One Problem Two Solutions


If you are a business owner or manager, you have the ongoing challenge of solving daily problems with your team. Inevitably, people will bring problems to you. And how you handle those requests becomes a signal to the people on your team of what to expect. What you communicate will be one of two items:

  1. I will solve your problems
  2. You can solve your own problems

The former is a hero mentality. You become the choke point to the endless issues surrounding your business.

The latter is empowerment and coaching. You are communicating to your team members that they are fully capable of solving their own problems. This second option scales nicely. But it does take consistency in how you communicate your expectations. So, consider this strategy when people bring problems:

  1. Listen to the person carefully with full attention.
  2. Ask them for 2 solutions that they can think of.
  3. Empower them to go and execute their solutions.
  4. Repeat.

Over time, people will realize that they have to do more thinking before they approach you instead of leaving you to own the problem and burden of doing the thinking for them. You are, in effect, creating a smarter team that does their due diligence and only the hardest problems will be surfaced.

One problem, two solutions. Put it on your office door or in your email signature.

Make a deal with your team members. Tell them up front how you handle problems by requesting that any issues brought in front of you will have the same request repeatedly.

In this way, you get the best ideas and encourage the hard work of creativity and thinking in others rather than simply build around your own charisma.

What do you think of using this strategy in your management practice?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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