Making it Easy, Making it Hard

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“Organizations have way too many blind spots when it comes to management.  They often make the right things too difficult and frustrating, and make the wrong things too easy.”

–     Robert L. Sutton, in “The Biggest Mistakes Bosses Make When Making Decisions” (The Wall Street Journal, October 30, 2018)

It’s not like bosses or companies intend to do the wrong things, or make it too difficult to stop doing them in favor of the right things, it’s just an easy trap to fall into.

Sutton puts depth behind each of the four mistakes (it’s an article worth reading), which are: 1) Telling people they have a voice when they really don’t, 2) Not knowing when to slow down, 3) Treating “final” decisions as anything but final and 4) Using decision-making as a substitute for action.

The Journal also recently cited the reasons some companies succeed in declining industries and one key metric driving that success was employee engagement and development.

Contrast that finding with mistake #1 above, and you’ve got our starting point for success.  Talented and engaged employees with clear expectations and an even clearer understanding of their roles are foundation.  Managing the pace of change is important (#2), and we can add rocket booster to that by sticking with decisions (#3) until new information — really new information or feedback, not just instinct or “buyer’s remorse” — dictate that we change course.  Then, of course, we have to act (#4).  No times have ever called more for roll-up-the-sleeves leadership.  We earn respect when we’re decisive and inclusive.  We keep it and grow it when we’re actively involved in executing on the decisions.

The metrics need not be complex.  Simply asking ourselves and the team — how easy (or difficult) is it to do the “right thing” in our daily routine?  If the answer isn’t what we’d like it to be, look first at the processes (are they necessary, antiquated, effective or too complex) for the easiest answers.  If it ain’t the process, it might be the clarity of the expectations, and that’s on us.  If it ain’t the process and it ain’t the clarity of the expectations, then it’s the people — and there’s no more important decision a leader can make that having the right people in the right roles at the right time.

 

 


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