Back in 2012, I posed this question on the blog: When your employee comes to you with a problem, do you tell or do you ask? My point was that so many leaders have the tendency to “solve” our employees’ issues rather than coaching our employees to resolve the problems themselves. Over the years, I have discovered one very simple, yet powerful, phrase can make the difference. Ask: What do you think?
A powerful coaching moment
When an employee comes to you with an issue, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to provide an answer. Instead, use the opportunity to create a very powerful coaching moment. The chances are high that your employee already has a very good idea as to what the solution should be, and only really wants to discuss it with you and get your concurrence. When you ask “What do you think?”, you are opening the door for a dialogue that not only will lead to a solution, but will also build your employee’s self-confidence as well as enhance problem-solving skills. Truthfully, your employee probably is much closer to the situation than you are, and so can likely come up with alternatives much better than you can.
And if the employee really doesn’t already have a good idea as to where to go next, the question “What do you think?” pushes ownership back on him/her and forces acceptance of responsibility. Plus, it emphasizes a workplace culture that supports teamwork and accountability. So try this phrase “What do you think?” next time, and improve your coaching skills at the same time.
Well, I’ve given you my point of view, but as always, I want to hear what you think. Do you agree with my assessment of this approach, or are there good reasons that you should solve the problem yourself? Please share by commenting below.