To be a great manager, here are 16 questions you can start with instead of jumping in to solve the problem yourself:
- What do you see as the underlying root cause of the problem?
- What are the options, potential solutions, and courses of action you’re considering?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages to each course of action?
- How would you define success in this scenario?
- How do you know you will have been successful?
- What would the worst possible case outcome be?
- What’s the most likely outcome?
- Which part of the issue or scenario seems most uncertain, befuddling, and difficult to predict?
- What have you already tried?
- What is your initial inclination for the path you should take?
- Is there another solution that isn’t immediately apparent?
- What’s at stake here, in this decision?
- Is there an easier way to do what you suggested?
- What would happen if you didn’t do anything at all?
- Is this an either/or choice, or is there something you’re missing?
- Is there anything you might be explaining away too quickly?
What you’ll notice when you ask these questions is that most employees already have an answer (or several answers!) to a given problem. But they were uncomfortable with it, or they were worried about getting it “wrong.”
Part of asking the questions isn’t just to help them think through the problem more clearly, but also to help them realize they know more than they think, they’re more capable than they think, and that they’ve mitigated the risks better than anticipated.
Your job as a leader isn’t to just help clarify thought process – but to give confidence in their thinking.
As Wade says, “You’re trying to just help them get to that realization that, ‘You know what to do.’”
After all, a great manager is centered on building the capabilities of their team, not their own capabilities
Don’t solve the problem, yourself.