See our features in action

How skills-based hiring works

Explore all of our integrations

Assess coding skills

Discover what drives candidates

Test thinking and problem-solving

Evaluate language proficiency

Hire industry-leading tech talent

High-volume hiring done right

Find skilled candidates fast

Our customer success stories

Expert talent assessment articles

Insights into candidate potential

Why it works and how to adopt it

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Learn how TestGorilla uses industry-leading science to create skills-based hiring solutions.

Why are problem solving skills in the workplace so important? Subskills, benefits, scenarios

Test your candidates' problem-solving skills with testgorilla.

problem solving skills in the workplace

The importance of problem-solving skills in the workplace can’t be overstated. Every business and job role has its problems. From entry-level hires to senior staffers, every one of your employees will face challenges that don’t can’t be answered by doing a quick Google search – or asking ChatGPT to come up with solutions.

That’s why employers must hire people with excellent problem-solving skills, especially for roles that require dealing with complex business challenges, tight deadlines, and changing variables – for example, when recruiting leaders .

But what are problem-solving skills? What role do they play in the workplace? 

And, most importantly, how can you evaluate candidates’ skills before you hire them?

Table of contents

What are problem solving skills, the benefits of problem solving skills: why are problem solving skills important , examples of problems at the workplace – and how problem solving skills can help, how to assess problem solving skills, evaluate problem solving skills and hire candidates who can think for themselves.

To fully understand the importance of problem-solving skills in the workplace, it’s important first to understand the broad skill set that we commonly refer to as “problem solving skills”. 

Generally, problem-solving refers to a person’s ability to successfully manage and find solutions for complex and unexpected situations. 

Candidates with great problem-solving skills have a combination of analytical and creative thinking. They’re comfortable with making decisions and confident enough to rise to challenges in the workplace.

These candidates possess a combination of analytical, creative, and critical-thinking skills – and a high level of attention to detail . As a result, they will quickly identify problems when they arise and identify the most effective solutions. 

They’ll also identify the factors and forces that might have caused the problem and instigate changes to mitigate future challenges.

There are six key problem-solving skills that you should look for when assessing job candidates: 

key problem solving skills to look for when hiring

1. Listening skills

Active listeners are generally great problem solvers. 

They can listen to those around them to gather the information needed to solve the problem at hand. They also recognize the importance of valuing others’ opinions and experiences to help understand why the problem occurred and define the best course of action to remedy it. 

2. Analytical thinking skills 

Analytical thinkers can identify the logical reasons why a problem occurred, what the long-term effects of the issue could be, and identify how effective different solutions might be to select the most practical one. 

That’s why it’s essential to assess analytical thinking skills during recruitment.

Learn how pre-employment assessments can streamline your hiring process

Book a free live demo with us and learn how quick and easy it is to create an online skills assessment

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

3. Creative thinking skills

Creative thinkers can balance their analytical skills with creative approaches to challenges. Creative thinking skills enable individuals to uncover innovative and progressive solutions to problems. 

In this way, they’re able to provide new perspectives and provide imaginative and experimental solutions to all kinds of problems. 

4. Communication skills 

Problem solvers should also possess great communication skills . The ability to effectively relay complex information thoroughly yet succinctly is a huge benefit for employers working in fast-paced environments. 

5. Decision-making skills 

Those with problem-solving skills will also possess the ability to make decisions and be confident in them. This is important, because most problem-solving involves making firm decisions to reach a successful outcome. 

6. Teamwork

Although problem-solvers need to be independent thinkers, it’s also vital for them to work well as part of a team . 

Determining the best solution often requires collaboration, so it’s important that candidates can demonstrate how they can motivate others to come up with the best solutions and work with them to help develop and implement solutions. 

Problem-solving skills enable you to find candidates who are cognitively equipped to handle anything their jobs throw at them.

Problem solvers can observe, judge, and act quickly when difficulties arise when they inevitably do. Moreover, they are not afraid of the unknown, which is invaluable to employers who rely on their employees to identify and solve problems. 

Why are problem solving skills important?

There are several important benefits of problem-solving skills in the workplace. Below, we’ll go through five of the most significant ones that all problem solvers can bring to their roles and workplaces: 

1. Ability to organize their time intelligently 

Time management skills can often be underlooked as one of the benefits of problem-solving skills in the workplace. 

However, those with problem-solving abilities also typically possess stellar time-management skills. The ability to manage their time wisely and laser-focus on what’s important to the business will lead to better decision-making and business impact. 

2. Ability to prioritize, plan, and execute strategies

Problem solvers have no issue with carefully assessing customer and business needs and deciding how to prioritize, plan, and execute strategies to meet them. They can manage all moving parts and strategize to meet multiple unique demands.

3. Ability to think outside the box

Problem solvers can often identify hidden opportunities in problems. Thinking outside of the box is an important problem-solving skill in the workplace, because it can often lead to better outcomes than the originally expected ones. 

4. Ability to work under pressure

This is often one of the most important benefits of problem-solving skills in the workplace. Problem solvers often work well under pressure, for example when dealing with short deadlines and changing project requirements.

Depending on your workplace culture, you might prefer someone who can deliver quick solutions or someone who takes their time to identify the next steps. Both are valid and important problem solving qualities. 

5. Ability to address risk

Planning is an important problem-solving skill. Problem solvers are not just equipped to deal with the problem at hand but are also able to anticipate problems that will arise in the future based on trends, patterns, experience, and current events.

Let’s now look at some specific examples of problems that could arise at the workplace – at any workplace, really – and how employees’ problem solving skills can help address each issue. 

Below, you’ll find five typical scenarios where problem solving skills are essential.

Conflict between team members

Poor team dynamics or lack of a collaborative spirit might result in frequent workplace conflicts – especially within larger teams.

For example, members of cross-functional teams might disagree on the way they should address a particular issue or even on the priority they should give to it. 

How problem solving skills can help: 

Teamwork is essential when solving conflict – and a cornerstone of effective cross-functional team leadership .

For this, coworkers need to share a common understanding of the team’s goals and also be willing to work towards achieving them, even when they disagree on the specific approaches to each goal.  The ability to understand others’ perspectives, analyze information critically, and come up with a few different solutions is key to finding a common ground and making progress on the team’s objectives.

Inefficient processes

Outdated, inefficient processes can reduce productivity and frustrate employees.

Multi-step approval processes are a typical example of this. Having multiple layers of approval for routine decisions can significantly slow down team progress and lead to missed opportunities.

Analytical thinking skills are key in identifying inefficiencies and building better procedures. Employees or team leads can build flowcharts that speed up decision making without having to ask a supervisor’s permission at every step of the process. 

Communication challenges

Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and lack of clarity and direction – which, in turn, can be detrimental to team performance. 

For example, if you’re a remote-first company, maintaining clear and effective remote communication can be challenging. 

The over-reliance on emails and messaging apps might make it feel like teams are communicating effectively and are always connected. However, the lack of non-verbal cues and face-to-face interactions might make it more difficult to build rapport and a positive workplace culture .

Listening skills are essential to solving communication issues – and good listeners are often excellent at solving problems by recognizing, understanding, and acknowledging others’ points of view. 

One-on-one meetings enable people to communicate more freely and effectively and solve challenges together, so consider encouraging team members to hop on a call each time they encounter a difficult challenge.

Additionally, you can help employees bond with each other with some remote team building activities to improve team cohesion. Plus, problem solving challenges can be excellent team building exercises.

Technological disruptions 

New technologies often disrupt the usual ways of doing things – and sometimes, this can be disruptive for entire teams’ work. 

For example, generative AI and automation technologies have revolutionized numerous types of work, including data analysis, marketing, customer service, and even content creation.

Creative thinking and cognitive flexibility are among the top 10 most important skills of the future , according to the World Economic Forum. Both are essential for adopting new technologies successfully – and finding ways to make the most out of each new tool to improve productivity. 

Insufficient onboarding resources 

Team members may struggle to do their best work if they haven't received proper training or resources.

For example, start-ups that experience rapid growth might hire a few employees at once – or even entire teams. 

If they fail to allocate sufficient time and resources to onboarding new hires, this might lead to lost productivity, a lacking sense of belonging, or increased turnover. That’s true not only for junior employees but also for newly hired senior leaders , as the Harvard Business Review points out.

Your leadership team’s analytical and decision-making skills are crucial in enabling them to distribute limited resources in a way that would give their teams the best chances of success. 

To build a solid onboarding process , you need leaders who are able to take ownership of it – and who have the right problem-solving skills.

Many organizations use problem-solving interview questions to identify the right candidates for their job openings. However, the most effective way to assess problem-solving skills is with pre-employment skills assessments . 

That’s because skills tests provide an objective way to quantify a candidate’s problem-solving skills in a way that isn’t possible during an interview.

How problem solving skills tests work

Tests like TestGorilla’s problem-solving skills test assist organizations in finding candidates who are able to quickly identify the key elements of the problem and work through the problem at speed without making mistakes. 

By presenting candidates with a wide range of questions related to typical problem-solving scenarios, hiring teams can rank their candidates based on an intensive assessment of each candidate’s skill level.

screenshot of a sample question in TestGorilla’s pre-employment problem-solving test

The test specifically evaluates whether a candidate can perform problem-solving tasks like:

Creating and adjust schedules

Prioritizing items based on a given set of rules

Interpreting data and applying logic to make decisions

Analyzing textual and numerical information to draw conclusions

As you can see, even the best interviewer would have trouble assessing each of these skill areas while still covering all the other questions that they need to ask. 

If you’re convinced of the importance of problem-solving skills in the workplace and want to build a team of employees that can think independently and solve their own problems without constant supervision, assess problem-solving skills during the hiring process. 

Problem-solving skills tests like ours are an excellent way to achieve this – especially if you combine them with other skills tests. Check out our extensive test library for other tests you can use in your talent assessment process to hire the best talent. 

Sign up for our free plan to start building your first assessment – or schedule a demo with one of our experts to see how to evaluate applicants’ problem solving skills quickly, efficiently, and without bias. 

Related posts

How to attract and assess virtuoso ISTP candidates featured image

How to attract and assess Virtuoso (ISTP) candidates

Compensation-management-softwar-A-guide-for-efficiency-driven-HR-professionals featured image

How to write a Snowflake developer job description

How to write a program management job description featured image

How to write a program management job description

Hire the best candidates with testgorilla..

Create pre-employment assessments in minutes to screen candidates, save time, and hire the best talent.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Latest posts

How to assess numerical reasoning in an interview featured image

The best advice in pre-employment testing, in your inbox.

No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

Hire the best. No bias. No stress.

Our screening tests identify the best candidates and make your hiring decisions faster, easier, and bias-free.

Free resources

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Anti-cheating checklist

This checklist covers key features you should look for when choosing a skills testing platform

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Onboarding checklist

This resource will help you develop an onboarding checklist for new hires.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

How to find candidates with strong attention to detail

How to assess your candidates' attention to detail.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

How to get HR certified

Learn how to get human resources certified through HRCI or SHRM.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Improve quality of hire

Learn how you can improve the level of talent at your company.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Case study: How CapitalT reduces hiring bias

Learn how CapitalT reduced hiring bias with online skills assessments.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Resume screening guide

Learn how to make the resume process more efficient and more effective.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Important recruitment metrics

Improve your hiring strategy with these 7 critical recruitment metrics.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Case study: How Sukhi reduces shortlisting time

Learn how Sukhi decreased time spent reviewing resumes by 83%!

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

12 pre-employment testing hacks

Hire more efficiently with these hacks that 99% of recruiters aren't using.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

The benefits of diversity

Make a business case for diversity and inclusion initiatives with this data.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

The service you are accessing is either under high load or has detected unusual activity from your network location.

To protect this service from abuse please complete the challenge below to continue.

What code is in the image? submit

Your unique support ID for this request is: 6266140636710988524.

If you see this challenge frequently or believe you are seeing it in error please record this ID and contact the Deakin University IT Service Desk . Additional information is available from the IT Knowledge Base .

  • Skip to main content
  • Skip to primary sidebar
  • Skip to footer

Additional menu

MindManager Blog

What is problem-solving? And why is it important in the workplace?

September 28, 2023 by MindManager Blog

If there’s one thing you can count on as a business professional, it’s that you’ll never run short of new problems to solve. Thankfully, whether it includes handling difficult or unexpected situations in the workplace, or resolving complex organizational challenges, we all have the capacity to develop our business problem-solving skills.

The best way to get better at tackling problems productively is to start at the beginning. After all, the better you understand what problem-solving is – and the significant role it plays in every organization – the easier you’ll find it to improve on problem-solving skills in the workplace.

Let’s dive in!

What is problem-solving?

Problem-solving refers to the act of find solutions to difficult or complex issues.

A good problem-solving definition might be finding solutions to difficult or complex issues . In practice, however, solving problems in the workplace is a little more immersive than that.

In the workplace, problem-solving includes a variety of tools, resources, and techniques to:

  • Identify what’s not working.
  • Figure out why it’s broken.
  • Determine the best course of action to fix it.

Whether you know them as obstacles, glitches, or setbacks, problems are a part of our everyday lives. The good news is that our brains excel at reasoning out intricate scenarios and making calculations in situations we’ve never experienced before. That means every one of us is hard-wired to be an adept problem-solver.

The trick is to learn how to take that innate ability and apply it in a deliberate and practiced way.

However, one thing is certain: successfully resolving business and workplace issues is essential.

Not only does effective problem-solving create value that encourages growth, it goes hand-in-hand with impactful decision making.

What are the benefits of problem-solving in business?

Practically speaking, problem-solving provides a golden opportunity to improve your processes, products, and systems – especially when you work through those challenges with others.

Learning to face difficulties calmly, and deal with them intentionally, can also:

  • Ramp up your confidence.
  • Increase your resilience.
  • Help you develop valuable critical thinking skills.

Applying problem-solving skills in the face of an obstacle that seems insurmountable trains you to shift your perspective and look at potential hurdles in a different way.

It also gets you used to examining multiple options for dealing with a problem, which can help you feel more confident in the direction you take.

Solving problems as a team

Business problem solving as a team offers an even wider range of benefits since active collaboration tends to make good things happen at both the individual and group level.

