Problem-Solving Skills Examples (With Steps to Develop Them)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Problem-solving skills are integral to your personal and professional development. They can be essential in many job roles, since you might come across challenges at work often. Knowing what problem-solving skills are can help you get through issues that arise at work confidently. In this article, we discuss what problem-solving skills are, show how to develop them and provide examples of problem-solving skills.

Problem-solving skills examples

Here are some problem-solving skills examples you may utilise to solve a problem effectively in a workplace:

Analysis

When you encounter a problem, the first step to solve it is to analyse the issue. Having good analytical skills can help you understand the problem and find out its cause before you find and develop effective solutions for it. Analytical skills can also help you research solutions for the problems you face at work.

Research

Conducting effective research is an important skill when solving problems. After analysing the cause of the issue, researching it can help you better understand the problem. It helps you find and collate information about the problem before you find a solution for it. Working with your colleagues on the problem research can also help you and your team come to a solution quickly.

Active listening

Active listening is an important problem-solving skill since it helps you remain open-minded to solutions that your other colleagues or bosses may suggest. Being able to listen opens up the possibility to many solutions that you can try out. After listening to these solutions, you can further research and analyse the different solutions to find the one that works best for your problem.

Related: Soft Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

Decision-making

After spending time listening, analysing and researching the problem, you may come to a final decision on how to solve the problem. With enough experience and knowledge, you can make a quick decision to solve a problem since solving problems at an early stage is better. Sometimes, making a decision to escalate the issue to someone more senior can help you solve your problem better.

Communication and negotiation

Communication and negotiation are very useful skills to have when trying to solve a problem. Knowing when and how to communicate a problem to your teammates and superiors can also help them understand the problem better so that they can help you. When you find a solution to your problem, it's important to clearly communicate it to your team to reduce confusion when implementing it.

Related: 15 Good Negotiation Skills (With Definition and Examples)

Resilience and determination

At times, you may still not be able to solve a problem even after taking all the different steps above. During those times, having resilience and determination can help you press on and not give up on solving the problem. Being resilient and determined can help you find more possible solutions to solve the problem.

Why are problem-solving skills important?

Problem-solving skills are skills that help you find out the source of a problem and find a solution for the problem. Problem-solving skills require a lot of logic and imagination since you're trying to make sense of an issue and discover smart solutions for the problems to ensure that these problems don't arise again.

Problem-solving skills are important in your job since it helps you stand out as a candidate. When looking for a job, interviewers may want to know how you approach problems that you may face in the workplace. Problem-solving skills are also key to being a good leader since leaders in the workplace often solve problems for their team or guide them towards solving issues.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

How to develop your problem-solving skills

If you're looking to have many problem-solving skills, you can develop and improve these skills over time. There are a few ways you can improve your problem-solving skills. Whether you're looking for a job or already working in a company, developing and improving your problem-solving skills can help you become a better professional and strong potential candidate that companies want to hire. Here's how you can develop and improve your problem-solving skills:

1. Gain more knowledge in school or at the workplace

Depending on the industry you're working in or what you're studying, there are a variety of opportunities to develop your problem-solving skills. In school, assignments and coursework often train you to develop your problem-solving skills. For example, engineering or computer science coursework trains you to solve problems you spot in coding or technology, while marketing coursework trains you to solve problems you see in a communication strategy.

Likewise, the place you work in has opportunities for you to develop your problem-solving skills. If you're working in a marketing agency, you may develop these skills when working with clients who have issues telling you what they need. This is where you can develop your skills by coming up with solutions for their company to market their product or service effectively. Outside of work and school, games such as chess or sudoku can train your strategic and creative thinking as well.

2. Find opportunities to utilise your problem-solving skills

Sometimes, putting yourself in new situations can give you the opportunity to solve problems and develop your problem-solving skills. You can try volunteering for new projects in your workplace or even volunteer at charities to solve problems for the community. Other ways you can find opportunities to develop your problem-solving skills outside of work include

  • finding out solutions to everyday problems, such as a technical issue with your phone or computer

  • resolving a dispute between friends and acting as the mediator to solve problems between them

  • embarking on DIY projects such as fixing a chair or lamp

  • analysing your finances to find a way to pay for something you want

  • overcoming sudden unforeseen difficulties you may face when travelling overseas

  • mentoring others in charities or volunteering services to solve problems for marginalised societies like the homeless or the elderly

3. Practise how to solve problems

Problems may appear suddenly, so practising how to solve them can better prepare you for them. For example, when interviewing for a new job, trying out an online test or assessment to practise your skills for your potential workplace can be useful. These assessments may present you with potential problems and by solving them, you can prepare yourself for problems that you may face in the new company.

In your current role, you can try role-playing with your team to develop your problem-solving skills. You can come up with different scenarios that your team might face in the workplace and discuss how to solve these problems together. Self-help books and professional books tailored to your industry can also provide examples of problems that you can try solving.

4. Refer to the IDEAL problem-solving technique

Some professionals use the IDEAL model created by Bransford and Stein to attempt to solve a problem. The IDEAL model is broken down into five components:

  • Identifying the issue: Taking time to identify the problem can help you come up with the correct solutions for the problem.

  • Defining the obstacles: Defining the areas of issue that you may manage can help you decide what steps to take next to solve the problem.

  • Examining your options: After finding the issue and the obstacles, you can analyse your different options to find out the best solution

  • Acting on a course of action: Deciding on the course of action after examining them and acting on it.

  • Looking at the experience: After applying the solution to your problem, you can look at the final result and determine if it still requires any changes or not.

5. Review your problem after solving it

After solving your problems, looking back and re-analysing them is always a good way to see if you were successful in solving your problem. In your post-mortem report, you can explain how you identified and analysed the problem and came up with a solution for the problem before implementing it. If you're able to quantify the results of your solution, you can include it in your report as well. Quantifiable results are always more favourable since you're able to track your solutions and gauge how much your skills have helped in solving your problem. If you were solving a problem together with your team, reviewing it together can be useful since it promotes teamwork.

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