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31 examples of problem solving performance review phrases
Understand Yourself Better:
Big 5 Personality Test
Jump to section
You're doing great
You should think of improving
Tips to improve
Use these practical examples of phrases, sample comments, and templates for your performance review , 360-degree feedback survey, or manager appraisal.
The following examples not only relate to problem-solving but also conflict management , effective solutions, selecting the best alternatives, decision making , problem identification, analyzing effectively, and generally becoming an effective problem-solving strategist. Start using effective performance review questions to help better guide your workforce's development.
Problem solving appraisal comments: you're doing great
- You always maintain an effective dialogue with clients when they have technical problems. Being clear and articulate makes sure our customers' faults are attended to promptly.
- You constantly make sure to look beyond the obvious you never stop at the first answer. You’re really good at exploring alternatives. Well done!
- Keeping the supervisors and managers informed of status changes and requests is important. You’re really good at communicating the changes to the projects at all times. Keep it up!
- You stay cool and collected even when things aren’t going according to plan or up in the air. This is a great trait to possess. Well done!
- You’re excellent at giving an honest and logical analysis. Keep it up! Effectively diagnosing complex problems and reaching sustainable solutions is one of your strong points.
- Your ability to ability to make complex systems into simple ones is truly a unique skill to possess. Well done!
- You often identify practical solutions to every roadblock. You’re a real asset to the team! Great job.
- You always listen actively and attentively to make sure you understand what the exact problem is and you come up with solutions in an effective manner.
- You have an amazing ability to clearly explain options and solutions effectively and efficiently. Well done!
- When driving projects, you can shift to other areas comfortably and easily. making sure the project runs smoothly. Great job!
Problem solving performance review phrases: you should think of improving
- You always seem too overwhelmed when faced with multiple problems. Try to think of ways to make problems more manageable so that they can be solved in a timely and effective manner.
- Avoiding conflicts constantly with people is not a good idea as you will only build up personal frustration and nothing will be done to remedy the situation. Try to face people when there are problems and rectify problems when they occur.
- Don’t allow demanding customers to rattle your cage too much. If they become too demanding, take a step back, regulate your emotions , and try to make use of online support tools to help you rectify problems these tools can help a lot!
- It’s necessary that you learn from your past mistakes . You cannot keep making the same mistakes , as this is not beneficial to the company.
- You tend to ask the same questions over and over again. Try to listen more attentively or take notes when colleagues are answering!
- Providing multiple solutions in an indirect and creative approach will allow you to be more effective at problem-solving . if you struggle with this typically through viewing the problem in a new and unusual light.
- You fail to provide staff with the appropriate amount of structure and direction. They must know the direction you wish them to go in to achieve their goals .
- You need to be able to recognize repetitive trends to solve problems promptly.
- You tend to have problems troubleshooting even the most basic of questions. As a problem solver and customer support person, it’s imperative that you can answer these questions easily.
- Read through your training manual and make sure you fully understand it before attempting questions again.
Performance review tips to improve problem solving
- Try to complain less about problems and come up with solutions to the problems more often. Complaining is not beneficial to progression and innovation.
- As a problem solver, it’s important to be able to handle multiple priorities under short deadlines.
- You need to be able to effectively distinguish between the cause and the symptoms of problems to solve them in an efficient and timely manner.
- Try to anticipate problems in advance before they become major roadblocks down the road.
- Try to view obstacles as opportunities to learn and thrive at the challenge of solving the problem.
- Remember to prioritize problems according to their degree of urgency. It's important that you spend the majority of your time on urgent tasks over menial ones.
- When putting plans into place, stick to them and make sure they are completed.
- When solving problems, try to allocate appropriate levels of resources when undertaking new projects. It is important to become as efficient and as effective as possible.
- Try to learn to pace yourself when solving problems to avoid burnout . You’re a great asset to the team and we cannot afford to lose at this point.
- Meeting regularly with your staff to review results is vital to the problem-solving process.
- Staff that has regular check-ins understand what it is that is required of them, what they are currently achieving, and areas they may need to improve. Try to hold one-on-one meetings every week.
Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.
10 performance review tips to drastically move the needle
25 performance review questions (and how to use them), how a performance review template improves the feedback process, 37 innovation and creativity appraisal comments, 6 surefire ways to reach optimal peak performance, agile performance management: how to improve an agile team, 5 tactics for managing managers effectively — and why it matters, 18 questions to ask in a performance self-evaluation, 3 ways to solve your performance management problems, similar articles, 10 problem-solving strategies to turn challenges on their head, teamwork skills self-appraisal comments: 40 example phrases, your complete guide to self-assessments (with examples), 30 communication feedback examples, effective problem statements have these 5 components, finding your version of success: 29 tips to accomplish your goals, 30 customer service review examples to develop your team, 8 creative solutions to your most challenging problems, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..
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When Your Go-To Problem-Solving Approach Fails
- Cheryl Strauss Einhorn
Eight steps to help you assess what’s not working — and why.
We make decisions all day, every day. The way we make decisions depends largely on context and our own unique problem-solving style. But, sometimes a tough workplace situation turns our usual problem-solving style on its head. Situationality is the culmination of many factors including location, life stage, decision ownership, and team dynamics. To make effective choices in the workplace, we often need to put our well-worn decision-making habits to the side and carefully ponder all aspects of the situation at hand.
Have you ever noticed that when you go home to your parents’ house, no matter what age you are, you make decisions differently than when you’re at work or out with a group of friends? For many of us, this is a familiar and sometimes frustrating experience — for example, allowing our parent to serve us more food than we want to eat. We feel like adults in our day-to-day lives, but when we step into our childhood homes we revert.
- Cheryl Strauss Einhorn is the founder and CEO of Decisive, a decision sciences company using her AREA Method decision-making system for individuals, companies, and nonprofits looking to solve complex problems. Decisive offers digital tools and in-person training, workshops, coaching and consulting. Cheryl is a long-time educator teaching at Columbia Business School and Cornell and has won several journalism awards for her investigative news stories. She’s authored two books on complex problem solving, Problem Solved for personal and professional decisions, and Investing In Financial Research about business, financial, and investment decisions. Her new book, Problem Solver, is about the psychology of personal decision-making and Problem Solver Profiles. For more information please watch Cheryl’s TED talk and visit areamethod.com .
Judgment Skills: 40 Useful Performance Feedback Phrases
Judgment Skills: Use these sample phrases to craft meaningful performance evaluations, drive change and motivate your workforce.
Judgment is the ability to make a decision or form an opinion wisely especially in matters affecting action, good sense and discretion.
Judgment Skills: Exceeds Expectations Phrases
- Looks at all sides of an issue or problem and weighs the options before making a decision
- Bases decisions on facts, filtering emotions, opinions, assumptions, expectations, and biases
- Objectively assesses the facts, in sensitive situations, in order to arrive at a balanced and fair judgment
- Assesses the risks, including ethical risks, in new situations where there are little or no precedent, in order to make an informed decision
- Considers the best interests of all parties, in situations where the facts or evidence is not clear-cut or widely agreed, when making a decision
- Evaluates the pros and cons, or costs and benefits, associated with an option and generates an array of possible responses or solutions
- Assesses the impact of the decision and modifies the course of action as needed
- Conducts a comparative analysis of proposals from two advertising agencies in order to select the best firm to lead a campaign
- Facilitates a brainstorming session in order to generate possible names for a new product in the company
- Regularly surveys customers in order to evaluate the general impact of a change in pricing policy
Judgment Skills: Meets Expectations Phrases
- Compares the leadership potential and personal commitment of different project team members when choosing a project manager
- Creates time to research possible logistical or legal problems associated with a new company policy before implementing it
- Analyzes data from different focus groups in order to help select proper packaging for a new product in the company
- Defines and clarifies the issue or situation at hand to determine whether it warrants action or whether it is important, urgent or both
- Consults other employees, if necessary or useful, for bigger and complex decisions or where there are several options
- Selects the best option and avoids vagueness or weak compromises in trying to please everyone
- Explains one's own decision to those affected or involved and follows up to ensure effective and proper implementation
- Tries to be as objective and measured as one can be, and seeks input from other employees where appropriate or necessary
- Avoids snap judgment and decisions; takes the time to jot down potential solutions to situations before making a call
- Always rewards oneself after making a nice judgment call or decision and jots down how good it made one feel
Judgment Skills: Needs Improvement Phrases
- Allows external opinions or difficulty in changing a situation to be an excuse for one not to follow own heart when making a decision
- Is not used to trusting oneself and has to run every suggestion or decision past every employee first before implementing it
- Does not take the time to understand the problem thus gives ineffective solutions or fails the entire decision-making process
- Does not know how to break information into smaller, more manageable parts or look for links and relationships thus fails to understand the overall situation
- Does not monitor or review the results of a solution after implementing it thus sometimes encounters unforeseen new problems
- Does not create time to exercise, read or meditate thus sometimes lacks the strength to remain functional during a decision-making process
- Is afraid of the consequences of making the wrong decisions and does nothing to work through that fear
- Does not take the time to familiarize oneself with alternative solutions to a problem even when stuck between choices that feel inadequate in terms of achieving one's goals
- Waits around for the most perfect or ideal choice instead of figuring out the best criteria for making an adequate decision
- Does not look at the consequences of one's decision or how one's life or career will look like if they chose a particular path
Judgment Skills: Self Evaluation Questions
- Can you think of a context or situation where you needed to demonstrate judgment? How was the situation resolved?
