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Problem solving skills and career success

Sunset with a silhouette of a rollercoaster.

The path through life is full of peaks and troughs and overcoming obstacles is all part of the journey. Some problems are minor, such as “Where did I put my car keys?” and some are rather more thorny - none thornier currently than solving the Brexit issue… 

But this isn’t a blog about Brexit. This is a blog about problems and how developing problem-solving skills can help your career. 

Why will an ability to solve problems help? Because if you are a job seeker, being able to overcome hurdles and resolve issues will be attractive for potential employers. At the same time, if you are an employer then you will want logical thinkers on your team. 

Take Thomas Edison for example  

Here’s a problem faced by prolific inventor Thomas Edison who, in the late 1800s, founded General Electric. On his journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur, he encountered a problem. 

Here’s what he said: “I was paying a sheriff five dollars a day to postpone judgement on my small factory. Then came the gas man, and because I couldn’t pay his bill, he promptly cut off my gas. I was in the midst of certain very important experiments, and to have the gas people plunge me into darkness made me so mad I at once began to read up on gas technique and economics, and resolved I would try to see if electricity couldn’t be made to replace gas and give those gas people a run for their money.’  

In the face of adversity, Thomas Edison turned to creativity to solve his problem and, ultimately, built a hugely successful career and a business. 

In a similar way, here’s what President John Kennedy said when he was asked how he became a war hero. “It was easy. Somebody sunk my boat!” From his problem arose opportunity. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Of course, not all of us will be as creative, entrepreneurial, single-minded or focused as Thomas Edison and JFK. 

But that doesn’t mean we can’t take a leaf out of their book and learn a few problem-solving skills which could help in our professional and, indeed, our personal lives. 

Five tips on problem-solving 

Whether you are a job seeker or an employee, running a business, or working on a business, problems crop up. It’s the way we handle them that can make all the difference between career or business success and fulfilling our true potential. 

  1. Define what the problem is. If you have a firm understanding of the issue, you have a far better chance of finding a solution. With Thomas Edison, his problem was lack of gas. 
  2. Understand the cause of the problem. Again, with Edison, the root cause was being unable to pay his bills.  
  3. Develop possible solutions. If you are an employee who has identified that your ‘problem’ is lack of job satisfaction, one solution might be to look for a new role, either within your organisation or with a new employer. 
  4. Pick the best solution for you. There may be a range of options, so a simple list of pros and cons for each should help you decide on the best course of action. 
  5. Put the solution into practice. Of course, this may be easier said than done, but once you have decided what to do, then putting steps in place to implement it should ultimately lead to resolution. 

The truth is, without certain problems we would end up in the wrong place, with the wrong people, doing the wrong thing, so it’s important to think carefully about those problems and make decisions which ultimately lead us to a brighter future.  

At 24-7 Staffing, one of our five key values are ‘people power’ and we truly believe in empowering our people, so they have the skills, motivation and drive to solve problems, while we’re here to support them. It makes them valuable employees when they can solve problems on their own and helps them to move more quickly up the career ladder.  

If you are interested in a role where you have responsibility and a degree of autonomy, or if you are an employer looking for individuals who have the aptitude for problem-solving, then please get in touch with the team here at 24-7 Staffing to find out how we can help you by calling 0800 7830247.  

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