Bring me Solutions not Problems

I have a confession to make. I want to fix everything. Because I work with many organisations, I see the best and the worst ways of doing things. And I want to help them all be the best! But of course, I need to focus on one thing at a time and empower the organisations to own their improvement plans.

Are you a fixer? A few of the managers I work with are a bit like me and try to ‘fix’ everything. They hold on to their areas of responsibility, dishing out menial tasks without raising the capability of their staff, and the result is overload. Here are some of the expressions I’ve heard.

“Just give it to me and I’ll fix it”.
“It will be quicker if I do it myself”.
“He’s not quite up to that yet”.

They love being the one everyone turns to when there is a problem, yet this approach is short term focused. It inadvertently teaches employees that they don’t need to solve problems and in fact it is expected that they bring problems to their boss to solve. These managers get busier and busier, and thrive in the excitement of the overload, yet are they working at their best? Is this really the best approach for the organisation?

Raise Performance when Employees Solve Problems

By contrast businesses and managers who give their staff the opportunity to grow and develop their ability to identify, understand and resolve problems, are raising the performance of the organisation. Managers are freed up to spend more time on planning, managing the bigger picture, and risk-based decision making. Instead of working through the detailed problem-solving process, they can be involved at the final assessment of the solution.

Findings published in March 2022 from Universitas Negeri Malang indicated that the students’ problem-solving skills improved consistently when taught to follow a structured problem-solving process, so we know these skills can be developed.

Empowering staff with problem solving skills and techniques requires trust from management, but the benefit for the organisation is better ownership and quicker resolution of problems, and a management who are providing leadership.