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Help your team to help themselves

How to create a solution-focused culture is a key topic for managers.

When business pressures increase, stress and anxiety can increase dramatically.  

As leaders and managers, we know that one of our responsibilities is to solve problems and help our team to solve problems, But, managers regularly tell me they feel like they spend more time hearing about problems and helping the team solve them, rather than other important aspects of their role.

If this sounds like you, then it may be time to take action and create a solution-focused culture.

A great starting point is to ask yourself some questions:

  • Is it the same team member coming to you with problems?
  • Is it the same problem each time?
  • Are there specific times of the year that this increases?
  • Is there a pattern in the team?
  • Are there members of the team that bring solutions and not just problems?
  • If so, what are they doing differently from the other members of the team?

A manager that I have recently worked with, shared a story about a developing duty manager of a recreation centre, who was requiring a lot of time and focus to help them solve problems.

I am not advocating that you ditch your responsibilities in developing your team,  quite the opposite. In my experience, and the duty manager is a good case study, developing a solution-focused culture is developmental.

Yes, it does take time initially. However, if handled well and consistently, it is more likely to save you time eventually. Let’s face it, the likelihood is that you are already spending a lot of time giving the solution to the problems, so it may take less time than you expect.

Bring me solutions, not just problems

Creating a solution-focused culture requires action from you and here are a few tips to help you.

The How

Attitude: foster a culture that seeks solutions, and adopting this mindset changes how problems are viewed. It also encourages a creative thinking approach.

Questions: sometimes a solution may not be obvious, encourage the team to ask the right questions and that they hear and respect the answers. Remember we have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

Trust and honesty: these two are essential in all teams, they are also crucial in a solution-focused culture. Remember trust and honesty goes two ways, gaining it from the team and giving it to the team.

Action taking: don’t waste time talking about the solution until it is too late to take action. Empower the team to act. If they develop a mindset of ‘How can I’, rather than ‘Can I do’  they can shift their approach into a more positive mindset.

Tolerate mistakes: I am not advocating taking an in-active approach to discipline. Create a culture where mistakes can be made. However, the essential aspect is learning from mistakes and doing things differently next time.

Reward: when you are observing team members solving problems proactively, publicly confirm and reward this. Humans don’t usually form new habits unless we feel rewarded. Acknowledge the ideas and actions.

Model behaviour: be willing to listen to different ideas on how to handle problems. Just because you are the manager or subject matter expert you do not need to provide all of the answers. Listen to them, and do not become defensive if they have new ideas or challenge ideas that you have.

Liane Davey, the author of The Good Fight, says that ‘talent is attracted to possibility, opportunity, and agency’.

It is highly likely that if you do not develop a solution-focused culture you will lose good team members if the team is focused on the ‘why it can’t happen’, rather than ‘how it can happen’.

Reflecting on the duty manager case study, they are now more independent in their problem-solving and have implemented new solutions that have increased productivity and efficiency in the centre. The centre manager has more time to work on other aspects of their role, ultimately achieving the goals and objectives with less stress and anxiety.

 Your next steps?

Create a solution-focused culture, and encourage your team to bring solutions and ideas not just problems.

If you would like to discuss how you can work with us, and improve the  team and individual performance please get in touch Tracy-Anne Barker @ TA Barker Associates

Or book a no-obligation virtual cuppa with Tracy-Anne to talk about any questions you may have.

TA Barker Associates are a training and consultancy business specialising in Coaching & Training for Executives, New Managers, Supervisors and Team Leaders and Corporate Social Responsibility. With over 30 years of experience in the Construction, Retail, Recruitment, Professional Services, Charity, Public Sector, Training, Education, Supply Chain, Overseas Trading and Hospitality industries.

Founded by Tracy-Anne Barker, they help you maximise the performance of your business.

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