Q: My team hit a snag on a job while I was away. Instead of resolving the issues and moving forward, they let the job sit until I returned. Why isn't my team able to do anything without me being there to oversee it?

A: Your complaint is common among team leaders, and my response is always the same:

You must become the question instead of the answer. Your team members let the job sit because they're used to you being the one to fix things; the one with all the answers. Truth is, you can't afford to be doing all the thinking and all the resolving; there simply isn't enough of you to go around. You must grow your team by:

  • Becoming the question — literally. When someone from your team comes to you with a question, ask what they would do if you weren't there to provide the answer. Then give them direction where necessary and send them on their way to implement the solution. This will teach them how to think for themselves.
  • Delegating more to your team when you are there and getting them involved in thinking and planning around everyday snags. This will give them more confidence when a trouble spot arises and you aren't there to fix it.
  • Ultimately, you must have people who can think, come up with a solution, and implement it. This doesn't mean you don't have a say in what those solutions are, but you don't have to do all the thinking and planning. Your jobs move along more steadily and your team grows, too. — Clay Nelson is a business coach to contractors nationwide; www.claynelsonlifebalance.com.