Empowering Your Team Through a Solution-Centric Approach

Newsweek Magazine
Every entrepreneur faces obstacles, but it’s not the size of the problem, it’s about your approach to dealing with it.
Solution-Centric Approach

If you’re a business owner or team leader, you’ve been here before: you have one team member with a concern that a colleague is not pulling their weight. Another team member feels frustrated with a customer they can’t please while yet another team member needs time off or has a salary concern. Of course, there are the usual problems with project scheduling, missed deadlines, building and vehicle maintenance issues, as well as the hundreds of other major and minor decisions you make every day. It can feel overwhelming, to say the least.

As leaders, you have two options when helping your team deal with problems. This first approach is to tell them how to solve the problem and hope they can. The second option is to work with them to find a solution-centric approach to their issue.

The Solution-Centric Approach

As a business owner for over 36 years, I have faced all of the obstacles a growing company faces, and there are many. Every entrepreneur does, but it’s not the size of the problem — it’s about your approach to dealing with it. With a solution-centric approach, the focus isn’t on the customer or the team member, it’s on everything. That includes the customer, of course, but also the team and their partners. A solution-centric approach centers on solving the problem and moving forward. Setbacks happen and egos may suffer, but the process requires learning from mistakes and not repeating them. As a result, the project moves forward. Also, by focusing your energy on developing solutions, you cultivate the mindset that creates success for the entire team.

Empowering Your Team

I chose to empower my team with a solution-centric approach and engage in their interaction. When a team member comes to me with a problem, I don’t tell them how to solve it. While there’s wisdom in experience, not every approach is best for every person. We have different strengths and weaknesses and different skill sets too. Instead, I ask them to bring to the table three solutions that they felt may resolve their situation. More than 90% of the time, the team member would envision three solutions to the problem and use them to resolve the issue.

The solution-centric mindset empowered my team and gave them ownership. Finding the solution gave them confidence as well as the determination needed to tackle the next problem and the one after that too. When you empower your team, you also prove to them that you trust their ability to problem solve and they’re grateful for that.

The Problem-Centric Approach Doesn’t Work

What’s the alternative to using a solution-centric method? It’s a problem-centric approach that can leave people feeling powerless. It also leads to wasted time and effort and a frustrated team who feels they need direction before they can make even the smallest decision. Once a person feels empowered, they own their mistakes as well as their successes. They learn the discipline and gain the mindset needed for success. We’ve been fortunate to have many former teammates go on to start businesses of their own. They used what we taught them in their new ventures and had great success in doing so. Try it and you’ll find that a solution-centric mindset changes your entire approach to leadership.