Sometimes accepting problems or work from subordinates seems like the easiest way to take care of the immediate situation but in the long run, it will only cause complications. Taking problems out of the hands of subordinates does not promote their growth, and it can diminish your effectiveness. The manager who takes on too many of these problems will find less and less time and energy available for managerial tasks.
Place the responsibility where you want it
You may want to say something such as, “Okay, Janet, let’s see right now what we can do with this problem. Maybe we can solve it together. At least we can both see it more clearly. But when we’re finished working on it, I want you to come up with the finished product.”
Set a timetable for the other person
“Have we looked at all the questions? I guess we don’t have an answer yet, but we’re closer to it, don’t you think? Now, how about keeping me informed on your progress? Would a week from tomorrow be time enough for you?” The schedule for reporting back to you reinforces the fact that you expect the subordinate to assume responsibility for the problem once more.
Let go of it
Even when you’ve handled the situation adroitly during the interview, you may still have a lingering anxiety, thinking “I wonder if she’s really clear on how to deal with it,” or a vague sense of guilt, feeling “Maybe I could have pitched in a little more on it.” Since the whole idea is that the subordinate has to come up with the result, answer, or understanding, the logical next step is for you to forget about it temporarily. You’ve made a note of when Janet is due to come back and report to you. Now it’s time to turn your attention away from Janet’s problem to yours.