I confess I am a habitual problem solver.  You come to me with an issue, my brain automatically goes into solving mode.  You might think, “hey, that’s great!” but it’s not.  When leaders and managers are great problem solvers they are inadvertently making employees lazy.  The result is that every problem in the business ends up in your lap to solve.  You will keep thinking “man, I wish I had the right team, smarter people, more trained people.”  The reality is, it’s a problem you’ve created.

Stop Solving It For Them

I learned this lesson the hard way.  Time is the most precious resource there is and I’ve wasted much of it solving issues for other people when they were perfectly capable of solving it themselves. The trick is to simply let them do it.  Make them do it.  When you solve all of their issues for them you train them to not think on their own.

As a leader and manager, your job is to teach them how to solve their own issues.  You need to push your issues to the lowest level of the business. Scaling your business requires a team.  That team must be experts at solving their own issues.  Really successful people, really successful businesses are very good at solving their own issues.  Here’s what to do when an employee comes to you with an issue:

  1. Listen, but don’t act – sometimes they just want to be heard.  Don’t say anything.  I can’t tell you how many times I simply didn’t say anything and they solve the issues on their own. Basically be a lamppost.
  2. Ask great questions – just ask them questions.  Use the IDS (Identify, Discuss, Solve) process.
  3. Solve it – the reality is that sometimes you have to solve the issue for them.  Do this as a last resort.