Let Employees Solve Their Own Problems

    August 9, 2004

You should always be available to counsel and guide employees, but don’t let them drop every little problem on your doorstep. Here’s how to turn staff members into problem- solvers:

. Encourage them to work with other departments. If they’re working on a project for the marketing department, ask them to talk directly with people in that department about any questions or delays. You’re not shirking your duties; you’re giving your staff a chance to forge ties with people throughout the organization.

. Show them where to look for help. Teach staff members to use outside resources whenever they can’t solve a problem themselves. Examples: Call a trade association to check facts, cultivate experts in various industries to use as sources or contact customers to gain insight.

. Know when to step in. If you know employees are struggling with a problem, don’t leave them to drown. Offer your guidance when they’ve exhausted other reasonable resources.

. Thank them when they handle a problem without your help. Let them know how their resourcefulness helped you do your job. Example: “Because you handled the delivery problems yesterday, I was finally able to finish the budget.”

Kathleen OConnor is the owner of the OConnor Success System which provides professional growth programs for managers and entrepreneurs. To access our free resources, visit our website at http://www.OconnorSuccessSystem.com You can sign up there for your free 4-part mini-course on communication skills and a free subscription to our monthly e-zine, The Edge.