For example:

  • Team-based problem-solving is akin to having a built-in sounding board when you explore new approaches and ideas.
  • As each team member’s critical thinking skills evolve, they bring fresh insights to the collective problem-solving process, bearing out the old adage that many heads are better than one.
  • Solving problems as a team also reduces the feeling of personal risk and exposure that’s common when one person is tasked with solving a puzzle. When that same problem is shared, the sense of risk gets dispersed, and individual team members are less likely to feel singled out.

Not only is there less chance of arriving at an unreasonable or biased solution when you problem-solve as a group, team members assigned to carry that solution out will feel more invested in its success.

Examples of problem solving skills in the workplace

Improving on your problem-solving skills helps you make the most of your brain’s natural capacity to analyze and reason things out.

There are dozens of problem-solving skills that play out in the average workplace – all of which can contribute to your ability to correct oversights, resolve conflict , and work around unexpected obstructions.

Here are a few common examples of problem-solving skills in the workplace, and tips on how to improve them.

1. Data gathering

Figuring out the cause of a problem hinges on collecting relevant data. Consulting efficiently with colleagues, conducting online research, and brainstorming with your team are all valuable data gathering skills.

2. Active listening

As opposed to listening in a purely supportive or empathetic way, active listening involves concentrating fully on what the other person is saying so you can understand the content, respond accordingly, and remember what was said later.

3. Troubleshooting

The ability to analyze and troubleshoot a situation with the help of any data and human input you’ve gathered is essential for drilling down into the core of a problem, and scrutinizing potential solutions.

4. Brainstorming

Brainstorming has become synonymous with creative thinking, innovative idea generation, and problem-solving. The more productive your brainstorming sessions, the more likely you and your group are to put together a list of quality, workable solutions.

It’s interesting to note that effective decision making is both a contributor to, and a by-product of, effective problem-solving.

For example, honing your analytical abilities and other problem-solving skills will inevitably help you make better decisions. The more efficient your decision-making process becomes, meanwhile, the better you’ll get at uncovering and acting on the most promising solution to any dilemma.

A simple problem-solving scenario

It’s clear that we can all benefit from getting more comfortable with problem-solving in the workplace.

Examples of situations where your problem-solving skills will come in handy aren’t difficult to find, and might include:

  • Fixing a technical issue for your customer.
  • Improving your student’s test performance.
  • Reducing the theft of your in-store merchandise.
  • Bumping up your marketing reach.

But, here’s the interesting thing. While it’s evident in each of these situations that there’s a problem to be solved, the exact nature of that problem isn’t so obvious.

In the student’s case, for example, you’d need additional input to help you figure out why they’re performing poorly. Only then would you be able to take steps to find the best-fit solution and achieve the desired learning outcome.

Here’s a simple scenario to help demonstrate that idea:

Bringing new customers onboard in a timely manner is an important part of your client relations strategy. Since hiring Alex a few weeks ago, however, your onboarding process has been taking longer than it should and team members are beginning to complain.

While you can see that the problem in this scenario is the fact that your team isn’t meeting their client onboarding goals, the key is to get clear on exactly what’s causing the hold-up.

You could jump to the conclusion that Alex has time management issues and that it’s time to start looking for a replacement. But, since one of the most common mistakes in business problem-solving is attempting to seize on a solution right away, that might cause you to waste time and resources on a remedy that ultimately proves unnecessary, or that doesn’t provide a viable fix.

Instead, it’s time to put your problem-solving skills to work.

Using data gathering and troubleshooting to pinpoint and clarify the bottleneck in your onboarding process – and active listening to interpret the situation from Alex’s perspective – you soon determine that the real cause of the problem is not what you thought.

In truth, an administrative oversight during the hiring process (yet another problem to be solved!) left Alex unaware of, and without access to, the business process map that’s so vital to efficiently onboarding new customers. Once you provide the necessary resources, it doesn’t take Alex long to get up to speed – and your client onboarding process to revert back to the well-oiled machine that it was.

Even with a team of eager problem-solvers by your side, the truth is that it’s often necessary to have the right problem-solving tools in place to achieve your desired results. That’s where versatile mind mapping software can help.

Not only does MindManager® provide a visual framework that fully supports the problem-solving process, it improves comprehension, inspires more creative solutions, and boosts your ability to make the best possible decisions.

Ready to take the next step?

MindManager helps boost collaboration and productivity among remote and hybrid teams to achieve better results, faster.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Why choose MindManager?

MindManager® helps individuals, teams, and enterprises bring greater clarity and structure to plans, projects, and processes. It provides visual productivity tools and mind mapping software to help take you and your organization to where you want to be.

Explore MindManager

  • Business Essentials
  • Leadership & Management
  • Credential of Leadership, Impact, and Management in Business (CLIMB)
  • Entrepreneurship & Innovation
  • *New* Digital Transformation
  • Finance & Accounting
  • Business in Society
  • For Organizations
  • Support Portal
  • Media Coverage
  • Founding Donors
  • Leadership Team

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

  • Harvard Business School →
  • HBS Online →
  • Business Insights →

Business Insights

Harvard Business School Online's Business Insights Blog provides the career insights you need to achieve your goals and gain confidence in your business skills.

  • Career Development
  • Communication
  • Decision-Making
  • Earning Your MBA
  • Negotiation
  • News & Events
  • Productivity
  • Staff Spotlight
  • Student Profiles
  • Work-Life Balance
  • Alternative Investments
  • Business Analytics
  • Business Strategy
  • Business and Climate Change
  • Design Thinking and Innovation
  • Digital Marketing Strategy
  • Disruptive Strategy
  • Economics for Managers
  • Entrepreneurship Essentials
  • Financial Accounting
  • Global Business
  • Launching Tech Ventures
  • Leadership Principles
  • Leadership, Ethics, and Corporate Accountability
  • Leading with Finance
  • Management Essentials
  • Negotiation Mastery
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Power and Influence for Positive Impact
  • Strategy Execution
  • Sustainable Business Strategy
  • Sustainable Investing
  • Winning with Digital Platforms

Why Problem-Solving Skills Are Essential for Leaders in Any Industry

Business man leading team in problem-solving exercise with white board

  • 17 Jan 2023

Any organization offering a product or service is in the business of solving problems.

Whether providing medical care to address health issues or quick convenience to those hungry for dinner, a business’s purpose is to satisfy customer needs .

In addition to solving customers’ problems, you’ll undoubtedly encounter challenges within your organization as it evolves to meet customer needs. You’re likely to experience growing pains in the form of missed targets, unattained goals, and team disagreements.

Yet, the ubiquity of problems doesn’t have to be discouraging; with the right frameworks and tools, you can build the skills to solve consumers' and your organization’s most challenging issues.

Here’s a primer on problem-solving in business, why it’s important, the skills you need, and how to build them.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is Problem-Solving in Business?

Problem-solving is the process of systematically removing barriers that prevent you or others from reaching goals.

Your business removes obstacles in customers’ lives through its products or services, just as you can remove obstacles that keep your team from achieving business goals.

Design Thinking

Design thinking , as described by Harvard Business School Dean Srikant Datar in the online course Design Thinking and Innovation , is a human-centered , solutions-based approach to problem-solving and innovation. Originally created for product design, design thinking’s use case has evolved . It’s now used to solve internal business problems, too.

The design thinking process has four stages :

4 Stages of Design Thinking

  • Clarify: Clarify a problem through research and feedback from those impacted.
  • Ideate: Armed with new insights, generate as many solutions as possible.
  • Develop: Combine and cull your ideas into a short list of viable, feasible, and desirable options before building prototypes (if making physical products) and creating a plan of action (if solving an intangible problem).
  • Implement: Execute the strongest idea, ensuring clear communication with all stakeholders about its potential value and deliberate reasoning.

Using this framework, you can generate innovative ideas that wouldn’t have surfaced otherwise.

Creative Problem-Solving

Another, less structured approach to challenges is creative problem-solving , which employs a series of exercises to explore open-ended solutions and develop new perspectives. This is especially useful when a problem’s root cause has yet to be defined.

You can use creative problem-solving tools in design thinking’s “ideate” stage, which include:

  • Brainstorming: Instruct everyone to develop as many ideas as possible in an allotted time frame without passing judgment.
  • Divergent thinking exercises: Rather than arriving at the same conclusion (convergent thinking), instruct everyone to come up with a unique idea for a given prompt (divergent thinking). This type of exercise helps avoid the tendency to agree with others’ ideas without considering alternatives.
  • Alternate worlds: Ask your team to consider how various personas would manage the problem. For instance, how would a pilot approach it? What about a young child? What about a seasoned engineer?

It can be tempting to fall back on how problems have been solved before, especially if they worked well. However, if you’re striving for innovation, relying on existing systems can stunt your company’s growth.

Related: How to Be a More Creative Problem-Solver at Work: 8 Tips

Why Is Problem-Solving Important for Leaders?

While obstacles’ specifics vary between industries, strong problem-solving skills are crucial for leaders in any field.

Whether building a new product or dealing with internal issues, you’re bound to come up against challenges. Having frameworks and tools at your disposal when they arise can turn issues into opportunities.

As a leader, it’s rarely your responsibility to solve a problem single-handedly, so it’s crucial to know how to empower employees to work together to find the best solution.

Your job is to guide them through each step of the framework and set the parameters and prompts within which they can be creative. Then, you can develop a list of ideas together, test the best ones, and implement the chosen solution.

Related: 5 Design Thinking Skills for Business Professionals

4 Problem-Solving Skills All Leaders Need

1. problem framing.

One key skill for any leader is framing problems in a way that makes sense for their organization. Problem framing is defined in Design Thinking and Innovation as determining the scope, context, and perspective of the problem you’re trying to solve.

“Before you begin to generate solutions for your problem, you must always think hard about how you’re going to frame that problem,” Datar says in the course.

For instance, imagine you work for a company that sells children’s sneakers, and sales have plummeted. When framing the problem, consider:

  • What is the children’s sneaker market like right now?
  • Should we improve the quality of our sneakers?
  • Should we assess all children’s footwear?
  • Is this a marketing issue for children’s sneakers specifically?
  • Is this a bigger issue that impacts how we should market or produce all footwear?

While there’s no one right way to frame a problem, how you do can impact the solutions you generate. It’s imperative to accurately frame problems to align with organizational priorities and ensure your team generates useful ideas for your firm.

To solve a problem, you need to empathize with those impacted by it. Empathy is the ability to understand others’ emotions and experiences. While many believe empathy is a fixed trait, it’s a skill you can strengthen through practice.

When confronted with a problem, consider whom it impacts. Returning to the children’s sneaker example, think of who’s affected:

  • Your organization’s employees, because sales are down
  • The customers who typically buy your sneakers
  • The children who typically wear your sneakers

Empathy is required to get to the problem’s root and consider each group’s perspective. Assuming someone’s perspective often isn’t accurate, so the best way to get that information is by collecting user feedback.

For instance, if you asked customers who typically buy your children’s sneakers why they’ve stopped, they could say, “A new brand of children’s sneakers came onto the market that have soles with more traction. I want my child to be as safe as possible, so I bought those instead.”

When someone shares their feelings and experiences, you have an opportunity to empathize with them. This can yield solutions to their problem that directly address its root and shows you care. In this case, you may design a new line of children’s sneakers with extremely grippy soles for added safety, knowing that’s what your customers care most about.

Related: 3 Effective Methods for Assessing Customer Needs

3. Breaking Cognitive Fixedness

Cognitive fixedness is a state of mind in which you examine situations through the lens of past experiences. This locks you into one mindset rather than allowing you to consider alternative possibilities.

For instance, your cognitive fixedness may make you think rubber is the only material for sneaker treads. What else could you use? Is there a grippier alternative you haven’t considered?

Problem-solving is all about overcoming cognitive fixedness. You not only need to foster this skill in yourself but among your team.

4. Creating a Psychologically Safe Environment

As a leader, it’s your job to create an environment conducive to problem-solving. In a psychologically safe environment, all team members feel comfortable bringing ideas to the table, which are likely influenced by their personal opinions and experiences.

If employees are penalized for “bad” ideas or chastised for questioning long-held procedures and systems, innovation has no place to take root.

By employing the design thinking framework and creative problem-solving exercises, you can foster a setting in which your team feels comfortable sharing ideas and new, innovative solutions can grow.

Design Thinking and Innovation | Uncover creative solutions to your business problems | Learn More

How to Build Problem-Solving Skills

The most obvious answer to how to build your problem-solving skills is perhaps the most intimidating: You must practice.

Again and again, you’ll encounter challenges, use creative problem-solving tools and design thinking frameworks, and assess results to learn what to do differently next time.

While most of your practice will occur within your organization, you can learn in a lower-stakes setting by taking an online course, such as Design Thinking and Innovation . Datar guides you through each tool and framework, presenting real-world business examples to help you envision how you would approach the same types of problems in your organization.

Are you interested in uncovering innovative solutions for your organization’s business problems? Explore Design Thinking and Innovation —one of our online entrepreneurship and innovation courses —to learn how to leverage proven frameworks and tools to solve challenges. Not sure which course is right for you? Download our free flowchart .

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

About the Author

Why Problem Solving is Important in the Workplace

profile picture ben schwencke

Ben Schwencke

Ben is responsible for talent analytics at Test Partnership and is often who you will speak to if you book a demo .

What is problem solving?

What is an example of problem solving, why problem solving is important, how to improve problem solving, how to assess candidates on their problem solving, our recommended test partnership assessments for measuring problem solving.

image description

Problem solving in the workplace refers to a person’s ability to handle difficult or unexpected situations and find solutions to complex business challenges. Employees with exceptional problem solving ability will carefully analyse the problem, identify a range of potential solutions, and correctly identify the most effective of the available solutions to remedy the situation. This ensures that employees in complex work who are relied upon to find effective solutions to key business issues are maximally equipped to deal with modern problems that face 21st century businesses.

Those with good problem solving ability will move the business forward more effectively.

Those lacking problem solving ability will inevitably recommend ineffective solutions to key business issues, solutions which will either fail to resolve the underlying issue or indeed exasperate it. For example, they may misinterpret the information presented to them, fail to identify effective solutions to problems, or provide solutions which are unsuitable or indeed counterproductive. Employees with poor problem solving ability cannot be relied upon when the unexpected happens, shifting the burden on other staff. As a result, problem solving ability is a common core competency when hiring professional, managerial, or technical roles, and highly prized by HR professionals and hiring managers.

