In my last post, I talked about the importance of proposing solutions when you raise an issue.

The essential message was, don’t look to others to solve your problems. The flip side to that is not letting others dump their problems onto you. Managers tend to let this happen, especially by their subordinates.

In management, we are always dealing with problems. If everything always went smooth and there were no problems, we wouldn’t have jobs. It’s what we do, we manage.

Just because we’re in the business of solving problems, doesn’t mean we take on everything.  Time is our most precious resource, and often we waste it by taking on problems we shouldn’t.

If a subordinate comes to you with a problem, be careful not to take ownership.

This tends to happen more with junior level employees. Often they are afraid to make decisions and take action. The tendency as managers is to jump in and help the team member. Be careful, by jumping in to help, you may be doing more harm than good.

Empower your subordinates to make decisions and solve problems. If they continue to look to you for help, they aren’t learning and growing. We help our employees by not taking on their problems. We help them learn how to resolve issues on their own.

Build trust with your team members by letting them know it’s okay to make mistakes. Show empathy and offer advice, but let them know you expect they will resolve their issues. By not taking on their issues, you free up time to work on your management responsibilities.

For a great resource on this topic, see William Onken’s and Donald Wass’s HBR article here.

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