how to have employees who are problem solversWith the rising number of college graduates and also people with advanced degrees who have entered the job market in the past decade, employers are reporting that in some cases it’s not the hard skills they’re having a difficult time finding when hiring. Instead, it’s the soft skills that can be tougher to come by.

One of the most in-demand soft skills? Problem-solving. With more companies striving for a culture of innovation and independence among employees, problem-solving is essential. It can be especially important in industries like tech or marketing, where staying ahead of what competitors are doing isn’t optional.

So how can you hire for the specific skill of problem-solving, and how can you promote it in your organization?

Outsource Training

We’ll talk a bit more below about how to hire for problem-solving and innovation proactively, but if you want to ramp up the abilities of your existing employees, consider outsourcing training to a third-party group. An example is SIT- Systematic Innovative Thinking.

They can work with employees to help drive large-scale organizational shifts that will create a more innovative culture for employees who are already on board with your company.

Also important with your existing employees is to move out of their way. One of the primary stumbling blocks to creative thinking, innovation and problem-solving is the bureaucracy that exists in companies. Don’t worry about how your employees get to a certain point, just concern yourself with the outcome.

The Hiring Process

While the first tip deals with shifting the existing culture of your company to pave the way for more problem-solving among current employees, how do you hire for the very elusive skill of problem-solving?

The following are some things to keep in mind if that’s your objective:

  • Create job descriptions based on performance expectations, rather than skills.
  • Look at the work history of new hires and try to gauge whether there was a real impact made or progression.
  • During the interview process, it’s important to assess how the person thinks and how willing they are to be creative and go outside the box. Ask questions that aren’t abstract, but instead are related to real scenarios the candidate could face on the job.

Ask Questions That Encourage Honesty

Finally, when people are looking for a job they are going to expect the standard questions, but some of the ways to best tell whether or not they’re an innovative, creative thinker is to ask the questions they aren’t expecting. This will eliminate their ability to prepare, and you’re more likely to get honest and candid responses.

Ask them things such as the type of management style they prefer, or how they would manage employees. Ask them how they think outside of the box, or why they feel passionate about the things that interest them. You can also ask what they expect and want out of an employer.

These are all good ways to get a feel for the truth behind whether or not an employee will be a good problem solver.

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