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Grow Your Staff into a Team of Creative Problem Solvers

Posted on September 6, 2021 by Deandre Millinor

As a manager, your employees will come to you with situations they do not know how to deal with. If they approach you during these times, they're looking for you to give them the solution to the problem. This is understandable with big problems that have significant monetary and time consequences, or that might have a detrimental influence on your company's standing in the eyes of your professional community.

But often the problems your workers bring you're neither this momentous nor are they potentially damaging. The majority of the time your staff members may think of creative solutions in their if invited to do so. The recurring problem I see is workers who don't take initiative in proactive problem solving. Why? Either they have not been advised that this is preferable to bringing their problems to the manager, or they've tried to be proactive in solving a problem before and have been told their thoughts or solutions were immaterial. When the latter is true, what motivation do they need to keep on coming up with ideas if the boss tells them their ideas are unworkable?

Often, the problems we encounter with our workers are ones we unwittingly help create. In the case we have been discussing, if workers continually look to their managers to fix their problems it is probably because the managers have solved their problems previously. As opposed to inviting them to find answers, these managers hand their workers solutions. This behaviour drains the imagination from the worker and leads to frustration, which contributes to reluctance--and finally refusal--to even try to search for solutions.

Part of the reason many supervisors"resolve" their staff's issues for them is in the interest of time. Managers generally have more experience with solving problems and have already found solutions that work. As opposed to fostering an employee's ability to think creatively and allowing time for maybe a couple of unworkable solutions before finding a viable one, the supervisor will just repair it. The result is a team that brings even the smallest issues to the supervisor and a supervisor who becomes frustrated because the team can't work independently. This may feel like parenting a group of little children.

Taking from the illustration of kids, children experience an increasing sense of confidence and freedom when they are invited to work out problems by themselves. True, not all their solutions are powerful; nor are they always the most cost-effective. But when allowed to try to address their own scenarios, these children can grow in confidence and experience a greater sense of openness to try first, ask later. Ultimately, they generally develop into autonomous adults who can think creatively and find workable solutions.

While our workers are no longer children, they want similar encouragement to have a step in their to locate solutions. The most innovative, entrepreneurial, and forward-thinking companies are the ones that are willing to discover new methods of doing things as opposed to sticking with the majority of the competitors.

Cultivate Their Problem Solving Skills

If you encounter frustration at the amount of difficulty ability of your employees, make a commitment to yourself to encourage each person to find their own solutions . Do this by asking questions. Questions that start with how and what exactly are excellent for drawing out a worker's ideas on a situation and encouraging that worker to think independently for a solution:

* What have you already tried?

* How would you prefer to address this problem?

* What would you do if you were me?

These are excellent questions you may ask to start encouraging your employees to think proactively. A massive element to making this strategy successful is that your employees has to have the ability to trust you with their thoughts. To put it differently, if encouragement to resolve their problems independently is a brand new experience for your employees, they will most likely be uncomfortable with it initially and reluctant to step out by themselves. You need to be prepared to withhold your own ideas --even if you know your way is the best way--and enable them to stumble. Invite them when they do make attempts to resolve their own problems, but resist the temptation to fix it for them.

Encouraging them through asking questions and giving them time to produce their own thoughts will help boost their level of confidence and ultimately decrease the amount of times they bring problems to you without having first tried to resolve them.