She felt blindsided and unprepared when she finally heard about a festering issue on the team. Why was she the last to know? Being new to supervision made it even worse.
The solution you give is not as good as the one they find.
Problems have many solutions.
I asked her, “What would you like?”
“I’d like people to feel comfortable enough to come to me with issues.”
“Why is that important?”
She thought a moment and said, “I don’t want to feel blindsided.”
Energy sank the more we talked about the problem. A question shifted her focus from problems to solutions.
“How could you help people feel comfortable coming to you?” I asked.
“Build a relationship with them.” she replied.
I asked, “How might you build a relationship with them?”
She said, “I could take the people on my team to lunch. But I’m concerned about what others will think.”
I asked, “What will others think?”
“They’ll think I’m playing favorites.”
“How might you solve the playing favorites problem?” I asked.
“I could take them all to lunch.” She replied smiling.
I asked, “Would you do this as a group or individually?”
She was fascinated with the possibilities. She settled on the idea of a quarterly lunch with each direct report.
I asked, “What will you talk about on these lunches?” I watched the light go out of her eyes when she replied, “Work.”
“May I offer a suggestion?”
“What if you go to lunch and just talk about them, not work?”
She lit up, “You mean I can do that?”
The goal isn’t optional but which path you take is. Quarterly lunches aren’t “the” solution to creating open environments. They’re a step. She found her way forward. She found her power.
What are the dangers of solving problems for others?
How might leaders help others find their own solutions?