Problem Solving and Critical Thinking PDF
Everyone experiences problems from time to time. Some of our problems are big and complicated, while others may be more easily solved. There is no shortage of challenges and issues that can arise on the job. Whether in an office or on a construction site, experiencing difficulties with the tasks at hand or with coworkers, the workplace presents ongoing challenges on a daily basis. Whether these problems are large or small, they need to be dealt with constructively and fairly. Having the necessary skills to identify solutions to problems is one of the skills that employers look for in employees.
Problem-solving and critical thinking refers to the ability to use knowledge, facts, and data to effectively solve problems. This doesn’t mean you need to have an immediate answer, it means you have to be able to think on your feet, assess problems, and find solutions. The ability to develop a well-thought-out solution within a reasonable time frame, however, is a skill that employers value greatly.
Employers want employees who can work through problems on their own or as effective members of a team. Ideal employees can think critically and creatively, share thoughts and opinions, use good judgment, and make decisions. As a new employee, you may question why an organization follows certain steps to complete a task. It may seem to you that one of the steps could be eliminated saving time, effort, and money.
But you may be hesitant to voice your opinion. Don’t be; employers are usually appreciative when new employees are able to offer insight and fresh perspective into better and more efficient ways of doing things. It is important to remember, however, that as someone new to the organization, you may not always have the full picture, and thus there may be factors you are unaware of that dictate that things be done in a particular way. Another important thing to remember is that when you are tasked with solving a problem, you don’t always need to answer immediately.
The activities in this section focus on learning how to solve problems in a variety of ways in the workplace. Participants will hear about how to properly tell the difference between criticism, praise, and feedback and react appropriately. The section will also review strategies for making ethical decisions, solving problems on a team with others, and learning how to take into account others’ perceptions when assessing actions or statements in the workplace.
A note to facilitators: Building self-determination skills, such as goal setting, decision-making, self-advocacy, and problem-solving should be included in career planning for all youth. Youth with disabilities and/or other (perceived) barriers to employment and/or disconnected youth will tend to have a resiliency not always experienced by their same-aged peers – and not always easily seen or understood by themselves or by adults.
You are encouraged to use the activities in this section to help young people explore how the obstacles they (or those they know) may face in life can pose an opportunity for developing and demonstrating maturity, responsibility, and wisdom. Providing young people with safe opportunities to explore how their personal resiliency can be used to develop enhanced problem-solving and conflict resolutions skills is an opportunity many adults may shy away from, but one that may ultimately be a gift.