C&T Scene: Resourcefulness in the Workplace, April 2021

Resourcefulness is defined as the ability and creativity to cope with difficult situations, or unusual problems. It is about problem-solving and getting things done in the face of obstacles and constraints. This means approaching what’s in front of you and optimizing what you have, whether you’re producing something new or just thinking about how to do something better. It takes imagination and persistence.

Here are a few examples of how you can display resourcefulness at work.

  • If your manager asks you to set up a meeting with the same participants she was just in a meeting with, instead of asking who the participants are, assuming you have access to your manager’s calendar, look for the participants names and then just confirm the participants with her. This way you are utilizing the tools you have, and your manager will appreciate that you are maximizing her time.
  • At the last minute, you are having problems with your Wi-Fi connection while you are hosting a meeting for the department on Zoom. Can you assign someone else as co-host so that if you are disconnected, the meeting can continue? You may even want to do this prior to any meeting as a backup.
  • The copy machine is broken, and you have an enormous print job that has a deadline for the end of the day. The administrative assistant that usually calls for the technician is unexpectedly out of the office for the week. Before presenting the challenge to your supervisor, look at the resources you have available. Have you asked other colleagues if they are aware of whom to call? Have you looked on the copier for a service telephone number? Are there other printers that you can ask to use? You can then follow up when the administrative assistant returns to make sure what steps should be taken in the future.

Ways to improve your resourcefulness.

  • Have confidence. Keeping a log of your successes in problem-solving will reinforce confidence in yourself.
  • Instead of adopting a “can-do” attitude, adopt a “will do at any cost” attitude. Don’t give up when you can’t find an immediate solution or pathway.
  • “Think outside of the box” when looking for solutions to problems. At times you may need to explore options that may not seem logical or the best at the time. Try something different if the first, second or third option is not viable.
  • Ask others for help. You might develop a “who can help me” book of subject matter experts with various skills and connections. Reach out to them to help you connect with someone that might know how to help you. Could this be something you share with your department so that others can both benefit and augment as needed?
  • Be willing to ask the proverbial “stupid question.” Asking is a quest for knowledge.  The knowledge you gain is now a resource you can use in the future.

Resourcefulness is a crucial skill. It’s a quality your colleagues will appreciate and one that hiring managers are looking for. It helps you to be prepared to problem-solve in the moment and to turn challenges into advantages. It is about optimizing what you have to work with. Use every tool in your toolbox until you receive the results you want. Ask yourself these questions: Is there another way to get what I need or want? Who else might have information to help me? Can I try one more thing? Never give up on being resourceful in the workplace.

For more information on how to improve your soft skills, visit Developing Soft Skills on the C&T Training and Development website.