- Describe a time when you have had to think on your feet in order to extricate yourself from a difficult situation. What was the outcome
- Can you give two examples of situations where you have used logic and good judgment in solving a problem? How did you go about it?
- Describe a time when you had to be relatively quick in solving a problem. How did you do it? What was the outcome?
- Is there a time you have made a difficult decision? How did you handle the feedback? Is there a way you could have handled the situation differently?
- Do you usually analyze information better alone or with a group? Why? When do you seek assistance from other employees?
- In your experience, when solving a problem as a team, do you come up with the most ideas or do you prefer to step back and follow other people's guidelines?
- Is there a time when you have made a terrible mistake due to poor judgment? What was the mistake? How was it fixed?
- In your opinion, what factors should one consider when comparing the pros and cons of two potential vendors for processing payroll?
- Can you describe step by step, how you would brainstorm possible themes for a fundraising campaign in your company?
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- Capability Development
- Problem Solving & Decision Making
Problem Solving and Decision Making
- In-house class
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When faced with problems, decisions, risks, opportunities and concerns, you need the right answers - and fast. For over 60 years, KT's Problem Solving & Decision Making workshops have been helping teams and individuals think clearly to: find the root cause of problems faster, make better decisions, manage risks and opportunities, prioritize & plan the resolution of concerns and ask sharper, more incisive questions. KT's instructors will ensure you're ready to use these skills back on the job to make an impact where you work.
What You Get:
- Led by an expert instructor
- Access to digital tools and resources
- Use skills learned immediately on the job
- Certificate of completion
- Certification Credits : 2.1 CEUs
- China - Taiwan
- United Kingdom
- China - Hong Kong
Workshop hours: 8:30am - 5:00pm (CT)
Workshop hours: 8:30am - 5:00pm (ET)
Workshop hours: 8:30am - 5:00pm (PT)
CNY 9,200 for 3 or more
- Dec 6 2023 - Dec 8 2023 Tokyo JPN 176,000 JPY
TWD 44,000 for 3 or more
- Mar 12 2024 - Mar 14 2024 Düsseldorf GER 1,995 EUR
- Jun 11 2024 - Jun 13 2024 Hamburg GER 1,995 EUR
- Nov 19 2024 - Nov 21 2024 Munich GER 1,995 EUR
- Feb 20 2024 - Feb 22 2024 London ENG 1,475 GBP
- Jun 11 2024 - Jun 13 2024 London ENG 1,475 GBP
- Oct 22 2024 - Oct 24 2024 Manchester ENG 1,475 GBP
Vierdaagse workshop Deel 1: 19-20 februari Deel 2: 11-12 maart
Vierdaagse workshop Deel 1: 2-3 september Deel 2: 23-24 september
Vierdaagse workshop Deel 1: 4-5 november Deel 2: 25-26 november
HKD 11,500 for 3 or more
UK Time. Participants from other locations are welcome if this is convenient.
Workshop Hours: 8:30am - 5:30pm (UTC+8)
Workshop Hours: 8am - 2pm (EDT)
Workshop Hours: 10am - 6pm (ET)
Workshop Hours: Noon - 6pm (ET)
Workshop Hours: 8am - 2pm (ET)
5-6 hours per day over 4 days
To see the total select country, date and number of participants
To see the total select language, date and number of participants
In this county services are provided by the official KT licensee.
* Before applicable taxes
Class seats guaranteed with payment. Seat reservations held for 72 hours.
Contact us to inquire for more details or have the workshop customized upon your corporate needs.
Employees at all levels, from the boardroom to the shop floor, who are required to solve problems, make decisions, prevent or mitigate risks, promote or leverage opportunities, and prioritize and plan the resolution of concerns will benefit from this workshop. Well suited for engineering, quality, operations, manufacturing, IT, customer service and maintenance.
- Cut through the clutter & complexity to systematically find root cause for tough problems, and make decisions aligned with business priorities
- Discover the power of KT Clear Thinking and walk away with a framework that integrates easily with Lean, Six Sigma, 8D, ITIL, CAPA, and other methodologies
- Walk away ready to immediately apply these new skills back on the job
Skills developed during KT’s Problem Solving & Decision Making workshop enable you to:
- Conduct root cause analysis (RCA) on complex problems
- Make tough decisions aligned with operational priorities
- Understand and proactively manage risks and opportunities
- Identify and plan for the resolution of high-priority issues
- Ask the right questions to find hidden insight
Return on Investment
By attending the Problem Solving & Decision Making workshop and adopting KT processes, organizations have realized immediate, and long-term, return on investment. These include:
- A computer chip manufacturer solved a long-standing defect problem, saving $2.8 million annually
- A vinyl manufacturer increased annualized production with a significant rise in profits
- A food products manufacturer saved $1.03 million by improving planning and decision making by work teams
- A bank resolved a recurring system failure and restored their international monetary exchange cycle, preserving millions of dollars in interest earnings
- Following a merger, a global company saved $1.3 million on insurance costs the first year and $300,000 in subsequent years using a variety of Clear-Thinking processes
Duration: 3-4 days
Learning Tools Included: All workshop attendees will receive access to online post-workshop learning support tools (coaching videos, tips, tricks, worksheets, KT Solve and more) with a My KT membership
Certification Credits: 2.1 CEUs (for 3-day workshop); 2.8 CEUs (for 4-day workshop)
Training Options: Available as a Public Session, as on-site group training at your location or online.
“The KT processes provided a common approach and helped sift through tons of data, ask penetrating questions, and take the emotion out of decision making.” — CEO, consumer products company
“I used to be afraid to be assigned a root cause evaluation, but not anymore. I know that I just need to follow a systematic process and get the right people involved.” — Maintenance Supervisor
Problem Solving & Decision Making
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32 Problem-Solving Appraisal and Psychological Adjustment
P. Paul Heppner, Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology, University of Missouri
Dong-Gwi Lee, Department of Psychology, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea
Lu Tian, University of Northern Colorado
- Published: 18 September 2012
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How people typically respond to life's problems is of critical importance, particularly how they appraise their problem-solving skills and whether they generally approach or avoid the many problems of life. A critical strength or resource for coping with life's demands is a person's appraisal of his or her problem-solving skills and style. This chapter focuses on how problem-solving appraisal has been empirically demonstrated to be an important asset in living and an important component of positive psychology. Specifically, it begins with a brief history of applied problem-solving appraisal, followed by how it is measured. The Problem Solving Inventory (PSI) has been one of the most widely used self-report inventories in applied problem solving; the PSI has a strong empirical base, and it is strongly linked to a wide range of indices of psychological adjustment, physical health, a wide array of coping activities, and vocational adjustment. The chapter also provides a brief overview of problem-solving training interventions, and finally future research directions and conclusions. Because problem-solving appraisal is learned, this implies that it is amenable to change; this provides hope for millions of people to bring positive change to their lives through the integration of problem solving and positive psychology.
How people typically respond to life's problems is of critical importance, particularly how they appraise their problem-solving skills and whether they generally approach or avoid the many problems of life. Problems are solved by moving ahead. Some people bring many skills and strengths in solving the multitude of problems in life, whereas others have significant problem-solving deficits. The research evidence in this chapter will clearly indicate that how people appraise their problem solving affects not only how they cope with the problem but also their psychological adjustment.
Consider the case of two female college students, each of whom recently broke up with her boyfriend. After a year of dating, Tanya decided to end the romantic relationship. Although there were many qualities in Michael that Tanya liked, there also were nagging differences in some of their long-term goals, values, and approach to life that would not go away. Although Tanya was feeling sad and “kind of down,” after reflection she knew it was a good decision. She knew in her heart that the relationship would continue to pose difficulties as time passed, and she needed to end the relationship. Tanya also felt confident in her ability to meet and develop intimate relationships with other men. Even though Tanya was in a relationship that was not right for her, she was an effective problem solver and, most importantly, she appraised herself as an effective problem solver, both of which were important strengths that Tanya brought to coping with life's demands.
