Do you like being the hero, everyone’s favorite problem-solver? Jumping in and dealing with everyone’s issues for them? Leaping over tall buildings to get stuff done when the going gets tough on your staff?
Exhausting, isn’t it?
Not only is it tiring, you are not doing you — or your staff, whether they be work teams or family members — any good at all. They don’t develop the skills necessary to navigate the workplace or life and it takes you away from doing the things only you can do.
Let’s use a workplace example to see how to manage people who can’t, or don’t want to, make a decision to solve their own problems.
How to solve problems in the office
First, stop leaping in to solve the problem (yes, ladies, I’m talking to you). Ask yourself:
- Is this my problem to solve? Whose problem is it?
It may be a touchy issue with a big customer (internal or external) that seems to require your attention as the manager, or a internal fussing over not distributing information in a timely fashion. Whatever the problem, if you jump in to deal with it, you’re teaching your team to come running to you whenever they need to have a tough conversations they would rather avoid…and dump on you.
It also becomes a boundary issue: If your people cannot maintain and defend their boundaries, regardless of the pressure being brought to bear, you will weaken the entire kingdom.
Sometimes you must intervene — but step back for a moment and involve your team members. Ask them:
- “How do you think we can deal with this? What do you think we should do?”
If you’ve got an empowered team, you should be able to get lots of ideas on how to deal with the issue. If, on the other hand, they all stand around, scratching their heads and tell you they have no idea, challenge that. Ask them: “If you knew the answer, what would it be?”
In the vast majority of instances, people have terrific ideas on how to solve the problem — they just need permission to give their opinions. With their input, you should be able to craft a resolution to the issue without placing undue burden on you and giving your team members the chance to limber up some of their creativity muscles and stiffen those backbones.
I can hear it now:
- “But what if I don’t like the solution? What if I would handle it differently?”
At that point, entertain the possibility that you might be part of the problem. Are you a control freak? Are these ideas really that bad or can you not let go of your power?
Your job at that point is to hold you nose and have lead an examination of the pros and cons of the proposed solutions to the problem, then let the appropriate person carry out the best idea. Ask to be kept in the loop to see how it the issue is resolved.
By giving your team the authority to solve their own problems, you will be empowering them and helping them grow. Which can only benefit the organization as a whole.
Have you had similar situations in your place of business? What tips would you offer? I’d love to hear in the comments below.