When the Best Solution Is the Wrong One

Frustrated boy resting his head on a chalkboard because his solution is the wrong oneLet me ask the leaders a couple questions. Do you find yourself clearly stating what needs to be done in your team? When a team member has an issue, do you tell them the best way to fix their issue? If you are working through a performance concern with a staff member, do you make sure you make the perfect plan to remedy their situation? Sounds like a pretty good description of a nice manager. Unfortunately this “nice” manager isn’t all that effective.

Are You Getting Commitment from Your Team?

I am reading the book Crucial Accountability by Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzler. I came across their statement that “Effectiveness = Ability x Commitment.” The book goes on to explain the concept: “A solution that is tactically inferior, but has the full commitment of those who implement it, may be more effective than one that is tactically superior but is resisted by those who have to make it work.”

So, think of all the implications to this in regards to managing your team. You may have the superior approach but will you have the same level of commitment if they didn’t have a hand in creating the solution? Your team will always be more committed to a solution they had a hand in solving.

The Added Benefits

There are a flock of other benefits as well:

  • You will be able to better assess if they have the ability to do what is needed since a large part of the solution will be their idea.
  • You will be helping them to be better at solving issues, as they will have to think through how best to handle the situation.
  • Their morale will increase, as it has been proven that individuals who are able to work through their own issues have an increase in self-esteem.

I could go on, but I hope that I have sold you on the concept that the tactically better solution isn’t always the best solution.

The Best Tactics for Getting Great Team Members

Let’s talk about one of the best tactics for being a more effective leader. It is called the statement to question ratio. Simply put, you need to ask more questions than make statements. I am fond of the 80 / 20 ratio. 80% of the time, you are asking questions and 20% of the time, you are making statements.

The conversation doesn’t go like this: “Boy, you really messed this up. Next time, you have to make sure that you go through each of these steps so this doesn’t happen again.” It should sound more like this: “Well, how do you think that went? Yep, I agree, not our best day. How are you going to handle this next time?”

This is the type of conversation where you are really going to get that commitment. If you feel like you are doing this, take the statement to question litmus test. Are your people doing most of the talking (80%)?

It is tough being a manager, but many times we make it tougher than it needs to be. If you take this approach, you will soon be at a point where you are needed much less. Great managers are people whose teams excel—not people who are a crutch for the team. Make sure you are showing your team that you too have the ability and the commitment.

Next Steps

This article originally appeared on the Nexus Business Solutions blog on November 15, 2016.

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