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Empower Your Team to Solve Problems

Empower Your Team to Make Better Decisions

by | Nov 23, 2022 | Asking For a Friend Featured |

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Use This Powerful Process to Empower Your Team
to Solve Problems on Their Own

How do you empower your team to solve more problems on their own?

In today’s Asking for a Friend from the PMI Rochester conference, David shares our very popular “9 What’s” coaching methodology to empower better decision-making and problem-solving. Read the original article here. 

The following nine questions will empower your team and help you to free up your own time and increase your team’s ability to think and problem-solve on their own.

9 Important Questions to Empower Your Team

Empower Your Team


1. What is your goal?

Start here to check for understanding and ensure that the team member has a good grasp of defining the problem.


2. What have you tried?

This question ensures you don’t spend time covering the ground they’ve already explored to solve the problem. It also requires your team member to make some effort before requesting help.

3. What happened?

Finish gathering facts by asking them to talk about the consequences of the solutions they’ve already tried. Sometimes just the act of talking about it will help them figure out a new solution.

4. What did you learn from this?

solve problems

Click the image for more detail on the 9 what’s process

With this question, you empower your team member by asking them to reflect on their experience. Often, the act of examining what happened and what learning they can draw from it will spark a new approach to solving the problem.


5. What else do you need?

This is a check to see if there is additional training or equipment they need.

6. What else can you do?

Now it’s time to empower your team member by having them generate some new options. When you ask this question, one of two answers usually happens. Your team member might say, “I don’t know” or they might offer some options, eg: “Well, I was thinking I could try option A or I could try option B.”
If they say, “I don’t know,” we’ll come back to that with question #9. Let’s assume for now that they offer some options.

7. What do you think will happen if you try option A? What about option B?

You’re asking your team member to explore the potential consequences of their proposed solution. This gives you insight into their thinking and helps them think through what makes their choices viable or desirable.

If they are missing a critical piece of information, you can supply it here without telling them what to do. Eg: “One additional factor you will want to know is that the customer considers that a vital feature.”


8. What will you do?

This is the critical step to empower your team member. As you helped them review the facts, reflect on what they learned, explore alternatives, and the consequences of each choice, the goal is for your team member to choose their solution.

Bonus Question

9. Super-Bonus Question to empower your team: If you get an “I don’t know”

Ask “what might you do if you did know.” (read the article in the comments for more on how to ask this well and why it works).

How about you? How do you empower your team to solve more problems on their own?

How Do I Ask Better Questions: Asking For a Friend with Chad Littlefield [VIDEO]

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


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