I understand what managers want to teach. They want their people to think about the problem and exercise innovative approaches instead of raising a white flag at the first obstacle of resistance.
Unfortunately, what gets communicated may be something else, like you don’t care. You’re too busy. You can’t be bothered. You don’t know. You’re not dependable. You’re shirking your responsibility.
It may be that you don’t know how to use those opportunities as coaching moments. There is a different way of engaging the situation so that you coach people through it—WITHOUT taking the problem from them. What about asking questions, like
How are you defining the problem? (wrongly defined problems don’t solve the problem)
How long have you been dealing with this problem? (3 minutes or 3 days?)
What have you thought of or tried that didn’t work? (get their line of thinking that may need to be redirected)
If you could take one next step, what would it be? (ascertain whether they are on the right path)
In addition, other questions may be useful in specific situations.
Where are the breakdowns?
Who else could you consult that might be helpful?
What additional information do you need?
If you were to rise above the weeds, what are you really trying to do?
In the end, you want to be available to accelerate the development of others. That doesn’t mean that you take on their work for them, but it does mean you should instruct, guide and move them to be successful.
This week, look for opportunities to guide people to think about their problems and create problem solvers.
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