How to Use Problem Solving Skills at Workplace?

How to Use Problem Solving Skills at Workplace?

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Rashmi
Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content
Updated on Nov 28, 2023 12:33 IST

Problem-solving skills are expressed in defining problems, proposing alternatives, evaluating the best course of action, and acting accordingly. Sometimes, the problem requires abstract thinking or a creative solution. Many companies add problem-solving skills in their job descriptions, especially in leadership roles, and mainly refer to the ability to handle difficult or unexpected situations in the workplace. Organizations depend on people who can analyze problems and identify solutions. Problem-solving skills help you identify and resolve challenges faced at the workplace quickly and effectively. Learn more about these skills and how they work.

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Characteristics of Problem-Solving Team Leaders

  • They tend to start projects quickly and then solve problems when they arise.
  • Such leaders are skilled at detecting problems and solving them.
  • They do an excellent job daily, setting priorities and solving immediate problems.
  • These leaders do not behold the past and react to present events.
  • They focus their efforts on the work that needs to be done today.

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Characteristics of Leaders Who Anticipate Problems

  • They are effective at anticipating potential problems or things that could go wrong.
  • These leaders tend to see trends and patterns in what they and others are doing.
  • They prefer to keep a long-term view and focus on the future.
  • Such leaders like to anticipate the future.
  • They are adept at identifying the changes that need to be made.
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Stages of Problem-Solving and Required Skills

Problem-solving is considered a skill in itself. It is supported by many other skills that can assist you in becoming a better problem solver. Let us check what the different stages of problem solving are and how you can use other skills along with problem solving to deal with a workplace challenge.

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Identify the Problem

You can’t start solving a problem before you recognize it. Sometimes, you will see the problem for yourself or someone will highlight it to you. Both discovery techniques are critical but require slightly different skills. The following factors can play a crucial role in the process:

  • Actively Listening
  • Data Review
  • Research
  • An Examination of the Past
  • Communication

You must identify and state the issue as clearly as possible. For example: “Web traffic was an all-time low in Week 5 of May.”

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Analyze the Problem

Deep dive into the problem. Keep it straight and be precise about the problem areas that you see. It can be anything, from resource crunch to timing and other circumstances. Below are skills that can help you analyze the problem effectively –

  • Data gathering
  • Data analysis
  • Fact-finding
  • Historical analysis
  • Data review
  • Prioritizing 
  • Prediction
  • Forecasting

For example: “Out of 10 team members, we only had input from 5 members that led to low volumes and thus low footfall”.

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Plan on How to Overcome the Problem

You know the problem and may even know why it exists, but what do you do now? Your next step is to think of some solutions.

A true natural problem solver is most likely to shine here. Most of the time, the first solution that comes to mind will not be the best. Don’t fall victim to knee-jerk reactions; instead, use some of the approaches listed below to provide you with troubleshooting possibilities. The foremost thing is to have multiple proposals to overcome the problem.

  • Revisit your ideas after some time and weed out those that sound unreasonable.
  • Assess the advantages and disadvantages of the solutions
  • Order the remaining proposals as per preference

You may need to present the possible solutions to the higher management. Don’t fear sounding silly. You need to be creative. You never know which idea clicks. Some skills and approaches that can be helpful are – 

  • Brainstorming 
  • Creativity
  • Prediction
  • Forecasting
  • Decision making
  • Knowledge/understanding of the topic and process flow

Now that you have many solution alternatives, it’s time to sort through them and start ruling some out. There may be some that are silly, horrible, or that you know will never be adopted. Discard them and focus on the possible winning ideas.

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4. Finalize and Implement a Solution      

  • Specify Plan A and decide who will take action.
  • Convey how and when the solution will be implemented simply stepwise. 
  • Implement the solution as planned and discussed.

 To make this phase work for you, you’ll need a lot of people and management skills.

  • Communication
  • Confidence
  • Team building
  • Solving problems
  • Go ahead
  • Leadership Section
  • Credibility
  • Integrity
  • Project administration

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5. Evaluate the Outcome

Was it a viable option? Did your strategy succeed or fail miserably? To accurately measure effectiveness, the evaluation process may require significant work and review.

  • Evaluate all the aspects of the effectiveness of the solution 
  • See if you need to readdress or revise the solution. If so, have a Plan B ready 
  • If you find the outcome unsatisfactory, Return to step 2 to select a new solution or revise the existing one, and repeat the remaining steps.

The following skills may be helpful.

  • Active listening
  • Data review
  • Research
  • Communication
  • Decision making
  • Customer Support
  • Replies to comments
  • Solving problems
  • Flexibility

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What is the Importance of Problem-Solving in the Workplace?

Problems can arise at any time, be they in your professional or personal life, and thus, you must know how to deal with and solve them. Here are some benefits of problem-solving:

Make the impossible possible: You can not solve any problem with knowledge alone. Of course, it is a crucial factor in problem-solving, but systematic problem-solving approaches overcome challenges.

It makes you stand out: If you become a regular “problem solver” within your team or department, it will make you stand out, and you will be easily noticed, recognized, and appreciated.

Increases Confidence: No matter where you work or what your profession is, having the ability to solve problems will increase your confidence level. Because you’re confident in your problem-solving ability, you don’t waste time worrying about what to do if a problem arises.

In a Nutshell

Don’t see the problem as a big unit that must be fixed. That may discourage you from trying to figure it out. Instead, break it down into parts and tackle it step by step and portion by portion. The little pieces you solve will add up to become the solution for the whole unit. For example, if your organisation is confused, look at the various aspects or departments. Pick a problem area, like communication, to start with. You can move on to the other problem areas when that is fixed.

FAQs - Problem-solving at workplace

What are some tips for effective problem-solving in the workplace?

Here are some tips for effective problem-solving in the workplace:

  • Be proactive: Identify and address problems before they become major issues.
  • Gather all the facts: Don't jump to conclusions without all the relevant information.
  • Consider multiple perspectives: Seek input from different stakeholders.
  • Be creative: Don't be afraid to think outside the box.
  • Be persistent: Don't give up if the first solution doesn't work.

What are some of the challenges of problem-solving in the workplace?

Some of the challenges of problem-solving in the workplace include:

  • Time crunch: Often, problems need to be solved quickly.
  • Lack of information: Sometimes, there is not enough information to fully understand the problem.
  • Ambiguity: Sometimes, the problem is not clearly defined.
  • Conflicting priorities: Sometimes, there are competing priorities that need to be considered.
  • Resistance to change: People may be resistant to implementing new solutions.

How can I measure the effectiveness of problem-solving in my workplace?

There are a number of ways to measure the effectiveness of problem-solving in your workplace, including:

  • Tracking the number of problems solved: Keep track of the number of problems that are reported and resolved.
  • Measuring the time it takes to solve problems: Track the average time it takes to resolve problems.
  • Assessing the effectiveness of solutions: Evaluate whether solutions are effectively addressing.

How can I create a culture of problem-solving in my workplace?

Here are some tips for creating a culture of problem-solving in your workplace:

  • Encourage open communication: Make it safe for employees to report problems without fear of reprisal.
  • Empower employees to solve problems: Give employees the authority to identify and solve problems in their own work areas.
  • Provide training and resources: Provide employees with the training and resources they need to solve problems effectively.
  • Celebrate successes: Recognize and reward employees for successfully solving problems.
About the Author
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Rashmi Karan
Manager - Content

Rashmi is a postgraduate in Biotechnology with a flair for research-oriented work and has an experience of over 13 years in content creation and social media handling. She has a diversified writing portfolio and aim... Read Full Bio