Problem-solving refers to the ability to identify and resolve problems in an effective and efficient manner. An example of problem-solving can be seen in the role of a customer service representative. A customer service representative is responsible for handling customer complaints and issues, and finding a solution that will satisfy the customer.

Problem solving ability is essential to performance in any role where issues need to be dealt with quickly, or where the issues that employees face are particularly complex. Employees skilled in problem solving contribute to a more adaptable and productive work environment. It promotes teamwork, critical thinking, and strategic decision-making, leading to improved outcomes and organisational success.

Watch a video instead?

If you would prefer to watch a video, here Ben outlines why problem solving is important in the workplace:

For example, management consultants are expected to solve particularly complex issues that their clients may be facing, and within very specific time-frames. Should a consultant fail to provide a solution within the specified timeframe, this will inevitably look bad in the eyes of the client, sullying the relationship and potentially negatively impacting the consultancy’s reputation. However, a consultant with exceptional problem solving ability will most likely provide effective solutions to the client’s problems and provide them within the requisite time period.

"As a competency, problem solving is a common performance criterion for roles that require staff to solve urgent or complex problems." Ben Schwencke Consultant

As a competency, problem solving is a common performance criterion for roles that require staff to solve urgent or complex problems. These include, but are not limited to: management consultants, IT professionals, finance professionals, legal professionals, data scientists, managers, and executives. As a general rule, the more the role involves employees providing solutions to complex or urgent problems, the more important problem solving ability will be, and the more damage employees could potential cause if they lack those essential problem solving abilities in the workplace.

When a customer contacts a company with a problem, the customer service representative must first listen carefully to the customer's complaint and understand the issue. They then need to gather information and assess the situation to determine the cause of the problem.

They must evaluate different options and choose the best course of action to resolve the problem.

Next, they must evaluate different options and choose the best course of action to resolve the problem. Finally, they must implement the chosen solution and follow up to ensure that the problem has been fully resolved.

Problem solving as a psychological construct is underpinned predominantly by specific cognitive abilities. The ability to solve quantitative problems for example, is underpinned by a person’s level of numerical reasoning , and their ability to solve qualitative problems is underpinned by their verbal reasoning . Indeed, the academic research in this field suggests that the predictive validity of ability tests is largely attributable to problem solving abilities. Aptitude test questions are essentially just cognitive problems, and a candidate’s ability to solve them serves as a very useful proxy for their overall problem solving ability.

Other assessments may also measure problem solving to some degree, particularly certain assessment centre exercises, such as case study exercises. Here, candidates will be presented with a particular workplace relevant problem and told to generate solutions to that problem. Although this can be an effective method of assessing problem solving ability, assessment centre exercises are quite resource intensive, and are thus only suitable for the later stages of the recruitment process. Ability tests, however, can be used early in the recruitment process, ensuring that all subsequent candidate hold the requisite level of problem solving ability.

  • Insights numerical reasoning
  • Insights verbal reasoning
  • Insights inductive reasoning
  • Concepts critical thinking
  • Concepts data analysis
  • MindmetriQ Series of Gamified Assessments

Discover why thousands of companies love our modern assessment platform. Fresh new assessments built with the latest science.

Other articles you may be interested in

measure quality of hire

How to Measure Quality of Hire

Learn of our 5 great ways to measure quality of hire which makes organisations make informed decisions about future hires.

candidate selection

Candidate Selection: A Definitive Guide

Learn of candidate selection to improve your candidate selection process and build a high-performing workforce.

women working

Skills Based Hiring: An Ultimate Guide

Learn what skills-based hiring is and why it's an important innovation.

what is a sten score

What is a sten score?

Sten scores are standardised 1-10 scores commonly used in psychometric testing...

Problem-Solving Skills: 5 Ways to Evaluate Them When Hiring

Juste Semetaite

Knowing how to hire employees with strong problem-solving skills can make all the difference in becoming the next Netflix – or Blockbuster.

Because every role, from the penthouse corner office to the high street, involves a degree of problem-solving. Whether managing a team, developing a web page, or resolving a customer complaint, what matters is how people deal with the problems they face .

To ensure your company is prepared to tackle even the most challenging situations, we’ll first look at what problem solving skills are, using some real-life applications, before walking you through 5 of the best ways to test for them.

TL;DR – Key Takeaways

  • Problem-solving skills encompass all the skills that employees use in the workplace to analyze problems and come up with solutions .
  • Examples of typical problem-solving skills include good communication skills , active listening skills, decision-making skills, analytical skills, creativity, and collaboration.
  • Different problem-solving skills are required from a manager compared to an individual contributor, so hiring managers should look for different competencies according to the seniority of the role.
  • There are several ways to assess a candidate’s problem-solving skills when hiring, such as asking behavioral interview questions, running assessment tests or job simulations , conducting reference checks, and asking cultural fit questions.
  • Toggl Hire has an impressive library of customizable skills tests and homework assignments that hiring managers can plug into their hiring pipeline to help identify the best problem-solvers right from the start.

What are problem-solving skills?

“Problem solving skills” refers to someone’s ability to identify problems , analyze possible solutions , and think through the steps required to solve those problems. For example, an HR specialist faced with the problem of filling a new position might first analyze whether it would be best filled internally or externally before posting a job description .

Problem solving skills are critical for every possible industry, role, and level of seniority, because at the bottom of each job is solving some type of problem.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Examples of typical problems in the workplace include:

  • Finding out the reason behind increased customer complaints
  • Improving the efficiency of outbound cold calls for your sales team
  • Overhauling a landing page so that it drives more people to subscribe to a software

As you can see, every possible role that exists requires people to solve problems effectively.

What skills make up the problem-solving competency?

“Problem solving skills” is an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of different skills . Here are some examples of typical problem solving abilities that an employee may need for any given role:

  • Communication skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Research skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Collaboration
  • Active listening skills

Not all of them are necessary for every role, but these examples of hard and soft skills are a great starting point if you’re putting together a job description for your next role.

skills that make up problem solving competence

Problem-solving skills examples at different levels

In addition to the variety of skills that fall under the term “problem-solving”, there are also different competency levels of problem-solving.

Just like the difference between hiring an intern , a manager , and a director, choosing the right level of problem-solving competency will depend on the role you’re hiring for.

To explain this further, let’s dig into the 3 basic levels of problem-solving skills.

Entry-level problem-solving skills

A candidate with entry-level problem-solving skills is capable of identifying what the problem is and considering the potential solution. However, they struggle to move beyond this point. These types of skills are suitable if you’re looking to hire for a junior position.

10 Best Practices for Recruiting Interns (+ideas)

Intermediate-level problem-solving skills

At an intermediate level, the candidate not only identifies problems and finds potential solutions for them, but also uses different types of problem-solving skills and strategies to tackle them from different angles.

However, for more complex problems, they might struggle to implement the solution and will look for assistance from other team members.

Hiring a Manager: 11 Tips to Avoid a Bad Hire

Expert-level problem-solving skills

At an expert level, a candidate is capable of solving problems from beginning to end . They are skilled in different problem-solving strategies, including how to gather and analyze relevant information. They are able to see creative solutions where others do not and can anticipate potential obstacles before they happen.

10 Tips How to Evaluate Leadership Skills When Hiring

Why are problem-solving skills so important at work?

The modern workplace is full of problems that need solving. Solution-focused employees are a valuable asset to any company in any possible role. They help your company save money , keep customers happy , and inspire colleagues by coming up with new ways to solve old problems .

Employers like to see good problem-solving skills because it also helps to show them you have a range of other competencies such as logic, creativity, resilience, imagination, lateral thinking, and determination.

Here are some of the benefits amazing problem solvers bring to an organization and those around them: 

Problem-Solvers Work Well Under Pressure

When a problem arises, it needs to be fixed quickly. Employees with amazing problem-solving skills roll with the punches and tight deadlines to deliver when it matters. 

To do this, expert problem-solvers react quickly to short-term situations while thinking proactively about future problems. That ability to act fast and effectively exuberates confidence, creating a sense of calm across the wider team.

They Create Amazing New Ideas

Problem-solving and creative thinking go hand-in-hand. The best problem-solvers don’t just put bandaids over an issue, they fix them in a dynamic, value-adding way. 

Exciting, out-of-the-box thinking isn’t just good in the moment but creates an exciting, innovative culture across the organization. That helps organizations stay ahead of the curve and attracts other expert problem-solvers to join the organization, improving the workforce’s capability over time. 

Problems Create Risk, and Problem-Solvers Fix Problems

From an organizational perspective, problems create risk. Even if a business process is slightly off-kilter, it can become a much greater issue. 

Problem-solvers help organizations reduce risk in the moment while mitigating future risks before they even occur. That helps everyone sleep sounder at night and also removes financial liability from the C-suite. 

Problem-Solvers Beat The Competition

Ultimately, excellent problem-solvers help organizations stay ahead of their competition. Whether through creative ideas, faster outputs, or reduced risk, organizations with awesome problem solvers deliver better products and services to their clients. 

As we all know, it’s the people that make an organization great, and problem-solvers are some of the best people out there! 

Next, let’s take a closer look at how problem-solving skills may differ between individual contributors and managers.

Example of using problem-solving skills in the workplace: manager vs individual contributor

While their approaches may differ, both the manager and the individual contributor go through the same stages of the problem-solving process.

Managers look at the broader perspective of solving a problem and the different ways of coordinating their team and the organization. Their focus is the long-term success of their team and the company.

The individual contributor, on the other hand, is more concerned with individual tasks and technical problems, as well as instant solutions to a problem at hand.

Both sides of the coin are important if you want to succeed at problem solving in the long run and thrive as a team and as a company.

Step 1 – Problem definition

Quick example – A Sales Exec goes to their manager with a problem – they’re struggling to hit their sales target. The Sales Manager sits down with them to understand the situation, where they are with their sales, and the gap to the target.

Step 2 – Problem analysis

Quick example – The Sales Manager goes away and gathers some information about the Sales Exec. They look at their CRM notes, speak with other team members, and shadow the Sales Exec on the job.

Step 3 – Generating the possible solutions

Quick example – The Sales Manager comes up with some solutions to help their  Sales Exec. Options on the table include additional training, a structured work plan, and re-prioritizing their workload.

Step 4 – Implementing the best solution(s)

Quick example – The Sales Manager lays out the next steps with the Sales Exec, explaining the proposed solutions. The Sales Exec will do some re-training on the sales process and will re-prioritize their workload to focus on particular, high-value customers.

5 Ways to Evaluate Problem-Solving Skills When Hiring

There are many practical ways to evaluate how people solve problems during the hiring process. Depending on your needs, you can use one, more, or all of these in combination.

#1 – Behavioral interview questions

These are questions you ask candidates to find out how they solved problems in the past and behaved in a certain situation. Here are some examples:

  • How do you handle setbacks at work?
  • A customer came back to you with a complaint and the fault is on your company’s end. How do you resolve the issue?
  • Your employees have a conflict and you need to resolve it without taking sides. How do you go about this?
  • You have a certain timeframe to complete a complex task. How do you prioritize the work to ensure you meet the deadline and not burn out?

30 Behavioral Interview Questions to Ask Candidates (With Answers)

You can use the STAR method to assess how they solve problems in specific situations:

S – Situation: how well did they explain the situation they faced?

T – Task: what was the task they had to complete in that situation?

A – Action: did they clearly show the action they took to resolve the problem?

R – Result: how did they explain the result, and measure success?

With the right set of questions and the application of the STAR method, you can see if your candidates have good problem solving skills or not. However, this method is not 100% reliable as your candidates could be less than honest in their responses, which brings us to the other methods.

#2 – Job simulation exercises

Instead of asking candidates to think of past experiences, you can put them in a real-life situation to judge how they think and react in real time. And see for yourself how analytical, creative, and competent they are. The best way to do this is with a simulation exercise .

Note that these job simulation tasks only resemble what the candidate will be doing in their job but shouldn’t include real data or customers to protect your business.

One such example is our Homework assessments . Designed as an assessment tool for hiring managers, Homework assessments offer 500 pre-built tasks you can give to potential candidates before inviting them for an interview or extending an offer.

Get a jumpstart on your selection process with easy-to-use homework assignment templates.

Candidates can do these tasks on their own and in their free time. In our library, you can choose from a variety of tasks where candidates can show off their analytical skills and proficiency in solving problems.

Once they’re done, you can review the tasks and create shared notes for your entire team to review. Just like that, you’re one step closer to making a more confident hiring decision, and your candidates can practice solving problems without causing risks for your ongoing work.

7 Benefits of Using Job Simulations in Your Hiring Process

#3 – Assessment tools

Putting candidates in different situations is a solid way to find out more about their problem solving skills. However, another fantastic way to see how they solve problems is by using skills assessment tools .

Tools like Toggl Hire allow you to create pre-employment tests often used in the first step of the hiring process. That way, you can tell early on how good someone is at solving problems and whether they have the key skills to meet the requirements for the job .

You can pick from different types of questions that already exist in Toggl Hire - or add your own, custom ones.

In our problem-solving skills test, we test for four crucial skills:

  • Problem solving
  • Innovative thinking
  • Logical reasoning
  • Decision making

Top tips to enlarge those brains

Problem solving assessment template

The assessment takes only 15 minutes , making it a great alternative to submitting a resume and cover letter. Applicants love Toggl Hire because they get feedback rapidly, and know within minutes of completing the test if they are a good fit for the role. [ Grab the template here ]

problem solving skills test template

#4 – References and past performance

Reference checking is a simple but effective way to evaluate the skills of potential candidates. To understand if someone has the right problem-solving skills for the job, simply ring up their past employers and ask!

The more specific your questions, the better. Ask about objectives and goals that they completed that stand out during their time with the company. Moreover, you need to make sure that they have a pattern in their performance. In other words, were they consistent in finding new ways to solve problems and tackle complex issues?

A word of caution.

References are not always reliable. Past employers may refuse to comment on an employee’s performance, or they could be forbidden from doing so by their contracts. Sometimes, you may be unable to get ahold of the point of contact. Other times, their feedback can be overly positive.

This is why it’s important to consider other possible solutions for assessing problem solving skills in combination with reference checks.

