One of the  most common mistakes that  managers make is to immediately solve a problem that either a subordinate brings to the manager or one that the manager determines exists, rather than helping the subordinate to solve the problem him/herself.

The first impulse of most managers is to simply give the subordinate the solution, often resulting in these two situations:

  1. The subordinate keeps looking to the manager to solve problems and never becomes self-sufficient;
  2. The manager spends too much time solving problems rather than performing the higher value management duties.

Whenever possible, the manager should encourage the subordinate to develop and suggest a solution to the problem. When the subordinate provides the correct solution reinforce this good behaviour. If the subordinate provides a solution that isn’t the correct one, still reinforce this good behaviour and coach the subordinate to the correct one.

The best way to do this is to ask questions that determine why the subordinate has come up with their solution and then guide the subordinate to the correct solution rather than immediately offer the solution.

This method should be used as much as possible. Naturally, if a solution is required immediately and time does not permit then the manager will have to choose between providing the solution and guiding the subordinate to the answer.

Should you have any questions or feedback regarding the content of this article please email me.

By Terry Thompson, Surrey, BC, CYBF mentor,

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