Years ago my husband and I had a habit of asking each other “stupid questions” when we were working together. Questions like, “Are these cookies done?”, or “Do you think I should schedule another person?”. It became a running inside joke for us, and is still a reminder that we the tendency is to look up for the answer. Its a harmless habit unless you are leading people. At some point you need to train someone to answer the questions that come to you if you want to grow. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I used to have my team trained to come to me with every problem that came up. It was easier I thought to just answer the questions and fix the issues than to take the one extra step to empower and teach.
What ensued was the slowly moving avalanche of stress and overwhelm for me. Through my weak leadership I had trained my team to come to me for everything, and came to me they did. The problem was that most if not all of the issues were normal problems, part of doing business, yet because I had not empowered the team, they became mountains rather than molehills. Instead of fixing the issues at the base level when they were happening, they had to move through the chain and in the process they either grew or got lost, causing even larger problems. The guest who was unhappy with their meal had to wait for them to find me and tell me and then wait again for me to talk to them and the issue to be fixed. The oven that was not heating to temperature, so was not getting used, so the baker was taking double time to do his job, resulting in overtime and not enough product to sell, had to wait until someone had time to tell me. All of the little daily problems that came to me, as well as the bigger ones that needed to come to me, had turned my job into “firefighter”. I don’t want to fight fires, though if needed I do. Instead I teach my team to nip it in the bud, to douse the issues when they are little, to look for the solution instead of the problems, and to see problems for what they are, a part of life.