How to Lead Stupid People

Stupid People

“How to Lead Stupid People” as an article title… Offensive, right? Who would think that the people that work with them are stupid?

Well read these statements:

“I was just promoted into management and am shocked at how stupid my employees can be. I give them directions and then they do 18 things I didn’t want. I’m getting really frustrated and curt with them. How do I make sure they do tasks the way I want them done?” – Actual question sent in by recently promoted manager (Source)

“My organization has tripled the number of employees I supervise, and I’m exhausted with how many stupid mistakes they make. I make every effort to train them, and yet they still manage to misunderstand nearly everything I say. How can I make the job to clear to them and not waste so much time with their mistakes?” – Yes, another real question sent into a newspaper! (Source)

Not only do people think that their direct reports are stupid, they are also willing to ask for advice about them… And “experts” are willing to answer.

But take a different look at the equation:

What if the reason that a team is “stupid” has more to do with the person in charge than the people on the team?

People Are Only As Stupid As Allowed

We are the masters of how we interpret the world. That’s why people can see the same glass as half full or half empty – the glass isn’t different, the perspective is. It’s a phenomenon called confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is a trick our brain plays, only looking for evidence supporting our preconceived notions or strongly held beliefs.

In one my first real jobs, my first manager struggled to identify three positive attributes in my first quarterly review. Right after that, I got the opportunity to do the same job for another leader in the organization. In three months, I was given a huge project to reduce attrition in a key area. It was successful and I was promoted to manager of the group.

  • Was I smarter while working for the second manager? No.
  • Did I make mistakes and fail while working for the second manager? Absolutely.

But for manager two, I was a capable and resourceful employee. For manager one, I was a total screw up. I didn’t act differently work any harder. The difference was in their perspective…

Do you think that the people who “work for you” are brainless? It likely has more to do with your view of them than their performance.

If Your Employees Are Stupid, That’s On You

Teams are only good as their combined abilities. Leaders aren’t always given the opportunity to pick the people, but they can shape a high-performance team culture. This culture encourages people to step up or step out. Either is fine, as long as everyone is rowing in the same direction.

During a promotion, I “inherited” a team that wasn’t doing so well. I interviewed the team. They were passionate and diligent about doing a great job, but the previous manager assumed their jobs were mundane and they must be “simpletons” (his words, really). He also didn’t deal with a single performance issue.

I took the following actions immediately:

  1. Started to promote the wins of the team
  2. Met with all the business partners to realign goals and projects
  3. Had a tough conversation with the person that was not performing their duties

The team’s performance turned around dramatically.

On Leadership and Culture

Shadow of a Leader

Did the team change? Not really. I didn’t rejigger their processes. It was really a matter of what I thought of the team. It’s the notion of “shadow of the leader.”

Essentially, the team will emulate the leader’s actions, and will be a reflection of the leader’s perception of the group. Think about a person you were in a relationship with that didn’t work out, then they end up great relationship. It’s likely they didn’t really change much.

What’s more likely is that they found someone that saw their inner greatness.

You shape how the people around you show up. Unless you are in a war zone (and research tells us sometimes even then), you control how great people show up.

You Can’t Fix Stupid, But You Can Fix You

What does this all mean for the stupid team that you are forced to lead?

It means if you think you are leading stupid people, look in the mirror. The likely cause of the collective stupidity of the team is that you haven’t answered/addressed some very important questions:

  • Do you really know what the team does?

    • Not just the “they process form 47” level, but the impact on the end customer or bottom line – if you can’t clearly articulate that, then how can your expect your team to know the impact of their actions?
  • Do you know how your team impacts and interacts with other teams?

    • Part of overcoming the label of “stupid team” is understanding the interactions between teams.
  • Do you know what motivates your team members?

    •  Not the fluffy stuff, but the underlying motivation – this insight enables you to see why they act the way they do.
  •  Do you know their strengths?

    • Far too often, leaders don’t really know what their team members’ strengths are – they constantly give them either crappy, mundane work or tasks they struggle with. I’m 5′ 1″ tall – if my manager gave me the task of being the center of a basketball team, I’d fail no matter how hard I worked.
  • Do you know what they want to do with their careers?

    •   Its vital to know what folks want out of the time they are working. Is it to be the manager, to get a paycheck, or to start his or her own business? All of those are awesome. This gives you insight into how you can work with them to achieve those goals and frame tasks or projects. You will really have to think about why you are assigning things (and to whom) when you’re assigning them.

