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7 reasons people don't solve problems they should be solving

Do you find you are chased by problems to solve? It’s as if there’s endless amounts of issues and not enough people are solving them. Do you wish that others, especially people in your team, would solve more problems themselves rather than rely on you? Here are some reasons why they may not.


1. They don’t realise that’s what is expected

People don’t always hold the same perception of what’s required in a role as you do. Written role descriptions do not help people to understand nuances and aspects of the role that simply cannot be written down. This is especially the case for knowledge based work.


2. They're not confident

They are capable but are not confident and fearful of making mistakes. They might make an attempt at solving problems but will still come to you for reassurance. They are likely to take on your advice if you give it, because then they can’t be blamed if anything goes wrong.


3. It’s easier to ask you to solve it

Whenever there’s a problem, they come for your advice. You are very knowledgeable and experienced so you give them the advice and guidance. You have trained them not to think for themselves.


4. Their thinking has not been stretched

They are used to fixing simple problems but are not developed at putting in extra effort to think through more complex problems. Perhaps their normal response to problems is to react and fix symptoms. It’s not that they are not capable, they just need some encouragement, practice and coaching to think more thoroughly.


5. They don’t appreciate the significance of the problem

Some people may not see that a particular problem is significant enough to warrant their efforts. Perhaps they don’t see the downstream implications or customer impact. They may need help to see the bigger picture.


6. They don’t care enough

This is related to point 5 but also goes further. When people are disengaged, they don’t care enough to deal with problems outside the small box that they have decided to be their role. “It’s not my job” would be a common response here.


7. They don’t have the capability for the role

You have the wrong person in the role because of a hiring mistake or the role has changed such that it is now the wrong fit. Remember, it’s not that they’re incapable, just that their capabilities don’t fit the role.

We have a tendency to go straight to number 6 and 7 before considering other reasons. What might you need to do to 1) find out what is really going on 2) address the real cause?

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