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Topics: Career Development, Leadership, Strategy
‘Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions!’
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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Yeah.. Give me more & more solutions and more options.

Manager's need to empower and engage the team members and encourage them to bring the problems to them. Most importantly they need to ask open ended questions to elaborate the problems, present their views, and any suggestions about next steps. But not specifically demand the solutions.

There could some team members who might be looking for quick fixes and always rush to managers (i.e. path of least resistance) and they need to be challenged.

I think there is no "one size fits all" approach but effective and efficient communications will address any of these problems in long term...
As good managers, we need to develop trust in the team so they come to us with problems.
Then help them understand the cause(s).
Then facilitate develop and evaluate solutions.
I also help them plan the execution of the solution
This is a very intriguing phrase. Personally I do not like hearing that and I never ever say that to anyone in my team. It’s because using such phrase seriously create a culture where collaboration with management becomes impossible.

Let me elaborate on this by listing out some scenarios:

Scenario 1: Problem with solution identified and solution is good.

This is the happy days scenario. And if there is a solution in place why do I even need to talk about the problem?

Scenario 2: Problem with solution identified and solution is flawed.

So maybe this is why I should talk about a problem that I have a solution for.

Scenario 3: Problem with no solution identified after analysis however because you can’t go without a solution, you waste time creating a fictional solution.

Entirely waste of time and effort.

Scenario 4: Problem identified, management gets informed straight away and action to find solution kicks in. With or without a defined solution, team comes together by a date to discuss next course of action.

My preferred approach.

If you look at all of the above scenario, as a manager you want to ensure the following:
- You are in the know
- You are able to determine and assess the proposed solution
- Your team should not waste their time trying to create solution and dragging out the resolution of the problem if it’s a big problem.
- As a manager your primary role is to remove impediments and deliver solution as a team. If your team is able to do all without you. Then there is no reason for you existence.
Nov 24, 2019 5:16 AM
Replying to Thomas Walenta
Absolutely yes..
Thank you all for the valuable and pertinent points mostly highlighting different context surrounding the subject matter, much appreciated!
Yes. I used to hear the same from my manager and that makes me to think always about all possible solutions before knocking his doors.
Hi, Suzi!

Let me write my opinion in short:
If you want to feed a person once - give him fish. If you want to feed him for life - teach him how to fish. (Confucius (r))

Once the team member brings you just problems without any attempt to solve that problem you're in risk to slip to babysitter role in the project.

If the team member brings you the decision, may be not the best, you can teach him why this decision is not so good and how he can improve that feature.

You can teach just those who wants to think before crying that everything's crashed.
Thank you Riad agreed, there is difference between pre-empting and overthinking..
Thanks Andrey a very popular saying indeed!
Nov 24, 2019 6:28 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
Suzi -

HBR did a good article on this a couple of years ago:

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.

Dear Kiron,

The article was spot on. Good tips as well:
- Make it safe
- Require problem statements instead of complaints
- Find the right person or people to solve the issue.

Thanks for sharing.
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The only people who find what they are looking for in life are the fault finders.

- Foster's Law