Stop Babysitting: Four Steps to Building a Team of Problem-Solvers

Do you ever feel more like a babysitter than the owner of a business? 

Do you find yourself unable to focus and spend time working on your priorities because you’re so busy answering questions and solving problems for your team? 

Most business owners go through this, and many of them accept it as “the way things have to be” when working with employees. 

But it doesn’t have to be the case. Sure, there will always be situations in which an employee is in over their head and needs your help or help from your management team. But there’s a lot you can do to create a culture of independence and problem-solving, so that your employees become more self-reliant and less dependent on you and your management team. Here are four ways to make it happen:

Empower your team. Let your employees know that you have confidence in them, that you trust their judgement, and that you want them to solve problems and think critically. Many employees come into a job and assume that their boss doesn’t trust them and wants to micromanage them. Let them know that this isn’t the case. Give them room to operate and let them know what situations need to be escalated to you, versus what situations they can address themselves. 

Don’t make employees afraid to fail. If your team is afraid to make a mistake, they’re never going to grow. It’s up to you to create an environment where employees feel safe stepping beyond their comfort zone. If somebody makes a mistake, don’t yell at them! Help them to critically think through the situation and prepare them to make a better decision the next time through. 

Teach principles in addition to processes. It’s important that you have processes and procedures which govern the way work gets done in your organization. But at the same time, it’s important that you teach the principles that guide your decision-making process. It’s inevitable that situations will arise that take your employees outside of the norm. When that happens, if they’re 100% dependent on processes, they’ll be stuck. But if they understand the underlying principles, they have the ability to think critically and solve the challenge without coming to you for help.

Physically remove yourself from the equation. Sometimes, the most effective way to force your team to become independent is to force it by physically removing yourself. If you’re always in the office and always accessible, your team will often default to asking you for help whenever the slightest challenge comes their way. You can start by simply closing your door at times, and letting your team know that they should only interrupt if there’s an emergency. As they adapt, do this more frequently. And then begin spending time outside of the office. You can still make yourself accessible when there’s an emergency – but physically removing yourself will encourage your team to solve many challenges without coming to you. 

Building a strong, independent, self-reliant team allows you the freedom to focus on your priorities – both in and outside of your business. Stop babysitting and build a team that knows how to solve problems on their own.