A lot of management folk I’ve dealt with have brought this up enough times that it’s worth talking about. I cannot stress how wrong this is, but I will try.

The idea is that if you bring up or voice a problem that you must also present a solution.

Any managers that say this or propagate this are practising weak management. They are not doing their job properly.

There are many reasons for this. Most important of all is that organizations that truly excel and improve have a policy of transparency and brutal honesty. Problems and concerns within an organization must traverse the entire management food chain.

In my opinion, bringing up a problem is the most crucial part, regardless of whether you propose a solution or not. Problems equal opportunity, and that opportunity ought to be shared amongst the team/organization. To assume that the person who finds the problem will be the best to solve it is foolish. Having the “no problems without solutions” policy leads to people bottling up problems until they’re able to draw out a solution. This leads to a collection of problems that should have been addressed a long time ago. You cannot afford to have people afraid to voice problems and in general their opinions.

Bringing up problems provides everyone a chance to collaboratively find solutions. Delaying problems simply magnifies them in the future.

The idea is not to create an environment where people are whining, no. The idea is to foster an environment where people are free to voice problems, and collectively discuss and solve them. So as a manager when you tell your team that they shouldn’t voice problems without solutions. You’re failing them. You don’t know what you don’t know, it’s okay to accept that.