It’s almost second nature to managers. Their team members come and share a problem with them and seek solutions. The manager, on cue, solves the problem and everyone’s happy.
For managers, here’s where the problems start. Although it’s ever so nice to feel the pride of being ‘the one who knows everything’ in the eyes of their people, it can be both repetitive and time-consuming for the manager after a while.
You see whilst it’s nice to be a hero and help everyone, the more you do it, the more they come to see you and get help.
Which actually helps no-one.
The manager ends up with a permanent knock on the door to fix the issues their people find, stopping them doing their own job; the individuals fail to develop properly because, well, they have a manager who fixes everything for them!
For the individual team members this can become quite frustrating, because they are always waiting for the boss to be available to solve their problems. It can seem arrogant that the boss is the only one with the answers.
The solutions given might not be quite the fit they want to deliver and even more of a problem, it can be boring when you simply get told what to do, rather than challenged to find solutions yourself.
And the solutions the manager finds are simply the thinking of one person, so others who might want to air their thoughts may find that the potential synergy of many, simply gets lost as our hero solves the problem all by themselves.
There’s an easy way round this
Managers need to ‘not know’. When faced with an issue or a problem, a simple discipline to ask questions first will always create better outcomes both for relationships as well as results overall.
A simple ‘Well, what are you thinking…’ to ‘How do you think we can fix this…’ and everything in between, will get the best from your people. The phrasing of the language is vital. Softly supportive will build the relationship. Hard and challenging might scare team members off.
As you build their confidence to solve problems themselves, your office might become a much lonelier place and, as eventually people only rarely tap on your door, you can feel warm inside that they are all much better employees because of it.
Too often as managers we are the ones who know all the answers. Too often those answers are not the best fixes, and too rarely will our people develop and grow unless we facilitate that growth.
Step back; let go; be creative with your ‘not knowing’ and reap the benefits.