#5 – Cultural fit

When you have all of this information in one place, it’s time to find the last piece of the puzzle. In other words, to see if the way a candidate solves problems aligns with your values and company culture.

evidence of problem solving skills in candidates

For example, you may have a customer who has a problem with their account and wants a full subscription refund. One approach to problem-solving, in this case, would be to give the full refund because the customer is right – no matter what.

On the other hand, someone else might try and talk to the customer and get them to stay. You can come up with different problem solving skills examples to inquire about during the interview stage.

The candidate should be able not just to solve problems, but also do it in a way that matches your company culture .

28 Job Interview Red Flags to Watch Out For in Candidates

Wrapping up

Employees with great problem-solving skills will always be in demand, no matter the profession or seniority level. However, testing for those skills can present a challenge for recruiters.

With the right tools, problem solving interview questions , and reference checks, you can determine if a candidate is a good problem solver or not.

If you need a bit more guidance on how to test for problem solving skills, try a ready-made Toggl Hire skills test to quickly screen candidates and determine who will continue to the job interview.

Juste Semetaite

Juste loves investigating through writing. A copywriter by trade, she spent the last ten years in startups, telling stories and building marketing teams. She works at Toggl Hire and writes about how businesses can recruit really great people.

Join 30,000+ subscribers getting the best tips on productivity, work management, hiring and more!

We promise we won't spam you and you can unsubscribe anytime.

You might also like...

Related to Talent Assessments

7 Tips on How to Hire an SEO Manager

7 Tips on How to Hire an SEO Manager

Toggl Blog, Read articles by Juste Semetaite

Communication Skills Assessment: 5 Tips to Get it Right

Soft Skills Assessment: 7 Soft Skills Every Recruiter Should Test

Soft Skills Assessment: 7 Soft Skills Every Recruiter Should Test

Take a peek at our most popular categories:

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

How to Nail your next Technical Interview

You may be missing out on a 66.5% salary hike*, nick camilleri, how many years of coding experience do you have, free course on 'sorting algorithms' by omkar deshpande (stanford phd, head of curriculum, ik).

interviewkickstart dark logo

How to Use Problem-Solving Skills in the Workplace

" We've been stuck at it for a week now, " thought Frank to himself. His team came across a simple bin-packing problem surrounding consecutive character strings that were seemingly impossible to solve, and had been running into the same error message every time someone hit the ‘Compile’ button.

The new guy on his team ( his first day ), who had been quiet the whole day, walked to the whiteboard and started jotting down something. When he was done, five minutes later, a solution pattern popped right out the whiteboard.

" Gosh! How did he do that? "

Well, we'll find out. Here's what we'll be covering in this article:

- What exactly is problem-solving?

- What will be the employer or manager looking for in you?

- How to approach a workplace problem?

- Problem-solving techniques in the workplace

Step 1: Thoroughly understand the problem

Step 2: Define the problem

Step 3: Strategize a solution

Step 4: Find alternate solutions

Step 5: Evaluate solutions and document everything

Step 6: Choose a solution

Step 7: Implement

Step 8: Monitor progress and make modifications accordingly

- What essential problem-solving skills do employers search for during the interview?

- How to highlight problem-solving skills in your resume?

What exactly is problem-solving?

Problems are a massive part of what we do in our day-to-day lives, be it at your home or workplace.

Problem-solving is the complete process of understanding and defining the problem, brainstorming a solution, finding alternatives, implementing the best solution, and making adjustments based on the outcome.

What do hiring managers look for?

One's problem-solving ability is a harmonious accord between instinct and immense practice. As your technical skills age with experience, so does your ability to identify patterns and solve problems effectively.

Almost each and every employer looks for effective problem-solving skills in a candidate when making a hiring decision. They look for an aspirant's natural talent to dig up patterns, look at the problem with a fresh perspective, and be realistic while providing solutions.

How to approach a workplace problem?

During computer science classes, you will find two types of students.

The first batch has a mindset that algorithms and data structures are only useful for passing the finals and getting an edge over others in interviews.

The second batch loves programming and aspires to write codes from scratch for each new project that they come across.While both mindsets may be partially correct, they do not hold up much.

In real-life situations and as part of an organization, your job drastically changes to one objective only: ' write the right amount of good code. '

For most projects, you will need to write quick, efficient codes to overcome difficult roadblocks. And the only way to achieve that skill is by getting acquainted with as many problems as possible.

Solve as many problems as possible. Learn as many Data Structures and Algorithms as you can. Get acquainted with the basics of reusing a chunk of code. Make StackOverflow your default homepage.

Does that seem too groundbreaking? Let us simplify it for you.

Problem-solving techniques in the workplace

See, a lot of people understand the problem at hand and the syntax or logic that might explain the issue. The primary thing you need to learn is how to convert your thoughts into code to all the creative geniuses out there.

If you need a comprehensive set of instructions, here are the problem-solving steps that you can adopt in your day-to-day lifestyle. This procedure applies not only to coding problems but also to other general hiccups.

While some have the mental affluence to solve problems on the go, keep practicing these daily, and you too will develop critical thinking skills.

The first and most crucial step in solving a problem is to comprehend the standing concepts behind it. Believe us when we say this, a lot of employees jump to providing suggestions before actually understanding what the problem is.

A quick way to gauge your understanding is verifying if you can explain the problem to someone else. This also ties into your communication skills, and employers will gauge your ability to converse issues and solutions effectively. It is, thus, also one of the essential interview preparation tips for you.

Hiring managers have a behavioral question that they like asking, which revolves around the following:

" How will you be explaining a complex technical concept to a person who is not very sound technically? "

Ask yourself these questions and make a note of the solutions as you go.

  • What exactly is the end goal?
  • What are the variables?
  • Do you understand every concept revolving the problem?
  • Are you familiar with the provided measurement units?
  • What information is missing?
  • Is there any unnecessary information?
  • Can you verify the information from a bona fide source?

The next step in this process is accumulating every bit of necessary information so that you can start assembling a solution. Now, this isn't as easy as it sounds, and you can effortlessly mess up things during proceedings.

Strangely, at this time, do not focus on the solution. Instead, focus on defining the question.

Therefore, instead of saying ' the sale numbers need to be consistent in the next quarter, ' say ' the sale numbers are inconsistent. '

Based on the information you collected in step 1, start separating the facts from estimations. Analyze the procedures that have been used previously and make precise adjustments based on the company policies.

Now that you have understood the problem and defined it, start strategizing a solution for it based on your findings. Workplace solutions can be majorly categorized into two different kinds, i.e. tactical solutions and strategic solutions .

A tactical solution is a short-term fix for a standing obstacle, more like a workaround for an issue. Imagine reusing a piece of code from your last project to get around that pesky error message in your new one.

A strategic solution, on the other hand, is a long-term fix for an issue. Strategic solutions involve using a comprehensive series of steps to find the overall architecture of a problem.

Usually, workplaces adopt the following problem-solving strategies into their policies.

  • Use logical reasoning
  • Recognize patterns
  • Reverse engineer the problem
  • Try a different point of view
  • Consider worst-case scenarios
  • Relate to a more straightforward real-life problem
  • Data organization
  • Prepare a visual representation
  • Take all possibilities into account
  • Intelligent guessing and testing

Your goal as an employee should be to become as fluent in these strategies as possible. Once you can naturally zoom into the problem, you will be able to form a strategy within minutes, without having to write anything down.

Are you starting to understand how the new guy deduced a solution that quickly?

Keeping the goals and objectives in mind, understand that there's always more than one way to skin a cat . Invite your team members and other experienced guys to brainstorm ideas alongside you.

For each problem, you should be able to find at least THREE different points of view or solutions, each with a unique USP.

Here's a neat little trick you may find useful someday in your career. Invite everyone associated with the project to this brainstorming session. Making sure that everybody gets equal participation is one of the ways you can exhibit your leadership skills while forging strong workplace relationships.

Now that you have found alternate solutions as well, it's time to evaluate these solutions. You will need to assess each solution based on various factors and list down all the pros and cons of each alternative you found in solution 4.

Create a document or spreadsheet listing down the USPs of each alternative and the positive and negative consequences thereby. You can go on adding other columns such as budget constraints, time allocation, resource requirements, workforce, and other relevant data.

The ability to quickly evaluate solutions ties into your management skills. A manager will be able to evaluate and implement solutions based on such factors quickly. Train yourself to find as many parameters as you can find to analyze solutions effectively.

Basically, your main objective is to find one effective solution out of all the ones provided on the list. The solution you choose depends on various parameters, which can be one or all of the following:

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Practicality
  • Company policies and procedures

You can promote strong work ethics by running the chosen solution by everyone in your team or involved in the project before implementing it. Also, select the employees who will be actively implementing it, and ask for their feedback.

Implementing a solution does not merely mean diving headfirst with anything that you do. After you have collected the feedback and communicated the solution to everybody involved, here's what you will need to do next.

First, redefine the objectives , in brief, to help get a better idea of the end goal. Develop a simple action plan with defined timelines for the solution that you agreed upon in the step above.

Implement the chosen solution according to the action plan. Then, identify the measurable parameters to track success and failure rates.

Finally, set up communication channels for regular feedback and a contingency plan in case of a failure.

The last problem-solving step involves actively monitoring how the solution performs in real life and if it meets the end goal for which it was adopted in the first place.

Tally how the solution functions compared to how you expected it to perform and document all changes. Check the feedback channel for any discrepancy or issues that arise during the process.

If you feel that any modification will further optimize the process, implement it after running it with your team.

Improving problem-solving skills for programmers

  • Understand the question and classify it as Corner-case or Edge-case
  • Simplify and optimize your steps
  • Write line-by-line pseudo code, focusing on the logic and steps rather than the syntax
  • Translate it into a code
  • Debug and remove repetitions
  • Write comments to help you understand
  • Get feedback regularly
  • Practice again

What essential problem-solving skills do employers search for in interviews?

Problem-solving in the workplace is one of the most sought-after skills in any organization. During the interview, if you can highlight your ability to find creative solutions quickly along with your technical skills , you definitely have a better chance of making it to the next round.

Hiring managers tend to leave specific questions open-ended; the notion being that without a trail for the candidate to follow, they'll be able to understand better how the candidate thinks.

Some of the crucial problem-solving skills that employers look for in the candidate include the following:

" Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. " – Helen Keller

Effective problem-solving encompasses teamwork. As a problem-solver ( and a leader ), you need to show empathy towards your teammates, develop effective feedback channels, and use their input to solve the problem at hand.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Listening skills

A good listener in the workplace will be able to gather more valuable information and then use them to find unique solutions in the least possible time. Additionally, an active listener encourages every team member to get involved in the problem-solving steps , listens to their feedback, and comes up with a profitable solution.

However, ' saying ' that you have good listening skills outright defeats the purpose.

During the interview , maintain your composure and LISTEN quietly to the problem at hand. Understand the problem and its root cause; only then provide a solution.


Irrespective of the nature of a problem, you need to be able to communicate the issue and any possible solution effectively to everybody else involved in the project. You need to brush up your delivery skills and learn which points to communicate first and last.

Interviewers may either ask your proficiency with various communication channels such as e-mail, phone, and text or give you a behavioral task and test your ability to communicate with others in real-life situations.

Creativity and critical thinking

"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." - Maya Angelou

Employers in this day and age are always on the lookout for an innovative thinker, one who can see the problem with a new set of eyes and bring a unique perspective to the team. You need to be able to establish the balance between cause and effect quickly, anticipate long-term effects of a solution that you implement, and lead your team to a new direction when stuck.


More often than not, decision-making is closely tied to an employee's problem-solving ability . Besides implementing solutions that your team comes up with, you should also be able to foresee the long-term effects and prevent catastrophes.

With quality technical interview preparation courses , you can further understand the importance of this step.  

How to highlight problem-solving skills in your resume?

Your resume is the first document that a hiring manager sees. The experience and skills you mention in your resume can help you secure an interview if it catches the recruiter's attention.

The first approach you can adopt is highlighting your analysis and problem-solving skills right under the hard skills. This approach shows that you are confident in your technical skills and can find and implement work-based solutions efficiently.

For a full-stack web developer, the following problem-solving skills can be mentioned.

Critical and creative thinking and proficient in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, NPM, Database Storage, Ruby on Rails. Good at problem-solving and working in teams.

Secondly, you can list your problem-solving ability under the work experience section. This is an excellent way to highlight your job experience and emphasizes that you learn and implement these skills in your work.

  • Analyzed customer service feedback to predict interest in a sales campaign to attract a target audience group.
  • Documented the standard processes and scripts using specialized software solutions which led to customer satisfaction increased by 45% in a quarter.
  • Researched and launched a mobile app that reduced the school pickup time by 21 minutes.
  • Altered the inventory safeguard protocols during hurricane season, saving $1 million in wastage.

Apart from using problem-solving skills in your workplace , a quick way to develop your skills is to ask many questions. Only by asking questions and analyzing the information at hand can you build a workplace reputation as someone who handles challenging situations wisely.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Vartika Rai

Attend our free webinar on how to nail your next technical interview.


Recommended Posts

What is diffing how does it impact code management, the role of a technical program manager, arraylist vs. linkedlist in java: choosing the right data structure, ready to enroll, next webinar starts in.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

  • Follow Skillsarena on YouTube
  • Follow Skillsarena on Facebook
  • Follow Skillsarena on Twitter
  • Follow Skillsarena on LinkedIn
  • Follow Skillsarena on Instagram
  • Request Demo
  • importance-of-problem-solving-skills

Why Problem Solving Skills are Important in the Workplace

Posted 26/10/2021 by Vicki Mann

You can read this in 8 minutes.

In the modern workplace, problem solving skills are no less than essential. Needless to say, the world of work is not always plain sailing. No matter what role or industry you find yourself in, challenging situations are not just likely, but to be very much expected. Every role imaginable will come with its own unique set of problems that need to be solved, but what ties these situations together is their spontaneity and their need to be met with problem-solving and creative thinking. Unforeseen circumstances that will continuously arise can only be approached with practicality, common sense and personal skill. Problem solving techniques are at the heart of these abilities, and they can be applied to just about every work-related task, from organisation to communication and collaboration, managing deadlines to maintaining interpersonal relationships with colleagues. Due to the necessity of problem-solving techniques in every workplace, it could not be more important that employers use cognitive ability tests when sifting through applications to optimise recruitment selection.  

