How to Coach Millennials to be Problem Solvers
“Be a solution provider, not a problem identifier.”
~ Danita Bye
As National Sales Manager for our medical device company, I had a “hated” best practice. I would thank the problem identifiers for bringing the issue to my attention. Then I’d give them an assignment, “Come back to me with at least three possible solutions.” I was clear to let them know that these solutions didn’t need to be great solutions, just possible solutions.
Initially, the problem identifiers gave me their best roll-their-eyes response – they were hoping I would solve their problems for them. However, over time, they became more receptive to this approach. I was not only listening to their concerns, but I was also giving them an active role in the solution. What’s been your experience with this process of empowering your team?
Why three? It’s relatively easy to come up with one solution and call it a day. However, rarely is that first, single idea, the best idea. We often take the fast lane when it comes to solving problems. A deeper, more comprehensive, let’s-get-rid-of-this-problem-forever approach, yields better results. If we have three possible solutions to work with, we almost always come up with a new, brilliant option that’s even better than the initial three. That’s synergy in action!
Be a Solution Provider is the second action step to strengthening your Sisu Spirit.
Business Leaders, here are some tips to coach your Millennial team members to become Solution Providers and help you accomplish your business growth strategies.
Problem identifiers are a dime a dozen. Positive agents of change are those who notice problems and move to thinking and talking about solutions.
- Focus on the root problem, not the symptoms
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between root problems and symptoms. Ask yourself if there’s a cause-and-effect relationship. I once read this simple, yet clear definition of the difference between problems and symptoms:
- Fix the process, not the people
It’s easy to complain about the mistakes others make – we’re all human. However, the longer-term fix is to think about how to strengthen and streamline the process so the mistake happens less frequently.
- Foster creativity
Think about some of the greatest inventions: wheels, electricity, many modern technologies. They all exist because someone saw an opportunity to solve a problem.
In our leadership, sales and entrepreneurial coaching and mentoring of millennials, let’s build a team of problem solvers. Our businesses need them. Our culture needs them. Our families need them.
Leadership question: How might you coach those around you to be problem solvers, not just problem identifiers?
Leadership lesson: Positive agents of change are those who think and talk solutions.