to an image before taking a picture. If the focus is blurry, the image won’t be clear.
Alternatively, think of it as identifying the starting line in a race, once you have figured out the beginning point (the problem), you set the stage for figuring out the skills, information, knowledge or resources required to get to the finishing line (the solution).
2. Finding out what caused the problem/Conducting research
What caused the problem? Once you have clearly defined the current problem, the next step is to dig a little deeper to find out the root cause or background of the problem.
Some questions to ask include the following:
- When and where did the difficulty, obstacle or complication occur?
- Why did the problem happen?
- How did it happen?
- What led to the problem?
- Was it caused by one thing or many things?
- What information is missing?
- Where can you find more information?
- What could have prevented the problem?
- What is known about similar problems?
- What solutions have been tried before?
3. Analyzing the impact of the problem
Who or what is affected by the problem? Determine how widespread the problem is.
- Is it affecting one person or many? – How is it affecting them?
- How long has the problem been going on?
- Are there any trends?
- Is this a re-occurring problem or a completely new one?
- What would happen if the problem is not resolved?
Talk to different people to get first-hand accounts of the impact of the problem. Establish if it is severe or manageable.
4. Brainstorming possible solutions
What are the potential solutions? Identify possible solutions through brainstorming.
When brainstorming, state the problem, and then request everyone to independently write down their own individual answers.
Afterwards list down all the answers proposed and invite others to further build upon and refine the suggested solutions or propose additional solutions.
For a brainstorming session to be successful, the problem needs to be clearly defined, enough time needs to be scheduled, participants should take time to think through the problem and generate solutions, and solutions should not be judged during the brainstorming.
In addition, use a good facilitator to listen attentively to participants, encourage input by all and drive the discussion.
5. Evaluating alternatives/solutions
How do you select the best alternative? Once a good number of options have been gathered, the next step is to go through the alternatives and narrow down the ones that are most viable.
It is also possible that the top choices would be a merger between one or more other alternatives.
Identify the advantages and disadvantages of the top choices.
In addition, take a step back and write down the desired results, when they should be achieved as well as how the results will be measured i.e. what is expected after the problem has been eliminated or handled – imagine how it would be like when the problem is solved.
Analyze how best the top choices would lead to the desired results.
6. Choosing the best option
Will this solution solve the problem? The last step in brainstorming is deciding the best solution among the top alternatives available.
This step could be one of the most difficult and overwhelming and could trigger hesitation because of fear of making the wrong decision.
There could be a tendency to want to continue digging further to come up with more information or more alternatives.
Additionally, choosing an alternative could entail making compromises and some parties would have to make concessions therefore, there is a possibility that not everyone would be happy with the final solution.
However, at some point the decision making process will have to come to an end. Following your gut instinct and seeking advice from others can help in deciding.
You can also take a break to clear your head, relax and then make the decision with a clear mind and be able to easily explain that – “this solution is the best one because …”
Taking a poll is similarly a simple way to determine the solution that should be implemented for bigger problems.
7. Developing an action plan/Execution strategy
How will you prepare to act on the solution? Write down the final solution and come up with a plan of action for implementing it.
Break down the solution into smaller manageable steps.
The number of steps would typically vary in proportion to the complexity of a problem where generally the more complex the problem the more steps would be required to address it and vice versa.
Outline the actions that need to be done, determine who needs to do what, how much time is available, establish timelines, deadlines and gauges or ways to show if the results are being achieved.
Think about possible unexpected emergencies and risks then highlight a plan for addressing them.
8. Implementing the solution/Taking action
How will you put the solution to work? Here is where the actual work gets done. Keep the desired results or end-goal firmly in your mind then proceed to work on one step at a time.
If working with others, share the plan for solving the problem. Provide training if needed on how to accomplish the desired objectives, assemble and distribute needed resources and be available to answer clarifying questions that come up.
As you work, periodically check your progress against the action plan to ensure that you are making strides in the right direction.
