“We have a problem.”
These words are uttered in businesses across the world on a daily basis. An employee or team member is tasked with doing something and they can’t complete their task for one reason or another.
Instead of problem solving and finding a solution they stop where they are in the process and tell you they can’t go any further. The get caught in the frustration of not knowing what to do next that they essentially make it your problem.
As a busy business owner it can be very tempting to just give them the solution and tell them to go implement it. It’s certainly faster, ensures that the issue will be resolved to your satisfaction and in a way you expect, and it removes any question about how to handle it the next time around.
And you can get on with your day, right?
Because you’ve just taught your team member that the fastest way for them to get an answer to a question is to ask you. And you have dramatically cut their productivity and ability to help you in your business because their effectiveness is reliant on you.
So, if that’s not the best way to handle it when a team member comes to you for problem solving, what is? How can you get the work done, often by deadline, without giving them the answer so they can be on their way?
There are several steps you can take to make sure your team is full of solution-oriented people who can help you grow.
FAIR WARNING…this will take more time and energy from you in the beginning, but it will quickly pay off in dividends.
Ok, here are the things you can do to help your team be solution oriented.
- Ask them to clarify the original issue, their outcome, and their specific question. These are three very distinct items that will give you the insight needed to help them find solutions. Oftentimes a simple lack of clarity around the problem. So, when someone comes to you with a “problem” first ask them what their initial issue was. Click To Tweet Where were they when they started? Next find out what their desired outcome is. What, specifically, are they trying to accomplish? How will they know when they have found a satisfactory solution? And finally, what is the specific issue they’re having now? What has them stuck and what specific help do they need to get past the current block?
- Ask them what solutions they have already tried. This simple piece will help your team know that you expect them to have tried other solutions before coming to you for help. It’s easy to ask for answers when you run up against a wall. This is true for all of us. And sometimes we can create habits that have us asking for help before we’ve really hit that wall. This will serve to remind them that they are expected to look for solutions before coming to you.
- If possible, ask them questions so they can come up with additional solutions. Use probing questions about the problem and the outcome so they can use their own problem solving skills to figure out a solution that might work. Encourage them to do the ultimate problem solving, using you as a sounding board.
- Send them back to try the solution, with encouragement to look for additional solutions if that one doesn’t work. A lot of times people will come to you because they’re afraid of making mistakes or errors Click To Tweet. Let them know that it’s ok, and one of the many things you value about them in their role is their ability to problem solve on their own, to look for and find solutions, and to make sure they find a solution that will get the outcome that’s needed.
- Ask them to write down their solution in your company knowledge base if the problem is likely to recur. This is a critical step to making sure you are building a sustainable business and giving your team ownership of finding solutions. It will also build your knowledge base so your team will have somewhere to go before they come to you in the future, giving them the autonomy to solve problems they run across and the tools to be successful in their roles.
Once you can discipline yourself to follow these 5 steps when your team comes to you with problems or difficulties you will find your team reaching new levels of success and autonomy within their roles. You will have empowered them in their roles to be their best, to support you as much as possible, and to help you grow and scale beyond measure.
Following these steps will accomplish something else too. It will help you to develop leaders who can grow with you and your company. It will create a culture of accountability and performance Click To Tweet, and will help define you and your company as a place people want to work. They will enjoy working with you and they will rise to meet your expectations.
Because they will know you are willing to do the same for them.