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Are you a problem solver or starter?

Posted on 27/11/2015 by


Why is common sense so hard to come by?

More and more we are hearing from clients that they just want someone who has initiative. They want a person who isn’t constantly seeking answers from someone else, an employee who has the common sense to try and come up with their own solutions when they encounter bumps in the road.

As an employee, ask yourself this question: What do I do when I have a problem at work?

Are you the kind of person who identifies issues, or solves them? When an issue arises, does all other activity grind to a halt while you run around looking for answers from other people in a panic, or do you calmly look for a solution before raising the problem higher up?

So, what does common sense look like in the workplace?  

Competence- This doesn’t mean you need to be perfect - nobody is perfect, not even your CEO - but it does mean speaking up when you need help. Don’t get this confused with running to someone else every time you need help with the smallest thing. What we’re talking about is approaching your manager when you feel as though you don’t have the necessary skills to finish a task you are working on.Everyone makes mistakes – but  when you make the same mistakes this will give your manager cause for concern.

Cooperation-Common sense is understanding that work is a team sport. Unless you actually work alone, you will need to be a team player in every sense of the word. Use your initiative to work with your colleagues when you encounter a problem, before running to your manager. This not only shows strong leadership skills, but also encourages others on your team to do the same. Chances are that together, you will be able to fix whatever is puzzling you.

Maturity- Part of being a mature, competent worker is being able to admit when you are the cause of a problem. It’s usually not intentional, but making excuses to cover up your mistakes is, well, a mistake. It will frustrate your team and your boss even more when they find out. Own up, explain yourself, and offer to help come up with a solution. Take responsibility for your actions!When things go wrong, do you panic, overreact and swear at your computer? Being a mature and dependable employee is about keeping your cool. How often have you ever actually solved a problem by kicking and screaming?

Initiative-Ah yes, the ultimate skill. Being able to use your initiative is going to get you so much further in your career. Here are a few examples of exactly what we mean by this:

  • Common sense is when you’re asked to contact a client, but instead of sitting there, emailing them and waiting for a response, you do whatever it takes to connect. You call the office line, their mobile, and WhatsApp if appropriate.
  • When your boss asks you to complete and send a document to a client before 5pm, but it’s 4.30pm and he’s nowhere to be found, you don’t sit there and miss the deadline. You find someone else to help you make sure that document is sent on time.

People who have initiative are in short supply, so if you can show an employer you’ve got what it takes, you’re already one step ahead. So, what are you waiting for?!