Problem Solving

Problem Solving is the first of the three subscales that relate to “Decision Making.”

Decision making refers to how someone understands the impact that emotions have on, and how to use those emotions in the process of making decisions. Also, whether they can resist emotional impulses that may affect the decision-making process to make rational, and not emotionally charged decisions.

Problem solving is one’s ability to find appropriate solutions to problems that are emotionally charged. It is important to recognise that emotions impact on the decision-making process.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl

Higher Range vs Lower Range Problem Solving

Someone that measures in the higher range of problem-solving, is more likely to be able to manage their emotions appropriately when faced with a emotionally charged problem.

They tend to:

• Be able to effectively identify the real problem at hand.
• Gather the necessary information before making a deliberate decision.
• Weigh up all the pros and cons in how to deal with and solve the problem.
• Try to resolve problems in a calm and collected manner without getting frustrated, by considering the situation systematically and logically.

People who fall in the lower range in problem solving are more likely to get emotionally hijacked and have their emotions influence them when facing challenges.

Problem Solving

They tend to:

• Jump to conclusions and into solutions before fully analysing the situation to find the most effective way to deal with the situation.
• Use haphazard strategies that may not lead to the resolution of a situation.
• Prefer that someone else makes the decisions instead.
• Get caught up in and worry more about the problem at hand than putting energy into solving it.

It is important to understand that emotions can and do affect how we make decisions. As well as the quality of those decisions. Consider needing to make a very important business decision in both the following situations.

• Everything is going really well with your family and everyone is healthy.
• You have a child who is laying in a hospital bed and just about to have a heart transplant and the specialist is not sure that they will survive.

You are probably going to be able to make a more intellectual and balanced decision when everything is going well at home. That is not to say it is only our home environment that plays a role in decision making. Other environmental conditions also impact our emotional state and decision making.

Impact In The Workplace

The ability to problem-solve is a key skill in almost any environment. How an individual approaches and deals with challenges, will determine whether an effective resolution to the problem can be found. Problem solving also closely relates to the level to which a person may be promoted to. Unfortunately, we often see people being promoted to their incompetence. Meaning, someone may be a good staff member and do well in their current role as a technician. However, they may get promoted to manager and then be terrible in that position. This is not because they changed overnight. Rather, they do not have the required skills for that position, as it was not necessary in their previous role.

Or imagine a time-sensitive problem that has come up. How leadership and the team deal with this problem will be dependent on where individuals in the team are in the problem-solving spectrum.

In this example, leaders high in problem-solving managing a team also high in problem-solving will likely all get together, calmly discuss the problem, and collectively brainstorm ways to resolve it. This strategy is more likely to help effectively solve the problem in the time they have available to them.

Alternatively, if a leader low in problem-solving skills faces the same issue. It’s possible that due to the time constraints, they panic. Leading them to demand results and actions from their team that may not be realistic or possible. Staff may become stressed and not function at an optimal level. Alternatively, they may even shut down and give up. Saying that it is impossible to solve the issue in the time available.

When someone has well-developed and positive problem-solving abilities, they are likely to create a team that is more motivated, focused, and dynamic to deal with challenges.

They will potentially:

• Seek out the best opportunities to help the organization solve some of its problems.
• Understand when they need help from their colleagues to solve a problem.
• Weigh up all the information and check the validity of actions and outcomes before making decisions.
• Gain a sense of achievement through successful problem solving.
• Understand the most important tasks to deal with first for the greatest impact. Dealing with things in order of importance.

Individuals that fall in the lower range for problem-solving skills may struggle to effectively manage challenges and change in the workplace.

They could potentially:

• Allow workplace pressure and emotional stressors to influence their decision-making.
• Struggle to listen to colleagues’ ideas about the problem as they may not be willing, or able, to think about the problem logically themself.
• Can be easily swayed and be flaky in making decisions.
• The solutions they decide on could be different depending on their emotional state at the time. Effectively allowing their emotions to colour their reality in the moment.
• They may rush into decisions which they may later regret.

Impact In Leadership

Price Waterhouse Coopers put out a report “20 Years inside the mind of a CEO. What’s next?” in which CEO’s rank “problem solving” as the number one required skill.
Management and leadership should present as a good example for the rest of their team. Leaders who display high problem-solving skills also encourage their team to use their own problem-solving abilities. Being aware to not let emotions get in the way of doing what is right and best for everyone involved.
Tackling any situations in a calm way, without getting caught up and overwhelmed by personal feelings. This will likely mean that the leader has a clear and logical approach. Stress and other emotions experienced in the workplace are managed appropriately and don’t influence how they approach solving problems.

Leaders who fall in the lower range in problem-solving may approach difficulties in an overly emotional way. Example, being overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. Leading to poor decision making. Rather than focusing on what needs to be done, they get distracted by the shiny new object syndrome. Or worse, get stuck with indecision and not move ahead with projects. Their team members and staff may pick up on their panic and stress. Resolutions identified could be a knee jerk reaction, rather than a well thought out plans.

Leaders who have lower problem-solving skills may also find it difficult to accept advice from their staff. Potentially ignoring good advice because they themselves are unable to clearly consider the situation at hand for what it is.

“One cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them” – Albert Einstein

Improving Problem Solving

Every one of us is faced with certain challenges on a day-to-day basis in our personal lives and our careers. This is also true for organisations as a whole. Companies face certain problems daily as well. From increasing profits, to retaining market share, to hiring the right staff etc.

One’s ability to manage these challenges will ultimately impact on the overall success and happiness of people and the organisation. Problem solving is a key skill for both leaders and team members.

If you feel that this is an area that you or someone you know may want to work on, then help is at hand.
On completion of the emotional intelligence assessment, we will work together to understand where you may sit on each of the subscales of EI. We can then work with you to increase the specific areas that you feel will have the most immediate and positive impact in your life.

The emotional intelligence assessment is done online and followed up with a face-to-face coaching session, which can be done via Zoom or in person.
Working on one’s EI can lead to significant positive results in all areas of life. Not only making one over all happier, but more effective and approachable
It all starts with a simple yet immensely powerful online assessment.

To find out more about how your organization can benefit, contact us today for a no-obligation conversation.