“Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.”
Even though this is a popular way of thinking, this is a toxic philosophy for managers. With this approach, your team will not only feel uncomfortable coming to you with bad news, but it also provides a negative workspace culture. You have to be accessible to your team, and be open to lend a helping hand in the process. Sabina Nawaz, via HBR, shares her tips on how to assist in problem solving:
1. Make it safe
Remind your team that they can always come to you with bad news. This way, you can help tackle problems early on. After your team addresses a concern to you, be sure to paraphrase it, and ask follow-up questions about it. By doing so, you can better understand the problem at hand, and it shows that you are actively listening to your employees.
2. Require problem statements from your team in lieu of complaints
Unlike complaints, problem statements are objective and consider every team member’s role in the situation. For example, a problem statement from an employee could be along the lines of, “Group A missed the deadline the past four times. In one case, we were unprepared. In the other cases, however, we were prepared, and had to work on the weekends to fill in for Group A’s late work.” With problem statements, you can figure out if there are any patterns, and find the cause of an issue. As well, everyone involved can have a part in the problem-solving process.
3. Find the right person(s) to solve the problem
Who is best person to tackle this challenge? Is it a bigger issue where you need to involve yourself more? In some cases, the employee who brings forth the problem to you can handle it on their own, but just needs your coaching (or approval). In any problem-solving situation, have your employees stretch their abilities.
When you are open to helping with problems, your team can not only reach solutions much faster, but they also feel more empowered.
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