Another day’s plans put on hold. There is an unexpected problem that just walked through your door, or via email or on the phone. Management is a tough role and the demands on your time get tighter every day.
But how can you get to your To Do list if every day presents a new problem to be solved.
When someone comes to you with a problem, it doesn’t become your problem unless you let it. The natural tendency for managers, parents and most people in a position of authority is to solve the problem. “That’s why you get paid the big bucks!” someone will invariably say. But are we really helping anyone by taking on problems even if it would be quickest for us to resolve?
Take off your manager hat and put on your leadership hat. What would a leader do?
Building a strong and motivated team starts with sharing the load, the successes and the failures. You may have been promoted for your ability to solve problems but how will your team develop the skill if you take on their problems instead of coaching them to develop problem solving skills.
When a problem comes to your door ask the following 3 questions:
- What have you already done to address the problem?
- How do you think we should address the issue?
- What support do you need from me?
Problem solving is a skill that is easily coached and nurtured in a motivated and capable employee. It requires high support of the employee as they begin to work through problems on their own and often a directive hand from you. Your role is to be there to help them as they stumble and allow them to fail on occasion. But as the skill is practiced, you can begin to delegate out some of the problem solving to your team.
There will always be problems which need to be solved at the management level, but coaching your staff to become problem solvers will help both of you.
When someone comes to you with a problem, it doesn’t mean it’s your problem. It could be a development opportunity.