In contrast, Jennifer also recently broke up with her boyfriend. But a month later, Jennifer was quite depressed; when she tried to make up with her boyfriend, he refused. Jennifer felt she made a mistake and would never find a man like him again. She felt alone, anxious, and hopeless, had not studied much for the last three weeks, and was having a lot of difficulty sleeping. Jennifer lacked confidence in herself and felt herself slipping deeper into a dark hole; suicide had crossed her mind more than once in the last few weeks. Jennifer was not solving her problems very well, and she did not have a positive appraisal of her problem-solving ability.
These stories highlight how one's personal skills and resources affect responses to stressful life events. Positive psychology builds on people's strengths to enhance their well-being. A critical strength or resource for coping with life's demands is a person's appraisal of his or her problem-solving skills and style. This chapter focuses on how problem-solving appraisal has been empirically demonstrated to be an important asset in living and an important component of positive psychology. It begins with a brief history of applied problem-solving appraisal, how it is measured, a summary of the problem-solving appraisal literature, a brief overview of problem-solving training (PST) interventions, and finally future research directions and conclusions.
Brief History of the Applied Problem Solving
Because we are consistently confronted with attention-demanding problems, it is not surprising that psychologists have been exploring the problem-solving topic for years. Indeed, by the mid-1970s, the conceptions of problem solving included various learning (e.g., Skinner, 1974 ), Gestalt (e.g., Maier, 1970 ) and computer simulation approaches (e.g., Newell, Shaw, & Simon, 1963 ). In the bulk of this early research, the focus often has been on impersonal laboratory problems. In their landmark article, DʼZurilla and Goldfried ( 1971 ) reviewed applied problem-solving research to identify critical skills for helping individuals become more effective applied problem solvers. Subsequently, more attention was given to how people grapple with and solve personal, ambiguous, ill-defined problems (e.g., Janis & Mann, 1977 ), as well as implications for persons in the helping professions (e.g., Heppner, 1978 ).
In the early applied problem-solving literature, problem solving was conceptualized as a constellation of relatively discrete, cognitive abilities or thought processes. For example, the pioneering work in the late 1960s and 1970s of Shure, Spivack, and their colleagues investigated interpersonal cognitive problem-solving skills, such as problem sensitivity, means-ends thinking, alternative solution thinking, causal thinking, and consequential thinking (see Shure, 1982 ). In other early research, problem-solving skills were conceptualized within stage-sequential models, with an exemplar being the DʼZurilla and Goldfried ( 1971 ) five-stage model (general orientation, problem definition and formulation, generation of alternatives, decision making, and verification). This stage-sequential model led to the development of PST interventions (e.g., DʼZurilla, 1986 ; DʼZurilla & Nezu, 1982 ). Initially, the five stages were also used for conceptualizing psychotherapy activities (e.g., Heppner, 1978 ; Urban & Ford, 1971 ); later, with advances in our understanding of the complexities of information processing, more sophisticated information processing theories were developed within problem-solving frameworks (e.g., Anderson, 1983 ). Subsequently, scholars proposed more comprehensive analyses of the problem-solving activities in the psychotherapy process (Heppner & Krauskopf, 1987 ). In the 1990s, there was yet further refinement of applied problem-solving models and training (e.g., DʼZurilla & Nezu, 1999 ).
Model Advocated in This Chapter: Problem-Solving Appraisal
Persistent difficulties in the applied literature have involved the conceptualization and measurement of actual problem-solving skills, effectiveness, or competence (e.g., Gambrill, 2005 ; Heppner & Baker, 1997 ; Kendall & Fischler, 1984 ). Although this measurement remains problematic, in this chapter we will delve into a closely related construct—a person's appraisal of his or her problem-solving skills. Influenced by research on the importance of higher-order or meta-cognitive variables in various cognitive processes, Butler and Meichenbaum ( 1981 ) suggested that a crucial target is not just “the specific knowledge or processes that individuals may apply directly to the solution of problems, but with higher order variables that affect how (and whether) they will solve problems” (p. 219); subsequently, Bandura's ( 1986 ) work on self-efficacy provided empirical support for the existence of higher-order processes. Butler and Meichenbaum also emphasized the centrality of an individual's self-appraisal in his or her problem-solving ability. Similarly, other writers in the coping literature suggested that appraisal of one's ability is related to coping with stress (e.g., Antonovsky, 1979 ). Consistent with this view, Heppner and Petersen ( 1982 ) developed the Problem Solving Inventory (PSI) to assess problem-solving appraisal. In this chapter, we will concentrate on the role of problem-solving appraisal in the psychological adjustment process.
Measuring Problem-Solving Appraisal
Measures of applied problem solving include (a) the PSI (Heppner, 1988 ); (b) the Means-End Problem Solving Procedure (MEPS: Shure & Spivack, 1972 ); and (c) the Social Problem Solving Inventory (SPSI: DʼZurilla & Nezu, 1999 ). Only the PSI, however, is conceptualized as a global measure of problem-solving appraisal. As such, the PSI is distinct from indices of problem-solving orientation and skills (e.g., the SPSI). In this section, we will briefly describe the PSI and its applications for counseling.
Problem Solving Inventory
The PSI has been one of the most widely used self-report inventories in applied problem solving (Nezu, Nezu, & Perri, 1989 ). In the PSI, perceptions of one's problem-solving ability, style, behavior, and attitudes are assessed (Heppner, 1988 ; Heppner & Baker, 1997 ; Heppner & Wang, 2003 ). The PSI consists of 35 6-point Likert-type items (1 = “strongly agree” to 6 = “strongly disagree”), with a total score and three subscale scores (factors derived from a principal component analysis; Heppner & Petersen, 1982 ). The three sub-scales tap Problem-Solving Confidence (11 items), Approach-Avoidance Style (16 items), Personal Control (5 items), and 3 filler items. Problem-Solving Confidence is defined as an individual's self-assurance in a wide range of problem-solving activities, a belief and trust in one's problem-solving abilities (general problem-solving self-efficacy), and coping effectiveness. The Approach-Avoidance Style, as the label implies, refers to a general tendency to approach or avoid different problem-solving activities. Personal Control is defined as a belief in one's emotional and behavioral control (thereby reflecting emotional overreactivity and behavioral control; Heppner, 1988 ; Heppner & Baker, 1997 ). It should be noted that “higher scores on the PSI indicate a lack of problem-solving confidence, an avoidant problem-solving style, and an absence of personal control.”
The PSI appears to be internally consistent and temporally stable; for example, the estimates of internal consistency and temporal stability (test—retest) over a two-week period for the total score and three factors are as follows: the total inventory, α = .90, r = .89; Problem-Solving Confidence, α = .85, r = .85; Approach-Avoidance Style, α = .84, r = .88; and, Personal Control, α = .72, r = .83 (Heppner & Petersen, 1982 ). In addition, researchers have provided a wide range of validity data in support of the PSI's validity (see Heppner, 1988 ; Heppner & Baker, 1997 ). It is important to note that the three-factor structure of the PSI has been well replicated across various cultures, such as white college students (Heppner, Baumgardner, Larson, & Petty, 1988 ), Turkish college students (Sahin, Sahin, & Heppner, 1993 ), French Canadian adults (LaPorte, Sabourin, & Wright, 1988 ), and South African college students (Heppner, Pretorius, Wei, Lee, & Wang, 2002 ). The PSI is also easy to administer, typically requires 15 min for completion, and can be easily scored by hand or computer. The readability level is at the ninth grade (an adolescent version with fourth-grade reading level is also available).
With respect to counseling applications, the PSI can be used to quickly assess important information about the client's problem-solving style or appraisal that may facilitate or hinder his or her day-to-day functioning; moreover, the PSI can be used as a treatment outcome measure for PST interventions (aimed at client problems, such as depression, anxiety, dysfunctional thoughts, and career indecision; see Heppner, 1988 ; Heppner & Baker, 1997 ).
Summary of the Problem-Solving Appraisal Literature
Problem-solving appraisal using the PSI has been the focus of over 120 empirical investigations. In this section, we briefly summarize the topics of psychological adjustment, physical health, coping, and educational and vocational issues. We have been selective because of space limitations, but we do provide references for more detailed reviews.
Early in the evolution of this topic, researchers claimed that problem solving was linked to psychological adjustment (DʼZurilla & Goldried, 1971 ). In over 80 studies, researchers have examined the link between problem-solving appraisal and psychological health. We will briefly discuss the literature specifically related to (a) general psychological and social adjustment, (b) depression, (c) hopelessness and suicidal behavior, (d) alcohol use/abuse, (e) personality variables, and (f) childhood adjustment.
General Psychological and Social Adjustment
Based on at least 24 studies (refer to Heppner, Witty, & Dixon, 2004 ) conducted with mostly college student populations, perceived effective (as compared with ineffective) problem solvers reported themselves to be “more” adjusted on (a) general measures, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and Symptom Checklist-90 (e.g., Elliott, Herrick, & Witty, 1992 ); (b) specific measures of personality variables, such as positive self-concepts (e.g., Heppner, Reeder, & Larson, 1983 ) and locus of control (e.g., Cook & Heppner, 1997 ); (c) the frequency of personal problems (e.g., Heppner, Hibel, Neal, Weinstein, & Rabinowitz, 1982 ); (d) racial identity statuses in African American students (Neville, Heppner, & Wang, 1997 ); and (e) coping with grief experiences (Reid & Dixon, 2000 ). In addition, researchers have consistently found that positive problem-solving appraisal as tapped by the PSI is related to social skills as measured by self-report indices (see Heppner et al., 2004 ). For example, perceived effective (as compared to ineffective) problem solvers reported having (a) more social skills (e.g., Elliott, Godshall, Herrick, Witty, & Spruell, 1991 ); (b) less social uneasiness/distrust/distress (e.g., Larson, Allen, Imao, & Piersel, 1993 ); and (c) more social support (e.g., Wright & Heppner, 1991 ). Thus, there is a well-established association between positive problem-solving appraisal and better social and psychological adjustment.
There is extremely strong empirical support across a wide range of populations for a more positive problem-solving appraisal being assessed with less depression. For example, this relationship is statistically significant in at least 35 studies (refer to Heppner et al., 2004 ). In college student samples, these correlations typically range from .41 to .67 (e.g., Bonner & Rich, 1987 ). Additionally, similar statistically significant correlations have been found with persons who are in prison ( r = .52, Bonner & Rich; 1990 ), patients with chronic low back pain ( r = .48; Witty & Bernard, 1995 ), and adults with spinal-cord injuries ( r = .41; Elliott, Herrick et al., 1992 ). Similar associations have also been found in other cultures such as South Africa (e.g., Pretorius & Diedricks, 1994 ), Turkey (Sahin et al., 1993 ), Canada (Marcotte, Alain, & Gosselin, 1999 ), and China (Cheng & Lam, 1997 ). Thus, the link between a more positive problem-solving appraisal and lower depression appears across populations and cultures.
Moreover, in at least nine studies investigators have indirectly or directly examined the moderating role of problem-solving appraisal in predicting depression (refer to Heppner et al., 2004 ). In nine studies where the moderating role of appraisal processes in regard to the stress and depression relationship is examined, the results of eight studies appear to support such moderation. Moreover, in the investigations, problem-solving appraisal, negative life events, and their interactions accounted for 40–60% of the variance in depression scores. In one study, Nezu and Ronan ( 1988 ) used a longitudinal design and controlled for premorbid levels of depression. Impressively, appraisal, negative life events, and their interactions accounted for 87% of the variance in depression scores. The moderating role of problem solving between life events and depression was also reported in a Chinese adolescent sample (Cheng & Lam, 1997 ). Taken together, it appears not only that perceived effective (as compared with ineffective) problem solvers report lower levels of depression, but also that perceived effective problem solvers under high levels of stress are particularly likely to exhibit lower depression. Thus, both positive problem-solving appraisal and its interaction with negative life events are important in predicting lower levels of depression.
Hopelessness and Suicidal Behavior
Schotte and Clum's ( 1982 , 1987 ) diathesis-stress-hopelessness model of suicidal behavior suggests when people who have strong problem-solving abilities are exposed to naturally occurring conditions of high negative life stress, they are cognitively more able to develop effective alternative solutions for adaptive coping as compared with those deficient in problem solving. Subsequently, those with effective (as opposed to ineffective) problem solving skills, even under high stress, are less likely to experience hopelessness that puts the individual at risk for suicidal behavior. At least 12 studies have examined the relationship between problem-solving appraisal, hopelessness, and suicidal behavior to test Schotte and Clum's hypotheses and, in essence, provide strong support for the model (refer to Heppner et al., 2004 ). These investigations indicate that diminished problem-solving appraisal is a consistent and stable predictor of hopelessness and suicidal ideation. On the contrary, increases in perceived effective problem solving were associated with lower levels of hopelessness (e.g., Witty & Bernard, 1995 ) and suicidal ideation (e.g., Rudd, Rajab, & Dahn, 1994 ) across a variety of populations (e.g., college students, correctional inmates, psychiatric patients, and outpatient suicide ideators and attempters). Moreover, consistent with Schotte and Clum's theory, across all of the studies that measured both hopelessness and suicidal ideation, there was a stronger association between problem-solving appraisal and hopelessness ( r = .47−.62) than between problem-solving appraisal and suicidal ideation ( r = .11−.43). Although there was a main effect for problem-solving appraisal in predicting hopelessness and suicidal ideation across almost all these studies, in some studies, there also was an interaction with stress (e.g., Bonner & Rich, 1992 ). More specifically, as predicted by Schotte and Clum's model, perceived effective problem solvers under high levels of stress were likely to report low levels of hopelessness in three of six studies.
One investigation (Dixon, Heppner, & Rudd, 1994 ) directly tested and found strong support for the mediational role of hopelessness between problem solving and suicidal ideation. Consistent with the theory, Dixon et al. ( 1994 ) found that problem-solving appraisal was related to suicide ideation primarily through its impact on hopelessness, and accounted for 68% of the variance in suicidal ideation.
Although it is unclear why people with a per ceived effective problem-solving style under high stress may be more able to ward off hopelessness and depression, one possible underlying mechanism may be the construct of hope, particularly agency and pathways (planning to meet goals; see Snyder, Michael, & Cheavens, 1999 ). Research has found that hope is a significant predictor of problem-focused appraisal (see Snyder et al., 1999 ). Future research might combine Snyder's hope theory with Schotte and Clum's theory to develop a more comprehensive model of problem solving, hopelessness, and suicidal behavior.
The proponents of cognitive-social learning approaches propose that individuals who abuse drugs and alcohol do so because they lack a sense of self-efficacy for coping with stressful situations. Thus, alcohol and drug consumption is their coping strategy for altering feelings of personal inadequacy. Support for this relationship between problem-solving appraisal and alcohol/drug usage emerges in at least six studies (refer to Heppner et al., 2004 ). For example, three studies (Godshall & Elliott, 1997 ; Heppner et al., 1982 ; Wright & Heppner, 1991 ) found a significant linear relationship between more positive problem-solving appraisal and less alcohol use/abuse. However, in two studies (Larson & Heppner, 1989 ; Williams & Kleinfelter, 1989 ), a more complex relationship between problem-solving appraisal and alcohol use/abuse emerged; there maybe different drinking patterns associated with different components of problem-solving appraisal. Similarly, one study (Slavkin, Heimberg, Winning, & McCaffrey, 1992 ) did not find a linear relationship between problem solving and alcohol abuse; but rather found an interesting interaction between the participants' alcohol abuse and parental drinking. In short, although there is some support for a significant linear relationship between a more positive problem-solving appraisal and less alcohol use/abuse, a more complex relationship may exist among these variables.
There is some evidence that problem-solving appraisal is associated with other personality variables. For example, in at least eight studies, researchers have also found a consistent association between a more positive problem-solving appraisal and lower anxiety (e.g., Larson, Piersel, Imao, & Allen, 1990 ). Moreover, a more positive problem-solving appraisal has been related to lower anger and higher curiosity. In these associations, stronger relationships appear with trait as opposed to state anxiety. Additionally, a more positive problem-solving appraisal has been related to a stronger sense of instrumentality in three studies (e.g., Heppner, Walther, & Good, 1995 ). Thus, it appears that problem-solving appraisal is associated more strongly with trait versus state variables, particularly anxiety and instrumentality.
There is some evidence for a link between mothers' problem-solving appraisal and children's behavior. For example, mothers' problem-solving appraisal scores were found to play a significant role, either in predicting preschool children's social and emotional development or in predicting role reversal behaviors (e.g., assuming parental roles), such as more direct coping behaviors in incest victims (e.g., Walker & Johnson, 1986 ). Another two studies found relationships between problem-solving appraisal and family environment and corporal punishment. For example, Shorkey, McRoy, and Armendariz ( 1985 ) reported that problem-solving appraisal by parents was associated with less reported use of parental punishment in child-rearing situations. If future research finds additional links among parental problem-solving appraisal, children's behavior, and parental punishment, PST with parents in remedial and preventive interventions may be a productive direction for future research.
Problem-solving appraisal has both theoretical and practical relevance to physical health. Positive problem-solving appraisal has been associated with positive health expectancies (e.g., Elliott & Marmarosh, 1994 ) and with fewer health complaints about premenstrual and menstrual pain, chronic pain, cardiovascular problems, and health problems in general (e.g., Elliott, 1992 ; see Heppner et al., 2004 ). These associations are stronger with clinical patients than with college students (Witty & Bernard, 1995 ). In addition, positive problem-solving appraisal has been found to be prospectively predictive of objective favorable behavioral health outcome complications, such as urinary track infections (e.g., Elliott, Pickelman, & Richeson, 1992 ).