When you often or regularly work on implementing different solutions, you are likely to discover better, simpler and efficient ways of solving problems.
For example, if tackling a problem for the first time takes x hours, after handling the same problem many times you are likely to fine tune your methods resulting in less time to solve a problem and more improvements and efficiencies . Better yet, you can even train others on your breakthroughs.
9. Monitoring progress
Is the problem getting corrected? Track the progress to see if the solution is working. Take a pulse check to get insight and feedback.
Under ideal circumstances, if the solution is the right one, the problem should be gradually dissipating the more the solution is implemented.
Generally, there would be a need to make tweaks here and there to either address issues that arise or to ensure that the solution has the best chance of succeeding.
Regularly check to see what is going well and what isn’t and make adjustments in good time.
If there are significant deviations from the anticipated, expected or projected outcome, find out what is causing this.
Some questions to ask when monitoring the progress of problem solving consist of:
- How much progress has been made so far?
- What amount of work is remaining?
- Does everyone know what they are supposed to be doing?
- Are we within schedule?
- Are we within budget?
- Have we met initial milestones or targets?
- What challenges have we encountered so far?
- What recommended changes are needed at this point?
- What are the next milestones?
10. Evaluating the results
Was the problem fixed? At the end of the problem solving process, it is helpful to find out if the solution was successful.
A few questions that you can ask when evaluating results include the following:
- Did we resolve the problem within our earlier planned schedule, timeline or deadline?
- Did we eliminate the problem within budget?
- Is the problem fully resolved?
- Is there anything that has not been completed?
- Are there any lessons learned?
Conclude by documenting the results. Some items to document include the date when the problem was fixed, who ascertained that the problem was resolved and how the problem was handled or resolved.
11. If the solution does not work
The problem was not fixed, now what? The simple reality is that some solutions work and others don’t.
Some solutions can address part of a problem and conversely some solutions can even magnify the problem or reveal an even bigger problem.
When a solution does not work out as expected, of course time and resources would have gone down the drain, nonetheless, go back to the drawing board and figure out another solution.
Other remedies could consist of more time needed to allow a solution to work, more resources required, more funds or more expertise.
It is also important to analyze why the original solution did not work out to not only learn from mistakes but also to prevent repeating the same errors.
12. Problem solving mistakes
Below are examples of problem solving mistakes:
- Refusing to admit or acknowledge that a problem exists.
- Looking for quick fixes.
- Thinking that there won’t be any problems.
- Fixing symptoms instead of the root cause.
- Focusing on putting out small fires instead of addressing the big picture problem.
- Rushing to solve a problem before understanding it.
- Fearing to share out of the box ideas during brainstorming.
- Risk of group think during brainstorming or conforming to what everyone else is suggesting.
- Not having an open mind during brainstorming.
- Poor facilitation in brainstorming sessions.
- Solving the wrong problem.
- Looking for someone to blame or pointing fingers.
- Not listening or not seeking feedback or solutions from others.
- Thinking that you should have all the answers.
- Solutions that are not clearly defined.
- Lack of clear communication.
- Assuming that people already know what to do.
- Failing to give credit to staff who have fixed problems.
- Fear of making the wrong decision.
- Wrong assumptions.
- Getting scared or panicking when a problem arises.
- Procrastinating to make a decision or choose among alternatives.
- Refusing to acknowledge when a solution is not working.
- Doing nothing when a problem arises.
- Taking a long time before attending to a problem.
- Not being flexible or adaptable when assumptions and conditions change.
13. Ways to increase your problem solving skills
I believe that one good way of improving your problem solving skills in the office is to work on solving many problems.
You can do this by volunteering to participate in brainstorming groups or sessions and offering your input and ideas as well as listening to contributions from your colleagues.
Aim to actively work on implementing solutions to flex and stretch your problem solving muscles.
Over time, you can recognize trends or patterns in solving problems and also increase your capacity to tolerate ambiguity and unknowns at the beginning of a problem solving process.
Other ways of increasing problem solving skills include the following:
- Observing how others solve problems.
