Employers around the country and the globe are focusing more on specific skills they would like to see in their future employees than on qualifications and experience alone. One of the key skills that virtually all employers acknowledge is critical to enable them to confront the challenges they will face now and into the future is problem solving skills. But if this is such a critical skill, how do you improve your problem solving skills? We’ve got some ideas.
Define the problem.
Often the key to success and very step in in solving any kind of problem is actually to define it. This seems straightforward, but often isn’t. This step involves looking at the root cause of an issue rather than the myriad of symptomatic issues. If you’re upset because of something critical a colleague or friend said to you, our initial response is might be to think the problem is the colleague. In actual fact, the root cause of our problem might be that there is something within us, or our point of view that needs to be addressed.
Focus on the solution, not the problem
Once you have clearly defined the problem, your focus should be on the solution, rather than the problem. Focusing on the problem just makes it bigger and seem insurmountable. It also breeds negativity.
Be open minded.
Make sure you confront your problems with an open mind. This means being open to any type of solution from any source, and not being influenced by your own personal bias.
View problems as neutral, not good or bad
You should also view your problems as neutral, as a challenge or puzzle to be solved rather than a bad problem or one with adverse consequences. Labelling your problems as good or bad, tends to skew them towards certain pre defined outcomes and can also breed negativity, the enemy of effective problem solving. As much as possible, try and keep emotion out of it, and maintain an healthy, open mind.
Use language , that creates possibility, “ what if”
When discussing your particular problem, try and use language that focuses on the possibilities. Us
Keep it simple
Often, when we are trying to find solutions to a problem we tend to overthink things, getting stuck on the details and often over complicating the real issues at the heart of the problem. Often, the most obvious and easiest solution really is the best one.
Know when to ask for help
If you’re really struggling with finding solutions or if it is a particularly complex problem, know when and importantly who you can call on to help. Some problems may just be too big to handle on your own, so reach out to someone you trust . It might just make all the difference.
Whether solving problems in life, learning or your professional career, problem solving skills will always be to your advantage. So learn and refine them and it will serve you well over the rest of your life.