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Topics: Career Development, Leadership, Strategy
‘Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions!’
Network:3079



If you have not been told this so far this year, consider yourself lucky!

My question to the community, why do managers still continue to do so?
Should it stop?
If so, why and how?

Thank you for your thoughts!
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Dear Suzi:
Interesting your question
Thanks for sharing

If you bring me a problem please give me at least one solution (it's another version of the sentence)

What do you prefer?
Scenario 1 - I don't pay you to think, but to execute
Scenario 2 - I pay you to think, so bring me solutions

I, as a thinking person, like to use gray matter to think about solutions.

In my opinion is the least I can do as a professional

Just as important as finding solutions is finding solutions together.
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1 reply by Muthukrishnan Ramakrishnan
Nov 24, 2019 8:58 PM
Muthukrishnan Ramakrishnan
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Luis

The way you put it eases me much. But, in a troublesome situation, managers confront and say this "Don't bring me problems bring me solutions". At that moment, everyone is worried and things happen negatively.
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Suzi,
Consider from the manager's point of view. Someone brings you a problem. Knowing there is a problem raises the question of what actions should be taken. If you are not proposing the resolution yourself, you are asking them to tell you what to do next.

You are always better off by providing your own proposal, than asking someone else to tell you what to do. It is more likely to be a solution that aligns with your own idea of what the best solution looks like.

It also shows you understand the severity of the problem. If you say, "Here is a problem and here is the solution." then it shows you have it under control. If you say, "Here is a problem and there is no known solution." that is a bigger problem.

I am often assigned to lead projects, because I inform our leadership of a new problem, and my proposed solution. Their response is, "Great work, Keith. Go implement your own solution."

The only time I don't provide a solution is when I am raising awareness of a future problem and I need or will need support to fix it. Then I am preparing them for the fact that I will need their support. The problem might not have occurred yet, or we might not have a solution yet, but if and when it does, we will need to be ready. In that case again, I am being proactive by soliciting the support I need, not asking them to tell me what to do.
Network:16217



Wow, that's actually what I tell my kids when they come to me with small problems all the time. Actually I reword it a little, I usually say "ok so that's the problem, now, can you think of any solutions?"
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Easy to complain, easy to highlight problems; as a professional, anyone can do that. It takes initiative and forethought to assemble and propose a solution along with the problem.
Just because something is considered cliche, doesn't mean it's bad, mundane, or untrue. Possibly, it became that way because it's viable.
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1 reply by Sante Vergini
Nov 24, 2019 12:41 PM
Sante Vergini
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Agreed Andrew. I want my kids to not always focus on problems, but work on solutions. It begins at home with small little issues that they argue over. A good breeding ground for future teamwork :-)
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In an environment where you work with professionals you should appreciate that they bring problems. You should then - if you can - coach them to solve the problems or get help for them. This is showing a trustful, flat and open culture within your team.

If you ask them to bring solutions this is not servant leadership but top down command and control, showing a lack of respect and treating them as underlings. They are not kids but - hopefully - more knowledgable and skilled about the subject matter than yourself.
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1 reply by Luis Branco
Nov 24, 2019 6:00 AM
Luis Branco
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Dear Thomas

This is a possible read for the situation: "If you ask them to bring solutions this is not servant leadership but top down command and control, showing a lack of respect and treating them as underlings. They are not kids but - hopefully - more knowledgable and skilled about the subject matter than yourself. "

But there are others
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That is a feature to detect somebody that is not a manager. A person who said that is somebody that is called manager just because the title the organization got to her/him but is not a person with the enough capacity to be a manager. A manager always will work with you to create the solution.
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1 reply by Thomas Walenta
Nov 24, 2019 5:16 AM
Thomas Walenta
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Exactly
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Nov 24, 2019 5:05 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
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That is a feature to detect somebody that is not a manager. A person who said that is somebody that is called manager just because the title the organization got to her/him but is not a person with the enough capacity to be a manager. A manager always will work with you to create the solution.
Exactly
Network:2984



Nov 23, 2019 5:58 PM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
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In an environment where you work with professionals you should appreciate that they bring problems. You should then - if you can - coach them to solve the problems or get help for them. This is showing a trustful, flat and open culture within your team.

If you ask them to bring solutions this is not servant leadership but top down command and control, showing a lack of respect and treating them as underlings. They are not kids but - hopefully - more knowledgable and skilled about the subject matter than yourself.
Dear Thomas

This is a possible read for the situation: "If you ask them to bring solutions this is not servant leadership but top down command and control, showing a lack of respect and treating them as underlings. They are not kids but - hopefully - more knowledgable and skilled about the subject matter than yourself. "

But there are others
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1 reply by Thomas Walenta
Nov 24, 2019 11:28 AM
Thomas Walenta
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Luis
The only situation when this behavior is acceptable is a teaching or coaching scenario.
Network:1706



Suzi -

HBR did a good article on this a couple of years ago: https://hbr.org/2017/09/the-problem-with-s...ng-me-solutions

I'd suggest that an organization culture where most managers have this attitude is not a psychologically safe one as it encourages staff to hide problems until they believe they have a solution.

Yes, we want our team members to show some due diligence, but if they genuinely need help, we want them to have the courage to come to us or to their peers.

Kiron
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1 reply by Cyril Karr
Nov 29, 2019 2:56 AM
Cyril Karr
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Very good article.
Reminds me some kind of Risk Management policy within company
Network:28



Suzi,
This a good remark. My understanding is that it is good to spot problems and bring them forth. However, problems themselves do not bring value to an organization, it is the solution to deal with a problem that does. Hence when a manager asks you to share you solution to problems he value your capacity to contribute value creation in the organization. It is true that your proposed solutions might not be the best but at least they offer a ground for discussion and find a way to solve the problem. So I do not see the manager asking for solutions as a problem, in the contrary I think it is way to help us grow our leadership and problem solving skills.
Now if your manager ask you to make decisions, that is another issue. If he does so, then I think he is shirking his responsibilities since it is his duty to make decision and own them and not the employees'. Your role is to provide him with options and insight to facilitate his decision making.
So for me a manager asking you to offer solutions to a problem should be viewed as a mark of trust and respect.
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