Do managers understand the significance of telling their employees to bring them solutions instead of problems? Think about what kind of attitude you would have towards your manager if that’s what they admonished.
Seriously, stop reading and take a few seconds to think about what your attitude would be…
Is “Don’t show me problems, show me solutions,” the correct approach?
Why you might agree with this approach:
You might feel that if you go to your manager or boss with a bunch of problems then you’re constantly complaining or pestering them. If you presented problems to your manager you’d develop a sense of insecurity. You’ll assume they think you’re a bother or incompetent. Therefore, skipping the problem altogether and jumping straight to a solution must be the most efficient technique. You don’t have to worry about being the Negative Nancy of the office, instead, you get to be the person that has all the answers. Keeping the positive vibes alive and remaining on top of your game. Plus, you really enjoy a challenge and this will capitalize on your innovation skills.
Why you might disagree with this approach:
Not allowing an open, safe space for problems to arise in an office can cause intimidation, tension, and dissatisfaction. If employees are under the impression that their manager or boss is in denial that problems, of any sort, might surface then they’ll feel that the company is incapable of growth. A denial or intolerance to problems can lead to sloppiness, miscommunication, and confrontation amongst co-workers and client relationships. You might even feel that the company doesn’t value diversity, conflict, or change; causing you to disengage and lose interest in the mission.
If you agree that only providing solutions is the best route, then I challenge you to open your mind and hear me out.
When managers implement a strategy of hearing only solutions they jeopardize client satisfaction. Sure. Employees are solving clients’ problems, but, are they solving them effectively? Can we assume that the solutions brought to the frontlines are the best possible solutions? No. Why? Because managers aren’t allowing co-workers to come together to address an issue. Without collectively being able to focus on an issue managers deprive employees the opportunity to adequately show their customers that they are valued, important, and a priority.
Developing careless solutions can cause confrontation between employee-client relations, which can be destructive. Confrontation is one-sided, negative, and almost impossible to resolve. Conflict can be constructive. Conflict is double-sided, allows growth to take place, and can always be resolved. Managers should encourage conflict to surface and discussion to be had. Although managers might not directly state that employees can’t express problems amongst one another, employees might refrain from discussing problems.
What happens if your manager or boss catches wind of your problem? Will they feel outraged because the entire department is discussing this one problem? Will they be frustrated because there hasn’t been a solution presented, yet the problem has trickled its way to them?
“Bring me solutions, not problems,” creates a negative notation throughout the office. This process might generate a sense of intimidation in employees. Enough so that colleagues will refrain from open communication with the worry that their manager might be brought the problem. This can cause a big issue within the company. When employees feel forced to constantly think on their feet you run the risk of them feeling pressure in areas where they shouldn’t feel pressure. You run the risk of a loss of clients due to lack of critical thinking and problem-solving. You also might run the risk of disengagement, which can lead to an increase in turnover rates.
If you look at the phrase, “bring me solutions, not problems,” and spend the time to dissect every possibility, you can start to see a potential trend of intimidation, insufficient solutions, increased turnover, and a loss of customer satisfaction. This idea of frontlines and leaders only wanting to hear solutions formulates this notion of a disorientation of priorities, diversity, acceptance, and importance.
We need to stop thinking of problems as a failure or something that’s holding us back. We need to start thinking of problems as something that’s guiding us to success. Discussing problems, being open to problems, and accepting problems could be your business’s best solution. Don’t be the leader that claims they don’t have time for problems, instead, be the leader that is open to solving problems.