AS MANAGERS WE ARE RESPONSIBLE for the quality outcome and performance of our team. When things don’t work out as planned or mistakes are made during the project what do you do? Do you start pointing fingers, blame others, or do you get solution focused?
The term comes from the discipline of Solutions Focus (brief) Therapy (SFBT), but has been applied to the corporate arena for well over 10 years and basically as the title reads, focuses on future solutions rather than past blame.
This method may be challenging, but managers need to look at the objectives and not the people, in order to resolve issues quickly. It also means that if there is any blaming to be done, it will only be the action, that caused the problem, that gets scrutinised, rather than the people. Blaming others creates a habit of justification, or worse, the moving of blame, rather than focusing on the solution.
Solution focused managers set a great example on what type of culture that is allowed in their organisation. Suppose, an employee made a wrong call on a project, but instead of their boss reprimanding the employee in public or in private, the manager instead focuses on what went wrong and what they can both do to move the project forward and learn from this error. This would have a totally different result on morale, loyalty and future staff performance.
So what are the steps to become solution focused within a project?
To start, roles and responsibilities need to be defined; managers need to be able to communicate the objectives clearly. The question “who will do what by when?” needs to be answered. Next, boundaries of what is allowed and what is not allowed to complete the objectives must be defined. Finally, a clear deadline should be defined.
Should something arise during the life of the project, the manager should look at the action that caused it and find a solution, by taking the time to talk with team members about whether a better action could have been used to achieve the objective. It’s important that managers allow their staff to come up with the answers as much as possible to encourage empowerment and future problem solving.
So, next time you incur a problem in your project, get solution focused. Ask yourself, “What solutions should we be focusing on?” You’ll not only fix the problem faster, you’ll build a higher engaged workforce.