Ask your people to be solution-focused

A few weeks ago, I interviewed a soccer trainer about the way he leads his team. He beliefs the right behaviors are the basis to build the team upon. He decided to set three main rules for his team. One of them was: be solution-focused. When problems arise, when things don’t go well in the team, don’t become negative. Don’t gossip. Don’t undermine others. Don’t be a victim. Stay in a positive mindset, and think about how you can be part of the solution.

That is so true. Many conflicts, in organizations or otherwise, escalate because people contribute to the negative situation, instead of to the solution. Both parties don’t take the first step. They feel hurt, or harmed. They feel injustice is done. And then they feel entitled to get it fixed. By someone else.

As a manager, you probably experienced this more than once. You were expected to solve conflicts like this, after both parties escalated it to an unnecessary degree. Many leaders get irritated, or frustrated, when their people behave like this. They say: “my employees should feel more responsibility”.  Or: “people should take more ownership”.

But what it actually boils down to, is that they want their people to be solution-focused. What leaders don’t want, is employees who sit back and blame others, and wait for someone else to fix the problem. They want people to think: what can I do, to improve this situation? And of course, in the end people are better off when they take care of a difficult situation themselves.

I like what this soccer trainer is doing. He is not allowing his team members to be the victim, to spiral downwards in negativity. He demands his people to take charge, to be part of the solution. And yes, that is actually hard work, and sometimes we need a kind reminder. It was for me, and I hope it is for you, too!