Tips for Thought

Ways to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills at Work

One way to improve your life at your workplace is to handle specific soft skills like problem-solving. Soft skills refer to character traits and interpersonal skills that help individuals pursue their personal or organizational goals. Some examples of soft skills include:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Time management
  • Stress management
  • Conflict management
  • Negotiation
  • Resourcefulness, etc.

What is Problem Solving skills?

Problem-solving skills refer to soft skills that allow a person to identify and understand the causes of a problem. Once they can do so, they formulate a solution that addresses such issues.

Why are Problem Solving skills essential?

Problem-solving skills offer a lot of benefits for an organization. Some of these examples include:

  • Managing issues that could hinder the performance of a company;
  • Offers career development for employees;
  • Improves customer/client satisfaction; and
  • Boosts the company’s reputation

How Can I Improve My Problem-Solving skills?

Here are ways to improve problem-solving skills at work:

1. Identify and understand the problem.

It’s safe to say that you can’t solve a problem without figuring out its nature. It also helps you understand relevant factors associated with the problem to offer long-term solutions.

Example: You have an employee whose performance has lowered in quality over the months. You realize their performance has dwindled because they cannot effectively manage their time.

2. Identify the causes behind the main problem.

Aside from factors that may exacerbate the problem, it helps to identify its causes.

Example: You try to figure out the causes of why the said employee has a problem with time management. You then realize certain factors are hindering them from managing their time like:

  • They have difficulty falling asleep; hence they wake up late; and
  • They live a relatively long distance away from the office

3. Visualize the problem.

This step involves picturing how the cause created the problem in the first place.

Example: Insomnia may enable the employee to have difficulty getting adequate rest. When they have little rest, they feel dizzy and unable to get ready for work. Additionally, they live far away, which requires more time to get to work. This situation results in them working overtime to compensate for lost work in the day. This arrangement continues the cycle, as the employee cannot have adequate rest once they return home.

4. Identify possible solutions.

This step involves brainstorming possible solutions that can address these issues. There are two types of solutions: long-term and short-term.

Short-term solutions refer to answers to the immediate problem. Long-term solutions, however, address the root cause, preventing the problem from recurring.

Short-term solutions:

  • First, offer a short-term solution. Address the issue with your employee. Let them know their quality of work is slipping, so they know their performance. Give them a week or so to adjust their schedule so they can
  • Second, provide feedback. Despite the improved work quality, the employee may have health issues that could result in the same problem.

Long-term solutions:

When the problem repeats itself, offer long-term solutions. Some examples include:

  • Offering an adjustment to their schedule;
  • Create a shared transportation route so employees from distant places can come to the office in time; or
  • Offer an at-home work arrangement that allows them to work from home

5. Allow feedback.

Provide your solutions and ask for feedback from people involved in the problem. Select the best possible solution that benefits everyone.

The Bottom Line:

Learning the importance of problem-solving skills in the workplace can help improve the work environment. Once you sharpen these skills, you’ll become more confident with your competence at work. If you need to improve your problem-solving skills, join an online seminar or ask your HR for suggestions.