Well it happened for the millionth time yesterday, when a client shared her frustration with me that she seemed to have to solve all of her organizations problems, yet the cause was her. Her impatience and desire to assist others created a dependency on her to solve all the problems.
Does this siutation sound familiar? Your in the middle of work and one of your employees comes to you with a problem and you know exactly the right solution. So you immediately tell the person what he/she should do. “Well that was easy” you say to yourself. But here is the problem you just created for yourself, you also made it easy for the employee. The next time they have a problem they are going to come to you again and even quicker than the first time! You are the enabler and creator of your own problem.
So what do you need to do next time a person comes with a problem? Before you resolve the problem, inquire and ask them questions that will help them develop their own solution. The questions should be open ended, such as “what”, “how” and “when”. Here are some examples: “What do you think you should do?” , “What other options have you identified?” And when they come to a solution, don’t forget this powerful question: “What else” This will get them to think deeper with the potential to come up with other options to their problem. This technique is used widely be executive coaches during coaching conversations and can be extremely effective to get someone to their own solution that they own, not you.
Who knows, it may be a better solution than one you planned on suggesting before you bit your tongue and “asked” versus “told” them what to do. Creating a path to a solution for an employee takes more time in the short term but it will free up a lot of time for you in the future. Having the employee create their own solution provides a learning opportunity for them and the potential that they won’t be back in your office with a similar solution the next time.
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