As a manager, you are often faced with a problem to solve. And, you think, if I could just get my team involved, there are some benefits. Team problem solving –
- Communicates the accountability to the team
- Brings in a diversity of fresh ideas
- Brings in ideas that can be combined with other ideas
- Challenges the team to contribute their best thinking
- Brings in other perspectives on what the real problem is
- Surfaces additional “what if” scenarios
- Speeds execution of the solution
So, why don’t we get our team involved more often?
- We don’t have time
- Our team members are already overworked
- Our team members are too busy to attend a problem solving meeting
- It’s not their problem
Our objections are just head-trash. Every time the manager solves a problem for the team, it cripples the team from engaging in problem-solving behavior.
The team still needs a guide. And when you float the problem, they will resist, at first they will panic. Your job, as a manager, is to simply outlast the panic. If you want to build a team, give them a real problem to solve. -Tom
“So, Roger. I am not going to give you all ten projects,” I repeated. “Not yet. Before I do that, we have some growing to do. You handled three projects superbly, the fourth you began to be late and by the fifth project, things really began to slip. But, you have potential. Ten simultaneous projects will require a different approach from you.”
“You said I would have to build a team,” Roger replied.
“Yes, and building a team is more complex than building a checklist.”
“I think I can step back from all my projects and see the things about those projects that are identical, the things that are similar and the things that are different. That’s why my checklists are helpful. But building a team, I am not sure where to start,” Roger admitted.
“At the beginning, of course,” I smiled. “Let’s start with something you know how to do. You are good at making a list. I want you to make a list of everyone on your current team.”
“I can do that,” Roger agreed. “Any particular order?”
“Yes, you know that some of your team members are more capable than others. You know that, because you have worked with them, watched them make decisions and solve problems. I want you to put your team members in order, with the most capable at the top and the least capable at the bottom. When you have finished that list, let’s get together and you can tell me about each one.”