problem solving

March 1, 2010

Managers Playing Ignorant – Developing Employees

Sometimes, it’s easy to show that we are the boss, by always having the answers that our people need.

Yet the smartest managers don’t always share the answers they have.

Because any manager wants to be the resource their people need. In fact, being able to solve problems your way is a great way to remind your people that’s the reason you are their manager, because you know the way to fix things.

Sometimes though, it will be valuable to be less than the cleverest person in the team, because letting them find out will help them in bigger ways as they develop and grow their skills.

The biggest challenge you will find in using this activity will be you. Your people will love it as they are utilized to share their ideas and solutions.

So, are you big enough to try this and not be the resource every time for the problems your people bring you, showing your ‘manager prowess’ off to fuel your own self-belief, important though that is in itself?

Many managers feel that by letting go of being ‘solution-finder’ they will lose respect, yet, quite simply, the truth is the opposite. Because no-one likes a know-it-all, so they stop respecting and start mocking any manager who seems to be perfect.

In fact any manager who decides to be Mr/Mrs Fix-It to all and sundry every time, will really struggle under the pressure and do a far worse job, because their people will start to dump problems that they certainly could resolve themselves on that smart manager’s desk.

Letting go of the ‘Fix-Everything’ persona is much more than how you perceive your people will see you in the world.

You see, you WANT to be the big cheese who solves everything. It’s an ego thing. And it’s only going to stand up for a while.

If you are big enough to make this small transition, your people will respect you much more when you are their development guide and show you value them by asking them for their own ideas and solutions.

Stretching, challenging and guiding them gently in much more appropriate and value-creating for your people over time.

Saying ‘I don’t know’ sometimes, is perfect for that and will raise you up in their eyes as long as you use this tool wisely and not every time you have something presented to you.

This is about disciplining yourself, in the moment, and expanding your React/Respond gap.

When you play with that, use delaying tactics and decide if ‘I don’t know’ will work this time, you will have a vital option that will make a much bigger difference to the performance of your people and team, than might have ever been possible before.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Managing Me by Martin

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February 23, 2010

How Workplace Relationship Building Solves Problems Best

Problems are a part of any manager’s day. They come at us thick and fast, providing challenges on many levels. With your team, many of these can be fixed.

With the full involvement and collaboration of your team – even better – many can be solved for good…

They say ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, because two minds working together will be able to create a better solution – one that is generally much more effective.

One of the purposes of creating active relationships with our people, is to ensure that we have every opportunity to make the most of thinking together.

Partnerships will generate more and better ideas that can be instrumental in delivering successes much more effectively.

Where – as managers – we spend the time with our people, both one-on-one as well as with our teams, we create the environment that is effectively a safe place to become much more creative.

As we listen carefully to our people – making the effort to hold back with our own ideas to let them come forward with their own – they begin to show their strengths. Often hidden from us, as their confidence develops, we see them demonstrate their full capabilities.

By developing a level of trust and respect that lets them open up willingly, our people take up the challenges we set before them, creating a sense of purpose that will drive them on – with their colleagues – to much more effective solutions.

As managers we are able to spend our days fire-fighting and coming up with sticking-plaster solutions that work for us in the short-term. This makes problems go away for a while, but these are intrepid critters and have a habit of keeping coming back.

When we create strong relationships with our people, they get involved too, sharing their own wisdom which you have nurtured when you are with them. And this enables far better, deep-reaching solutions – not fixes – that make problems go away for good.

We use the relationships we encourage, to make the differences we need, to make our management both much more effective, as well as easier for the best solutions we seek.

The time we invest in our people creates the returns that we seek, above and beyond like-for-like. Using the leverage of many minds on the problems we together face, we maximize the value we create.

Relationship building is two-way, with your people enjoying value from it as well. The returns you appreciate by making this effort are unlimited, because you just don’t know what abilities your people will come up with.

Finding purpose to building relationships is not hard and what can be delivered using you and your interpersonal skills probably cannot be overestimated – after all, you have amazing people around you.

Your job is to get their potential out in the open and exposed, helping you provide lasting solutions to the problems and issues that you have before you.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Focus on Results, Management Basics by Martin

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