In conversation with a coaching client, he was lamenting about a particular team member who had recently resigned. This action had come as a surprise to my client. But as we discussed this situation, it became clear to me how the environment my client had created for his team was unproductive and not focused on results. It seems the team member experienced limited growth, little challenge, and was stifled and restricted in the impact he could have in his role. When the call came from a former colleague to explore an opportunity in a different organization, he jumped. My client now realizes he could have prevented the departure. In addition to the loss, he must now also devote time and effort to locating, assessing, and hiring a replacement. Then he must take time to train the new person and ensure they have a chance to provide a return on the salary invested. This situation gave me the opportunity to help my client explore the specifics of the environment in which his team worked.
What he learned was interesting:
• Decision-making checkpoints that were created several years ago in response to under-performing associates were still in place even though players had since changed and were performing above expectations. The obsolete checkpoints created undue restrictions and needless meetings.
• Weekly staff meetings that were originally created to ensure new team members were fully informed were still required even though the average tenure had grown to 4 years. These meetings became a waste of precious time where no new information was shared.
• In the past, several tasks and reports were developed in response to internal needs for information. Today, even though this information is available on the company intranet for anyone who is interested, my client’s team still spent over 30 hours per month preparing reports no one actually reviewed. As a matter of fact, the information is about services which account for less than 5% of the company’s overall revenue! Understandably, my client was disappointed by his performance as a leader when he realized these new insights.
As one of my mentors says, “Sometimes you win, sometimes you…learn.” My client learned a lot of valuable lessons through this review and is now laser-focused on improving the environment his team has operated within for the recent past. Positive changes will be made. It is safe to say, all of us have some practices, policies, and procedures we require our team to follow, that provide structure and direction for our organizations. But if we are honest, we will admit that some of these rules are stupid!
You are probably thinking of one or two stupid (or at least questionable) rules as you read this! That’s good; this is my intention. Be aware – your next thought to this insight is important! If you say there is nothing you can do about it, PLEASE think again.
If you are in a leadership role of any kind, you can (and must) influence others to take particular actions and achieve certain results. The key word in the last sentence is “influence.” You have a choice to be a victim of “circumstances beyond your control” or you can chose to be proactive and make changes. You always have a choice.
What will you do?
• Will you risk losing high-performing team members due to a stifling work environment, or will you change something and attract people who can’t wait to work with you?
• Will you risk restricting the impact your team can have, or will you remove some of the rules that just don’t make sense at this point in time?
• Will you be satisfied with a team who complies with the status quo, or will you empower them to really make a difference? You always have a choice. Best regards, Bill