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By Darryl Stewart

Your perfect solution is not perfect for me

Have you ever been coaching a staff member through an issue and somewhere along the way the perfect solution to their problem becomes obvious to you? You suggest it, but it does not seem as good to the other person as it did to you? This used to be a common experience for me.

I have learned the hard way that sharing my solution is not necessarily a great thing to do. When you just drop it out there with someone, the result is often not good. They don’t like it and say so and you feel judged; or they feel judged because they don’t like how the proposed solution reflects on them; or they accept it, but don’t seem excited about it at all and so they don’t follow through. Seldom does it go the way you think it will when you do all the problem-solving.

The dynamic is really no different than helping your life partner or a friend talk through an issue. We would be much less likely to just tell them what to do, right? If we are truly coaching and not just being the boss, there really is no difference. Joyce Odidison, a Winnipeg-based coaching trainer, says that the solutions we think up to solve the problems of someone we are coaching may seem perfect to us (the coach) and the way we think, but very often the person we are coaching would not solve the issue in the same way. Their wiring is different. They need to be given the opportunity to use their own wiring to create a solution that makes sense to them. The goal, according to Odidison, is to help the person come up with their own solution. One that works for them. We do this by asking questions and by encouraging the person to come up with their own solution. Once the person comes up with their own solution, we can help them flesh it out with more questions and comments.

The more the solution is the creation of the other person, the more they will try to make it work, the more they will learn if it fails, and the more capability you are creating in them. And capability in your staff means freedom for you,

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