Give Them a Problem to Solve

“It’s all about connection,” Pablo said. “If a team member is connected closely with their manager, most likely they will remain engaged. If the team member becomes disconnected from their manager, or connected to a toxic manager, the job search has already begun.”

“Only the manager?” I asked.

“The manager relationship is the key, with a supporting cast of the team,” Pablo explained. “Conceptually, a manager’s accountability is simple (not easy). Create connection, prevent disconnection.”

“That’s the popularity of team exercises,” I said.

“The problem with exercises is just that. Exercises are exercises. They startup muscle memory, but if you really want to build a team, give them a real problem to solve. Stand back. Allow the team to struggle. In that struggle, you will see some things occur. Leadership will emerge, automatically. Leadership takes the form of restating the problem, clarifying the obstacles and laying down the challenge. If the problem is complex, it will require expertise in specific areas, team members will consult, rely on each other to help carry the burden. In essence, problem solving builds connection.”

2 thoughts on “Give Them a Problem to Solve

  1. Jeff Stern

    Nothing builds team like a common cause or problem to solve. Case in Point:

    About 5 years ago, the National BSA announced that girls would allowed to become Cub Scouts. Cubbing had become a full family affair, they had been participating without gettting the rewards/ranks anyway. An evolution of the organization. While this was expected, there was no clear communication plan and the timing was a complete surprise (good topic for another day!).

    That night was our monthly District meeting and I asked to group if there was anything new….I then asked for volunteers to help plan ahead for the forthcoming change and got 5 volunteers. They came up with a plan, presented, and executed over the next few months (these are volunteers, things do move slower). Key outcome was NOT the preparation for the change, but the fact that these people are now the leadership of the group and have assumed various committee chair responsibilites in the areas of programming, training, etc. Over the next few years, we lowered the average age of our leadership team from the mid 60’s to the mid 40’s.

    All because we took a team approach to a task.


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