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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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Dear Suzi,

Several years ago I had a manager who would ask me this question (guaranteed). So I learnt - to prepare for the questions, to come up with options before approaching him. The result - my problem solving and situational thinking and analysis improved.

I sometimes use a variant of this, asking, what can "we" do about this? ...then listen for the answer, sometimes chiming in with suggestions to complement ideas in development. And whether it's my son or team, a similar response - they seem more relaxed to generate ideas and contribute to the solution.
And have "we" gotten some good ideas from this process? Definitely yes!
Sounds like a win-win and healthy relationship you have there Oghale, thank you for your feedback!
https://dilbert.com/strip/2020-01-29

This is how Dilbert answers this.
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1 reply by Oghale Akpobome
Feb 05, 2020 9:24 AM
Oghale Akpobome
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Ha Ha Ha! Nice one Andrew!!!
Feb 05, 2020 5:10 AM
Replying to Andrew Butler
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https://dilbert.com/strip/2020-01-29

This is how Dilbert answers this.
Ha Ha Ha! Nice one Andrew!!!
Regarding why this is said. I notice that Risk and Issue logs commonly encourage too much evasion and caution ("Log it. Job done"). Perhaps the "bring me solutions" remark is management's reaction to that kind of behaviour. Contrast the way teams tend to treat RAID logs with the way the same teams will use a product backlog. I'm generally sceptical about the practice of RAID logging for that reason.
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1 reply by Andrew Butler
Feb 06, 2020 5:20 AM
Andrew Butler
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Hi David, I think it's more of the "not my monkey" attitude. If a manager was to accept responsibility for resolving every problem their staff brought to them then they'd have waaaaay too many monkeys on their back to actually get anything done.
That being said the way managers often say "bring me solutions not problems" doesn't really make staff believe that their manager appreciates the issue and wants to do something about it.
As has been said previously on this thread if the manager was to say "What can WE do about this? Do you have any ideas for a resolution?" and then the manager empowers the employee to go and implement their solution then the employee both feels listened to, valued and empowered. Job's a gooden!
Feb 05, 2020 11:54 AM
Replying to David Portas
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Regarding why this is said. I notice that Risk and Issue logs commonly encourage too much evasion and caution ("Log it. Job done"). Perhaps the "bring me solutions" remark is management's reaction to that kind of behaviour. Contrast the way teams tend to treat RAID logs with the way the same teams will use a product backlog. I'm generally sceptical about the practice of RAID logging for that reason.
Hi David, I think it's more of the "not my monkey" attitude. If a manager was to accept responsibility for resolving every problem their staff brought to them then they'd have waaaaay too many monkeys on their back to actually get anything done.
That being said the way managers often say "bring me solutions not problems" doesn't really make staff believe that their manager appreciates the issue and wants to do something about it.
As has been said previously on this thread if the manager was to say "What can WE do about this? Do you have any ideas for a resolution?" and then the manager empowers the employee to go and implement their solution then the employee both feels listened to, valued and empowered. Job's a gooden!
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1 reply by Ashleigh Kennett-Smith
Feb 06, 2020 4:25 PM
Ashleigh Kennett-Smith
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Andrew, I agree.

The issue I find is that for many people (including me at times!) the "process" of determining options and ranking them (with pros/cons) can be very unfulfilling (and it takes time). This is especially true if it includes scheduling meetings/discussions and getting opinions. Then there's whatever process of documenting or at least getting the logic right behind the options their organisation requires. So unfortunately there is an element of management needing to stress that "you're empowered, so now go take responsibility". I think the latter "responsibility" bit is where we fall over especially where specialists are not full time on projects (this can be helped by clearly communicated and accepted RACIs or similar). So empowerment+taking responsibility is required.
Feb 06, 2020 5:20 AM
Replying to Andrew Butler
...
Hi David, I think it's more of the "not my monkey" attitude. If a manager was to accept responsibility for resolving every problem their staff brought to them then they'd have waaaaay too many monkeys on their back to actually get anything done.
That being said the way managers often say "bring me solutions not problems" doesn't really make staff believe that their manager appreciates the issue and wants to do something about it.
As has been said previously on this thread if the manager was to say "What can WE do about this? Do you have any ideas for a resolution?" and then the manager empowers the employee to go and implement their solution then the employee both feels listened to, valued and empowered. Job's a gooden!
Andrew, I agree.

The issue I find is that for many people (including me at times!) the "process" of determining options and ranking them (with pros/cons) can be very unfulfilling (and it takes time). This is especially true if it includes scheduling meetings/discussions and getting opinions. Then there's whatever process of documenting or at least getting the logic right behind the options their organisation requires. So unfortunately there is an element of management needing to stress that "you're empowered, so now go take responsibility". I think the latter "responsibility" bit is where we fall over especially where specialists are not full time on projects (this can be helped by clearly communicated and accepted RACIs or similar). So empowerment+taking responsibility is required.
Suzi

In regard to your question. Early in my career, I was told by a mentor "my company no longer look for an MBA, they bring more question than solutions". I don't know if it would still stand,
Who needs people that bring more problems to the table?
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1 reply by Stéphane Parent
Feb 07, 2020 6:10 AM
Stéphane Parent
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I would rather the problems be brought to the table without a solution than not be brought forward at all.
Feb 06, 2020 4:49 PM
Replying to Vincent Guerard
...
Suzi

In regard to your question. Early in my career, I was told by a mentor "my company no longer look for an MBA, they bring more question than solutions". I don't know if it would still stand,
Who needs people that bring more problems to the table?
I would rather the problems be brought to the table without a solution than not be brought forward at all.
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