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Problem-solving skills are a valuable trait that most employers seek in candidates. Being able to effectively solve problems is beneficial in nearly any position and can support a person's overall career advancement. Here we explore what problem-solving skills are, the most important skills in the workplace, steps to solve problems, and tips for improving this skill set.
Problem-solving skills are skills that allow individuals to efficiently and effectively find solutions to issues. This attribute is a primary skill that employers look for in job candidates and is essential in a variety of careers. This skill is considered to be a soft skill, or an individual strength, as opposed to a learned hard skill. Effective problem-solving involves several skills within the problem-solving category, and each career may require specific problem-solving skills. For example, a marketing professional will need good communication, research, and creativity skills, all of which fall under the problem-solving umbrella.
The following are a few of the most important problem-solving skills in the workplace:
Decision-making skills are an important component of problem-solving as most problems require decisions to be made in order to address and resolve the issue. Good decision-making skills help professionals quickly choose between two or more alternatives after evaluating the pros and cons of each. Essential skills that fall under this skill category include intuition, reasoning, creativity, and organization.
In order to be an effective problem solver, you must be able to successfully communicate the problem to others as well as your recommendations for a solution. Proper communication can ensure solutions are effectively carried out and that everyone is on the same page regarding an issue. Good communication skills necessary to solve problems include active listening, verbal communication, written communication, receiving and giving feedback, and respect.
Collaboration skills are essential to solving problems as they allow you to work well with others towards a common goal. Nearly all workplace settings require some level of collaboration, making it an essential skill to have for every professional. Good collaboration skills ensure that communication is open, problems are addressed in a cooperative manner, and group goals are placed ahead of personal goals. Important collaboration skills to have in terms of problem-solving include emotional intelligence, curiosity, conflict resolution, respect, and sensitivity.
Being open minded is another important component of strong problem-solving skills, as you must be able to look at things from different angles and consider alternatives when necessary. Open mindedness is essentially the willingness to look at things from a different perspective and consider new ideas. Characteristics of an open-minded person include curiosity, acceptance, eagerness to learn, and awareness.
Nearly all problem-solving requires some level of analysis, whether it be simply analyzing the current situation to form a solution or the analysis of data and research related to the problem. Analytical skills allow an individual to better understand an issue and come up with effective solutions based on evidence and facts. Analytical skills that come in handing during the problem-solving process include critical thinking, research, data analysis, troubleshooting, and forecasting.
The following are the primary steps used in the problem-solving process:
There are several ways you can work to improve your ability to solve problems, including: