Chief Problem Solver

As a leader in your organization, I am sure that many days it seems as if problem solving is your primary task. When employees are faced with questions they don’t know the answer to, they come to you hoping you will either solve the problem for them or tell them how to solve it themselves. Some days it may seem as if the title on your office door must read “Chief Problem Solver”. If this sounds too familiar, it is likely because you chose this title for yourself.

Each of us who are parents can relate to a child coming to us with homework questions. While the temptation often exists to take the fast and easy way by just giving the answer, we all know that in the big picture this is the wrong approach. In order for the student’s knowledge to grow, they must first learn how to arrive at the correct answer themselves.

Think of staff members as adult students. When they have questions, take the time to explain the process of determining solutions. It’s the only way that they will develop the skills necessary to make your job easier long term.

Whenever I observe store owners and managers who can’t seem to make it through a meal or a round of golf, let alone a vacation, without constant interruption from staff members, I’m tempted to ask them how much they are enjoying the title which they put on their door right now.

They say that having knowledge is power. I believe that for business managers, a greater power is having a knowledgeable staff. The real test is not how productive they are when you are present, but rather how productive they are capable of being when you choose not to be.

Tom Jennings

Monday, April 1, 2013