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The Manager’s Dilemma

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The Manager’s Dilemma

How to Empower Your Team’s Problem-Solving (Performance Development Series)

Irial O'Farrell,

15 min. de leitura
9 Ideias Fundamentais
Áudio & Texto

Sobre o que é?

Managers are great problem-solvers. But when they fix problems, they aren’t managing. 

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  • Applicable
  • Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples


Most managers expect to drop everything and jump into problem-solving mode when unexpected issues pop up. There’s just one problem: When managers are fixing problems, they aren’t managing. Managers must decide whether to be fix-it champs or to help their team members develop their own problem-solving skills. Executive coach Irial O’Farrell advocates the second choice: Teach your employees to handle problems as they surface so you can focus on your immediate and ongoing managerial tasks. She advises coaching your team members and confidently turning problem-solving over to them – and she tells you how.


Most employees can identify problems, but many struggle to solve them.

Often, employees ask team managers to answer questions or fix problems they should resolve on their own. These employees can identify problems, but can’t solve them, in marked contrast to managers, who usually are good problem-solvers because they have to be. 

An employee's inability to figure things out and to fix local problems has a negative impact on their team’s productivity. Team members waste their manager’s time when they expect the boss to set aside managerial tasks and ride to the rescue.

In this context, a problem usually relates to an unresolved interruption or delay in the team’s work that impedes its ability to attain its goals. For their employees’ welfare, as well as their own, managers need to coach their team members to develop problem-solving skills, so they can discuss and tackle these issues themselves.

Your employees want you to solve problems; instead, teach them how.

Managers who try to solve employees’ problems can create an unfortunate pattern in which staff members don't take ownership of the issues...

About the Author

Ireland’s first and currently only Change Management Institute-accredited Master in Change Management, Irial O’Farrell is a leadership-development trainer and executive coach. She also wrote SMART Objective Setting for Managers: A Roadmap and Values – Not Just for the Office Wall Plaque: How Personal and Company Values Intersect.

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    D. K. 6 months ago
    Informative take away.
  • Avatar
    D. K. 6 months ago
    Informative take away
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    J. M. 7 months ago
    I like the summary