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Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Well, what do you think you should do?"

When Dana, one of your team members, comes to you asking your help in solving a problem, you have several options, don't you?

You can:

1. tell Dana that he's on his own and he'd better come up with a good solution. After all, that's what you pay him for.

2. go ahead and tell Dana what should be done.

3. help Dana figure it out --

I like to say "well, what do you think you should do?"

Dana responds, "huh?"

I come back with "I know what I would do, but I'd like to know what you think you should do. Your idea might provide the best solution."

Dana says, "I don't know what to do. That's why I came to you."

Back to me, "OK, but you probably know more about this than you think. You probably have an idea about the problem. Let me ask it this way, 'if this were your company, what would you do'?"
#3 is my preferred approach (because you're so smart, you probably already knew that). Not only does it get Dana and the others thinking about solutions, he might have a better answer than mine like I mentioned above. After all, I don't have the corner on smarts, you know? If Dana doesn't provide the greatest possible solution, that's OK. At least he thought about it and I definitely want to encourage that behavior. Then I can gently help provide a possible answer or brainstorm with Dana to ensure he's involved in the solution.

Try responding this way the next time the opportunity arises. You can help empower your folks, help them start thinking more on their feet, and perhaps come up with a really great solution to the problem.


  1. Very well done. I really enjoyed reading this. There's a lot of food for thought in your blog. Thanks for sharing and for all the work you put into it.

  2. It's a good discipline for me. Thanks for your kind comments.


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