Don’t Fall Into the Bring-Me-Solutions Trap

Putting too many monkeys on his or her back is a common frustration of many people. This happens when a team member approaches the leader with a problem or issue (“a monkey”) and the leader adds it the tribe of howling monkeys on his or her back.

In “monkey management” methods, participants will often declare that their approach is to tell team members “don’t come to me with a problem, come to me with a solution.” This not only makes the monkey problem worse, it encourages moose to move in as well. Moose-on-the-table, like elephant-in-the-room, is an issue or problem that’s stifling communication and blocking a team’s effectiveness.

Lazy leaders asking for solutions are rotten coaches. If difficult problems had obvious solutions life would be easier for everyone. Tough issues call for open discussion, root cause analysis, and brainstorming solutions. Putting two heads — or a whole team — together and following a structured inquiry and mutual learning process will lead to new and unexpected solutions.

Summing-up: Get out of the zoo. Don’t fall into the bring-me-solutions trap. Develop your coaching skills and build a problem-solving culture to elevate your team’s solution seeking effectiveness.

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