What are problem solving skills?

So, what are problem-solving skills? Problem-solving in the workplace entails a range of techniques: working around unexpected new issues, managing changing variables, the confidence to approach a new task and the knowledge of how to solve interpersonal problems. It also includes certain intrinsic qualities, such as practicality and confidence: that is, the capacity to spot when something is going wrong and raise questions which might help to solve it in the workplace. A problem solver can confidently find and manage solutions for complex and unexpected situations. Problem-solving skills involve a balance of analytical thinking, creative thinking, and critical thinking skills. Analytical thinking skills are crucial when it comes to identifying a problem, and creativity is key in finding methods to solve it. Critical thinking enables somebody to see which solution might be the most effective. Problem-solving skills are useful both in the short-term and the long-term. A candidate with good problem-solving skills will ensure that obstacles are surmounted in the moment, and the best solution is found, but they will also be able to identify the variables that gave rise to the problem in the first place, and make changes to prevent similar issues occurring in the future. In this sense, problem-solving skills are the key to approaching most complex issues and finding more enduring solutions. A good problem-solver is an asset to any organisation, and is likely to perform their job more successfully. In order to make objective hiring decisions and select the candidates with the best problem-solving capacities, your organisation will need to test for specific skills. These skills involve the ways in which a person deals with real life situations, and may not be apparent from conventional techniques such as interview questions, which do not necessarily indicate how a candidate would solve a problem in the workplace. Pre-employment skills tests, on the other hand, are a bias-free solution, ensuring that your organisation hires the applicants best suited to their roles. When assessing an applicant's capacity for problem-solving, there are six key skills which are tested.  

1. Collaboration Skills

Although problem-solving is something which exists within each individual to a greater or lesser degree, it also determines how an individual is able to interact with a group and complete a task collaboratively. Reaching a good solution and setting it in motion often requires collaboration. A problem solver knows that working with others successfully (regardless of their  personality type ) is the best route to solve most of the challenges that crop up both in the workplace and in everyday life.  

2. Communication Skills

When problems arise in any organisation, it is important that employees can approach them calmly, communicate the situation to others in clear and succinct terms and work together to solve it. Complex problems require good communicators, those who can simplify the situation and express the main issues in order to come to an efficient solution.  

3. Decision-Making Skills

The capacity and confidence to make a quick decision and stick to it is a crucial problem-solving technique. In a complicated situation, coming to a level-headed decision quickly and committing to it is crucial to solving the issue.  

4. Analytical Thinking Skills

The analytical mindset is necessary in confronting any problem or task and reaching a solution. It is imperative that a candidate, when faced with an issue, is able to analyse the situation and identify what has gone wrong. Analytical thinking skills are also key in the ability to select the best out of a range of possible solutions.  

5. Creative Thinking Skills

Creative thinking is an important capacity when it comes to coming up with methods to solve a problem in the workplace. The potential to approach a complicated issue from a variety of angles, and to apply the imagination to overcoming a task makes it easier to solve a problem in an efficient way.  

6. Listening Skills

Problem-solving skills rely on the fundamental faculty of listening. Listening is the surest method to collect information about an issue, weigh up different perspectives and opinions, and begin to understand a problem in order to solve it. The facility to listen to coworkers in the workplace is also a way to prevent complicated and problematic situations from occurring in the first place! Needless to say, in the world of work today, these techniques are invaluable, and it is essential that employers use psychometric measures to test for problem-solving skills in order to improve recruitment. Knowing a candidate's ability in these key areas is important, and can prevent the risk of a bad hire. Recruitment tests are very important, as getting the hire wrong does not just cost money, it also results in a loss of time and loss of productivity. Pre-employment testing, particularly tests which measure an applicant's capacity to solve a problem, and decide on the best solution, are a cost-efficient means to improve the recruitment process and ensure your company's success and growth.  

How to assess candidates' problem-solving skills

We offer different pre-employment tests which accurately assess an applicant's strength in key areas and their technique in identifying good solutions to problems in the workplace.

Situational Judgement Tests

The  Situational Judgement Test  is a kind of psychometric test that measures soft skills such as common sense, non-academic behaviours, technique in identifying solutions and practical intelligence. The tests work in a realistic and practical way, presenting applicants with a variety of different workplace situations which they might encounter when performing the functions that the job requires. Undoubtedly, the capacity to see which course of action a prospective employee would take or which solution they would choose in a given situation gives the employer a valuable insight into their specific skill set, and how they might respond to the demands of the job.

Logic-Based Aptitude Tests

Our  logical reasoning tests  measure a candidate's non-verbal intelligence - their capacity to analyse situations, extract rules, and find the right solution using logical and abstract reasoning. This is an in-depth cognitive test and so it provides an accurate indication of how successful a candidate will be when faced with workplace problems which they have to solve. Unlike most aptitude tests, logical reasoning tests do not measure knowledge in a particular subject area, simply their thought problem-solving process. This means that it is a useful tool in the recruitment process for any employer to evaluate applicants in any field.

Bespoke Tests

The option to  create your own tests  tailored to the demands of your organisation is a successful means of guaranteeing the right hires and ensuring good job performance. At Skillsarena, we have the expertise to create a quiz or any other testing experience that will assess the problem-solving skills that are most necessary to your particular company.   The importance of problem-solving skills in the modern workplace cannot be overstated. In order to make sure that your company grows, it is imperative that employees have the analytical and creative skills necessary to solve any problems they might face in their jobs. Our  Situational Judgement Tests ,  Logical Reasoning Tests , and  Bespoke Tests  are the best method of guaranteeing a good hire, testing an applicant's capacity to solve a real problem in ways that can't be measured by interview questions alone. As an employer, you know which skills and problem-solving techniques are most important for your particular company. At Skillsarena, we help you evaluate these abilities in applicants, and in doing so we make sure that your organisation is productive and successful. Get started with Skillsarena today to bring out the best in your candidates. After taking a look through our test offerings,  create an account with our self-service system . This way, we can get you started with your Skillsarena profile as soon as possible. If you require any assistance, give us a call on 0203 693 2201 or send an email to [email protected] . We look forward to hearing from you!

You may also like

Posted on Mon, May 09, 2022

How to Get More Out of Your Interviews

Posted on Thu, July 12, 2018

Situational Judgement Tests help the Recruitment Process

Posted on Mon, April 15, 2019

What are Skill Tests?

Management 3.0

The Importance of Problem-Solving Skills in the Workplace

November 10, 2022 - job & career.

Hands-on Management 3.0 leadership workshops focus on tangible practices to help managers, team leaders, middle management, and C-level executives increase employee engagement and foster transformational change within their organizations. Start Your Leadership Journey Today!

According to Management 3.0 Facilitator Ilija Popjanev , problem solving is essential for individuals and organizations as it enables us to control all aspects of our business environment. In this article, Ilija looks into problem-solving skills, how the problem-solving process works, and which tools help you to advance this skill set.

In this article you will learn about:

What is Problem Solving?

  • Problem-Solving in Six Easy Steps

Why is Problem-Solving so Important for Leaders, Teams, and Organizations?

Problem-solving techniques in the workplace, better employee experience by using problem-solving tools from management 3.0, how do employees develop problem-solving skills, what skills make a good problem solver.

In the last few years, we have been living 100% in the VUCA world, with so many unpredictable and complex threats and challenges. As a result, organizations must create a sense of urgency to redesign their present business models and to rebuild the foundations for the future of work. 

All companies now need effective problem-solving skills and tools at all levels, starting with individuals and teams, and finishing with their leaders and managers. This new reality enables growth and success only for those well-equipped and empowered by effective problem-solving skills and tools. 

One of the behaviors of Management 1.0 style is to constantly look for ways to stop “fighting fires,”. Instead, the Management 3.0 style seeks to “find the root cause” of the problem, and then to refocus, improve, and plan a different way for fulfilling workplace tasks.

Management 3.0 provides effective tools and principles for building the system for effective problem solving. It provides us with techniques we can use to understand what is happening in our world, to identify things we want to change, and then apply everything that needs to be done to achieve the desired outcome. We live by the motto: fail fast, recover quickly, and learn from the failures.

The agile way of working does not mean being perfect, but instead it allows for failures and sees them as opportunities to learn, grow, and adapt . Perfection is useless if we do not provide value fast for our customers. That is why problem solving is the foundation for continuous improvement, learning, and collaboration, which leads to innovations and success in ever-changing economies and the new normal that we now live in. 

The definition of problem solving according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is: “The process or act of finding a solution to a problem.” Similarly, the Oxford English Dictionary describes problem solving as: “The process of finding solutions to difficult or complex issues.”

For me, Problem-solving is a process of understanding and owning the problem, constant pursuit for solutions and improvements, and putting into action the best option for the desired outcome.

Understanding context and interacting with our teammates are the essence of effective problem-solving. We must clearly understand the complexity of our environment and the specifics of the context because things continuously change and evolve. Here, the Complexity Thinking Guidelines may help you to better understand what is happening and how to navigate complex environments more effectively.

We must have a lens through which to see problems as opportunities to improve, and regard our teams as sources of knowledge and experience. We have to connect people and opportunities in ways that can facilitate the best solutions for the problems that we are handling. Try using the Personal Maps , an excellent tool for bringing teams together and fostering diversity, respect, trust, and collaboration.

Today, all innovations and solved problems are team efforts because teams constantly improve their toolbox and competencies. Teams want to create something that was not there before, and which maximize their knowledge and resources.

To accomplish that, they need to build a process in a few easy steps:

  • Be present, observe what is happening in your world, and define the problem.
  • Review where you are now and what influences that state.
  • Constantly improve and change things by using creative tools and tactics.
  • Seek solutions and alternatives to make changes more effective.
  • Make team decisions about which tools and solutions should be used.
  • Implement improvements, monitor the process, and constantly adapt!

Problem-Solving in Six Easy Steps

At this stage, by following the Management 3.0 principle of “Improving the system,” you can use the tools Celebration Grids , combined with Yay! Questions , to best engage the team in the problem-solving process, while keeping track of what is working well, what can be changed, and what new options exist.

Documenting everything is an integral part of the problem-solving process. By using Celebration Grids, you are gamifying the process and keeping the team flow and energy on a higher level.

Also read: What type of problem-solver are you?

Problem-solving is crucial for everyone: individuals, teams, leaders, organizations, and ultimately for all stakeholders because it empowers us to better control the environment and everything that is going on in our world. Try using Delegation Poker so that teams can become more empowered to solve problems both alongside leaders and within their organization. 

Today, the speed of problem solving is important, and that is why organizations must give more power and authority on a team level , so employees can react quickly and even prevent problems. As a leading indicator, the Management 3.0 tool Problem Time can help you measure the time spent on uncompleted problem-solving tasks and activities; this is a valuable add-on to “lead and cycle time” lagging indicators, with which you measure the time taken on completed tasks.

Developing and refining problem-solving skills through constant practice and experimentation can refine the ability to solve problems and address issues with more complexities.

We may face various challenges in our daily work, and effective problem-solving can make a difference.

Make a Difference with Problem-Solving

  • Problem-solving skills are important if you want to add more value . As an agilist, your objective is not to be perfect but to maximize the value you provide for all stakeholders. Start fast, deliver value early, manage failures and prioritize tasks by setting the urgency criteria.
  • Problem-solving skills are important if you need to improve your results. You have to accept the complexity of success factors and better understand the need for changes and improvements in a continually uncertain environment. Results depend on your problem-solving skills!
  • Problem-solving skills are important if you have to fix things that do not work. When your processes are not working as planned, problem solving will give you the structure and mechanisms to identify issues, figure out why things are broken, and take actions to fix them.
  • Problem-solving skills are important when you have to address a risk. Sharpen your problem-solving skills to anticipate future events better and increase the awareness of cause-and-effect relationships. This enables you to take the right actions and influence the outcomes if issues do occur.
  • Problem-solving skills are important if you work simultaneously on several projects. You should apply the same problem-solving techniques when you work on multiple projects, business functions, market segments, services, systems, processes, and teams. Standardize and scale!
  • Problem-solving skills are important when you want to seize the day. Problem solving is all about innovation , building new things, and changing the system into a better one. This can help us to identify opportunities even in challenging times and prepare us for the future. You can visualize the process with the Meddles Game to better understand your ideas, solutions, and activities. It is a great way to engage your team as you can build the problem-solving concept and it is an effective tool for influencing all stakeholders affected by the problem. 

Also read: Collaborative Leadership explained .

Solving complex problems may be difficult, but problems will be solved when we use the right tools. Besides the powerful Management 3.0 tools I already mentioned, as a big fan of Lean and Liberating structures, I think you can find lots of problem-solving techniques to use in your daily business. 

Here is my short list of tools and techniques:

  • 5 Whys – a great way to uncover the root cause is to understand the problem better. 
  • Fishbone analysis – for visual analysis of the root causes of a problem. Easy to combine with ‘5 Whys’ or ‘Mind mapping’ to brainstorm and determine the cause and effect of any problem.
  • Silent brainstorming – gives everyone a chance to participate in idea generation as not only the loudest people, but also the quiet ones, will participate equally. Everyone’s opinion has the same weight. 
  • Mind maps – structured visual diagrams to share your ideas, concepts, and solutions the same way your brain does. You explain the problems quickly, then share fresh ideas, and finally come to a team consensus that can lead to an effective solution. 
  • Six thinking hats – enable your team to consider problems from different angles, focusing on facts, creative solutions, or why some solutions might not work.
  • Agreement certainty matrix – another tremendous visual tool for brainstorming problems and challenges by sorting them into simple, complicated, complex, or chaotic domains to later agree on what approach should be used to solve the concrete problems affecting a team.  
  • Conversation café – enables the team to engage in productive conversations, with less arguing but more active listening, solving the problem in rounds of dialogues until reaching a consensus regarding the best problem-solving approach. 
  • Design thinking – when you are struggling for fresh ideas, the 5-step process will help you empathize with the problem, then begin defining and developing new ideas, before prototyping and testing them. 

Edward Deming’s PDCA is the most known concept for continuous improvement and problem solving. You can gamify your events using the Change Management Game , a card game where PDCA will help you define the problem, take action, collect feedback, and adopt the new solution.