In addition, four studies by Rath and colleagues (e.g., Rath, Hennessy, & Diller, 2003 ) consistently indicated that problem-solving appraisal was not only the most successful measure to differentiate brain injured adults from controls (even over standard neuropsychological measures of problem solving), but also the best predictor of community integration. Thus, Rath and associates concluded that the PSI is a very useful measure of evaluating functional problem-solving deficits in patients with traumatic brain injuries. In sum, positive problem-solving appraisal is associated with a range of physical health indices and is further evidence of a link between problem-solving appraisal and human adjustment.
Problem-solving appraisal has been conceptually linked with coping (Heppner & Krauskopf, 1987 ). In this section, we examine how problem-solving appraisal may be related to coping with stress across three different areas of research: hypothetical or laboratory problems, reported coping activities, and help seeking and use of helping resources.
Hypothetical or Laboratory Problems
One way that researchers have examined how people cope or solve problems is to present hypothetical or laboratory problems (e.g., water jar problems or anagram tasks; Wickelgren, 1974 ), and then study how participants grapple with those problems. The results here are mixed—the expected relationship between a more positive problem-solving appraisal and effective coping was found in three out of five studies (e.g., Nezu & Ronan, 1988 ). The complexity of the type of laboratory task might explain some of the discrepant results. In this regard, significant relationships were found in the three studies with more complex procedures and repeated trials. Therefore, future researchers might be well advised to use laboratory tasks that more closely approximate real-life personal problems entailing uncertainty and sufficient complexity with repeated problem-solving trials (see Larson, Potenza, Wennstedt, & Sailors, 1995 ).
Reports of Coping Activities
Aligned with a cognitive transactional theory of coping (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984 ), some different researchers across at least 10 studies that utilized 13 separate samples that assessed various aspects of coping consistently found that a positive problem-solving appraisal was associated with reports of approaching and attempting to alter the cause of the stressful problem (e.g., MacNair & Elliott, 1992 ). Thus, a primary conclusion is that problem-solving appraisal is associated with the consistent report of actively focusing on the problem and attempting to resolve the cause of the problem (sometimes called problem-focused coping).
Why do people with a positive problem-solving appraisal tend to approach and engage in problem-focused coping? A possible explanation for the above pattern of results comes from a study by Baumgardner, Heppner, and Arkin ( 1986 ). Utilizing an experimental design in which they manipulated success or failure feedback to assess causal attributions, Baumgardner et al. found that the causal role of effort was a major distinguishing feature between the self-appraised effective and ineffective problem solvers; perceived effort was prominent for self-appraised effective problem solvers as a major cause of personal problems as well as their allegedly “failed” laboratory performance in solving a problem. Thus, it appears that effective problem solvers assume responsibility for personal problems; moreover, their increased effort attributions for “failured” coping attempts underscore that their effort relates to the approach, rather than the avoidance of personal problems.
Help Seeking and Resource Utilization
The judicious use of one's environmental resources is important for coping with stressful events. Intuitively, effective problem solvers should be aware of their environment and efficiently use appropriate resources, whereas the opposite should be the case for ineffective problem solvers. In studies of college students, a more positive problem-solving appraisal has been found to be related to help-seeking variables—awareness, utilization of social support, and satisfaction with campus resources (e.g., Neal & Heppner, 1986 ).
In sum, there clearly is a relationship between a more positive problem-solving appraisal and beneficial coping activities. Although the research that has examined the link between problem-solving appraisal and hypothetical problem solving is equivocal, in other research, problem-solving appraisal consistently is associated with reports of approaching and attempting to resolve problems, as well as the awareness, utilization, and satisfaction with helping resources. Thus, problem-solving appraisal is clearly associated with an array of coping activities.
A person's career decision-making processes may be construed as a specific instance of problem solving (Holland & Holland, 1977 ). Indeed, problem-solving appraisal and career planning and decision making have been found to be related in at least 14 studies (e.g., Chartrand, Rose, Elliott, Marmarosh, & Caldwell, 1993 ; Flores, Ojeda, Huang, Gee, & Lee, 2006 ). Thus, how persons appraise their problem solving in general is related to how they approach a specific task, such as career decision making.
Problem-Solving Training Interventions
PST has involved teaching (a) specific component skills (e.g., problem definition and formulation); (b) a general problem-solving model; and (c) specific problem-solving skills in conjunction with other interventions (Heppner & Hillerbrand, 1991 ). In this section, we will briefly summarize the effectiveness of these three types of PST.
Teaching Specific Component Skills
In this line of PST, research typically has focused on teaching cognitive skills within a specific problem-solving stage; typically the training is brief (e.g., 45 min) and an experimental, between-group design is often used (a treatment group vs. a no-treatment control group; see DʼZurilla & Nezu, 1982 ). Those persons in the specific problem-solving skills training group typically have outperformed those in the control group, although long-term stability of the training is less clear. For example, Nezu and DʼZurilla ( 1979 ) examined the effects of the decision-making skills training in three conditions: (a) specific training in decision making based on DʼZurilla and Goldfried's ( 1971 ) model; (b) teaching the general definition of decision making based on a utility approach; and (c) the control group with no instruction in decision making. Those in the first group were judged to be significantly more effective than persons in the other two groups.
Teaching a General Problem-Solving Model
In this approach, a general problem-solving model is used, such as the five-stage model of DʼZurilla and Goldfried ( 1971 ). The training usually includes didactics and practice in each of the stages over several training sessions, along with an applied integration step (Nezu, 1986 ). This approach is effective with many populations (e.g., psychiatric patients) and target goals (e.g., substance abuse and addictions, depression, stress and anxiety; DʼZurilla & Nezu, 1999 ). The persons in the group receiving the general PST typically have outperformed the individuals in control groups (see DʼZurilla & Nezu, 1982 , 1999 ). For example, Platt, Husband, Hermalin, Cater, and Metzger ( 1993 ) reported that individuals with drug abuse problems who participated in a PST group for 10 weeks, relative to those in a control group, were significantly more likely to be employed at posttreat-ment and at a 6-month follow-up (see DʼZurilla & Nezu, 1982 , 1999 ; Heppner & Hillerbrand, 1991 ).
Teaching Specific Skills in Conjunction with other Interventions
PST has also been used as part of a treatment package including other interventions, such as anxiety management, communication skills, or study skills. This line of PST often consists of one or more problem-solving component skills. The PST has been effective in a wide range of populations (e.g., academic underachievers and psychiatric patients) and target goals (e.g., depression, phobias, marital and family problems, cigarette smoking, and weight problems). For example, in order to enhance stress management skills for women with low incomes supported by public assistance, Tableman, Marciniak, Johnson, and Rodgers ( 1982 ) examined the effectiveness of PST in conjunction with other interventions, such as stress reduction skills training, life planning, and goal-setting skills training. The participants in the combined training program manifested significant decreases in depression and anxiety.
In other research, problem-solving appraisal has been used as an outcome measure of PST. For example, in a PST group based on DʼZurilla and Nezu's ( 1982 ) general model, the participants reported a substantial increase in problem-solving appraisal as well as a concurrent decrease in depression at posttreatment and 6-month follow-up (Nezu, 1986 ). Likewise, Heppner et al. ( 1988 ) found that persons in an eight-week PST with a focus on self-management principles (e.g., self-analysis and self-reinforcement), as compared with those trained on specific problem-solving skills, showed posttreatment (and 1 year) improvements on the total PSI score and the Approach-Avoidance Style subscale.
Future Research Directions and Conclusions
Clearly, problem-solving appraisal has a significant role in positive psychology. How people appraise their problem-solving skills and style, as a psychological construct, is strongly linked to a wide range of indices of psychological adjustment. For example, a more positive (as opposed to negative) problem-solving appraisal has been associated with a positive self-concept, less depression and anxiety, and vocational adjustment. The PSI, as a measure of problem-solving appraisal, has a strong empirical base, and it portends to be of use to helping professionals.
Future research and theory development is needed to enhance our understanding of problem-solving appraisal and its role in coping and psychological adjustment. One promising direction may be to examine population issues, such as biological sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), noncollege populations (e.g., adolescents, adults), people from countries other than the United States, as well as cultural issues to distinguish between universal (“etic”) and culture-specific (“emic”) problem-solving appraisals. Moreover, little is known about problem solving within different cultural contexts (e.g., African American culture, Asian culture), which holds great potential to be an exciting and fertile arena.
Another direction for future research is to examine the unique role of various components of problem-solving appraisal, as well as the combined effect of two or more of the PSI factors in creating more complex coping styles (e.g., reporting being confident but avoiding problems). Most of the previous research has utilized the total PSI score, but exciting new theoretical developments might occur through the examination of the various combinations of PSI factors. Similarly, we suggest that researchers pay more attention to the examination of more complex and comprehensive theoretical models of applied problem solving, with attention to moderating and mediating variables to identify more specific and complex relations (structural equation models) between problem-solving appraisal and psychological/ physical health. In addition, the relationship between problem-solving appraisal and problem-solving performance merits additional attention. It may be particularly promising to examine the link between problem-solving appraisal and problem-solving effectiveness. Again, examining these complex issues may significantly facilitate a greater understanding of applied problem solving.
Problem-solving appraisal is learned, and most likely based on thousands of interactions with one's environment. Thus, it is of utmost importance to examine how one's problem-solving appraisal is developed from childhood onward. For example, it may be beneficial to examine to what extent parental modeling and training affect the early development of one's problem-solving appraisal. Likewise, to what extent does formal educational training play a later role in decreasing or enhancing a problem-solving appraisal in children and adolescents? Identifying the mechanisms that contribute to the development of individuals' problem-solving appraisal will enhance psychologists and other helping professionals to significantly promote the development not only of a positive problem-solving appraisal, but most likely problem-solving effectiveness as well.
In addition, it may be especially beneficial to examine how problem-solving appraisal may play a role in buffering people against effects of stressful life events. In this regard, researchers and practitioners are advised to explore a broad array of associations between problem-solving appraisal and adjustment-related issues (e.g., marital satisfaction, career decision making, conflict resolution, and physical health) as well as to examine the utility of enhancing perceived problem-solving abilities in remedial and preventive interventions.
Because problem-solving appraisal is learned, this implies that it is amenable to change; this provides hope for millions of people to bring positive change to their lives through the integration of problem-solving and positive psychology. Indeed, there seem to be many exciting possibilities in future applied interventions to build on people's strengths in problem-solving appraisal to enhance life satisfaction and well-being.
Questions about the Future of Problem-Solving Appraisal
To what extent does the Problem Solving Inventory generalize to other cultural contexts in other countries? Why?
What does applied problem solving look like in non white groups within the United States, and around the globe?
What are the critical events that shape problem-solving appraisal from childhood to adulthood?
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Building Effective Problem Solving and Decision Making Skills
The standard approach that people tend to follow especially when they are under the gun, feeling stressed is to usually react with a decision which had worked previously. While this may work, however, there is a high probability of you getting stuck in a circle of solving the same problem again and again. Hence, it is advisable to adopt an organised approach to solving problems and making sound decisions . All problems cannot be solved with a rational approach. This article attempts to provide a few basic guidelines which should help you get started once you have practised them a couple of time. Eventually, they will become your second nature and problem solving, and decision making will seem like cake walk to you!
Guidelines for Problem Solving and Decision Making
1. try to identify and define the problem..
This is one of the areas where people seem to struggle because they usually react to what they think the problem may be. Instead of reacting impulsively, you should try and understand more as to why you think there is a problem in the first place. The best way to do this is to identify and define the problem by gathering inputs from others apart from your own opinion. Try asking the following questions to yourself and others:
- What makes you think that there is a problem?
- Where is the problem occurring usually?
- How is the problem occurring?
- When is the problem occurring?
- With whom is the problem occurring? (HINT: Avoid jumping to conclusions and avoid blame game)
- Why is the problem occurring?
If the problem seems to be complex , break it down by repeating the steps that have been listed until you have descriptions of several associated problems.
Verify that you understand the problem clearly and then prioritise the problems . If there are several associated problems, try prioritising the ones you think needs to be addressed first.
You should be able to distinguish between “important” and “urgent” problems. There are times when what we consider to be important issues to consider are actually urgent issues. Important problems need more attention than urgent problems at times.
Try to understand your role in the problem. For instance, when you are stressed out, it tends to appear to you that others are stressed as well. This leads to you quickly jumping into conclusions and blaming others.
2. Analyse the underlying causes for the problem
- There will always be situations when you won’t have the entire knowledge about the problem. Hence, it is always crucial to get inputs from others who may be directly impacted by it.
- While collecting inputs from other individuals ensure that you gather inputs from one individual at a time (at least initially). This is because people tend to be inhibited about sharing their inputs in public.
- Write down what your view about what you have heard from others.
- If there are problems pertaining to an employee’s performance, it is often useful to seek advice from a peer or your supervisor to gather a fair impression of the problem.
- Write down a description of the cause of the problem and make a note of what is the problem, where is it occurring, when it is occurring, how it is occurring, with whom it is occurring and why it is occurring.
3. Brainstorm for solutions to resolve the problem
It is always advisable to keep others involved, as several thinking minds may be better than just one. Brainstorm with others seeking solutions to the problem. Collect as many ideas as possible, then screen them to find the best solution. It is important to remember that when you collect the ideas never pass any judgment on the ideas. You should just write them down as you hear them.
4. Select the best approach to resolve the problem
While selecting the best approach, you need to consider the following:
- Which of these approaches is the most likely to resolve the problem effectively?
- Which is the most realistic approach to accomplish for now?
- Do you have the resources to adopt this approach?
- Are the resources affordable?
- Do you have enough time to execute the approach?
- How much risk is associated with each alternative?
5. Decide your action plan
- You need to carefully consider what the final outcome will look like once this problem is resolved.
- What steps need to be taken in order to implement the best approach to resolving the problem? What systems or processes need to be changed in the organisation to implement this approach?
- How to keep a track if the steps pertaining to the selected approach are being followed or not? (This will indicate the success of your plan.)
- What type of resources (in terms of people, money and facilities) will you need to implement this approach?
- How much time will be required to implement the solution? Plan a schedule which includes the start and end dates.
- Who will be primarily responsible for ensuring the execution of the plan?
- Jot down the answers to the above questions and consider this to be your action plan.
- Communicate the plan to your team and to your immediate supervisor.
6. Monitor how your plan is being implemented
- Is the plan unfolding according to your expectations based on the indicators?
- Will the plan be accomplished as per the schedule?
- If the plan is not turning out to be as expected, then consider asking if it was a realistic plan. Analyse if there are sufficient resources to accomplish the plan on schedule. Furthermore, does more priority need to be placed on certain aspects of the plan? Should you consider changing the plan?
7. Verify if the problem has been resolved successfully or not
In order to verify if a problem has been solved or not, observe if normal operations have resumed in the organisation. While verifying, you need to consider the following:
- What changes need to be incorporated to avoid this type of problem in future? Consider making changes to policies or procedures, introducing training, etc.
- Consider the lessons learnt from this particular problem.
- Prepare a brief memo that highlights the success of the problem-solving effort, and the learning. Share it with your peers, supervisor, and subordinates.
Which is a better approach? Rational Versus Organic Approach
In a rational approach, an individual prefers to adopt a comprehensive and logical approach as explained in the above section. A rational approach involves the following:
- Defining the problem.
- Examining all potential causes of the problem.
- Identifying all alternatives to resolving the problem.
- Selecting an alternative carefully.
- Developing an orderly implementation of the action plan to implement that best approach.
- Monitoring the implementation of the plan closely.
- Verifying if the problem has been successfully resolved or not.
One of the major advantages of the rational approach is that it establishes a strong sense of order in a chaotic situation and provides a common point of reference for similar situations in future. One of the major disadvantages of this approach is that it takes longer to accomplish.
Some people believe that the organisational dynamics and people are not so ordered that a particular problem can be resolved by addressing one problem after another. They are of the opinion that the quality of an organisation is rated on how one handles things while on the road itself, instead of handling issues after arriving at the destination.
One of the major advantages of the organic approach is that it is highly adaptable to comprehend and explain the disordered changes that occur in projects in day to day life. One of the major disadvantages of this approach is that it often provides no clear frame of reference for people to communicate. Measuring the progress of this approach is also a challenging issue in itself.
Content Coordinator at EmployeeConnect
Self Evaluation Comments for Problem Solving (30 Examples)
By Status.net Editorial Team on May 19, 2023 — 9 minutes to read
Self-evaluation is an essential aspect of professional development. It helps you to identify areas of improvement and measure your progress towards achieving your goals. By evaluating your problem-solving skills, you can identify your strengths and weaknesses and take steps to improve your performance.
Problem Solving Self-Evaluation Comments Examples
- I was able to identify the root cause of the problem and develop a solution that addressed it effectively.
- I was able to think outside the box and come up with a creative solution to a complex problem.
- I was able to collaborate effectively with my team members to solve a challenging problem.
- I was able to prioritize tasks and allocate resources efficiently to solve a problem within a tight deadline.
- I was able to remain calm and composed under pressure while solving a critical problem.
- I was able to analyze data and information to identify patterns and trends that helped me solve a problem.
- I was able to communicate clearly and effectively with stakeholders to understand their needs and solve their problems.
- I was able to adapt to changing circumstances and adjust my problem-solving approach accordingly.
- I was able to learn from my mistakes and apply those lessons to future problem-solving situations.
- I was able to use critical thinking skills to evaluate multiple options and select the best solution to a problem.
