In any company that involves human interaction, whether through the sales of services or manufacturing a product, conflict is natural and problems are inevitable.  If everyone is working toward
the same mission, breakdowns in the systems don’t have to be alarming, life sucking experiences.  They should be opportunities for learning and growth.  In a former life, I managed well over a hundred people and millions of dollars in services.  Like many managers and leaders, I employed an open-door policy.  My policy had one caveat … If you brought me a problem, you must also bring me at least one potential solution.

This concept is incredibly simplistic but insanely impactful.  I can’t pretend to take credit for its invention.  I adopted it after I experienced one of my leaders employing it.  I still recall the sense of worth that I felt when a senior manager asked me for my opinion.  I’m sure he adopted it from a leader who made him feel the same sense of worth one day.  Isn’t it amazing how leaders grow leaders?!

Jeez, I just got started and I already digress.  Back to the issue at hand… This method worked well for two main reasons:

One:  Because the employees are the experts at their respective jobs, not me.   They know the inner workings of their role and responsibilities better than anyone.  Who better to propose a solution than the person who understands the issue and will be impacted by the resolution first hand?!

It’s important to respect everyone’s position, knowledge and well… their daily grind.  By listening to their potential solution, it lets them know that I valued their input and respected their contribution to the greater mission.  I didn’t always use their proposed solution but just hearing a different point of view helped me to make a better educated decision on the path forward to resolution and it further strengthened our working relationship.

Two:  Inclusion creates buy-in! (tweet this)  Have you ever heard the adage that if you want to get your children to eat vegetables, you have them help you cook them.  They’re more likely eat something that they cooked themselves.  Now, I’m not saying that someone’s value to the business and mission is comparable to kids eating kale.  I’m simply making the point that when someone is involved in the process, they are more likely to see it through to resolution.  Businesses are built on a series of resolutions. (tweet this)

It’s important to remember that as a business owner and leader, it is not your job to fix every little problem that arises.  It is your job to be a facilitator of solutions. (tweet this)

Ammie’s Assignment:  The next time an employee, member of your organization or even a customer brings you a problem, before jumping in to be the fixer, ask them to also present a potential solution.  Let me know how it goes.