Skills of an Outstanding Problem SolverJackie, · Categories: Happiness
As a society, we are faced with problems, large and small, at every level of our lives. We spend a lot of time and energy, in terms of identifying the mechanics of problem solving. Yet, what I think we sometimes overlook are the qualities of the person who can actually solve the problems. What characteristics, talents, or skills make for an outstanding problem solver?
Below are four talents that move the needle from a “good” to “outstanding” when it comes to problem solving.
Collaboration is Key
People that are defined as outstanding “collaborators” possess some of the following qualities.
They usually enjoy working with others and thrive off the energy a group of people creates when they are functioning in alliance with one another. They create enthusiasm in the group as they realize collaborative efforts produce a synergy and momentum that one alone cannot quite achieve.
As leaders, they know how to build rapport with others by listening intently to individual and group contributions; going the extra mile to make others feel heard and understood. They understand the importance of drawing all group members into discussions so everyone feels a strong relationship to what is created from the dialogue. Then, they are able to combine the information gathered from robust conversation and establish team goals which are prioritized over individual goals.
Through the collaboration process, a good collaborator shares plans, information and resources freely and equally with all members of the group and as a result, a group identity is usually formed.
Don’t Be Afraid of Change… Catalyze It!
A person who is successful at problem solving efforts also has to be willing to manage and lead change. They recognize the need for change and are able to effectively communicate that “need” to others, thereby “catalyzing change.”
Often times when problems are identified, people will go with the flow rather than making the necessary changes. Research shows resistance to change is highly correlated with “fear.” People who are effective problem solvers realize this and are not afraid to challenge the “status quo.”
Instead, they recognize resistance and prepare to meet the opposition with a mixture of research and education that lessens the “fear factor” and makes for a compelling argument. They model the change they are expecting of others and lead the way with detailed plans that demonstrate how the change will roll out in the organization and the effects it will ultimately have on the future.
Conflict Management Extraordinaire
Good problem solvers also have to be effective at resolving conflict. Problems by nature can be surrounded by a lot of disagreement. A person who is efficient at problem solving realizes this and is prepared to directly engage the conflict through negotiation and resolution efforts.
Being able to handle conflict means not running from it or getting caught up in ignoring the “elephant in the room” syndrome. Rather, it means demonstrating the ability to deal with difficult individuals through diplomacy and tact.
I have come across so many people throughout the years who view conflict negatively and—by so doing, they avoid it. The opposite is actually true. Conflict does not have to be negative. If managed effectively, it can be healthy and provide fertile ground for new ideas.
The key with conflict is to engage it from a positive perspective. Identify talking points and encourage vigorous and structured debate through open discussion.
Find commonalities on both sides of the equation and convey a sense of shared perspective as a foundation from which to build on. Above all, communicate respect for all contributions and thank people for their willingness to address the conflict openly rather that allowing it to fester.
Wear a “solution focused lens” when dealing with conflict and look for “win-win” strategies.
Build Strong Bonds
Throughout most of my blogs you will see the common theme of taking the time to build strong relationships with others. A person’s ability to effectively solve problems is not immune to this quality. In fact, the wider, more extensive network you can build, and the stronger relationships you have created, the higher your ability to effectively solve problems becomes.
Networks, when cultivated and maintained provide an easy exchange for ideas and help to rally support when an identified problem needs tackled!
Not everyone can be an expert at everything. Having a large solid business network to pull from is critical to addressing the notorious “p” word. By drawing from the expertise of others, a multi-faceted problem can suddenly be overcome with possible solutions. Now that’s positive momentum!