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Career Q&A | By Liz Reyer, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Q&A: Helping an employee diversify problem-solving skills

QThe leader of one of my company's major operational units sees reorganization as the solution to all of the challenges we face. How can I get her to broaden her management skill set and find other solutions?

AIt's up to you to define parameters for her management decisions while providing the mentoring and training she needs.

The inner game

Check your baggage. You may feel like taking over out of anger or frustration. You may be feeling helpless and resigned. Such reactions interfere with your ability to help your manager, so identify and address them.

Understand your role. People tend to model their behavior on what they observe — so look at your leadership style. Consider whether you employ versatile problem-solving techniques. Take ownership of any aspects of the situation that you created.

Think broadly. This manager is one part of your team. How does the entire system fit together? Assess the group's communication style and risk tolerance.

Have a vision. Know how far you think this manager could grow, how much you're willing to invest in her, and the outcomes you'd like to see.

The outer game

Share your perspective. You owe this manager a candid assessment of her leadership skills, delivered in a way that helps her be open to advancing her skills. Be specific about times when her reorganizations have led to less-than-optimal results, and suggest strategies that might have been more effective. Make it clear that you expect her to focus her problem-solving.

Recognize her successes. Reorganizing a business unit or department is sometimes the right step. If this has been the case, acknowledge it to her.

Provide resources. Consider a "360 feedback assessment," which will give her feedback from you, her peers and her direct reports. Help her find a mentor who has the right skills and temperament. Classes or workshops may be helpful.

Provide ongoing feedback. Now that you've opened this topic, continue discussions. Be observant so you can offer specific comments, and be constructive and concrete. Notice successes, even small ones, as well as areas that need continued attention.

The last word

As the boss, it's your responsibility to rein in managers who are going down the wrong strategic track. Understanding your vision and building more in-depth communication will help you build this manager's and the team's success.

Liz Reyer is a credentialed coach with more than 20 years of business experience. Her company, Reyer Coaching & Consulting, offers services for organizations of all sizes.

Q&A: Helping an employee diversify problem-solving skills 02/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 27, 2009 2:47pm]
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