Stop Fixing & Start Coaching

There is a phenomenon among newly-minted managers. When someone presents a problem, they often feel the need to fix it because, after all, they are now the manager.  Fixing presents two problems. First, they are adding more responsibility and psychological burden on themselves to know and do everything. Second, they are losing the opportunity to coach and nurture critical thinking among team members. 

Coaching skills are learned and one of the most rewarding aspects of leadership. It’s incredibly fulfilling to help others grow and reach their full potential, but certain habits might be keeping you from being a great coach. “Fixing” is a habit that gets in the way of coaching.  I’ve seen many leaders fall into the “fix it” mode instead of coaching or helping to guide critical thinking

It starts out innocently enough. A staff member stops by your office and presents a challenge and, with it, the expectation that you will fix the problem. That is a turning point when you decide to be a coach and a leader, or a fixer who is needed for every single problem in the department. My advice is to coach. 


Coaches and leaders are made, not born. It takes practice and self- discipline to not jump in and fix things, but healthcare already has a commonly used tool that can help managers to coach. That tool is SBAR which stands for Situation, Background, Assessment and Recommendations. This format helps staff members to efficiently and succinctly process the situation and efficiently communicate it. It 

When leaders jump in to fix, they’re not coaching and staff quickly learn that they can dump problems on their leaders without owning any responsibility for finding solutions. 

Catch yourself when you’re tempted to jump in and solve or “fix.” Be the coach, not the fixer. If you can master this, you’ll be building a healthier culture and a team of solid, critical thinkers. Want to become a better coach and overall leader? Register for Be the Leader Nobody Wants to Leave – 8 Transformational Skill-Builders for Busy Leaders. A new cohort starts May 20th with a short instructional meeting.

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