Stop Being the Go-To Problem Solver

Are you listening to teach or listening to solve?


As a long-time human resources leader and career coach, Julie Bauke tells us that when people came to her office, most of them simply wanted to be heard and to feel appreciated. While the conversation might start out about career paths or salary, it often comes down to: are your leaders listening to you?

Unfortunately, with the world moving at such a fast pace, it feels as if we have less and less time to engage and build relationships. Still, Julie offers some sound advice about preserving time while listening and empowering those around you to develop their own answers and solutions.

When I think back over my years in HR, when I think about the people that came in and out of my doors and the kind of things they wanted to talk about, it generally got down to feeling not listened to. Feeling that they were not being heard or appreciated, and it might sound like something completely different. It might sound like I'm not getting the raise I deserve. It might sound like a salary issue, but is salary really about feeling recognized and appreciated? It might be that someone looked at you cross-eyed in the hallway, or someone is sabotaging your work. That is still about being appreciated, being understood, being listened to. And so many times when people came into the HR department they really did just want to be listened to and when you would talk to them about taking action they would be like, "No, I'm okay. I just want to be listened to."

The world we are living in is moving at a record rapid pace so our ability and actually our open time in which to listen becomes more and more scarce. But here's what happens if every time one of your people come see you as a leader and asks, "How should I handle this," and you give them the answer, it's quick it's fast it's productive. But what you're really doing is you're teaching them is to come to you for all the answers. But, instead, if you say something like, "Well, tell me the situation. What do you think we should do?" and to let them step out and come up with a few solutions then talk them through those, you teach them to problem solve on your their own. So what you're really doing is you're preserving your time because you're teaching them that it's okay to come up with some solutions and try some things instead of every time have a question coming to you.

Pretty soon the line out your door is a mile-long with people who are afraid to go to the bathroom without your permission. So you can actually teach people how to be in your department and your organization by how you respond. If every time they bring up a problem you go, "Oh my God, I don't have enough time for another problem today," they know not to come to you for another problem. If, when they come to you with something they just want to run by somebody and you're looking at your watch every couple seconds, again, you're teaching them not to come to you again. What are you teaching people by your behaviors and your actions, your words and your music when they come to you as a leader? What are you teaching them?

Julie Bauke

Julie Bauke is The Chief Career Happiness Officer of The Bauke Group. She is as serious about your Career Happiness as she is her own — and she is deadly serious about hers.

She started The Bauke Group after a lifetime of bel...

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