The Number One Way to Help Employees Find Their Own Solutions

In my experience, one of the most common reasons managers want to adopt a coaching style of leadership is because they want to help employees find their own solutions rather than tell them what to do.

Usually, they know they have a skilled team of professionals and they want to build their confidence in solving problems and making decisions.

If you are also in this position, the first thing you need to recognise is that you may be helping create this dynamic.  However, the advantage of that is that you can also change it.

Employees often think that, because managers and leaders are more senior (and more highly paid), it is their responsibility to solve problems and make decisions.  So they arrive at your office door all ready to give you the challenges they’re stuck with.

For leaders, there is the strong temptation to help your employees by taking on their problems and solving them for them.  But taking on their problems is nothing more than rescuing them.  It doesn’t help them develop the confidence to tackle the problem themselves.

So, the number one way you can help your employees take greater ownership for their work is to STOP RESCUING THEM.  By that I mean stop taking on their responsibilities.

That doesn’t mean abandoning them and leaving them to struggle.  It simply means helping them realise what they already know about how to tackle the challenge.

A simple and effective question to ask is “Out of interest, what would you do if I wasn’t here?”

Nine times out of ten, the answer they give you will be an acceptable way forward.  They just need reassurance.  Next time the same situation arises, they’ll have greater confidence in their own conviction.

If you keep taking your employees problems, they’ll keep giving them to you.  Stop rescuing them and they’ll start drawing on their own knowledge and experience.  And you can get on with your own job rather than theirs.

if you would like support in helping your employees, find their own solutions, find out about the Leadership Coaching we


2 thoughts on “The Number One Way to Help Employees Find Their Own Solutions”

  1. I like this suggestion: just stop rescuing people.

    People generally don’t like to make decisions and it is easy to say ‘Here is the decision, such-and-such said we have to . . . ‘

    Leaders of teams can slip into working like this, if allowed to.

    I am a talker and when I get into ‘tell’ mode – I try to remember to put it back to them and then STOP TALKING.

    Good post.

    1. Thanks Karen. Somebody once shared with me a great acronym which I find helpful – WAIT. It stands for “Why Am I Talking?”

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