Problem-Solving Employees

Q. How can I get my employees to solve problems instead of coming to me with problems for me to solve?

Based on your question, I am immediately wondering if your employees are clear on what you expect of them and also whether or not you believe they are capable of performing their jobs independently. Please take some time to think about your answers to the following questions and to consider my thoughts in the closing paragraph. Hopefully, taken together they will help you move closer to where you want to be.

  • What types of decisions do your employees make on their own?

  • What might worry them about making decisions without your input?

  • How do your employees solve problems when you are not physically present?

  • What benefit would they get from solving things on their own?

  • What rewards await them for taking responsibility?

  • In what ways have you fostered independent decision making in others, whether at work, on committees or those with whom you live?

  • What part of your behavior could you change to get what you want?

  • What does your ideal office environment look like?

  • How will you convey your thoughts so that everyone knows what the goals and objectives are of the department/company?

To warrant the overhead of employees, you must be able to rely on them to: a.) function independently, b.) to capably and reliably solve problems and c.) to meet and sometimes exceed your expectations. In turn, your employees need to feel free to fail occasionally without fear of incrimination, and they need to know that you believe they are more than capable of making good decisions for optimum outcome. You owe it to them to be clear about your expectations and about your confidence in them. Perhaps you should consider asking your employees what roadblocks typically prevent them from solving problems on their own. They might tell you that they need more training, that they are afraid of making a mistake, or that they haven’t felt encouraged to spread their wings. It would be best if all of you understand what the parameters are so everyone is clear on how the company can work more effectively when each one knows and meets his/her objectives. In case you’re tempted to deal with this another day, you might want to consider one final question: What opportunities would you harness this year if you were freed from solving other people’s problems?

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