Why the quick fix is not always the best thing for your team

I have been told by my boss that I am hindering my team’s development due to always going into “fix it” mode. We are a busy department and I don’t have time to explain everything that needs to be done. What quick tips can you give me that will help?

It is natural to want to fix, solve and save. In the professional world, we are trained to fix things, and this is a skill that often serves us well. However, there are times when taking a step back from this will give us a greater return.

How long do you spend each day “telling” your team what to do? Spend a day noting down how much time you spend doing this and ascertain the impact it has. What could you do with more time? What impact would this have on your team? What impact would this have on your professional development?

There is a danger that you are training your team to be dependent on you – not great for their development or yours.

One of the things that you can do is to include coaching skills into your leadership style. This investment will reward you with:

  • More time to focus on your deliverables.
  • Creating a culture where team members will be more empowered, confident and proactive.
  • Creating a culture where team members feel able to act without constantly coming to you for solutions, which will be positive for their growth and yours.

I appreciate that this may feel like another thing to do on what may be an already long list, however, the investment will pay you dividends. Give it a go!

Michael Bungay Stanier from Box of Crayons recommends asking the following simple question when a team member asks for your advice: “What’s your best guess on how to do this?” Even when people say they don’t know how to do something, they’ll often have a good guess – and it’s often right (or right enough). It means you don’t then need to give your advice, or maybe just tweak their approach just a bit, which will make everyone happier.

His advice is a coaching approach to leading. As managers/leaders, we often go straight into fix it mode with the issues or problems that we see. This can cost us valuable opportunities to understand more about what’s going on, as well as negatively impact relationships with team members and hinder growth in our team. I worked with a CEO who lost his most trusted and senior team player because he jumped straight to an issue and forgot about the person who was having an issue. Human beings have a need to be seen and heard, and it doesn’t take long to acknowledge someone or ask how they are before launching into the issue at hand. It can be as simple as asking, “How are you?” It doesn’t have to take long!

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The first place to go is to connect with the person who has an issue or a problem. Ask them some simple open questions to establish where they are at. Open questions are questions that cannot be answered with a yes or a no. Avoid asking a question beginning with ‘Why’ at this stage. Why often makes people feel defensive.

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