How To Help Your Employees Improve Their Problem Solving Skills

working skills

Technology is changing the business world. Businesses are being disrupted by automation and artificial intelligence. This isn’t some far off future. The future is now and business leaders should already be using these technologies to enhance their work force and services, says Jeff Wong, global chief innovation officer at EY, a London-based company that offers assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. It has offices in more than 150 countries, employs nearly 250,000 people and had $31.4 billion in global revenue for fiscal year 2017. “Artificial Intelligence is changing the work environment today,” Wong says. “Our people love working with these new technologies and love the fact that it makes them more powerful, more useful and allows them more time to use their brains—the human part of being human.”


Instead of seeing technology as a threat that will take away jobs from people, CEOs should view artificial intelligence technology, as an opportunity to provide their staff members more time to solve tougher challenges, be more creative and develop new services or methodologies. That means leaders need employees who can adapt, are resilient, innovative and adept at problem solving. Every business owner loves that employee who can handle anything thrown his or her way. Just imagine what your business could accomplish if every employee had that same grit, perseverance and resilience. Here are five ways you can develop a work force culture that embraces determination, life-long learning and problem solving.


  1. Hire people who aren’t afraid to challenge themselves or take a risk. Develop an interview process that helps identify people who want to grow in their career, continue learning and aren’t afraid to try something new. During the interview process make sure you ask people what are their career goals and whether they make continuing their education a priority. Other interview questions to ask, include:


Can you offer an example of a business risk you took that didn’t work?

How have you dealt with a business failure?

Have you ever had an idea about how to improve a process at work?

Do you like working in different departments at a company?

  1. Build a staff with diverse backgrounds. Having employees from a variety of backgrounds, education, socioeconomic classes, cultures, geographic locations and ages will strengthen your company because you will have a team of people with a broader set of experiences working together to solve a problem or generate new business opportunities. For example, Wong says EY is trying to hire more people from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields rather than just hiring people with business or accounting degrees. “Business students have wonderful problem solving skills and we want to add the STEM approach,” says Wong, explaining that the idea is to incorporate more STEM professionals to the staff because they may approach a challenge differently. As a result, the EY team’s problem solving strategies will be enhanced.


  1. Offer employees as many opportunities to continue their education as possible. Many companies—both large and small—provide educational opportunities and training to help employees learn a new computer program, improve their skill sets or expand their knowledge about a new policy or procedure. In addition to the typical online courses or classes at a university, business leaders should consider training opportunities that focus on innovation and creativity. This will help employees approach challenges in new and meaningful ways, gain confidence and generate new ideas.


  1. Challenge employees with projects that push them past their comfort zone. Leaders should ask staff members their career goals periodically or, at the very least, during their annual review. Then, leaders should look for opportunities to help employees grow in their careers. Sometimes that means giving an employee a really hard problem to solve or question to answer. That task—and the lessons learned along the way—often become a defining moment in someone’s career that will ultimately help propel them to the next level. It also offers an opportunity to see how much grit and determination that employee possesses.


  1. Encourage staff members to try new things. Gaining a different perspective helps people improve their problem solving skills and adaptability. Wong says that business leaders should encourage employees to switch which service line or department they are working in at the company or join a different project management team. It’s important to put staff members in situations that make them a little uncomfortable. The employees will have to learn to adapt to a new work and social dynamic. As a result, it will give people more confidence that they can solve anything and tackle any challenge.


It’s vital to develop a company culture that embraces grit, adaptability and complex problem solving because the world is constantly changing. Your company needs employees who can evolve with the changing times.