Problem-solving Effectively

“Problem Solving” is the most important skill that hiring supervisors again and again say that they’re looking for in candidates.

When I first saw this, I was surprised … thinking that it was surely a key criteria in technical positions but not as important in other jobs. With reflection and input of others, I realized it’s important for all jobs and is another key, generic skill.

Problems, challenges, conflicts are everywhere and require solutions, fixes, and resolutions … in both our lives and our workplaces. Most of us appreciate being around people who can solve, fix, and get things going again and who can make improvements. We feel really good when we fix. On the other hand, those who repeatedly bring problems to us and to the workplace can be quite a challenge!

Solving, fixing and resolving are skills that deserve our never-ending attention and work. What’s the process? It starts with a good understanding and clarity about the core problem or issue; it continues with thoughts and inputs about possible solutions and alternatives as well as analysis about plusses, minuses, risks, impediments and rewards; and includes testing of possibilities. The focus needs to be on viable and impactful solutions!

Job seekers: You have an opportunity to be a more effective interviewee (and the selected candidate) when you ask better questions and listen more effectively. When answering questions, give examples of your strengths (your skills, traits, and achievements) with examples and include those times when you solved, discovered, made a difference, and solved or improved something. Are you the kind of person who will bring `solutions’ … or issues and problems?

Leaders: You can take responsibility and make improvements by learning new skills such as influencing and by motivating others to make improvements; by asking good questions; and by solving things and situations vs. blaming, criticizing, and keeping on doing things the same old way. Consider the choices and comparison discussed by Speaker Newt Gingrich: Are you a `prison guard of the past’ … or a `pioneer of the future’?

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