Coaching an Employee to Solve Problems in New Ways

Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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Sometimes an employee gets stuck while solving a problem. They try once and, when they fail, either give up or try again with the same method. You can help a direct report expand their tool set and consider new approaches with coaching.

o Start off by asking a few questions: What problem are you solving? What concerns you about it? What frustrates other people about it? Your goal is to get the person thinking about why their efforts aren’t working.

o Repeat their answers back to them. Once they understand why their plan of action is flawed, ask what else they might try, based on what they know about the problem.

o Encourage them to think about what type of solution would make sense for this type of problem.

Remember, your role here is not to provide answers. It is to clarify the questions the employee is trying to answer, push them to consider new perspectives, and help them reflect on what they’ve learned.

This tip is adapted from To Coach Junior Employees, Start with 4 Conversations,” by Jerry Connor

Here’s a direct link to dozens of other Management Tips.

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