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One Thing Every Manager is Praying Their Employees Will Do

One Thing Every Manager is Praying Their Employees Will Do

One reason startups are difficult places to work - besides the crushing workloads and lack of resources - is that people are doing things for the very first time.

So, when people come to me asking how to solve a problem, my first thought is often, “I don’t know.” After all, the person working on the project has just as much information as me  (if not more). I hear them out and then ask, “What do you think we should do?”

[Related: 4 Ways to Master your First-Time Manager Role #LikeABoss]

If they don’t have an answer, it can feel frustrating, because it seems like they want me to do the problem-solving for them.

Chief Product Manager at FinTech Startup Climb Credit, Sara Jeruss, has another, better, way to approach your manager with a problem. Make a decision and then check in. For example, “I think we should do XYZ, and this is why…” It offers a proposed solution and shows that you’ve considered other options.

If you use this approach, you will be viewed as extremely competent. This is basically what every manager is praying their employees will do.

Then, one of two things will happen. Your boss might say, "Yes, sounds good!" and you can do what you want to do. Or, your boss will tell you what they want you to do (which is what you wanted to know in the first place). Either way, you get credit for being a problem-solver.

[Related: 8 Steps to Project Success, Even if You’re Not a Project Manager]


Jane Nevins is the Chief of Staff at an early-stage startup in New York City. She manages the teacher recruitment and training programs, which include operations, marketing, product, and program management. Her company, YiYi English, hires teachers to deliver one-on-one online English lessons to students in China.

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