In the course of facilitating training for enlightened leaders the idea of fixing things comes up frequently. Our culture values the fix and most of our workplaces are centered on immediately fixing any problem that comes our way. The instant an event transpires in the workplace we immediately leap into action and look for ways to fix it. While I appreciate that issues need to be resolved, leaders sometimes perpetuate workplace problems by forgetting to look a little deeper before they offer a fix.
Sometimes it’s the process of working on the issue that generates better results than a hastily constructed fix. The next time someone comes to you with a problem, consider the following ideas:
- Listen carefully, without interrupting or offering advice.
- Give yourself permission not to fix anything at the onset.
- Let the person talk with you freely and give them the room to do so.
- Even if you disagree, try not to react negatively, rebut or become defensive.
- Learn to recognize the things that trigger your feelings, including defensiveness or frustration.
- Offer to listen to the person again in the future.
- Always behave calmly and kindly.
When you listen instead of immediately searching for a fix it changes the whole dynamic in your workplace interactions. You get to learn what your employees and co-workers really think and connect with them on a deeper level. This approach is different because it requires that, instead of talking or jumping in, you encourage people to share what they find meaningful. You also allow the space and time so that people can generate solutions autonomously rather than by being directed.
You don’t have to spend vast quantities of time or endless conversations on this method. All you need to do is sit back and support people so that they are more likely to come up with creative ideas. You’re promoting a workplace environment that genuinely values people and gives them the power to arrive at their own solutions. What will you do to avoid the quick fix?