- I was able to break down a complex problem into smaller, more manageable parts and solve each part individually.
- I was able to identify potential obstacles and develop contingency plans to overcome them while solving a problem.
- I was able to leverage my technical expertise to solve a problem that required specialized knowledge.
- I was able to use my creativity and innovation to develop a unique solution to a problem.
- I was able to gather and analyze feedback from stakeholders to continuously improve my problem-solving approach.
- I was able to use my leadership skills to motivate and guide my team members towards a successful problem-solving outcome.
- I was able to effectively manage competing priorities and still solve a problem within the given timeline.
- I was able to use my communication skills to explain complex technical solutions to non-technical stakeholders.
- I was able to use my analytical skills to identify patterns and trends that helped me solve a problem more efficiently.
- I was able to use my problem-solving skills to identify opportunities for process improvements and implement them successfully.
- I was able to use my research skills to gather information that helped me solve a problem more effectively.
- I was able to use my project management skills to break down a large-scale problem into smaller, more manageable tasks.
- I was able to use my negotiation skills to reach a mutually beneficial solution to a problem.
- I was able to remain objective and unbiased while evaluating potential solutions to a problem.
- I was able to use my attention to detail to identify small but critical issues that were contributing to a larger problem.
- I was able to use my interpersonal skills to build strong relationships with stakeholders and work collaboratively towards a solution.
- I was able to use my problem-solving skills to find a solution that balanced the needs of multiple stakeholders.
- I was able to use my persistence and determination to keep working towards a solution even when faced with obstacles.
- I was able to use my time management skills to prioritize tasks and allocate my time efficiently while solving a problem.
- I was able to use my empathy and understanding of others’ perspectives to develop a solution that met everyone’s needs.
Improving Problem Solving Skills
To become a better problem solver, you need to develop critical thinking skills, effective communication skills, prioritize tasks, and use brainstorming techniques. Here are some tips to help you improve your problem-solving skills:
Developing Critical Thinking Skills
Critical thinking is the ability to analyze a situation, identify problems, and come up with creative solutions. To develop critical thinking skills, you need to:
- Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify the problem or gather more information.
- Challenge assumptions: Don’t accept things at face value. Question assumptions and look for evidence to support them.
- Evaluate evidence: Look for evidence that supports or contradicts your assumptions. Evaluate the quality and reliability of the evidence.
- Consider alternative perspectives: Try to see the problem from different angles and consider alternative solutions.
Effective Communication Skills
Effective communication is essential for problem-solving because it helps you:
- Understand the problem: Good communication skills help you clarify the problem and understand what is expected of you.
- Collaborate with others: Effective communication skills help you work with others to find solutions.
- Express your ideas clearly: Clear communication helps you convey your ideas and solutions to others.
To improve your communication skills, you need to:
- Listen actively: Listen to others and try to understand their perspective.
- Speak clearly: Speak clearly and concisely to avoid confusion.
- Use nonverbal cues: Pay attention to body language and other nonverbal cues to understand what others are saying.
Prioritizing tasks is essential for effective problem-solving because it helps you:
- Focus on the most important tasks: Prioritizing helps you focus on the tasks that will have the most significant impact.
- Manage your time: Prioritizing helps you manage your time more effectively.
- Avoid procrastination: Prioritizing helps you avoid procrastination by breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones.
To prioritize tasks effectively, you need to:
- Identify the most important tasks: Identify the tasks that will have the most significant impact.
- Break down large tasks: Break large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones.
- Set deadlines: Set deadlines for each task to help you stay on track.
Brainstorming is a technique used to generate creative ideas and solutions. To brainstorm effectively, you need to:
- Generate a lot of ideas: Don’t be afraid to come up with as many ideas as possible, even if they seem silly or unrealistic.
- Encourage creativity: Encourage creative thinking by allowing everyone to contribute ideas.
- Avoid criticism: Don’t criticize or judge ideas during the brainstorming process.
To brainstorm effectively, you can use techniques like mind mapping, free writing, or group brainstorming sessions.
Time Management and Productivity
Managing time effectively.
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to problem-solving is managing your time effectively. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details and lose track of the big picture. To avoid this, set specific goals and deadlines for yourself. Make a to-do list and prioritize your tasks based on their importance and urgency. Use a timer or a stopwatch to keep track of how much time you spend on each task, and try to minimize distractions as much as possible.
For example, if you’re working on a project that requires a lot of research, set a goal to finish the research phase by the end of the day. Break the research down into smaller tasks, such as reading a certain number of articles or books, and set deadlines for each task. This will help you stay on track and ensure that you’re making progress towards your goal.
Feeling overwhelmed is a common problem when it comes to problem-solving. When you’re faced with a complex problem, it’s easy to feel like you don’t know where to start. To overcome this, break the problem down into smaller, more manageable parts. Identify the key issues or questions that need to be addressed, and focus on one at a time.
For example, if you’re trying to solve a problem with a product or service, start by identifying the key issues that are causing the problem. Once you’ve identified these issues, break them down into smaller, more manageable parts. Focus on one issue at a time, and come up with a plan to address it. Once you’ve addressed all of the key issues, you’ll have a better understanding of the problem as a whole, and you’ll be better equipped to come up with a solution.
Being proactive is an important part of problem-solving. Instead of waiting for problems to arise, take a proactive approach and try to anticipate potential problems before they occur. This will help you stay ahead of the curve and avoid potential roadblocks.
For example, if you’re working on a project with a tight deadline, don’t wait until the last minute to start working on it. Instead, start working on it as soon as possible, and set specific goals and deadlines for yourself. This will help you stay on track and ensure that you’re making progress towards your goal. Additionally, be proactive in identifying potential roadblocks or issues that could arise, and come up with a plan to address them before they become a problem.
Performance Review and Goal Setting
When preparing for a performance review, it’s important to set specific objectives that will guide the conversation. Start by reflecting on your current role and responsibilities, and consider areas where you could improve or grow. These objectives should be measurable and achievable, and should align with your personal and professional goals.
For example, one objective might be to improve your communication skills by attending a workshop or taking an online course. Another objective might be to take on more leadership responsibilities within your team or department.
During the performance review, your manager will likely evaluate your progress towards meeting your objectives. It’s important to come prepared with concrete examples of how you’ve worked towards your goals, as well as any challenges or obstacles you’ve faced.
For example, if your objective was to improve your project management skills, you might share how you’ve successfully led a project from start to finish, or how you’ve implemented new tools or processes to streamline your workflow. If you’ve faced challenges, be honest about what went wrong and what you learned from the experience.
Creating an Action Plan
After reviewing your performance, you and your manager should work together to create an action plan for the next review period. This plan should include specific goals and objectives, as well as a timeline for achieving them. It’s also important to identify any resources or support you may need to reach your goals.
For example, if your objective is to improve your technical skills, you might discuss opportunities for additional training or mentorship. If your goal is to take on more leadership responsibilities, you might discuss ways to gain experience through shadowing or cross-functional projects.
Overall, the performance review and goal setting process is an important opportunity to reflect on your progress and set a course for future growth and development. By setting specific, measurable objectives and working collaboratively with your manager, you can ensure that you’re on track to achieve your personal and professional goals.
When writing self-evaluation comments, it is important to be honest and objective. Avoid making exaggerated or false claims about your abilities or achievements. Instead, focus on specific examples that demonstrate your skills and accomplishments.
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Decision Making Self-Appraisal Comments Examples
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Decision Making Self-Appraisal Phrases Examples To Examine Yourself
Problem-solving appraisal refers to a person’s self-appraisal of his or her problem-solving abilities and attitudes (i.e., his or her self-evaluated capacity to resolve problems). Ever since John Dewey’s influential 1933 publication of How We Think, there has been a strong focus in psychology on how people cope with their daily life problems and major life events. Much of the earliest research examined laboratory problems involving water jars and strings. More recent research has also examined how people grapple with stressful personal problems, such as relationship and career problems. Not surprisingly, applied problem solving that focuses on real-life personal problems has received a great deal of attention in counseling psychology. In 1965, John Krumboltz proclaimed that the central reason for the existence of the counseling profession was because clients needed professional assistance with problems that they were unable to resolve on their own. More than 120 studies have been conducted on problem-solving appraisal using the Problem Solving Inventory (PSI). This entry provides a brief history of psychological research on problem solving and explains how that has led to a focus on the construct of problem-solving appraisal. Then this article summarizes what is known about the influence of problem-solving appraisal on psychosocial adjustment, physical health, coping, and educational and career-related issues, as well as other implications.
Historical Overview of Applied Problem Solving
The earliest applied problem-solving research focused on discreet thought processes, such as sensitivity to problems, causal thinking, and the generation of alternatives. Early models of problem solving posited a stage-sequential process, and they assumed that problem solvers would rationally progress through stages such as identifying the problem, generating alternatives, and making decisions. More recently, however, psychologists have shifted their attention to higher-order or metacognitve variables that affect how and whether a person will even attempt to solve a particular problem.