The “carrot and stick” approach, or in HR language, “pay for performance,” does not work anymore, especially for roles that require problem-solving, creativity, and innovative thinking. Creative people need a higher level of authority and empowerment to self-manage challenges and problem scenarios. When leaders and organizations create such systems, they foster intrinsic motivation and job satisfaction among these people. Creatives are seeking self-actualization through their careers.

This is one more case which calls for Management 3.0’s Delegation Poker to define the levels of authority in terms of problem-solving issues, as well as Moving Motivators to define key motivators for increasing productivity and employee satisfaction by changing behavior.

Improving Employee Experience with Problem-Solving

1. Use problem solving as a key motivator – have in mind Millennials and Gen Z creative workers ’ affinity towards tasks in which they feel challenged and have a sense of meaning. Provide them with big and tough problems to solve and use challenging tasks to keep them constantly engaged.

2. Continuous improvement can make a difference – creatives seek a sense of purpose and think outside of the box, so encouraging the ‘How can we execute this task better?’ mindset and problem solving become powerful tools for creating sustainable corporate culture.

3. Don’t connect solving problems with rewards – it can kill the perceived intrinsic value of the activity; it will disengage and dissatisfy employees. Autonomy, trust, respect, and gratitude will do the job. 

4. Apply the seven rules for creative managers – unleash the power of diversity , and cooperation, rely on merits, optimize exploration, open boundaries, keep options open, and update your workplace. 

Improving Employee Experience with Problem-Solving

We start solving problems from a very early age (the alphabet, learning to eat, driving a bicycle etc.). Then, everyday activities sharpen our problem-solving skills and enable us to solve more complex issues. 

As an adult, you can still develop your problem-solving skills by:

  • Daily practicing of logic games, such as chess, and puzzles like Sudoku. 
  • Video games can teach you how to deal with failure and persist in achieving your goals.
  • Keep an idea journal or blog as a collection of all your ideas, thoughts, and patterns. 
  • Think outside of the box – take a different perspective to understand the problem better.
  • Practice brainstorming combined with mind mapping, working with your team.
  • Put yourself in new situations – take on a challenging project at work.
  • Start using the “what if” mindset in daily circumstances and test new approaches.
  • Read more books on creativity and articles which cover your areas of interest. 

I also believe coaching can help build creativity and problem-solving skills, encouraging people to take greater ownership of their work and commit to corporate goals. A coach can provide clear guidance as to what is important at the moment; they help people better, focus, and move into action. By asking powerful questions and challenging others to think outside of the box, the coach removes their barriers and lets them see the situation from a new perspective.

Coaching can provide structure so people develop their own expertise and insights to contribute better when problems arise and the pressure to succeed is growing.

The interview is an excellent opportunity to research a candidate’s problem-solving skills, and STAR questions should be related to their previous experience dealing with problems. A candidate with good problem-solving skills can quickly embed in the team and become a valuable asset for the company.

In my Agility in HR workshops , we regularly discuss interview questions. Some popular STAR questions are:

  • “If you cannot find a solution to a problem, how do you deal with the situation?”
  • “How do you react when faced with unexpected problems or challenges?”
  • “Describe an occasion when you had to adapt at the last minute. How did you handle this?”

Problem-solving requires the ability to identify a problem, find the root cause, create solutions, and execute them. All these steps are essential for achieving the desired results. 

Some of the skills that problem solvers must constantly sharpen are:

  • Collaborative communication . Clear communication is essential when you explain the problem and the solution to your teammates. During brainstorming sessions, asking the right questions to determine the root cause , as well as synergic collaboration are needed.
  • Active listening is important to prevent mistakes as  you can absorb the details your colleagues tell you about the problem. Use open-ended questions for clarification, and always be open to feedback and views that differ from yours.
  • Coachability. The willingness to accept feedback and the ability to improve. Learning from more experienced people, being curious to ask many questions, constructively using your ego, skipping excuses and blaming others, and accepting Feedback Wraps from your coach.
  • Decision making . Problems cannot be solved without risk-taking and bringing important decisions (including relevant data, levels of delegation, alternative solutions etc.) to the forefront.
  • Critical thinking . Be 100% objective when you try to find the cause of the problem. Skip ego trips and personal biases. Identify your mistakes in the thinking process and show personal accountability .
  • Research and data analysis . Proper research allows you to diagnose the actual problem, not just the symptoms. If the cause of the problem is not immediately apparent, you can use the power of data to discover the issue’s history, some patterns, future trends, etc.
  • Persistence . Trust in the problem-solving process you have designed and follow every step with patience and persistence; even when you fail repeatedly, do not give up. Keep moving and remember Thomas Edison’s quote: “I have not failed. I have just found 9,999 ways that do not work.”

Skills of good problem-solvers

In the new VUCA world we now live in, problem solving is a crucial soft skill, and employers are actively seeking people with this skill set because they can prepare for problems before they arise. Problem solvers better identify opportunities, understand their environment, create a solution, and generate ideas that lead to great results and success.

According to a study made by LinkedIn Learning in August 2022 , future skills are rapidly changing, and problem solving is among the top soft skills employers search for from their candidates, as well as communication and leadership skills.

Using all aforementioned tools and practices from Management 3.0, following the guides, and sharpening your skills, will help you not only to be effective in resolving the problems that may arise, but also to solve them with enthusiasm and passion. They will create a higher level of engagement and collaboration in the team and help unleash people’s creativity and innovation. A win-win for everyone!

Photo by Parabol on Unsplash

Have you already read these?

Change your job. keep your why., the top 6 ways self-grooming & behavior impacts one’s professional life, how can a business degree make you a better leader, 9 reasons why quitting your job could be good for you, privacy overview, sign up for our engaging newsletter.

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Subscribe Here!

Idealist logo

Popular searches

Land your dream job, how to apply your problem solving skills in the workplace.

Amy Bergen profile image

Problem solving is a “soft skill” valued by just about every employer. And its importance will only grow in the future—the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2025 (and beyond), employers will increasingly seek out creative candidates with expertise in critical thinking and problem solving . 

You’ve probably practiced problem solving skills without realizing it; most of us solve multiple problems, large and small, on a regular basis as we go about our lives. But workplace problems often require a more methodical, collaborative approach. Here’s how to sharpen your problem solving competencies for a current or potential job . 

Identify and define the problem

The simplicity of the first step makes it easy to overlook. Before you can tackle a problem, though, you need a clear understanding of what the problem is. If you’re dealing with several issues at once, address them one at a time—you may find a lot of connected problems can be traced back to a single issue. Business coach Michael Cooper says, “ A well-defined problem often contains its own solution within it ,” and that might be the case for you. 

The next step is to explain the problem as specifically as you can. Start by asking yourself “Why is this a problem?” even if the answer seems obvious. The “why” will open up other questions you can use to generate problem-solving ideas and make the issue easier for others to understand. Just because something seems like a clear problem to you doesn’t mean it’ll feel that way to someone else. 

Using creativity 

One definition of creativity is the ability to consider a task in a different way, or to think of new approaches and angles. Many organizations and individuals find themselves running into the same problems over and over. A well-timed creative solution can break the cycle. 

One framework you can use is the Creative Problem Solving [CPS] process , formalized by theorists Alex Osborn and Sidney Parnes (Osborn came up with the term “ brainstorming ”). There are many variations on the specific steps of this process, but they all involve a period of idea generation or thinking up “creative challenges.” 

A creative challenge is a question designed to invite answers or suggestions. This can be as simple as replacing “I need to…” with “How can I…?” or “In what ways can I….?” Here’s what creative challenges might look like in a work context: 

  • How could I manage my time more efficiently to meet this deadline?
  • How can I reorganize my inbox so I see the most important messages first? 
  • How could we use our internal communications software in a way that keeps messages from getting lost in the shuffle? 

Pro tip: Turning problem statements into questions is a key problem-solving skill. Questions are much more open-ended than statements, which makes it easier for you and others to find multiple possible responses.

Generating potential solutions

Next you’ll think of answers to your “creative challenge” questions. This is the problem solving skill normally called brainstorming. 

 First, get all your ideas in one place—ideally a document you can refer to and edit later. For instance, an idea generation process might be helpful when you’re coming up with: 

  • Scenarios for a seminar that include in-person, virtual, and hybrid options 
  • Ways to cover necessary shifts in an understaffed workplace (staggering people’s schedules, reassigning or rearranging duties, bringing in volunteers, etc.) 
  • Presenting data for an annual report in a way that makes sense to readers (visual graphs, charts, a highlights reel, etc.) 

Once you’ve thought of as many solutions as possible, step back from the list—as long as the problem isn’t too time-sensitive—and come back with fresh eyes. 

The next step is to turn some of your ideas into actionable plans. When you see the solutions all together, you might discover how certain ideas are related and can form part of a connected strategy. 

Not every idea is going to be a winner, so here are tips for sifting through them: 

  • Figure out in advance what criteria you’ll use to judge the ideas (like timeframe, budget restrictions, or other factors). 
  • Consider previous experiences you’ve had with a similar problem. What worked and what didn’t? 
  • Try the SWOT technique to think about all the angles of an idea. 
  • Break down broader, more vague solutions into step-by-step tasks. 

Collaborating as a team 

At any point during this process, you may realize you don’t have the best skill set or expertise to solve the problem. Or you might simply want to bring in different perspectives. 

  • Remember, creativity involves trying new approaches. Someone else may propose an idea that would never have occurred to you.
  • Solutions will impact some employees differently than others, depending on their roles. On your own, you may not realize how your potential solutions affect other people. 
  • Suspend judgment any time you’re generating creative challenges or ideas, in a group or on your own. This might not be easy, especially if you flat-out disagree with a colleague’s idea, but listen to their reasoning first. Everyone needs a chance to be heard. 

Ultimately the solution should be a group effort, even if one person is in charge of the process. Collaboration has the bonus effect of keeping everyone on the same page. When everyone understands the task, the details, and the logistics, there’s less confusion. 

Making a decision and moving forward

Once you’ve generated, narrowed down, and developed ideas, you’re ready to pick the solution you think will be most effective. 

After you implement your plan, you’ll practice another crucial problem-solving skill, evaluation. Come up with benchmark criteria to determine whether or not the solution is working. 

For instance, maybe you’ve arranged a way for staff members to take on new responsibilities after a colleague has left abruptly or a position is eliminated. Your evaluation benchmarks will probably include performance metrics to make sure the work is complete and up to organizational standards. You’ll also want to assess whether the staff members feel they can sustain their new workloads and whether tasks are being distributed fairly.

And once solutions get underway, they may not work out exactly as you thought they would. While that’s inconvenient, it doesn’t mean the problem-solving process failed. 

Problem solving is an ongoing effort, and if you do end up going back to the idea generation board, you’ll learn even more the next time. 

What problem solving tips and techniques have you found helpful? Feel free to comment and share. 

Amy Bergen is a writer based in Portland, Maine. She has experience in the social impact space in Baltimore, Maryland, the educational museum sphere in Columbus, Ohio, and the literary world of New York City.

Explore Jobs on Idealist

  • Collaboration |
  • 11 Benefits of teamwork in the workplac ...

11 Benefits of teamwork in the workplace (with examples)

Team Asana contributor image

Teamwork is one of the most important tools when it comes to organizational efficiency. Though we can all agree that teamwork is important, not everyone realizes just how impactful it is in the workplace. Teamwork in the workplace is when a group of individuals work together toward a collective goal in an efficient manner. When multiple people work together toward a common goal, your business can flourish. 

We’ve rounded up 11 top benefits of teamwork in the workplace, with examples throughout to help you better understand just how important teamwork is. Ready to work on teamwork? Let’s dive in.

What is teamwork?

Teamwork is the process of working collaboratively with a group of people to achieve a specific goal. It involves the combined efforts of individual members who bring their unique knowledge and skills to the table. Effective teamwork in the workplace relies on key components such as active listening and open communication, and ensures each person's input contributes towards reaching the team's goals.

Why is teamwork important?

Teamwork in the workplace is important because it supports an organization's operational efficiency. Strong team dynamics enable individual members to divide complex projects into manageable tasks, which enhance productivity and enable an organization to function more effectively. Moreover, successful teamwork creates a supportive network that can significantly enhance job satisfaction and employee morale.

Benefits of teamwork in the workplace

1. teamwork cultivates effective communication.

Effective teamwork in the workplace starts with solid communication . In order to work together—whether when ideating or working on a new project—you need to communicate to create cohesion and clear goals.

Teamwork cultivates effective communication

Communication starts by building camaraderie and team synergy . A great way to do this is by organizing team building activities. This could be a quick icebreaker at the beginning of a meeting or a whole day spent solving fictional problems with teammates. 

A successful team that demonstrates clear communication is more efficient and productive. Not to mention it creates an enjoyable work environment. 

Communication example: Daniella and Kabir are working on a project task together. Kabir is confused when reviewing the project notes so he messages Daniella to ask for help. They hop on a quick call and work through the problem together. By working as a team, they effectively communicated and were able to complete the task the same day. 

Tip: Take communication one step further by keeping tasks and collaboration in a shared digital space. That way, everyone can stay on the same page, no matter where they are.

 2. Teamwork improves brainstorming

Brainstorming is a powerful method that helps teams think outside of the box. It involves individuals working together by communicating ideas for a number of initiatives. These could include projects, processes, products, and services. 

Good teamwork means your team communicates and feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Without teamwork, your brainstorming sessions could suffer, and, in turn, so could your team’s quality and performance. 

Ultimately, the success of brainstorming sessions relies on solid teamwork in the workplace. By investing time to foster trust and open communication, every individual’s potential can be maximized, benefiting the whole team. You can do this by connecting in a one on one setting regularly and encouraging team members to share their insights. 

Brainstorming example: Kat needs to come up with three design ideas for a new landing page. Instead of ideating by herself, she asks the team to join in on a brainstorming session. Since there are many team members sharing ideas, Kat receives more than enough ideas to get started. 

Tip: Check out 29 brainstorming techniques to help spark creativity within your team. 

3. Teamwork encourages a common goal

Having a common goal in mind is essential when it comes to prioritizing projects and new initiatives. With multiple team members working on individual tasks, a project goal helps keep deliverables aligned and ensures objectives are met. 