- Reading about problem solving techniques.
- Practicing different problem solving methods.
- Undergoing training on problem solving.
- Challenging yourself to be a good problem solver and be comfortable making decisions.
- Working on unrelated fields, assignments and different departments to cross learn new transferable subjects, skills, methods etc.
- Playing games that help in stimulating problem solving abilities such as solving puzzles and playing chess.
- Improving your research skills.
14. Challenges and obstacles in problem solving
Reasons why problems might not be solved include:
- Ignoring or avoiding the problem.
- Thinking that problem solving process takes too much time or effort.
- Not having the authority to decide which solution should be implemented.
- Procrastinating or inertia to resolve a problem because it could take a long time to figure out solutions especially for complex problems.
- Thinking that the problem is more difficult than it really is.
- Thinking that you have to figure it all out on your own.
- Not asking for help.
- Unwilling to take other people’s inputs.
- Fear that implementation could be difficult.
- Fear of failure.
- Resource constraints; insufficient resources such as manpower and finances to properly address large scope problems.
- Too many problems or difficulty prioritizing problems.
- Resistance to change or new ways of doing things.
- Not following through on solutions after the brainstorming stage.
- Giving up too quickly when it takes long to solve a problem.
- Not measuring progress.
- Changing external factors causing the need to rethink or revise solutions.
- Inexperience handling and solving problems.
- Not wanting to deal with uncertainty.
15. Causes of problems at work
Workplace problems can be caused by issues such as micromanagement, lack of accountability, difficult work environment, too much red tape, lack of advancement opportunities and lack of recognition.
Other causes of problems in the office include: poor communication, undefined processes or procedures, lack of resources, financial difficulties, not being properly trained, boredom, lack of motivation and stress at work.
Additional factors are heavy workloads, poor performance, lack of planning, unclear expectations, poor customer service, strained working relationships, poor management, staff turnover, burnout and poor job fit.
16. Problem solving skills
Skills that can aid in improving problem solving include:
Decision making skills – useful especially in choosing between alternatives, identifying the best solution and being able to explain why the chosen solution is the best one under the circumstances.
Communication skills – helps in firstly letting others know that there is a problem then secondly in outlining how the problem will be corrected, thirdly in assigning responsibilities and explaining to others what they should be doing and fourthly in letting others know that the problem has been resolved.
Risk taking – ability to identify the pros and cons of an alternative and then arming yourself with enough information to carry out the plan of action.
Prioritization – when faced with many problems at work and being able to identify the most urgent and important problem that should be fixed.
Flexibility – conditions and situations change all the time therefore, willingness to re-analyze plans and assumptions and re-calibrate them as needed is essential.
Other helpful traits consist of willingness to receive feedback , determination and perseverance to see things through, patience, connecting the dots or figuring out the relationship between things and tolerance for uncertainty.
17. Learning from others who have solved similar problems
It is possible that this is not the first time a problem has been encountered, others within the organization or elsewhere might have encountered similar problems and successfully solved them.
A similar problem could have been previously resolved by a coworker, a manager, someone from a different department or office, a consultant, a researcher etc.
Learning from others helps to save time and boost confidence in problem solving.
It is especially important to have documented problem solving procedures for critical problems that have occurred in the past. This acts as a form of knowledge library that is stored within the organization and can be transferred from one person to another.
18. Examples of problems at work
Typical problems faced at the workplace include the following:
- Lack of communication.
- Lack of resources.
- Missed deadlines.
- Not meeting goals.
- Difficulties getting along with others.
- Conflicts between employees .
- Poor leadership .
- Financial problems.
- Cost overruns.
- Bad customer service.
- Over promising or over committing.
- External challenges and threats.
- Difficult co-workers.
- Lack of teamwork.
- Poor attitude.
- Disconnect between supervisors and subordinates.
- Unhappy clients.
- Insufficient or lack of feedback.
- Job stress.
- Difficult customers.
- Low morale.
- Lack of appreciation or recognition.
