Some people can solve problems — whether they’re professional or personal — better than others, which makes one wonder, is problem-solving a skill? Is it inherent? Or do you have to learn how to solve problems?
Even the most successful entrepreneurs can struggle with enormous problems. Sometimes the work itself paves the way for them, other times it’s the circumstances themselves that create a conflict.
Having control over what happens and creating solutions to resolve any issue is the key.
Work problems decrease productivity
Professional problems, or work problems, are all those situations that create conflict, dissatisfaction, or difficulty at work. It can be problems with your boss or teammates, excessive workload, or lack of motivation.
Problems at work not only end up affecting your productivity but can also trigger mood disorders.
Good examples of work problems include:
Too much pressure at work can cause stress, a very common problem that emerges when too many responsibilities weigh heavily on the shoulders of professionals.
Also known as burnout syndrome and very common for in-service professionals who are in permanent contact with other people. Like stress, burnout happens when you take on too many responsibilities and too much work. Prolonged exposure to stress pushes your mind and body to the limit, causing you to feel overwhelmed and defeated.
Disagreements with your colleagues or with your boss can generate a climate of work tension. Bosses can make life difficult. This happens because of poor management skills. An overly competitive environment generates friction between workers or struggles for leadership among teammates. In the long run, these problems at work often generate frustration and, if not resolved, will generate deep job dissatisfaction.
It is psychological violence that is continuously exercised in the person in his workplace. That harassment can come from your superior, your co-workers, or the company itself. Harassment generates an unsustainable work climate as it resorts to tactics that undermine your trust.
Reorientation of the work career
You know what you don’t want, but you don’t know what you want. You think you should change jobs, but you do not know how or what path to follow. During this confusion, you find it difficult to reinvent yourself professionally. This creates a state of uncertainty and anguish that is difficult to sustain for a long time.
How to recognize symptoms of problems at work
How do you know if work problems are affecting your well-being?
If you have any of the following symptoms, ask for help:
- Being harassed by colleagues or your boss.
- You’re always frustrated, and work makes you feel demotivated.
- Your productivity has decreased, and you feel more exhausted than usual.
- Your working climate is tense and every day you find it more unsustainable.
- Work is more stressful than enjoyable.
Causes of problems at work
There are different work problems, so their causes vary. The most common ones include:
- Managers with poor leadership skills cause problems among employees.
- The economic crisis in the company, which creates a more tense work environment. This creates a huge amount of pressure to perform more.
- Cultural and personality differences between peers, which leads to conflicts in relationships.
- Power struggles create a very competitive environment because the goals set are so aggressive that everyone wants to reach the top at the expense of others.
- Difficulties in internal communication between employees, which give rise to rumors and lack of information.
- Wrong choice of work. Maybe you studied a career because you “had exits” or you’re working on something you don’t like just to “pay the bills”.
- Lack of harmony between personal and corporate values. Thus, you don’t feel comfortable in the working climate that is breathed in the company.
- A mismatch between personal perspectives and work reality. This is a very common problem in companies forced to restructure. Thanks to this, workers have had to assume tasks and functions that did not correspond to them.
So is problem solving a skill?
Yes, it is. In life, we face many problems. Some happen at work, others at home, but it’s how we handle them that matters. To know how to deal with your problems, develop this skill.
You need methods for solving problems quickly and effectively, not just improvisation. For example, if you’re at work and you’re facing a stressful issue, what good does it do if panic gets hold of you? This is where your problem-solving skills come in handy.
If you’re ever been in an interview, you would know this: the interviewer would give you a situation and then ask you how you would deal with it. Or, he would ask you about past problems you faced at work and how you dealt with them. There is a reason interviewers ask these questions: they want to know how you behave under pressure. Are you on your best behavior or can you maintain your cool and find solutions to your problems?
The reason they want to know this is simple:
Problem-solving is considered a soft skill learned through education, training, and hard work, and employers perceive it as a major quality to have.
Is it inherent? No. Anyone can learn how to solve problems.
Take the same scenario I mentioned earlier. Instead of panic, a skilled problem-solver would analyze the causes of an unwanted situation, hatch a plan, write a variety of solutions, evaluate the best ones, and implement his plan.
Sounds easy when it’s put like that, doesn’t it?
It takes years of work and training to master this skill. Practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes progress, and it’s a skill worth learning.
Employers pay attention to it. They want people with a can-do attitude who can stand up in the face of adversity, or in this case: work problems.
