Why is problem-solving important in the workplace? (And tips)
Updated 25 May 2023
Thanks to strong problem-solving skills, you have the ability to handle difficult or unexpected situations in the workplace or help your employer overcome complex business challenges. Investing in these skills may help you improve your performance and increase your chances of advancing to a senior position. Learning about the importance of problem-solving may even help you build stronger professional relationships with colleagues. In this article, we define problem-solving skills and answer 'Why is problem-solving important in the workplace?'.
Why is problem-solving important in the workplace?
Learning 'Why is problem-solving important in the workplace?' may help you redefine the next steps in your career and approach new challenges in a higher-ranking role. Here's how problem-solving may be beneficial for you:
It inspires better time-management
With a senior role come more day-to-day responsibilities. In addition to your tasks, in your new role, you might be responsible for overseeing and managing the work of others. Thanks to your ability to solve problems and develop innovative ideas, you may design effective strategies for making work more efficient. You may even use your problem-solving abilities to implement automation tools and solutions.
It helps you strategise and prioritise work
By using problem-solving, you may effectively determine the course of action or prioritise work. It also helps you strategise solutions, helping others recognise and use their strengths and potential to contribute to projects. Problem-solving abilities are especially useful when a team is experiencing a high volume of work, for example, a retail team before the winter holidays.
It encourages you to think unconventionally
When you approach problems proactively and believe that you have the ability to solve them, your solutions may become more unconventional. This may help you encourage others to think in a functional and innovative way. Through the consistent use of problem-solving, you may support your employer in making their products, services or the entire organisation more competitive.
It motivates you to work well under pressure
A key benefit of problem-solving is that it helps you succeed even when working under pressure. Effective problem solvers often have personalities that make them thrive when there's a deadline approaching or they're facing a complex workplace challenge. By applying analytical thinking to these situations, you may determine if a problem requires a quick or more complex but long-term solution. It also helps you guide and calms your colleagues in moments of stress.
It helps you take smart risks
Problem solvers take smarter risks because they realise that no matter the consequences, there's likely to be another solution that helps them accomplish a goal. This makes them approach work with more confidence. In addition, they use their problem-solving abilities to predict problems and develop potential solution ideas ahead of time.
Examples of problem-solving skills
Problem-solving skills are abilities and competencies that you use to identify the cause of a problem and find an effective solution to it. They're transferable skills, which means you may use them in almost any role or profession. It's possible to use the term problem-solving to describe one specific skill or a set of skills that contribute to this ability. Some skills that help you become an effective problem-solver include:
Active listening is the practise of consciously analysing the information someone is sharing with you. It requires you to pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal messages, including their facial expressions or tone of voice. Thanks to actively listening during meetings or in everyday situations, you may give people better feedback or gain more insight into problems you or anyone else is experiencing. As an active listener, you may find it easier to analyse issues and find solutions because active listening equips you with more information and helps you understand other perspectives.
Nonverbal communication is one of many tools that can help you make a good impression in interviews and in your professional life. However, candidate assessments should be based on skills and qualifications, and workplaces should strive to be inclusive and understanding of individual differences in communication styles.
Analytical thinking allows you to identify and clearly define problems by extracting key information about them. They also help with verifying that information and testing different ideas that might potentially help solve problems you're experiencing. As an effective analytical thinker, you may power your decision-making process using measurable and accurate data you gather to learn about the problem.
Thanks to creativity, you may develop more innovative solutions to problems. Although using creativity may require taking more risks, combining it with analytical thinking allows you to develop ideas that aren't only unique, but also likely to help you accomplish a goal you set for yourself. In addition, creativity encourages openness and allows you to look at challenges as if they were growth and development opportunities.
Decision-making is a cognitive process that results in selecting a solution that you consider the most effective. It allows you to take control of situations and undertake an active approach to solving problems. Combining it with other problem-solving skills, you may make more thoughtful decisions that are beneficial for everyone who works within a project or organisation. In more complex situations, decision-making facilitates reaching a compromise.
Self-motivation is a key aspect of problem-solving because it inspires you to continue looking for a solution even when you keep encountering various obstacles. It's a force that helps you focus on your initial goal and an internal drive that makes you believe in your abilities and potential. As a self-motivated person, you may easily accept that failure is a natural part of any great accomplishment and that only staying persistent may guarantee long-term success.
Tips for improving problem-solving skills
Regardless if you're a natural problem solver or you develop this skill through hard work, there are some steps you may take to improve your problem-solving abilities at work. Here are some tips you may consider to develop qualities that help you effectively address problems:
Analyse and understand the cause
As soon as you encounter a problem, try analysing it to better understand its cause. For example, you may determine that the cause of low team productivity is resistance to change or poor communication. Even if the problem and its cause seem like separate aspects of a workplace, you may use problem-solving to notice how they impact each other.
Research standard solutions and practises
To improve the way in which you solve problems, familiarise yourself with issues that other managers or teams encounter when they're working on similar projects to what you're handling. If the organisation for which you work has been operating for some time, executives are likely to be able to guide you through the process. You may also ask the head of the department or former managers about access to resources that describe solutions you might try.
Visualise the consequences of your actions
You may develop better solutions to workplace problems when you start visualising the effects of those solutions. Before making any formal decisions, spend some time analysing which aspects of a project or the organisation your potential solution might affect. You may also list potential threats and ways to avoid them.
Brainstorm with a team
Even if you're a highly creative person and a natural problem solver, brainstorming sessions may help you look at situations from a completely new perspective. To brainstorm with your colleagues, schedule a date and time during which the entire team might focus on solving a specific problem. You may use a mind map to write down and illustrate solutions with which you come up and spend the next session short-listing them to finally choose one that has the biggest potential.
Use successful solutions to create new processes
Whenever a solution you developed works, make sure to use it to create a new process. This way, whenever you encounter a similar issue, you may simply repeat the steps you took. This not only requires less time but also makes the work of your team more productive and effective overall.
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