In any business model, problems are likely to arise frequently, and when you least expect them to. Problems can range from everyday nuisances such as equipment malfunctions, performance issues, and not meeting certain goals, as well as more intense problems such as workplace harassment and theft. It is up to your leaders and managers to come up with the most effective solutions to these problems and carry them out in a calm and clear-headed manner. This is what gains managers the respect that they need to hold authority and carry out their duties.
The managerial problem-solving cycle is made up of constant checking, identifying, solving, and acting. Even ‘solved’ problems need to be monitored. This is why it is very important to have managers on your team that have great problem-solving skills and actually thrive when it comes to solving difficult problems.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of problem-solving for potential managers, how to assess whether someone has good problem-solving skills, and how you can improve your problem-solving.
Why do managers need to have problem-solving skills?
Finding the best solutions to problems in the workplace is very important as it helps employees to succeed. Some of the reasons why effective problem solving by management is so important are:
- Achieve goals- A good manager that can effectively get rid of problems and obstacles that are in the path of your employees will help employees achieve the goals that have been set for them.
- Manage teams effectively- Efficient management and problem-solving means that teams can be managed properly, and each team member will know exactly what is expected of them.
- Build collaboration- With problems taken care of, it is easier to build collaboration, cohesion, and a welcoming workplace environment.
- Client satisfaction- When it comes to client satisfaction, speedy problem solving is an absolute must.
- Meeting deadlines- With problems eliminated, the path is clear for employees to meet deadlines and deliver work in a timely manner.
- Eliminate stress from the workplace- even the tiniest problems such as a broken printer can cause enormous stress in the workplace, so having a manager that takes problem-solving seriously will be a massive asset when creating a calm and stress-free working environment.
How do you identify whether someone has good problem-solving skills or not?
If you are looking to hire potential managers for your business, you’ll need to identify whether they are good problem solvers or not. This can be quite tricky, as you often can’t get a well-rounded idea of someone’s problem-solving skills in just one interview, but you can do the following:
Ask them to come up with solutions to theoretical problems
In the interview setting, why not ask the candidate to come up with solutions to recent problems that you experienced in your workplace. Encourage them to ask questions about the specifics of the situation so that they have an accurate idea of the issue at hand. Don’t rush them, as good solutions require some brainstorming (so ensure you provide them with a paper and pen should it be an in-person interview). Hearing the solutions that they come up with should give you valuable insight into their problem-solving skills and whether or not they would be a good fit for your workplace environment.
Ask them about their previous experience with problem-solving
Even if the candidate has no previous experience as a manager, everyone has to solve problems in their own lives, whether it be at school or as an employee. Ask about what other problems they have recently had to solve, and this should show you how well they can use logic and whether they stayed calm within the problem-solving process. Ask about how they felt and what obstacles they experienced along the way when it came to their problem-solving.
There are also many online tests that you could make use of and ask potential candidates to take in an effort to get a clear idea of their problem-solving skills.
How do you improve your problem-solving skills?
If you are someone that is looking for a management position, is perhaps already in a management position, and are looking to improve your problem-solving skills, you could look at the following for answers.
Gaining any sort of experience in the workplace, even working as a waiter or cashier, can help you develop your problem-solving skills. Of course, a management position would be the most valuable, but if that is not yet possible, just try to put your problem-solving skills to the test in your everyday life. Whether it be a flat tyre or a personal matter, test yourself by always trying to come up with the most effective solution.
There are so many online courses out there that can help give you the skills that you need to become a better problem solver. These online courses may focus on soft managerial skills or even focus on the skill of problem-solving itself. Many of these courses are very affordable and even free, so go the extra mile by enrolling in one of these courses.
When you are faced with a problem in your life, always push yourself to go the extra mile in coming up with solutions for your problems. Shy away from being lazy and rather apply yourself in as many aspects as you possibly can, and you’ll soon see that your problem-solving skills will blossom and develop.
As a manager in the workplace, it is important that you are constantly improving your knowledge when it comes to industry regulations, current industry trends, etc. Take the time to read relevant articles and up your knowledge for your chosen industry. This way, when problems arise, you’ll be armed with relevant knowledge that may help you in your quest to find the ideal solution.
