In a prior culture tip, I recommended that when an employee comes to you with an issue or concern and is seeking your answer, your best bet is to ask, “What do you think?” This is the first step. And the second is to say as often as possible – without preface, without tweaking the idea and without saying that’s what you were thinking – “Great idea!”

Your temptation will be to then tell them HOW to do it. Remember, you didn’t go through all of that effort to hire bright, intelligent, innovative people who like to problem solve and take initiative only to tell them how to do their job.

The third step is to inquire “Describe to me how YOU and your team would implement this.” This way even the solution process doesn’t have to come from you. You want a culture where your employees take on the challenge of their own quandaries, throw out well thought out ideas (ones they may have even already vetted with their peers) and really make an effort to problem-solve before they ever get to your desk. And viola! You have employees who are not only creating but also implementing viable solutions that don’t have to go through a bottleneck. This leads to tremendous efficiencies as well as a sense of ownership and pride by your employees.

And for clarity, if you see a significant flaw in the solution or the plan point it out. Just ask yourself first, is it mission critical that I point this out, or can they learn this one on their own?

Especially for our Culture Tip Readers:

If you subscribe to our “Culture Commitment Club” in the month of September, not only will you receive a new fabulous culture improving tool on the first of each month in your e-mail in-box for only $27/month (each tool purchased individually is $57), we will also send you the tool “How to Hire the Right Person.”

Note that you can cancel your subscription at any time.

photo credit: