When an employee gets to a certain level of leadership, they’re expected to have the ability to solve problems and increase the quality of the processes they oversee. A common misconception is that if a person has enough experience and education, they’ll automatically have this quality of leadership decision-making. This thought may hold some merit, because oftentimes the amount of expertise a person has depends on their experience. But the truth is, some people are just innately wired to be successful at In-Depth Problem Solving and Analysis.
This competency deals with high-level and impactful decision-making skills. When an employee has this responsibility, it’s important to measure whether they have the necessary traits to be successful in their role.
Over three decades of research and experience have shown that there are four main traits, or scales, that factor into how a person performs at this competency.
This scale measures a person’s tendency to be introspective and perceptive as opposed to a tendency to be less contemplative. When a role requires that a person solve difficult organizational problems, there needs to be a considerable thought process and evaluation of all options before a final decision is made.
On the low side of this scale, a person is likely to spend less time in reflective thought and may not feel the need to look at things in an in-depth way to understand a situation. When people don’t feel the need to look at things in a deep way, they’re less likely to think ahead and consider long-term consequences. They may even miss aspects of the problem if they’re only probing surface-level issues.
Conversely, on the high end of Reflective, people are likely to see business issues from multiple perspectives and take into account past trends and understand the implications their decision has on the future of the organization. These leaders are more likely than others to anticipate long-term consequences and understand how seemingly separate issues interrelate and tie into a single decision.
For a person to solve difficult problems with good solutions, the solutions need to be realistic. Not all ideal solutions are attainable, so keeping in mind restraints like time, budget, and ease of implementation helps to keep possible solutions in check with what’s actually feasible.The left end of this scale represents people who tend to be wishful thinkers. These people are great at coming up with new and innovative ways to improve aspects at work, but because they tend to think in idealistic terms, some of the decisions they make might not be the most realistic, and may even be far-reaching.
Employees who think in practical terms fall on the high end of this scale. They are more likely to arrive at decisions through a common-sense approach, keeping their ideas in check and typically basing their choices within a more realistic realm of thought. This trait keeps the decision from being overly-wishful or unattainable based on variables like company resources and importance of the decision’s outcome. But it may also result in decisions that overly rely on past solutions as opposed to understanding the unique aspects of a given problem. Consequently, moderate levels of this trait are ideal for in-depth problem solving.
One of the key components to In-Depth Problem Solving and Analysis is evaluating information in an objective way. When deciding on a solution to a problem, it’s extremely important to weigh options using a pragmatic and fact-based frame of reference rather than a personal one.
Making decisions based on an objective point of view can be difficult for people who fall on the low end of this scale. When a person is more likely to use feelings and intuition as they analyze problems to solve, they may discount important facts that have an effect on a potential solution. Taking personal values and feelings into account when making decisions isn’t a bad thing, but it may cause someone to ignore data and find a solution based on their gut feeling.
The further a person lands to the right of this scale, the more likely they are to draw conclusions based on facts and data without allowing personal beliefs to affect their thought processes at work. People who are highly fact-based are generally more objective and when they need to solve business problems, they do so by using data and research to guide their decision. This trait makes them more suitable for roles that require In-Depth Problem Solving and Analysis. Nevertheless, individuals who are on the extreme high end of this scale may be so data-focused that they have trouble seeing nuances and the context to a given problem or situation.
- Serious-Minded/ Restrained
Finding a solution to a problem takes time. It involves research, deliberation, and in-depth analysis of how each possible outcome might affect the company short-term and long-term. The best choice may not be made if a person is prone to making quick decisions without taking the necessary amount of time to really understand the implications. Conversely, if a person is too hesitant to make a clear decision, their problem may take much longer to solve than what’s needed.
The ability to make quick decisions is important, but, depending on the role, this trait may have negative effects at work. The low end of this scale represents people who are quick to come to conclusions without needing the time to deliberate. These leaders are more likely to make impulsive decisions or dismiss others’ ideas too quickly, limiting coworker input and in-depth understanding, even if it may be vital to the decision.
The high end of this scale also has downsides. Although people on this side of the scale are seen as responsible and careful, when it comes to making decisions, these can be hindrances. If a leader here needs to make a quick choice, they may be uncomfortable doing so because they tend to be more risk-averse and cautious. Over-deliberation, another common trait among high scorers for this scale, slows down or may even halt an employee’s decision-making process.
The best place to land in Serious-Minded/Restrained for this particular competency is in the middle range. In this position, an employee is expected to know which decisions can be handled personally and which should require deliberation with coworkers. These leaders tend to avoid acting on a choice prematurely, which can cause an inefficient outcome, or prolonging the choice, making the decision-making process inefficient.
Problems and inefficiencies are present in every organization—there are always things that could be improved. Those problems won’t go away until a solution is found and implemented. So, knowing if the person you hire has the right skills to get things moving and improve your business is incredibly important. Using selection assessments to predict these traits in employees before a hiring decision is made is a lot like having appropriate In-Depth Problem Solving and Analysis traits, you’re using a systematic evaluation of data to make the best possible choice.
The Competency Spotlight series focuses on the personality traits measured by OutMatch assessments, and how these traits impact performance. No one measure can say with 100% accuracy how an employee will behave, but considering these competencies can help you identify candidates that are ‘prewired’ to be successful in a particular job type.