Episode #13: How to Get Your Employees to Solve Problems
Welcome to the thirteenth episode of The Strategy Corner. In this episode I am going to share how you can get your employees to solve problems for you and thus create space for you the leader to not only level yourself up by your employee.
As a leader, our biggest job is to help those below us to excel and take their skills to the next level. By doing this, it helps level us up as well. I am going to dig into a simple strategy you can start to practice today with your employees. I know for a fact, when we slow down and spend time training our employees and sharing our knowledge it is always a win/win. The employee appreciates it and feels important and valued, but it also helps us as a leader release some control in that area and be able to put our energy to the next best thing. Come join me as we learn how to get your employees to solve problems for you, LET’S TAKE ACTION!
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Hello, and welcome to episode number 13 of the Strategy Corner where our goal is to get you to take action. I’m your host, Michelle Zink, the owner of Intentional Solutions Corp.
Today’s strategy is how to get your employees to solve problems for you. I was just talking to an executive in an organization yesterday. The organization is highly successful because of the executive’s direction. The executive also has realized that to take the business to the next level, they need to start motivating their employees to make decisions. They shared that employees always come to them with their problems and expect them to solve them. I shared that this is totally normal. The employees have seen what a great success this executive has made with the organization with their decision-making skills, so they want to continue to go to them because they equate success with them. I shared that there was a shift, a pivot they could make to start empowering their employees to solve problems for them while transferring their knowledge and expertise and decision making.
The executive was intrigued, so I shared my strategy, one that puts the employee in the driver’s seat. For every problem your employee encounters, they cannot come to you until they have thought of three viable solutions. That’s right, three solutions to every problem.
You ask, “How do you get this started within an organization?” As a leader, you can simply start with the first employee that comes to you to solve their problem. You tell them that you’re trying something new, you trust them and want them to now take ownership for problem solving as well. You tell them to go back to their desk, their work area, and think about the problem and come up with three solutions on how they could solve the problem.
Finally, you tell them to come back and share their problem and their three solutions, and you will listen to them. That’s right, you will listen to them. The magic comes in when you take time to truly sit with the employee, listen to the problem, listen to their solutions, ask questions about how they arrived at the solutions, share how you would have thought about it, and then tell them which solution you like best and the why. Why is key. Again, our overall goal is to start to transfer knowledge to those around us, so they can start becoming amazing problem solvers, but they don’t know as much as the leaders do, so sharing your why will help them start to understand and truly comprehend how and why you make decisions, the ones that you make that become so successful.
Now, this isn’t going to be easy. You’re going to want to just solve their problem because it is quicker and easier at the time, but you’re looking for a long-term growth and development strategy, so that shortsighted response doesn’t serve you in this situation. Think about the extra time you could have on your hands if you started, little by little, to transfer knowledge to your employees where they can make outstanding decisions and solve problems with confidence and ease. Not only are you leveling yourself up but the employee as well.
Another positive side effect from this strategy is, once employees start to play the three solutions game, they will get excited to try and guess and solve problems how they think you would solve them. They will become excited and engaged in solving problems that better help the company move forward, not just themselves. By getting employees engaged magical things begin to happen. They come up with new and unique ways to solve problems you didn’t even think of. They start offering to take on extra tasks because they see how they are making an impact. They see how they are helping you free up time so you can focus on other things and you appreciate that.
The true effect of this pivot is empowering your employees and, in effect, you empower yourself to realize you need to level up as well and you started having time to think about what that would look like. Freeing up time and motivating others to take responsibility is a win-win for an organization. As I say, what got you here isn’t going to get you there. You can’t keep solving all the problems and your employees can’t keep relying on you to do that if you want to take your business to the next level of your success.
Now it’s your turn. Here are your calls to action. First, the next employee that comes into your office with a problem, tell them about the shift you’re making to get your employees more engaged and better problem solvers. Share with them that for now on, any problem they have, they can not come to you until they have thought of three viable solutions to that problem. Then send them back out to their work area to come up with three solutions and inform them to come back once they have completed that task.
Then, when they come back, make time to listen. Truly listen to their ideas. Share your thoughts about your solutions, engage them in conversation about what you see and how you would have solved it. Then share the one you like best with them and your why. You do this a few times and the word will get out. Employees will begin to come to you with three solutions without even asking them. The key here is consistency. Don’t fall into the trap of just solving problems. If you do, no worries. Just start again with the next employee. It is inevitable that you will fall back into your old pattern, but you can get back on the solutions train right away.
Finally, have fun. Have fun seeing your employees, engage with you. Have fun creating extra time for you to focus on the next best thing that will get your company to its next level.
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Until next time remember, through action and growth, progression happens. Let’s take action together. Thank you and create an amazing day.