Problem-solving Skills All Business Students Should Have

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Problem-solving is a much-needed job skill required in any position, organisation, and industry. It is a skill that every business student must develop, starting from the university to a real-life work environment.

Right from your foundation in business in Malaysia to when you’re working for an organisation, you must develop your problem-solving skills if you must excel in your field. Although everyone is tasked with some problem-solving responsibility in their workplace, not all employees are good at solving problems to an appreciable level.

Problem-solving sits high on the list of professional skills that employers look for in every person, from the least to the highest position. Why is this important?

Every day, you will have to spot and solve problems to gain your employer’s trust and respect at the workplace. To achieve this, you need exceptional attention to detail and to remain calm under intense pressure. Sometimes, when issues occur, you might be on your own. Therefore, you need to be sharp in your thinking to solve the problem and avoid any damage that could affect the company.

Although it might sound intimidating, it is an ability you can master with some practice, starting from a foundation in business programme. Acquiring this skill consists of a series of actions that you can take, such as identifying challenges, devising potential solutions, implementing them, and then following up to ensure that the situation is effectively resolved.

There is no issue you cannot overcome with some creative thinking and planning.


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The Four Stages of Problem-solving

You can use several different methods to solve one problem, but you usually work through four different processes no matter what method you choose. To better support you in your path towards an innovative, workable solution, knowing each step of the process will hone your problem skills.


1. Define the Problem

The first step is to identify and describe the problem you’re dealing with. To paint a detailed picture of what is wrong, closely observe the problem area. Analyse employee behaviour, practices in the workplace, and operating procedures.

At this stage, keep your attention on the problem and resist the temptation to describe the problem in terms of a solution. For instance, “We need to improve our training methodology” speaks to the solution. “Sales documentation is inconsistent” addresses the problem better.


2. Brainstorm alternatives

This is one of the most significant problem-solving phases. A careful balance of imagination and rational thought is required. Compare all the alternatives possible. Analyse the money, time, personnel, and resources needed for each strategy, as well as the return you would expect from different strategies.


3. Pick the best strategy

At this point, good decision-making is essential. You must choose the best solution for the problem and stick with your decision after carefully considering all your choices. Employees who waver or fail to stick to a single strategy do not make successful problem solvers since they get stuck at this critical point in the process.


4. Implement the solution

Implementation is a crucial stage in the process of problem-solving. This is the stage where you will draw an action plan, show it to the appropriate staff, and follow through with your selected strategy.


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Requisite Skills for Effective Problem-Solving

At first glance, problem-solving can seem easy, but many workers struggle over one or more steps to solve workplace problems successfully.

Effective problem-solving requires many essential skills to help you progress from detection to execution efficiently.

You need to have good observational skills in the early stages of problem-solving. You need to exhibit lateral thinking and analytical skills rather than accepting problems at face value. These will help you better determine what is going on and recognize the leading cause of the problem.

Also, you must show patience as you seek possible solutions to the problem. It may not come easily to find the right answer to the problem. You would be well supported by creative thinking. During the second and third stages of problem-solving, employees who know how to use their creative thinking faculties will succeed as they can develop approaches that others have overlooked.

The implementation of your solution requires its own set of skills. Usually, this involves a careful combination of teamwork and leadership abilities. To overcome inevitable pushback from co-workers who oppose change, you will need to demonstrate resilience.

At this point, both communication and negotiation skills are crucial. You need critical thinking and attention to detail after implementing your approach. Review the results and tweak your plan as necessary to ensure that the problem is solved successfully.


In a Nutshell

Problem-solving abilities are as diverse as the problems to which they are applied. However, the same fundamental approach to finding and solving problems is used by all the best problem solvers, integrating the skills mentioned here to maximize successful results.

Ensure that you track your problem-solving achievements, calculate the results, and include them on your resume so hiring managers can have no trouble recognizing you as a successful problem-solver.