- Poor work environment.
- Inefficient or obsolete systems.
- Duplication of efforts.
- Inadequate training.
Example of a problem: A simple example of a problem at the workplace is – “Failing to reach the branch office’s sales goals for the year?”
Questions to ask and analyze when diagnosing and resolving this problem can consist of the following:
- What was the annual sales goal?
- What percentage of the goal did we achieve?
- What was the gap?
- How were we supposed to reach the goal?
- Did we break down the goal into smaller achievable tasks or milestones?
- What processes or steps did we plan for reaching the goals?
- What action did we implement?
- Who was responsible for what?
- What internal and/or external challenges did we encounter?
- What systems or methods did we implement to monitor progress towards the goal?
- Why didn’t we reach the goal?
- When did we realize we wouldn’t reach the goal?
- What are the consequences for not meeting the goal?
- How can we correct the situation?
- How much time do we have to fix the problem?
- How can we prevent the problem from happening again?
- What can we learn from our mistakes?
- Have we met the sales goals in the past?
- Have other branch offices met their annual sales goals?
- How did others achieve their goals?
- What can we learn from others?
19. Best practices for problem solving
Problem solving is an ongoing learning process. Whereas problems cannot be entirely eliminated at work, you can take proactive steps to improve the organizational knowledge and capacity for handling problems.
Below are some ways that can help you to be better equipped to handle new and old problems when they arise in the workplace:
- Working collaboratively with others to solve problems.
- Documenting solutions to known or resolved problems; saving steps learned in resolving past issues.
- Constantly refining problem solving methods as new and old problems are resolved.
- Preparing and utilizing checklists for various work processes.
- Writing and implementing standard operating procedures and policies.
- Using handbooks, guidelines, manuals and flowcharts.
- Adopting quality control procedures at critical stages.
- Regularly doing projections or forecasting and assessing progress against initial plans.
- Learning from mistakes.
- Regular staff training.
- Conducting risk analysis and creating back up or contingency plans.
- Using audits to ensure that laid down procedures are being adhered to and finding out if there are any compliance problems.
- Regularly reviewing job performance through observation, reports, check-in meetings etc.
- Using timelines and deadlines.
- Generating insights from data collection.
- Implementing stronger monitoring systems.
- Encouraging a culture of ongoing process improvements.
- Taking initiative to resolve problems.
- Speaking up or voicing concerns early on when problems are detected.
- Aiming for good and regular communication across the organization.
- Listening to employees’ feedback.
- Encouraging suggestions for process improvements.
- Clear goal setting including long-term and short-term planning and goals.
- Adopting better technology and systems.
- Using external experts where needed such as consultants.
- Keeping track and staying up to date with external forces and changes such as changing customer preferences, economic conditions, government regulation, competition, technological advancements, political changes etc.
- Encouraging inter-departmental cross sharing of tips and tricks in addressing challenges.
- Evaluating results regularly.
Problem solving entails making corrections and improvements when things don’t go as expected.
Some problems can be fixed in a short amount of time while others take longer to be resolved.
At a minimum, when faced with a problem take some time to figure out what the real problem is, what caused the problem and find out potential alternatives to address the problem.
Afterwards select the best possible solution, devise a plan for carrying out the solution then implement it. Finalize by monitoring your progress and evaluating whether the problem has been resolved.
Additional Resources on Ways to Improve Your Problem Solving Skills at Work Seven Steps for Effective Problem Solving in the Workplace How to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills 9 Ways to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 5 Ways To Improve Your Problem Solving Skills How to Improve Problem Solving Skills Seven techniques for boosting independent problem solving skills in the workplace How to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills with These 8 Science-Backed Techniques Summary Article Name 19 Ways to Improve Your Problem Solving Skills at Work Description Learn step-by-step ways to improve your problem solving skills at work including examples of problems at work, defining the problem, evaluating solutions and best practices in problem solving. Author Duncan Muguku Publisher Name ThriveYard Blog Categories
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