There are a number of ways you can communicate a goal in a way that both encourages teamwork in the workplace and promotes collaboration. These include:

Business case : A business case is a document that details the value of a project or initiative. This ensures each team member has the same starting point before diving into a project.

Team meeting: Meetings are a great way to get your team in one place to communicate expectations and work together. Having an initial meeting—as well as a post mortem meeting once the project is over—can help determine deliverables and ensure objectives were met. 

Timeline software : Timeline tools can help your team visualize the work you need to complete and how you’ll hit your project goals. Clarifying task due dates and dependencies unlocks teamwork and allows team members to thrive. 

Goal-oriented example: Kat is leading a meeting on a new process that’s being put into place. Kabir asks what the purpose of the process is. Kat explains that they’ll be adding a new tool to their scheduling process to automate some of the team’s work, like tedious and time consuming tasks. Now, the team understands the underlying goal.

Tip: Align tasks to goals using goal-setting software that helps you achieve progress and keeps team members on the right track every step of the way.

4. Teamwork in the workplace improves problem solving skills

Problems can be difficult to solve on your own. That’s why working together as a team can offer quicker and often more effective solutions. 

Teamwork improves problem solving skills

Not only does this help create an efficient process for problem solving, but using teamwork creates shared goals.

Problem solving example: Project manager Kat finds out there is an issue with image implementation that’s postponing the project launch date. Instead of trying to solve it alone, she enlists her team in a brainstorming session to come up with solutions. Because she asked her team for help, she was able to co-create a solution in just an hour, as opposed to what could have taken days by herself. 

Tip: Practice problem solving as a group by using team building activites to motivate your team members to feel confident in their solutions. 

5. Teamwork helps build trust

Trust in the workplace is something that is built over time. It takes transparent communication, one-on-one sessions, and support to build that trust with team members. 

A team that trusts each other feels comfortable communicating ideas, collaborating in the workplace , and growing individual strength. Not just that, but they also feel a sense of belonging within the group. 

The absence of teamwork in the workplace can lead to a breakdown in trust. This can result in team members feeling isolated and turning competitive, focusing on individual achievements over team success, which can undermine both morale and performance. 

Trust example: Ray has a task that’s overdue. His manager, Kabir, offers to sit down with him and offer support. Afterward, Ray feels relieved and has the confidence to complete the task. Next time he has an issue, he knows he can reach out to Kabir for support. 

Tip: Building teamwork in the workplace goes beyond the daily tasks; it's about connecting with your team members on a personal level. Figuring out what makes them unique is a great way to build trust over time. 

6. Teamwork improves company culture

Most companies strive for a good organizational culture , but it’s not as easy as having chats at the water cooler or a monthly pizza party. Company culture involves making your team members feel heard and empowered to do their best work while offering them work-life balance and an overall enjoyable work environment. 

To build culture, encourage camaraderie and teamwork in the workplace. Spending time with one another can help build this bond and, in turn, improve working relationships and the culture around the (virtual) office. 

Culture example: Kabir’s team has a huddle every Monday where they share what they did over the weekend and any upcoming projects for the week. Since they get to talk about both personal and work-related topics, the team enjoys their Monday meeting. In fact, communication and overall culture have improved since the team began meeting on Mondays. 

Tip: Build shared values by giving team members the opportunity to share the values they think are important. 

7. Teamwork creates efficiency

From communicating effectively to improving company culture, teamwork drives many benefits, including creating team efficiency . An efficient team works together to quickly manage problems and daily tasks. As a result, efficient teams use resources more effectively and reach their deliverables faster. When it comes to organizational growth, few strategies are as impactful as cultivating streamlined efficiency through teamwork in the workplace. Such cohesion is instrumental in fostering innovative solutions while maintaining consistent quality.

Efficiency example: There’s a new project on the horizon for Ray and his team. Ray’s first instinct was to ask Kat, his senior specialist, to tackle it since she’s the best fit to handle the task. After analyzing the difficulty of the project, he decides to have his entire team tackle it together. To his surprise, they completed the project in just half the initial timeline.

Tip: To encourage efficiency across projects, align your team using one work management tool. That way, everyone can clearly see the goals you’re working towards, the timeline for that work, and who's responsible for what.

8. Teamwork increases employee engagement

A little known secret to fostering long-term happiness and engagement is to nurture teamwork in the workplace. When team members feel part of a supportive group, they're more likely to be content and involved, which naturally boosts their work satisfaction over time. 

To increase employee engagement, encourage teamwork inside and outside of work. Schedule time for your team to connect about more than just work. Your team will feel more open when working in a group, which leads to a higher retention rate. 

Engagement example: Kat’s team has been working hard on a top priority project. Unfortunately, issues arose and now they have to stay late to finish the project before the weekend. Kat knows that she needs to do something to keep the team’s spirits and energy up. She decides to start the evening with a team building activity. This immediately engages the team and gets everyone excited to put their heads together and finish the project off strong.

Tip: Make your virtual meetings more engaging by starting them off with a quick ice breaker question to lighten up the mood. 

9. Teamwork motivates high performing teams

Accountability is a powerful motivator, and teamwork in the workplace is a surefire way to instill this sense of responsibility. It spurs team members not just to meet expectations, but to exceed them and willingly contribute their best ideas to the group's endeavors. The higher performing each team member is, the higher performing your overall team will be, meaning you can create high quality work more efficiently. Not only is a high performing team good for your company, but it also helps job satisfaction, as doing well will motivate individuals to continue growing their skillset.

High performing example: It’s team review time and Kat gets a shoutout at all hands for implementing a new process to increase productivity. Kabir, a new team member, feels empowered to work hard and will receive a superb review next quarter. 

Tip: High performing teams are usually made up of individuals who seek motivation from within, otherwise known as intrinsic motivation . 

10. Teamwork in the workplace develops individual strengths

Teamwork isn’t just about team success—it also supports individual development as well. Team members who grow their individual knowledge can then share that with others during future projects. 

Teamwork develops individual strengths

The result: Individual team members grow their own strengths as well as the strengths of the team. These could include your ability to problem solve, effectively communicate , and combat procrastination—all of which are important skill sets to develop in the workplace. 

Individual strengths teamwork example: Kabir is new to the team and working on his first task. He’s a little stuck so he reaches out to a team member for help. Kat shares her tips on how she works on a similar task. She even shares a tool that Kabir didn’t know about. This helps him complete the task more efficiently.

Tip: If a team member can complete a task just as well as you could, delegate it without intervening. This allows your team members to grow their individual strengths and skills. 

11. Teamwork improves decision making skills

While problem solving and decision making sound similar, decision making skills are all encompassing. To be good at decision making, you need the confidence to make quick decisions based on the knowledge you’ve gathered in your role. 

Teamwork in the workplace is invaluable for improving decision-making abilities. It creates an environment where team members are encouraged to tackle questions and make decisions promptly, which is essential for real-time problem-solving.

Decision making teamwork example: Kabir is leading his first team meeting for a new project. As he’s explaining the upcoming timeline and deliverables, an executive asks who will be working on the project. Kabir is quick to answer confidently, as he’s already brainstormed with his team on who will tackle what. 

Tip: Encourage teamwork in the workplace by inviting team members to actively participate in important meetings, such as by presenting their solutions. This gets them used to explaining their thought process in front of other team members. 

How to improve teamwork in the workplace

Improving teamwork in the workplace is about fostering an environment that values the contributions of all team members and encourages collaborative efforts towards shared goals . It involves enhancing teamwork skills across the board. Here are seven steps you can take to foster great teamwork.

Clarify roles and responsibilities. Assign clear goals based on desired outcomes, allowing employees to understand their objectives. For instance, a designer might be tasked with improving user experience, as measured by customer feedback, rather than just completing a set number of designs.

Establish outcome-based expectations. Shift the focus from processes to results, which urges team members to think strategically about accomplishing their objectives. For example, this method could lead a sales team to prioritize closing deals that align with long-term business strategy over merely hitting short-term numbers.

Set standards of excellence. Define what high-quality work looks like for each position and establish performance benchmarks. A customer service rep, for example, would aim for swift resolution times and high satisfaction ratings, setting a clear target to strive towards.

Provide time for self-reflection. Allocate time for individuals to assess their strengths and passions. A software engineer might discover their knack for algorithm optimization, steering them towards new learning opportunities.

Align strengths with tasks. Give individual team members roles that capitalize on their strongest skills. When a marketing analyst with a talent for data visualization is tasked with creating campaign performance reports, their skill set directly enhances the value of the work produced.

Foster an atmosphere of trust and openness. Cultivate an environment that values teamwork in the workplace through sharing and open communication between colleagues. By establishing regular "open floor" meetings, team members can freely exchange innovative ideas and feedback, bolstering team performance.

Encourage continuous improvement. Establish a routine of constructive feedback, supporting personal and professional growth. This approach might involve quarterly performance discussions that not only review past achievements but also set actionable objectives for skills and career development.

Teamwork in the workplace FAQ

What are the benefits of working in teams .

Working in teams is beneficial because it allows for the division of difficult tasks, making complex projects more manageable and enabling solutions that leverage diverse skill sets. Teamwork in the workplace fosters a collaborative environment where each person contributes different perspectives, which can lead to more innovative solutions and shared success.

How do you demonstrate teamwork skills at work? 

Demonstrating teamwork skills at work involves actively listening to colleagues, contributing ideas, and showing reliability. Being part of a team means collaborating effectively, whether in person or virtually, and supporting others in achieving shared goals. Teamwork in the workplace is about being adaptable, communicative, and committed to the team’s success.

What makes a good team? 

A good team operates with a strong sense of unity and shared purpose. Its members possess complementary skills, and there's a balance of roles that ensures all necessary tasks are handled efficiently. Strong teamwork in the workplace embraces open communication, respects each other's contributions, and is focused on achieving collective goals.

Why is teamwork important in business? 

Teamwork is important in business because it brings together different viewpoints and improves problem-solving capabilities. It fosters efficiency and productivity, as tasks are completed faster with collaborative effort. The importance of teamwork in the workplace is also evident in driving innovation, as employees are encouraged to brainstorm and contribute ideas in a supportive setting. Plus, when teamwork is strong, it can lead to improved employee morale and job satisfaction.

Drive teamwork through communication

Teamwork is a valuable tool to use in the workplace that comes with a multitude of benefits. From building trust to encouraging problem solving skills, teamwork brings your team together and creates clear communication. 

If you want to encourage teamwork in the workplace, try work management software. Make working on common goals easier and keep communication streamlined.

Related resources

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

How Asana uses work management for content marketing

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

Why 1:1 meetings are crucial to your team’s success

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

How to master organizational planning in 5 simple steps

benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

3 ways to launch marketing campaigns faster with Asana

The soft and hard skills every HR and benefits pro needs

Man explaining something to another coworker in front of a laptop

strengthening that connection in a professional setting . However, once COVID-19 changed how we conduct and organize work, it also transformed how we establish and maintain human contact in remote and hybrid settings. 

Prior to this transition, some HR and benefit professionals could have excelled at their jobs without being tech-savvy. Today, this notion is virtually unfathomable. But digital literacy in this industry doesn't solely mean knowing one's way around communication and collaboration platforms. It also involves modifying your approach to employees, management and upper leadership within your agencies, as well as clients, through a combination of soft and hard skills. 

What soft skills should HR and benefit pros have?

The hybrid work experiment is failing everyone

soft skills impact how effectively we interact with employees and everyone else we encounter as we carry out our duties. 

In the digital age, where the nuance of our interactions can easily get lost in translation, it's crucial to nurture communication, time management and organization and leadership. Let's take a closer look at each of these areas. 

Soft skill No. 1: Communication Effective communication is the cornerstone of business success. And, in an era where face-to-face interactions have given way to digital exchanges, mastering the art of communication is more urgent than ever. Competent HR and benefit specialists should be flexible in their communication and learn to adapt their style so that it puts the person on the other end at ease. As a result, even people who prefer face-to-face interactions will open up, setting the stage for productive and transparent communication. 

95% of employees say managers are making everything worse. Can improving soft skills help? 

Soft skill No. 2: Time management and organization With the rise of communication and collaboration technologies, the HR staff of clients you serve, like all other employees, are at a greater risk of falling victim to information overload. Going through the daily influx of messages calls for a reprioritization of work responsibilities, which requires both self-awareness and teamwork. For example, my team uses meetings to allocate tasks and to ensure everyone coordinates their efforts in the most effective manner. By doing so, we emphasize that task-organization is a shared responsibility, which encourages us to be more mindful of how we manage our time. 

through collective effort . This means that even when their superior is away, team members need to take initiative to solve problems and lean on each other for support and guidance. Of course, harnessing leadership skills can only happen in an environment that fosters trust and when employees connect with the organization's fundamental values. 

Now which hard skills should HR and benefit pros have?

As technology continues to evolve, it's essential to discuss the hard skills that help us excel in the field. Some of the most valuable technical competencies are recruitment, retention and analytics. 

Hard skill No. 1: Recruitment Having skilled talent in your corner or across your book of business can set the tone for sustainable business success. However, even organizations with accomplished teams can struggle to attract the best and brightest, which leads to a shortage of skilled staff. That's where a comprehensive recruitment strategy enters the stage. Thanks to modern technology, HR and benefit pros can manage talent pipelines by optimizing the career page on the company website, using social media platforms and hosting events to familiarize potential candidates with the organization's vision. In addition to the technical aspects of recruiting, this skill also involves gauging what might compel excellent candidates to come on board. 

Employed but unhappy: What's in store for US workers in 2024

Hard skill No. 2: Retention Besides attracting top talent, another crucial aspect of our work is holding onto exceptional employees. But retention is more than merely understanding what someone desires in their position. It also entails cultivating a positive culture and transparent communication between staff and leadership. And, it's up to HR and benefit pros to recognize and address any improvement areas to bolster retention.

Hard skill No. 3: Analytics Another core facet of our industry is data-driven decision-making. When the whole team has a firm grasp of HR and benefit analytics, it's much easier to gain insight into employee engagement, emerging workforce trends and overall performance. Besides handling data analysis and collection software, we need to translate insights into easy-to-understand reports that can be shared with stakeholders and leadership. Similarly, our data-based recommendations must align with foundational principles. 

HR and benefits work looks different in every industry, and while it can be challenging, it's always fulfilling for those committed to constantly acquiring new — and improving existing — skills. Remember that keeping up with technological advances takes commitment and support. 

