I’ve noticed there is one huge mistake that we make when it comes to solving problems with our staff and teams. We give our advice and solutions.
As ironic as this may seem, one of the biggest challenges managers face is getting their staff motivated enough to find solutions to their own problems. According to recent research in the field of neuroscience, when people have their own insight, creating an “I’ve got it” moment and are able to come up with their own plan for solving issues, they are then primed to take action.
“Ideas are like children, there are none so wonderful as your own” - Unknown
Getting people to think for themselves is crucial for 2 reasons:
We facilitate a self directed learning process
Giving your staff all the answers makes them more dependant on you, leaving you highly stressed trying to solve everybody’s problems
Provide course direction and avoid steering the ship
It is not the solutions we provide but rather the questions we ask that are the most powerful in getting people to take action. Typically, we rush to state the problems or give advice and in doing so we often feel like we are running into a brick wall. No matter how good we think our advice is, people are almost always resistant to other people’s suggestions. Why? Because we are most likely to take action when we are the creators of our own solutions. This means leaders and managers must learn to become great coaches and direct their staff in how to ‘steer the ship’ instead of rushing to take control all the time. It’s less efficient but one hundred times more effective than the typical approach.
A common example of this that frequently occurs in today’s workplace:
An employee comes to chat to you about feeling overwhelmed and unable to execute their important goals each day and how it is putting pressure on the team and achieving results.
You naturally attempt to fix the problem by restating the company goals and what’s expected of this individual, stating “It’s important that we stay on top of things so we hit this month’s target. You need to get more focused and put more time into this; we are half way through the month already.”
Impact vs intent
While our intentions are always to help an individual, most of the time to have the greatest impact on solving or helping an employee sort through a problem we just need to listen to them, assisting them to process the problem and learn to create their own solutions through asking the right questions. This fuels that “I’ve got it” response.
Individuals are far more motivated by their own ideas, sometimes they just haven’t learnt how to process and think challenges through, and this is where managers can learn to be great coaches and help facilitate this.
When we become great coaches and stop trying to think for everybody else as well as ourselves, we feel less stressed, less overwhelmed and less like we are throwing money down the drain.
I’m curious, how can you become more of a catalyst for problem solving in your workplace and get your employees and team leaders to do more of the thinking?
Ben helps executives, managers & team leaders to influence human behaviour and in essence get more out of individuals and teams in terms of execution and results. He helps both leaders and employees elevate excellence in today’s workplace.