Sustainable Solutions

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September 17, 2013

Many of the companies I consult with come to me with organizational ailments.

  • "Turnover is out of control. It must be because Joe is a bad manager. Let’s fire him."
  • "We need customer service training.  Our scores are slipping."
  • The Office Manager is condescending and rude to her employees.  We need to train the team on communication.

It never ceases to amaze me how quick organizations are to self diagnose and prescribe a quick fix remedy. The question is, are they using a band aide to prevent the spread of a virulent cancer?   Are they treating the root cause or just addressing the symptom?   When you go to the doctor with a pain in your chest, do they immediately give you medicine for a heart problem ...or, do they quickly conclude it’s just heart burn and send you home with Pepcid AC?   Absolutely not.   They run tests and collect information and history before prescribing anything.

As leaders, shouldn’t we take the same approach? In order to really address an organizational issue or management concern, we need to dig down and get a more complete picture of the situation. There are variety resources and tools available for doing this. Focus groups, survey instruments and individual 1:1 conversations are all great discovery tools. Bringing in an outside person with a neutral perspective is also useful from a variety of stand points. Employees and managers feel more comfortable to disclose information and it allows you as the leader to be the recipient of the information vs. the “investigator, interrogator or disciplinarian”. Once you have all the facts in front of you, it is much easier to target and address the core issue. The process may take a bit more time, but the end result will be more effective and sustainable.