People respond to personal problems in different ways. Some people tend to attack the source of the problem. Others become very anxious and try to regulate their negative emotions associated with the stress of a problem rather than to resolve the problem itself. Some people tend to problem solve in a very systematic and persistent fashion, while others tend to make sporadic and inconsistent attempts to resolve problems. In short, some people bring a great deal of resources to resolving their problems, but others have significant problem-solving deficits. An important individual difference that influences applied problem-solving behavior is a person’s problem-solving appraisal.
The PSI is the most widely used measure of problem-solving appraisal. The PSI consists of 35 items, each having 6 possible responses that vary from 1 = strongly agree to 6 = strongly disagree. The instrument provides measures of (a) Problem-Solving Confidence, defined as one’s beliefs in his or her problem-solving abilities; (b) Approach-Avoidance Style, defined as one’s general tendency to approach or avoid different problem-solving activities; and (c) Personal Control, defined as one’s beliefs in his or her emotional and behavioral control while solving problems. An extensive body of empirical research supports the construct, convergent, and discriminant validity of the PSI across a range of populations and cultures.
In the past 25 years, a broad range of studies have suggested that problem-solving appraisal is associated with general psychological and social adjustment, depression, hopelessness and suicide potential, anxiety and worry, alcohol use and abuse, eating disorders, childhood adjustment, and childhood trauma. This entry focuses on the first four areas.
General Psychological and Social Adjustment
Individuals who have a negative (as opposed to a positive) problem-solving appraisal tend to be less well adjusted psychologically, to have more personal problems, and to experience more difficulty establishing a personal identity separate from their parents. In addition, they have fewer social skills and experience more social distress. There appears to be a dysfunctional pattern in which avoiding their problems leads to lower problem-solving confidence, and subsequently, lower psychological adjustment. The more positively individuals appraise their problem solving, the higher their levels of psychological and social adjustment.
A positive problem-solving appraisal is associated with lower levels of depression. Individuals’ negative appraisal of their problem-solving talents is strongly predictive of depression for those experiencing high levels of stress, but not for those experiencing low levels of stress. Thus, people with a negative problem-solving appraisal are at a higher risk of depression when they are under high stress. Having a positive assessment of their problem-solving ability provides individuals with some protection against depression when they are confronted with high levels of stress.
Hopelessness and Suicidality
A negative problem-solving appraisal is associated with feelings of hopelessness and suicidal ideation. A person’s problem-solving confidence, in particular, is a relatively strong predictor of his or her feelings of hopelessness. Individuals with a negative (as opposed to positive) problem-solving appraisal who are under high levels of stress tend to experience higher levels of hopelessness. Thus, problem-solving appraisal is a consistent predictor of hopelessness and suicidality.
Anxiety and Worry
People with a negative appraisal of their problem-solving abilities tend to experience higher levels of anxiety in general, and especially when under stress. In particular, problem-solving confidence and a sense of personal control were most strongly associated with both anxiety and worrying.
Problem-solving appraisal is associated with a range of physical health indexes including: (a) physical health complaints and health promotion, (b) physical health complications, and (c) physical limitations.
Problem-solving appraisal is related to health expectancies, specific health complaints (e.g., chronic pain and cardiovascular problems), and health problems in general. People with a negative (as opposed to a positive) appraisal of their problem-solving skills report more health complaints, lower health expectancies, and fewer health promotion behaviors. An individual’s feelings of personal control strongly relate to his or her physical health complaints. There is even some evidence that problem-solving appraisal demonstrated greater sensitivity than two standard neuropsychological problem-solving measures in (a) differentiating traumatic brain injured (TBI) patients from uninjured groups, (b) detecting treatment changes in the TBI patients’ problem solving, and (c) predicting independence and integration in the community of TBI patients. In short, problem-solving appraisal is a useful predictor of self-reported health and behavioral health indicators.
Problem-solving appraisal is related to cognitive and affective coping activities when dealing with stressful life problems. Specifically, there is a consistent association between a positive problem-solving appraisal and problem-focused coping (i.e., approaching and attempting to alter the cause of a stressful problem). A negative appraisal is more strongly related to task-inhibiting and emotion-focused self-statements and a tendency to feel powerless when dealing with interpersonal problems. In addition, problem-solving confidence and the approach-avoidance style appear to be the strongest contributors to reported problem-focused coping activities. A sense of personal control was particularly related to self-reported disengaging, denial, and emotion-focused coping.
People’s strategies for seeking and using helping resources are also related to their appraisal of their problem-solving skills. A positive (as opposed to negative) problem-solving appraisal is associated with more awareness of the availability of helping resources, higher rates of utilization, and more satisfaction with those resources. A more positive problem-solving appraisal also predicts more positive training experiences (e.g., problem-solving training) and better personal and career counseling outcomes. Thus, problem-solving appraisal is strongly associated with various coping activities and is predictive of associated cognitive and affective coping operations as well as outcomes of utilizing various helping resources.
Educational and Vocational Issues
Individuals’ appraisal of their problem-solving abilities is related to the presence of educational and vocational issues. Specifically, problem-solving appraisal is related to test anxiety, test irrelevant thinking, study skills in at-risk students, education level, and age, but not to measures of intelligence and academic aptitude. Consistent with several vocational theories (particularly maturity models), problem-solving appraisal is related to vocational identity, career decision-making variables (e.g., decision-making strategies), career planning (e.g., level of knowledge and certainty, multiple career roles for women), personality consistency, and differentiation of some types of career-undecided students. For example, people with a negative (as opposed to positive) appraisal of their problem-solving skills report lower levels of vocational identity, less certainty in their decisions about a career, less knowledge about career choices, and more dependent and intuitive decision-making strategies. More specifically, approaching problems is associated with rational decision-making and dependent decisional strategies; problem-solving confidence is related to rational and intuitive decision making; and lack of personal control is related to a need for more information for making career decisions. Thus, problem-solving appraisal is consistently and strongly associated with both career planning and decision making.
People’s appraisal of their problem-solving ability is related to a wide range of psychological adjustment and physical health indexes, to the approach they use in coping with stressful problems, and to their resolution of educational and vocational issues. There is a robust relationship between problem-solving appraisal and measures of psychological adjustment (e.g., depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and suicidal ideation). Generally speaking, people who have a more positive appraisal of their problem-solving skills are more likely to report a positive self-concept, higher levels of self-efficacy, more social support, and lower levels of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, social uneasiness, and irrational beliefs. They report positive health expectancies and fewer health com-plaints and problems. They use problem-focused strategies to cope with stressful events and have a greater awareness, utilization, and satisfaction of coping resources. They use rational career decision-making styles, have a more well-developed vocational identity, possess greater knowledge and certainty in career planning, and experience less career indecision.
In essence, people’s appraisal of their problem-solving capability is useful for understanding a broad range of human behavior, and in many (but not all) cases problem-solving appraisal appears to overlap with actual problem-solving skills. That is, based on countless problem-solving trials, people’s appraisal of their problem-solving capabilities is often consistent with their actual performance in problem solving. Thus, how people evaluate their problem-solving capabilities is in general consistent with the implementation of their problem-solving skills across a range of stressful personal problems. However, there are some exceptions. For instance, some people overestimate or underestimate their problem-solving abilities for a variety of reasons, resulting in a mismatch between their problem-solving appraisal and performance. There may be complex interactions between a person’s appraisal of his or her problem-solving skills and personality characteristics (e.g., sociopathic personality styles) and life situation (incarcerated adults, substance abuse). Thus, problem-solving appraisal should not be considered as synonymous with problem-solving skills.
Considerably more research has chosen to examine problem-solving appraisal, rather than other applied problem-solving inventories, in racial/ethnic minority groups in the United States and other countries (e.g., Canada, China, England, Italy, Jordan, South Africa, Taiwan, and Turkey). Nonetheless, what is known about problem-solving appraisal is based on primarily White U.S. samples. More information is needed before researchers can be sure they understand the similarities and differences in real-life problem solving across cultures.
Knowing how people appraise their problem-solving capabilities is clearly useful in understanding human psychological, physical, and vocational adjustments. In counseling, understanding how clients appraise their problem-solving capabilities can help to assess clients’ strengths as well as diagnose weaknesses relative to their presenting problems, or identify students at risk. Problem-solving appraisal provides a useful perspective for promoting an understanding of clients’ problem-solving style and useful information in developing successful interventions to help clients resolve troublesome problems. Given that problem-solving appraisal is learned after countless trials, it also implies that people’s self-appraisal of their problem-solving skills is amenable to change. There are many promising possibilities for applied interventions to enhance problem-solving appraisal and ability to cope with stressful life events, and thereby to enhance people’s life satisfaction and well-being.
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- Counseling Psychology
- Personality Assessment