Here’s another example: when a student cannot write an organized essay, his teacher gives him ways to break up paragraphs and sentences, shows him how to write a decent introduction, body, and conclusion, and shows him ways to construct simple, clear sentences to avoid writing blocks of texts.
The more the student uses the teacher’s approach, the easier it gets to write essays better and quicker. It all starts with a plan and a willingness to implement it.
The same rule applies in life. We can deal with any obstacle we encounter.
4 Methods for solving problems at work
1. To develop problem-solving skills, you need to invite uncomfortable situations.
2. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable before anything, and you’ll be on the right track.
3. The difference between a good problem solver and an amateur problem solver is experience.
4. Here are steps for solving problems you can take.
1- Identify your problems
Know the causes of the problems. You can’t solve a problem without first knowing what caused it.
To do this, you’ll need to analyze data, look up facts, and pinpoint the major obstacles that need addressing.
2- Brainstorm solutions
Knowing what caused the problem will make it easier for you to brainstorm solutions. Make a list of solutions, or better yet, have someone else help with you this.
Working with someone else at this stage will facilitate the brainstorming process. You’ll end up with a long list of solutions to compare, evaluate, and choose from.
3- Evaluate solutions
It is now time to find the right solution for the identified problem. After the first two stages, things will become much clearer.
For a successful solution, evaluating solutions is perfect for predicting potential barriers that may arise in the future.
Thus, you can cut down on losses. When teams have solutions for problems, they bring them up to their superiors, who then evaluate and make the final decision.
4- Make a plan, execute, and assess
Once everything is set in motion, now’s the time to determine if it’s working. Whether it’s a campaign ad, a promotional venture, or else, this is the ideal time to assess. It’s a big part to learn what’s working and what’s not.
4- Bonus tips to develop your problem-solving skills
1- Look back on your professional successes and failures
Trust is not something we develop overnight. It’s the result of many minor victories and problem-solving that we have had during our lifetimes.
It’s customary not to look back when we are in the middle of a crisis. We obsess about quickly seeking the solution because we rush to escape the anguish.
We then make the mistake of not thinking about our past, of relating actions in which we were successful and which can help us today.
Crises are great opportunities to grow, have positive changes, and learn lessons. This is how entrepreneurs become successful.
2- Look for strengths in your sports results
What does running a popular race have in common with overcoming a labor crisis? Many things if you allow yourself to link the two.
Physical activity significantly increases self-confidence as well as provides better mental resilience.
It doesn’t matter if you run 1 kilometer or 10. Getting out there and improving your physical capacity implies incredible progress.
It’s not about being the best in the world. Exercising relaxes the mind and removes stress, keeping you focused and sane.
When you take on new sporting challenges and reach them, you get striking personal satisfaction.
Likewise, taking on problems at work contributes to your personal and professional growth.
3- Remember the emotional challenges you’ve overcome
It may seem strange to recall moments of emotional distress when you are suffering from a similar episode.
Comparing a work problem with a personal one makes no sense. But here’s the thing, it makes you put this work problem on the same level as other difficult moments in your life.
If you beat the previous ones, what makes you think you won’t be able to do the same with this one?
They are situations of your own life. There are a few situations in our life that we cannot control; work is surely not one of them.
4- Lean on other people if necessary
Building self-confidence is fantastic. However, no one is immune to self-doubt.
Remember the people who have always been there for you: friends, partners, family, and co-workers who helped you achieve your goals.
If you think you can’t solve the situation yourself, fret not!
Look for that trusted person who can help you. Don’t be afraid or feel ashamed. They will be there for you as you will be when that person needs it.
Creating personal and professional bonds is key to making problems easier to deal with.
Having work problems means you have already overcome something really hard. It’s just one more step in the race you’re fighting for. Set new goals without fear.
- The next sometimes asks you, “is problem-solving a skill?”, tell them heck yeah! it’s just as good a skill as time-management or team collaboration. Problem-solving is definitely a skill worth learning.
- Learning fresh approaches to solving problems is essential to face and overcome situations. This is especially important in the workplace.
- Employers will always ask you about your problem-solving skills, and you’ll have a leg up if you’ve already developed this skill.
- A place to resolve your problems at work is necessary to come out on top. Learn how to identify problems, brainstorm solutions, evaluate solutions with your team, execute them, and assess the process for better implementation in the future.