I want solutions not problems

Jurgen wrote a post: Empowered, Whether You Like It or Not about decisions image image being backfired to management.

I agree that a good manager cannot afford to have a team that needs to ask the manager how to solve problems. It has nothing to do with influence or control, it has to do with flow.

Just imagine what would happen if a football/basketball team needed to ask the manager what to do in each situation, the game will stall to a halt and become really boring.

As a manager we must empower our teams to make decisions themselves, we can guide them but we must not answer the problem ourselves. We need our team to grow, and they can only do that if they leave their comfort zone, grow up and make decisions themselves, taking full responsibility.

This is really hard to do when you start managing, so I use this trick.

My team knows that I want them to grow, so when a problem arises this is what I say:
I want a team that can solve problems, we are not being paid to find problems we are being paid to solve them. So I don’t want to hear about problems only about solutions. So lets take the problem at hand and please tell me 3 possible solutions.

Amazingly I have never said this and heard no solutions at all. After there are a few solutions, I ask which one is the best solution and why. Here I can guide them, here I can solve dilemmas and make choices when the team can’t make them, but only after I have several solutions.

The nice thing about this is that the team will solve things differently and perhaps better then you could solve it yourself.

A note for those who are going to try this. It is very important to give positive reinforcement when your team does the right thing. That is why I make a point of listening to the dilemmas that the team made and congratulating them for solving. You can not do this kind of delegation without proactively tracking the times that the decisions are being made within the team.

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