“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager” ~Bob Nelson
The last time I checked, there were still only 24 hours in a day. If you spend 8 hours sleeping (which you should) and 8 hours for personal/family time (which you should), that leaves 8 hours for work in a typical business day. If you spend a lot of that time solving other people’s problems, you can see there is not much time left for you to do the job you were hired for.
Hence, why not let other people at work solve their own problems? Sounds simple enough, right? Well, if you’re the Manager/Supervisor/Boss it is not always that simple.
Depending on your profession and the nature of your business, there are a variety of reasons your people will come to you if you manage or supervise them:
- They need direction on how to handle a customer complaint
- They are having a problem with a co-worker
- There are technical issues
- They are lazy and want you to solve everything for them
- Make up your own reason, there are so many more.
You can try and solve each and every problem, or depending on the situation, train your team to find their own solutions. Let’s be honest, some managers and supervisors want to jump in and solve every problem that comes their way because it makes them feel important, boosts their ego, and they want their employees to rely on them. In the short term that might be productive because it solves the problem quickly, but in the long term it’s a terrible strategy for growth and personal development.
And that should be your ultimate goal…the growth and personal development of the team you lead.
From all my years in the Hospitality industry, our goal has been Repeat Business and Customer Loyalty. By properly training, coaching and educating your employees to solve problems on their own, it will allow you to work on your business and not in your business.
When someone comes to you with a problem, the first thing you must decide is if this problem warrants your involvement. If it does, make sure you include the employee in how you will determine the solution. Just don’t do it yourself, make it a learning experience.
New hire training is a must in any industry, but certainly in any customer focused business. How you want your employees to interact with customers is a reflection on you, your vision and your principles. Make sure you empower your team to deal with the most basic or common situations so they don’t have to keep running to you for approval. It is great for employee morale, and the last thing your customers want is to have to explain their problem over and over again, just to get a simple resolution, whether it is in person, on the phone or through social media. And if someone does make a mistake with making a decision, the last thing you should do is get mad or make an example of them. That will prevent them from ever making a decision in the future.
Coaching is a way of showing your employees how you would handle a certain situation, not just doing it for them. It gives them experience and confidence for handling the same type of problem in the future.
And to use a sports metaphor, you start with basic fundamentals, and work your way up.
By asking lots of questions about what steps they have taken so far, what would they do next, and if there is a plan B, you get them thinking in a critical way about how they would solve the problem on their own.
Continuous education is the key to developing future leaders who will bring your business to the next level. Training does not stop after the initial period, it should be never ending. Whether it is personal growth classes, leadership, communication or any number of management courses, employees want to grow and learn, and by providing these types of learning tools, you are ensuring your business will grow as well.
Early in my career, I had a manager who took me under her wing and through example and advice taught me management and leadership principles, and how to solve problems on my own. To this day, every time I come across a new problem or situation, I ask myself, “what would Lesley do?”
Isn’t that the type of legacy you want to leave?