How to Effectively Problem Solve as a Team Leader

When you’re faced with a challenge, it can go one of two ways. You can focus on the issue, talk about it endlessly and ultimately, let it deflate you. On the flip side, you can listen, look at potential solutions, figure out how to avoid a repeat and get positive! Yes, we’re human. For some people, the tactic is to lay blame, avoid accountability and try to wiggle out of responsibility when faced with a challenge. If you opt for the solution focused approach (either for yourself or your team), imagine the difference! If you lead by example, soon enough, everyone around you will be looking for answers rather than harping on each other. It’s honestly a game changer! But how do you change your mindset? Here’s 2 common scenarios to help you get started:

Common Scenario 1: Your staff is coming to you frequently for answers and guidance. Some of the questions are acceptable and some of them frustrate you because you feel they should know the answer.

Typical Response: You provide the answer. You feel frustrated and annoyed. It impacts the energy around you and everyone near you can feel it. They avoid coming to you for answers or guidance in order to avoid ‘poking the bear’.

Solution Driven Response: Present your staff with the following challenge: When they come to you with a question, have them present you with what they think the answer is. If they’re wrong, you’ll feel less frustrated because they tried. If they’re right, they’ll feel empowered and confident!

Common Scenario 2: You arrive at work and there’s a problem. Despite the fact that you’ve repeatedly asked, something wasn’t done that you thought was taken care of.

Typical Response: Your staff is avoiding taking responsibility and everyone is now walking on eggshells! You can’t help yourself, you’re annoyed! You scold the staff you think is responsible (ideally when they’re alone but given your frustration, it’s likely obvious and may even happen in front of your entire team). You then decide to just get it done and tell yourself that the only way moving forward is to micromanage projects.

Solution Driven Response: Sit down with your staff and have a discussion (quickly) regarding the expectations and try to figure out as a team where the ball was dropped. The biggest challenge here is to LISTEN and one step further, LISTEN to HEAR, not to respond. If you listen, the answer to avoid future occurrences will be obvious (ie. ensure you provide your staff with a deadline when asking for something or ensure that the individual you asked to complete the task has the time and the ability to complete it…). In the end, provide a summary and the solution that will ensure that the problem does not arise again.

Looking at solutions rather than focusing on problems will make you a better leader, a better team player and overall, a better person!

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