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Letters to a Young Manager

No Problem Identification Without Recommendation, #27
LTYM > Managing People -- How to Begin

Dear Sophie,
I agree that hearing continuous complaints from your team can be wearing if not demoralizing.

One of the IT Managers on my Wall Street team came to me regularly to say we lacked the systems to provide support, especially as demands ran into the evening hours. His litany usually included negative comments about the engineers who worked for another VP. "The systems are junk," he'd say.

He never had a solution to offer, no options or recommendations for what to improve. So I stopped it by creating a simple rule: "there will be no problem identification without recommendation." If he started with the familiar litany, I'd send him back to his desk to put pen to paper and write up a specific recommendation for change--preferably more than one!

People got the message. They'd team up and come back with proposals. Then I'd decide what we could fund, and give them a green light to implement it.

Notice how the situation changed? We were now in solution mode rather than complain mode.



No problem identification without recommendation

Discussion Questions:

1) What complain mode script have you heard regularly?
2) How would you reply to the statement, "You're the manager; you solve it."
3) What if your department cannot afford the recommended change; what's your next step?

For Further Reading:

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