When employers give back, culture, engagement and employee retention see improvements, too.

Three people with hands on sapling about to be planted

Nike will slash its global workforce by about 2%, and joins other major companies like Google and Amazon in laying off staff.

Exterior of a Nike store with the logo on the sign

Larry Connor, founder of the Larry Group, shares how their Partnership Program has made a positive impact.

Man holding out a contract.

Stay on top of employees' healthcare needs with emerging benefits that address preventive care and cost-cutting measures.

Female doctor checking the pulse of a male patient in a doctor's office

A new survey from Brita revealed the overused workplace language that's leaving employees annoyed and excluded.

Two employees having a strained conversation in the office

Resume Genius highlighted jobs that make above $65,000, have steady projected growth and only require an associate degree.

Airport traffic control tower in the foreground, a plane flies behind it, and the sky is blue.


6 Benefits of Learning Soft Skills for Tech Professionals

I n-demand tech jobs require hard skills, but soft skills are just as important. These character traits help you get the job done and build healthy relationships at work. If you master soft skills like problem-solving and communication, you’ve already won half the battle. Here’s why developing soft skills is crucial to advance in your tech career.

1. Achieve Your Personal Work Goals

Working in a tech company involves learning to work independently and in a team. Soft skills such as problem-solving, active listening, and communication are necessary to succeed in your tasks, get your ideas approved, and garner your team’s support.

Soft skills are also essential if you’re thinking of ways to increase your chances of getting a promotion at work . One of the first things your boss will look for is a strong work ethic. They might consider questions such as, are you easy to work with and resourceful?

You should be ready to explain why you deserve to get promoted without appearing pushy or desperate. It takes interpersonal skills, decisiveness, assertiveness, and grace under pressure to advocate for yourself in the workplace.

2. Enhance Collaboration in Your Team

Are you leading a team or working collaboratively on a project? How do you react when your ideas garner support while others are ignored? You must develop soft skills to work smoothly with your team and reach your targets.

Not everyone will understand your thought process or agree with your ideas. This is where conflict resolution and communication skills come into play. Seeking to listen first and constructively framing your arguments are essential to navigating interpersonal challenges in the workplace.

It also takes emotional intelligence to be aware of your teammates’ feelings and reactions. Practicing empathy, encouraging teammates, and acknowledging others’ contributions build a positive team culture contributing to productivity.

3. Boost Your Leadership Potential

Soft skills increase your chances for leadership. The best leaders are not only those who can do the job well but also those who can work with others effectively. You should be able to motivate your team, provide constructive feedback, and mentor your next-in-line.

Going up the career ladder means added responsibilities. Your tasks might transition from technical to managerial. You may be asked to lead teams, train others with non-tech backgrounds, or resolve conflicts. As you progress in your role, soft skills such as interpersonal skills, time management, and problem-solving matter as much as technical knowledge.

That said, it’s clear that having a title isn’t enough if you want to build influence in your company. According to Harvard Business Review's article on building influence at work, personal connections matter in the workplace. It’s as simple as this: people support you and don’t think ill of your motives when they like you.

4. Spark Innovation

One of the ways your tech job can make a difference in the world is by solving real-world problems. Armed with soft skills like creativity and entrepreneurial thinking, you can think of out-of-the-box solutions to complex issues such as pandemics, greenhouse gas emissions, poverty, and water shortages.

However, it’s also true that the abuse of technology can cause harm. For starters, you can think about the dangers of social media on society , the negative impacts of technology on children , and the immediate risks of artificial intelligence .

To combat harmful tech innovation and use, you need a sense of ethics, which the American Management Association calls “an old-fashioned soft skill for the modern world.” Ethical behavior helps tech professionals think critically about these issues and make decisions for the common good.

5. Improve Customer Experience and Increase Client Satisfaction in Your Company

Soft skills are necessary if you work in a tech role that deals directly with clients and customers. Empathy, active listening, communication, and problem-solving are crucial for customer and client loyalty and satisfaction.

Some soft skills that are helpful to develop:

  • Asking the right questions to identify the root problem in customer complaints
  • Maintaining your composure, active listening, showing empathy, managing ambiguity, responding appropriately, and being decisive when customers and clients are angry
  • Managing your time when handling multiple projects
  • Presenting confidently, showing professionalism, and communicating positively during client meetings
  • Thinking creatively to improve customer service

A TED talk by Will Guidara shares the importance of “unreasonable hospitality.” Guidara co-owned the restaurant Eleven Madison Park, named the number one restaurant in the world. Their secret sauce? Creating memorable and personalized customer experiences. They were able to do this through a combination of empathy, sincerity, and creativity.

6. Adapt to Change and Crisis

Change is constant in the tech industry, and it can lead to uncertainty. Technology is upgraded in months, and investors come and go. Given all the reasons why tech companies are laying off so many employees , a tech professional should learn to adapt and deal with difficult situations.

Disruptions in tech, like AI adoption, layoffs, and pandemics, cause worry or negativity, which is normal. It’s okay to grieve a layoff, for example. However, being adaptable means that you’re not only resilient but also creative amid change.

Experts interviewed on BBC Worklife say that those who are adaptable evolve and thrive in changing circumstances. You can adjust to new situations, work under pressure, and remain calm in adversity.

Aside from this, adaptable tech professionals are forward-thinking. You proactively prepare yourself for change. For example, knowing that AI is developing at an unprecedented rate, you will start exploring the best careers in artificial intelligence and think of ways to remain relevant instead of spending too much time worrying about it.

Develop Your Soft Skills for a Successful Tech Career

Succeeding in your tech career takes both hard and soft skills. Don’t neglect to improve your soft skills in your pursuit of learning hard skills. Soft skills help you achieve your personal work goals, enhance collaboration, boost leadership, spark innovation, satisfy customers and clients, and help you adapt in times of change and crisis.

Building in-demand soft skills requires study and repeated efforts. The best way to learn these soft skills would be to practice them in face-to-face and online interactions. Use the resources available to you to grow in your tech job.

6 Benefits of Learning Soft Skills for Tech Professionals


  1. 15 Importance of Problem Solving Skills in the Workplace

    benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

  2. 15 Importance of Problem Solving Skills in the Workplace

    benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

  3. The Importance of Problem-Solving Skills in the Workplace

    benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

  4. 10 Problem Solving Skills Examples: How To Improve

    benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

  5. The Importance of Problem-Solving Skills in the Workplace

    benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace

  6. problem solving skills examples at work

    benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace


  1. issues skills(1)

  2. Customer Support Specialist :Problem-Solving Techniques: Mastering Strategies 9

  3. count and recognize activity at home

  4. Top 10 Soft Skills You Will Need To Grow In Your Career

  5. Workplace Restorative Practices



  1. The importance of problem solving skills in the workplace

    1. Listening skills Active listeners are generally great problem solvers. They can listen to those around them to gather the information needed to solve the problem at hand. They also recognize the importance of valuing others' opinions and experiences to help understand why the problem occurred and define the best course of action to remedy it. 2.


    One of the major benefits of problem solving skills in the workplace is that employees can utilise their innovative thinking to prioritise tasks and focus on pressing challenges facing the business. This will result in them providing effective solutions that utilise available resources within the time frame available.

  3. What is problem solving? And why is it important at work?

    Increase your resilience. Help you develop valuable critical thinking skills. Applying problem-solving skills in the face of an obstacle that seems insurmountable trains you to shift your perspective and look at potential hurdles in a different way.

  4. 7 Problem-Solving Skills That Can Help You Be a More ...

    1. Analysis As a manager, you'll solve each problem by assessing the situation first. Then, you'll use analytical skills to distinguish between ineffective and effective solutions. 2. Communication Effective communication plays a significant role in problem-solving, particularly when others are involved.

  5. Why is problem-solving important in the workplace? (And tips)

    Thanks to strong problem-solving skills, you have the ability to handle difficult or unexpected situations in the workplace or help your employer overcome complex business challenges. Investing in these skills may help you improve your performance and increase your chances of advancing to a senior position.

  6. Your Guide to Problem-Solving Skills at Work

    "Problem-solving skills are skills that allow you to identify and define a situation that needs changing," says Doug Noll, an attorney and adjunct faculty member at the Straus Institute of Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University's Caruso School of Law, where he teaches graduate-level classes in decision-making and problem-solving.Once you identify what needs changing, problem-solving ...

  7. Why Problem-Solving Skills Are Essential for Leaders

    What Is Problem-Solving in Business? Problem-solving is the process of systematically removing barriers that prevent you or others from reaching goals. Your business removes obstacles in customers' lives through its products or services, just as you can remove obstacles that keep your team from achieving business goals. Design Thinking

  8. Problem-Solving Skills: What They Are and How to Improve Yours

    Problem-solving skills are skills that allow individuals to efficiently and effectively find solutions to issues. This attribute is a primary skill that employers look for in job candidates and is essential in a variety of careers. This skill is considered to be a soft skill, or an individual strength, as opposed to a learned hard skill.

  9. Problem Solving Strategies for the Workplace [2023] • Asana

    4 steps to better problem solving. While it might be tempting to dive into a problem head first, take the time to move step by step. Here's how you can effectively break down the problem-solving process with your team: 1. Identify the problem that needs to be solved. One of the easiest ways to identify a problem is to ask questions.

  10. How To Put Problem-Solving Skills To Work in 6 Steps

    1. Define the problem The first step is to analyze the situation carefully to learn more about the problem. A single situation may solve multiple problems. Identify each problem and determine its cause. Try to anticipate the behavior and response of those affected by the problem.

  11. What Are Problem-Solving Skills? Definition and Examples

    Problem-Solving Skills Definition. Problem-solving skills are the ability to identify problems, brainstorm and analyze answers, and implement the best solutions. An employee with good problem-solving skills is both a self-starter and a collaborative teammate; they are proactive in understanding the root of a problem and work with others to ...

  12. Why Problem Solving is Important in the Workplace

    It promotes teamwork, critical thinking, and strategic decision-making, leading to improved outcomes and organisational success. Watch a video instead? If you would prefer to watch a video, here Ben outlines why problem solving is important in the workplace:

  13. Importance Of Problem-Solving Skills In The Workplace

    1. Strategy prioritization, planning, and execution Efficient problem-solvers can carefully assess customer requirements and put together a plan that helps them provide a brilliant service to their intended audience. Their forte lies in streamlining processes by removing bottlenecks. 2. Out-of-the-box thinking

  14. Problem-Solving Skills: 5 Ways to Evaluate Them When Hiring

    Problem-solving skills encompass all the skills that employees use in the workplace to analyze problems and come up with solutions. Examples of typical problem-solving skills include good communication skills, active listening skills, decision-making skills, analytical skills, creativity, and collaboration. Different problem-solving skills are ...

  15. How to Use Problem-Solving Skills in the Workplace

    Step 2: Define the problem. The next step in this process is accumulating every bit of necessary information so that you can start assembling a solution. Now, this isn't as easy as it sounds, and you can effortlessly mess up things during proceedings. Strangely, at this time, do not focus on the solution.

  16. Why Problem Solving Skills are Important in the Workplace

    A problem solver can confidently find and manage solutions for complex and unexpected situations. Problem-solving skills involve a balance of analytical thinking, creative thinking, and critical thinking skills. Analytical thinking skills are crucial when it comes to identifying a problem, and creativity is key in finding methods to solve it.

  17. The Importance of Problem-Solving Skills in the Workplace

    Explore Our Workshops According to Management 3.0 Facilitator Ilija Popjanev, problem solving is essential for individuals and organizations as it enables us to control all aspects of our business environment.

  18. What Are Problem-Solving Skills? Definitions and Examples

    Definitions and Examples. Jennifer Herrity. Updated July 31, 2023. When employers talk about problem-solving skills, they are often referring to the ability to handle difficult or unexpected situations in the workplace as well as complex business challenges. Organizations rely on people who can assess both kinds of situations and calmly ...

  19. The Importance of Problem-Solving Skills in the Workplace

    One of the key benefits of having strong problem-solving skills is improved decision-making. Individuals with strong problem-solving skills are able to analyze situations and make...

  20. How to Apply Your Problem Solving Skills in the Workplace

    This is the problem solving skill normally called brainstorming. First, get all your ideas in one place—ideally a document you can refer to and edit later. For instance, an idea generation process might be helpful when you're coming up with: Scenarios for a seminar that include in-person, virtual, and hybrid options.

  21. The Future of Work: Why Problem-Solving Skills Matter More ...

    1. Why Do You Need Problem-Solving Skills? Problem-solving skills are essential because they empower individuals to find the best solutions to workplace problems. By actively seeking...

  22. 12 People Skills to Succeed at Work

    Problem-solving in a way that benefits everyone. 2. Communication ... No matter your role at work, whether an entry-level employee or a manager, developing leadership skills can help you work well with others. Leaders are dependable, organized individuals who listen to what others have to say and communicate clearly and effectively.

  23. 11 Benefits of teamwork in the workplace (with examples)

    Why is teamwork important? Teamwork in the workplace is important because it supports an organization's operational efficiency. Strong team dynamics enable individual members to divide complex projects into manageable tasks, which enhance productivity and enable an organization to function more effectively.

  24. 15 Problem-Solving Games and Activities for the Workplace

    Benefits of problem-solving games in the workplace. The opportunity for you to practice problem-solving skills like active listening, analysis, creativity and communication can help you develop and strengthen those skills for use in both personal and professional environments. The main benefits of problem-solving games and activities are:

  25. The 11 Most In-Demand Job Skills (and How to Develop Them)

    A report from LinkedIn identified the 11 most in-demand job skills of 2024 as: communication, customer service, leadership, project management, management, analytics, teamwork, sales, problem ...

  26. Soft skills and hard skills for HR and benefits professionals

    Read more: The hybrid work experiment is failing everyone. Well, soft skills are also known as human skills, and rightfully so. While not directly related to the technical aspects of this work, soft skills impact how effectively we interact with employees and everyone else we encounter as we carry out our duties.

  27. 6 Benefits of Learning Soft Skills for Tech Professionals

    1. Achieve Your Personal Work Goals . Working in a tech company involves learning to work independently and in a team. Soft skills such as problem-solving, active listening, and communication are ...