Article: Should you be solving every problem your team faces?

Employee Relations

Should you be solving every problem your team faces?

If you are solving every problem your team faces you increase their dependency on you
Should you be solving every problem your team faces?

One of the important roles you play as a manager is that of a problem solver. In fact, a lot of literature continues to be written about how you can effectively become one. In a way – you’ll agree too – it helps you and you do see every problem as an opportunity than a hurdle. Unfortunately, some of you also tend to make every problem your own. You plant yourself in the middle of the tornado of issues and battle it out not just for you, but also for your teammates You respond to every problem situation like it is the end of the world and your intervention can prevent the apocalypse.

While it’s a good thing that you are being responsible, but then you run the risk of not teaching them how to deal with unwelcome circumstances. Think of it. You are their leader. Shouldn’t you be encouraging them to solve their own problems rather than knocking your door every other day? After all, this will make them future-ready, no? 

Let’s take a look at how you can stop obsessing with solving every problem directed your way? 

Ask if you really need to respond to their distress call

Look, you’ve got to wean your teammates off you. You can’t always have them latched onto you for advice and solutions. To get them off your back, first of all, ask whether you are really required to resolve their issues. If the situation demands they deal with it themselves then take a backseat. For instance, if a team member is in a situation due to someone in an authority position, you might feel the need to step in. But, if their role profile often puts them in such a spot then isn’t it important that they handle it themselves? 

Go easy on yourself

A. R. Sundarajan, who shifted gears years after working fulltime to freelancing says, “There's another way to look at it; your team members come in all sizes, shapes, and idiosyncrasies and quirks; some needs a constant pat on the back, and some ask you to stay away as far as possible even though they like you. It takes time, you make wrong judgments and learn as you go forward, learning how to deal with each one in your team. It ain't no easy job; but then a manager's job isn't always easy. You know those who mean well are always looked at with suspicion at first, and are you patient to go through the test and win the trust of the team members, without faltering into taking sides and be neutral and protect your company's interests without compromising your principles in anyway?

Are they looking for guidance? 

Chances are that since you feel a sense of responsibility towards your team you may immediately want to rescue them. We understand that it is quite instinctive, but you need to grow out of this sense of duty, especially when it’s low priority. As it turns out, sometimes your team mates may just be asking you to bump up their confidence. They want to be able to tackle issues on their own. So, if someone from another department is being unreasonable then instead of speaking to this person directly, think of the least possible way you can intervene. Suppose they are having an email exchange, you can ask your teammate to mark you. Once in the chain, you can drop a line in their support. Gradually, they will be able to handle such conflict situations on their own. 

Break the vicious cycle

Since you jump at every distress call you receive your team might think they are incapable and not as tactful as you are. This creates a vicious cycle where they keep running to you seeking your intervention even if the nature of problem demands otherwise. But, since you are supposed to enable and equip them, the first thing you can do is tell them the importance of identifying the issue instead of getting swayed away by emotions. This will help them see problems objectively and also gain confidence in taking decisions instead of rushing to you. This sentiment echoes with Ashok MJ, Sales Manager at Aspire Systems. He says that as a manager you ought to set and put emphasis on “establishing a common goal, keeping the team motivated and staying out of the team's way. Trust the team to do the right thing.” In due process, they will have of course learned from their own mistakes. 

Eventually, if you see, it boils down to the kind of manager. Never forget that your teammates look up to you. They are watchful of your behaviour and attitude and are probably internalizing the same unconsciously. And, that is quite deal. So, come hail or storm you should consciously try to model a behaviour that emphasizes the importance of a rational conversation and the need to understand various points of view. 

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Topics: Employee Relations, Watercooler

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