Helping others solve their problems
If you really want to up your problem-solving skills, you could let your friends and family know, and spend time with them discussing their current problems and frustrations, and help them find solutions.
You could also practice coming up with solutions to theoretical problems that you are not currently facing but could face in the near future.
Practice stress relief
If you are someone that gets stressed out very easily, this is definitely going to be a hindrance to you when it comes to solving problems. Stress clouds your brain, which can cause you to make snap, erratic decisions that you may regret later.
If you want to be a good problem solver, practice maintaining a peaceful state of mind, and look into stress relief techniques such as meditation, self-care, etc.
4 steps to problem-solving
When it comes to solving problems both in and out of the workplace, there are four steps that you can take for effective problem solving; these include:
Identify the problem
The first step is to identify the problem as soon as possible. The sooner you spot a problem, the easier it may be to solve it. Allowing problems to go unnoticed means that they’ll probably become more complicated and grow in size. So ensure that you are always keeping an eye on things so that you can identify problems as they arise.
Analyse the problem
Once you have identified the problem, the next step is to analyse it. Look at the problem from a few different angles and ensure that you understand the source of the issue at hand before coming up with solutions. If you understand the root of the problem, you’re more likely to come up with solutions that will be most effective.
Come up with solutions
Practice techniques such as brainstorming when developing solutions. Come up with a variety of solutions and decide which is most fair, affordable, time-effective, and convenient in the given situation. Try to avoid making impulsive, snap decisions that you could end up regretting at a later stage.
Come up with a plan that you can use to implement the solution you have come up with, and if it involves any other parties, ensure that they know about it. Act on this plan and carry it out with precision and confidence. There should also be a contingency plan in place so that your Plan A has a fallback should anything go wrong along the way.
Skills that are associated with problem-solving
Problem-solving can be used as an umbrella term for a diverse skill set that aids in effective problem-solving. People who are known as fantastic problem solvers often have the same sort of skill set, and if you are on the lookout for a potential manager, the following skills may be an indicator that they’d be good at solving problems. Some of the skills that are associated with problem-solving include:
Communication is a very important skill for any manager. Even if a manager comes up with great solutions if they cannot effectively communicate these solutions to their team, then what is the point? As poor communication results in good ideas getting lost in translation.
Communication skills also help managers find the root of certain issues as they’re able to easily talk to their team and ask the right questions to find the source of any workplace issues.
Good communication and transparency also help build trust in the workplace, allowing employees to report their problems to the manager without hesitation.
Confidence is one of the main features of a good leader. It takes confidence in one’s abilities to come up with great solutions, and even more, confidence to implement them and carry them out. Employees will be distrustful of a manager that is not confident and may question their problem-solving skills even though their solutions may be effective. It is all about confidence when leading a team!
Ability to keep calm under pressure
There is no doubt about it…dealing with a wide variety of problems every day can be incredibly stressful, and many managers find that they are just not cut out for the job as they succumb to the stress. A good problem-solving manager should be able to keep their stress in check and ensure that they are always calm and clear-headed when coming up with solutions. Stress will only cause a cloudy brain and increase the likelihood of making ill-informed, erratic decisions.
As we have mentioned in this article already, there is a step-by-step way to logically dealing with problems. Logical thinkers will easily be able to assess all of the possible solutions and choose the one that makes the most sense. Logical thinkers are also often talented when it comes to math and finding the most affordable and convenient solutions to workplace problems, both big and small.
As much as logical thinking is very important, creativity plays a role that is just as important. In many instances, it takes thinking a little outside of the box in order to come up with custom solutions that best suit your specific situation in the workplace. Sometimes the best solutions are the ones that are the most creative.
A great problem solver will have a healthy relationship with their intuition and will have a keen sense of when a problem may be arising, sometimes before it even happens. A good problem solver should be able to trust their gut instinct and use their intuition as a clue to look for any issues around them.
Even if a candidate is not a natural problem solver, they can still develop their problem-solving skills so that one day they could be a great manager. That being said, management positions can be very stressful and are definitely not for everyone. Choose carefully when putting people in important management positions. If you are a business owner that is unsure about how to assess a potential candidate’s problem-solving skills, you may want to get the help of a professional recruitment agency to screen candidates for you.