How do you train your people to be better problem solvers?
We often hear from leaders that they wish their people would come prepared with recommendations instead of challenges. When that happens, they pass the buck to leadership to solve, think of a solution for them to execute, or for on-the-spot training.
There has to be a better way.
- What is going on? Every discussion of a problem should start with the situation. And everyone involved in the discussion needs to have the same set of facts and observations. Asking this question provides your people the opportunity to efficiently share a quick assessment of the situation.
- What could be going on? If your business or team has a problem, a solution is needed. But not just any solution. If you’re going to go to the trouble of investing time and energy into some type of change, it makes sense to make it the right change. By asking this question, you are training your teams to consider what is possible.
- What are your desired outcomes? Having identified what could be going on – i.e., the possible solutions – it’s time for your people to frame the solution in S.M.A.R.T. terms. The solution needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based. Translating the desired outcome into a SMART objective is an easy way for them to hold themselves accountable.
- What needs to be going on to achieve the desired outcome? Many solutions – especially to complex challenges – require multiple moving parts. Your teams know the processes in place and systems involved better than you do – your role is to make sure they are challenging themselves appropriately.
- What are you personally going to do? They brought you a problem. They need to sign up to be part of the solution.
- What help do you need from others? Your people will often need support from other functions or departments. By asking this question, you are training them to appreciate the critical interdependencies involved in most complex challenges.
- What do you need from me? Top management should be a service element that serves operations and the people. This question makes that explicitly clear and does so in the context of your team working through and presenting you with a solution. In many ways, this is the heart of servant leadership.
The 7 Questions that Turn People into Problem Solvers
What is going on?
What could be going on?
What are your desired outcomes?
What needs to be going on to accomplish the desired outcomes?
What are you personally going to do?
What do you need from others?
What do you need from me?