Imagine you discover a significant problem at work; the kind you need approval from your boss to solve. So you work up a proposal, bring it to your boss, and wait for approval. You’re a problem solver, and that’s what problem solvers do, right? You find a problem and generate a solution.
But imagine that instead of giving your proposal the green light, the boss says “that’s a good try, but I’d like to go in a different direction.”
Now what? Many employees will be pretty irritated. (I’ve seen more than a few employees pout, backstab, become passive-aggressive, and even sabotage the boss’ solution). After all, you just created a smart proposal, with a good solution, and the only thing the boss had to do was say “yes” and let you do your job. On paper, this should have been a slam-dunk.
So what went wrong? First, we’ve got to recognize the natural desire to feel useful (something which bosses do share). Many bosses, like people in general, don’t want to be a rubber stamp; they want to put their own unique stamp onto a solution so that later they can reflect on this masterpiece and exclaim “yeah, I did that!”