How to Use Problem Solving Skills in Six Basic Steps


How to Use Problem Solving Skills in Six Basic Steps

Problem solving is part of everyone's job, whether you're a manager or a new hire. Project managers can solve problems for customers and team members, and individual contributors can solve problems for themselves or their colleagues. All employees must understand the problem-solving process and develop problem-solving skills.

This article provides ways to improve your problem-solving skills and career advancement opportunities.  Learn about the Six Steps to Becoming a Better Problem Solver


What is Problem Solving?

Problem solving is the process of understanding a problem and trying to find an effective solution. Depending on the type and complexity of the problem, it may require the use of mathematical operations and may test critical thinking skills. When potential employers talk about problem solving, they are usually trying to gauge your ability and ability to deal with difficult situations and complex business problems. Almost all employers value problem-solving skills and want employees with these qualities who can support decision-making in the company's day-to-day operations.


Here are the Rudimentary Steps Involved in Problem-Solving

How to Use Problem Solving Skills in Six Basic Steps

1. Identification of the Problem

The first step is to carefully analyze the situation to learn more about the problem. A single situation can solve many problems. Identify each problem and determine its cause. Predict the actions and reactions of those affected by the problem.

Then, based on your preliminary observations, use the following tips to pinpoint the problem more precisely.

• Distinguish between fact and opinion.

• Identify the process causing the problem.

• Analysis of company policies and procedures;

• Discuss the issue with team members to gather additional information.

• Define the problem in concrete terms

• Gather all the information you need to solve the problem.

When you identify a problem at this stage, you should focus on the problem rather than trying to define it in terms of a solution. For example, "We need to rewrite the curriculum" focuses on solutions rather than problems. Instead, a better way to identify the problem is to say, "The training documentation is inconsistent."

Depending on the complexity of the problem, tools such as flowcharts and cause-effect diagrams can be used to identify problems and their root causes.


2. Identify Alternative Solutions

Think of all the possible ways to solve the problem. Invite suggestions from those affected and consult with someone who has more experience with the type of problem you are experiencing. You can also use polls and discussion groups to generate ideas. When looking for alternatives, keep the following in mind:

• Think about the issues that delay the existing problem-solving process.

• Ensure that the ideas generated are consistent with relevant goals and objectives;

• Involve everyone in the idea generation process.

• Distinguish between short-term and long-term alternatives.

Write down any suggested solutions. Each problem should have at least 5 to 8 possible solutions.


3. Evaluate the Solution

Now it's time to evaluate your list of alternatives. Evaluate the positive and negative consequences of each alternative identified in the previous step. Analyze and compare all alternatives in terms of the resources required to implement them, including time, data, people and budget.


4. Choose a Solution

At the end of the evaluation process, we select the solution most likely to solve the problem. Determine how well your solution meets the following goals:

• Solve problems smoothly without creating new problems.

• Good for all involved.

• Practical and easy to implement.

• Comply with company policies and procedures.

When choosing a solution, it's important to consider implementation. Check the following:

• Personnel responsible for implementing decisions;

• How employees implement decisions.

• Amount of time and resources required.


See: 8 Steps to Start a Business in Nigeria - A Beginner's Guide

5. Run the Selected Solution

The next step is to implement the chosen solution. 

This usually includes the following tasks:

• Develop an action plan to implement the selected solution.

• Define goals and break them down into measurable goals to monitor implementation.

• Establishing the implementation date;

• Communicate the plan to all participants.

• Create feedback channels that can be used throughout the process.


6. Monitor Progress and Make Adjustments

Measure your progress regularly to make sure the solution is working. Collect data and feedback to ensure the solution meets the needs of everyone involved. If something unexpected happens, you may need to make adjustments. If you feel that your solution is not working as planned, you may need to revert to an alternative solution and implement a new plan.


What are the Key Problem-Solving Skills Employers are Looking for?

Many employers are looking for candidates with problem-solving skills. The most in-demand skills include:

• Listening

Active listening helps you gather valuable information to solve problems. A good problem solver is someone who identifies all stakeholders, encourages their participation, and actively listens to diverse opinions to understand the problem, identify root causes, and find effective solutions.

• Analytical thinking

Analytical thinking helps us investigate and understand problems and their causes. The ability to establish causal relationships is also important for predicting the long-term consequences of certain actions. People with strong analytical skills can evaluate the effectiveness of different solutions and choose the most suitable one.

• Creativity

Solving problems requires a balance between logic and creativity. You will have to be creative to find the cause of the problem. Developing innovative solutions also requires creativity. Creative people bring unique perspectives and provide new directions for companies.

• Communication

Whether you are looking for a solution to an existing problem or want others to follow a certain direction, you need to communicate effectively. You may need to communicate with others in person, by phone, text or email. You may be required to communicate with a variety of people, including team members, customers and managers. Effective multi-channel communication can help you become a better problem solver. See: Top 10 Communication Skills, Types and Ways to improve in your communication skills

• Decision making

You must be able to decide which method to use to investigate a problem, which solution to use, and how to implement the solution. Almost every problem-solving step requires a decision. Learn about Public Policy: Meaning, Types and Nature

• Teamwork

Solving problems requires teamwork. Solicit people's opinions on problems, involve them in developing effective solutions, ask for their input on selected solutions, and trust them to drive the process. To perform effectively, it is important to engage and motivate all team members. Learn How to Build a Successful Team - A step-by-step guide

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