I’m not just being a smarty-pants. I have found many leaders say they want to help their people find the solution that is right for them, but too many leaders really spend a lot of time telling their team members what works for them. Leaders often assume “What works for me, must work for everything?”
I have even heard some leaders say, “I can’t teach them anything other than what I do.” I have had many clients tell me that they are so tired of a team member calling them for information that is on the website, or in the training materials, or was just taught at the last meeting.
So if you really want your team members to find their own solutions, keep reading these five simple coaching tips.
1. Believe they can find the right answer on their own. Simple, and yet many of us jump in to fix or rescue our team members before we tell them we believe in their ability to solve a problem.
2. Stop talking, start listening. Ask, “What do you think you should do?” and then close your mouth. Listen. Take notes if you have to so you repeat key thoughts your team member is saying.
3. Ask them to think of several solutions so they can find the best solution. You might say, “Jen, I know you have the answer inside of you. Play with me and think of several possible solutions so you can pick the best one.” Then, go back to #2.
4. Send them to do research. If they tell you they don’t know what to do, invite them to do their own research. You might say, “Where could you find possible solutions?” or “Who do you know who is good at ______________ (the situation)?”
4. Challenge them to action. After listening and reflecting their answers, let them know you believe they are able to make it happen. Congratulate them on finding an answer, and ask “When do you want to put that into action?”
When we stop creating a space where they think we have all the answers we will start to create more independent thinkers. Don’t give up on yourself. You will catch yourself just telling them what to do. Hang in there, they will find solutions that they own.
Okay, so try this out, see what you think, and let me know what happened.