Do you have the answer to fix the problem? When you staff comes to you and shares a problem does the right thing to do jump immediately to mind and out your mouth?
If you're anything like the thousands of business owners my company, Maui Mastermind, has worked with over the past decade the answer to both questions is yes.
I want to share something that is both counterintuitive and perhaps hard to swallow: you're solving problems for your business may be one of the factors limiting your growth.
Take the case of Simon, owner of a multi-million dollar retail service business in California. Sasha is a long time business coaching client and a business owner who has built up a deep body of industry knowledge on how to solve problems in her business.
So when a team member comes to her with a customer issue, she solves it. When a production team comes to her with a challenge, she solves it. When a sales team member comes to her with a challenge, she solves it.
And by her solving all these issues she actually weakens her business.
Instead I want you to push yourself to use these situations as training opportunities to coach and grow your people.
When your team brings you a problem, pause and ask, "What do you think we should do here?" Or even, "If this decision were 100% up to you, what would you decide?"
For years I even had these two questions written on a 3x5 index card I taped up by my desk phone.
What this does is it pushes your team to work to solve their own problems. If their solution is a solid one, even if it is different from yours, let them own it by saying something like, "Well I think your solution is a solid one. Let me know how it works when you put it into action."
If you think their idea is way off base, coach them to find a better solution.
Ask, "Why is it you think this is the right solution? What do you think is the real cause of this situation? Does your initial thought for how to handle this really solve that real issue? How does X [the variable they are not seeing] factor into this decision?" Etc.
Does this take more time? Of course. Is this less emotionally satisfying for you? Yes. But is it more emotionally rewarding for your staff? Yes. Does doing it this way grow and develop your staff so they are more and more capable over time? You bet.
Here are a few more quick thoughts to help you better grow your team versus just jumping in and solving their problems for them.
- This gives you great real world training opportunities that are personally meaningful to your staff. (Think what you'd have to pay to a training company to create a role play like the challenge you get to coach your team member through!)
- If the challenge comes up again and again, rather than just put the fire out, work with your team member to see how you can prevent it from happening again, or at least lower the frequency or odds of it happening again. Could you refine your system? Better train other team members? Simplify the workflow? Separate out steps? Etc.
- Is there a tool that would help other team members in this same situation too? Could you create a short training video on this issue? Could you create a worksheet or spreadsheet with built in formulas to avoid this problem in future? Could you create a template to use again and again when this comes up?
- Let this process of empowering your team to own the challenge, with you as a supporting player not just someone to jump in and rescue them, be a way of showing real respect and esteem for your team members. After all, how better to show respect that to see your team members as smart, capable, competent people who can solve challenges, if at times with a little coaching.
Good luck empowering your team to grow and contribute more to the business.
If you enjoyed the ideas I shared, then I encourage you to download a free copy of my newest book, Build a Business, Not a Job. Click here for full details and to get your complimentary copy.