Are the people on the team you have the privilege of leading really stupid? Probably not. A team being “stupid” has more to do with the leader than the members of the team. Everyone is masterful at something – it’s just a matter of finding out what.

  • A leader actively looks for the greatness in each and every person on the team.
  • A non-leader just complains that the team is ineffective because the people on their team are stupid.

Which one are you?

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Anil Saxena is a President & Senior Consultant Cube 214 Consulting
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Management vs Innovation: Take Your Pick

I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all. ~Alexis de Tocqueville

On Innovation

Let’s look at innovation. It’s uncertain, difficult to control, diverts staff from tasks and can be expensive and is the antithesis of what tends to drive managers. Don’t get me wrong I understand organisations can’t deliver on their existing commitments without strong and clear management.

However, experience shows us that without new ideas, products, or services companies soon become irrelevant as the market and society marches on.

Remaining Relevant

Consider for a moment if you will some of the big name companies who dominated the end of the 20th Century and are no longer with us. Innovation comes in many guises and although physical inventions tend to dominate our impression of what innovation consists some of the most important innovations are in the way we do things not just the products we make.

Whist you might be sleepwalking to perfecting your management system others are wide-awake innovating – check out The Idea Connection to see what is happening out there.

Even though every leader and every company knows they must keep moving forward and support innovation even the best can end up doing a poor job of supporting it. We blame “bad luck”, ”the R&D team wasn’t strong enough” or even “government intervention”.

Remaining In Control

However, we should look closer to home for addressable levers we can control directly. Often it’s the very managerial culture we have created which interferes with innovation the most. When management system are perfect companies enlarge but when they companies innovate they grow, adapt and thrive in a changing business environment. The effect is continued resilience and profitability in a volatile world..

“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” ~Peter Drucker

Essentially management is all about maintaining the status quo by enforcing budget control, time efficiency and certainty. They want immediate quantifiable results they can present to the board.

Not So SMART

This behaviour is encouraged by creating limited SMART objectives rewarded by incentives. When you throw into the mix the uncertainty of a creative process which needs time and money, managers start to sweat and find ways to prevent their reports from contributing; unless it’s in their spare time. Managers will say they believe in and want innovation, but their immediate concerns prevent them backing it up with concrete resources.

As shown by Johan Fuller and his University of Innsbruck team, a major inhibitor of innovation comes from a battle between motivational rewards and barriers arising from fear of exposure and a negative benefit-effort trade-off. The balance of this equilibrium flexes our intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to innovate or to play safe. Identifying which levers stimulate innovation and which stifle it are key to growth.

“I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” ~Bill Gates

Effective Innovative Teams

Effective innovative teams draw their members from multiple disciplines and company sectors. When they join they take of their “management hats” and are invited to contribute based on their personal expertise, knowhow and networks. Why not create company “hacker spaces”  where playing to discover may create your next massive product or service? Even if it doesn’t the mutual trust generated will be worth the effort.

To successfully engage managers in the innovation process, concrete value-based objectives and clear yet flexible outcomes must be identified. Finite affordable resources must be allocated and an agreed time-frame adhered to. Most of all, you have to be seen to value the Innovation Team. It’s their effort which needs rewarding not just the wins. For every ten ideas maybe one makes money. It does not mean the effort invested in the other nine was wasted (see The Edison Principle).

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” ~Milan Kundera

As Dale Dougherty says in his TED talk, ”Makers are in control” I would add a rider that, “Users are under control.” Do you want your company to be in control or used?

Your Actions Today

  • Were you involved directly today in your organisation’s innovative process?
  • How much resource and time have you given the innovation team?
  • Did you overtly value and affirm effort as well as wins?
  • Talk to your managers and try to sense their attitude to innovation and the pressures placed on them to resist it.
  • Reflect on your personal relationship with risk and innovation.

Recommended reading

The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge (Harvard Business Review) – Vijay Govindarajan & Chris Trimble

Gary Coulton is the author of the upcoming book “Your personal leadership book of days – avoid cookie cutter solutions by using your Adaptive Intelligence”. Get your free mini-version at HERE.

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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On Leadership, Feedback and the Fuel of Achievement

“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.” ~ Daniel Kahneman

The experience of giving and receiving feedback at best is a wonderful and enlivening experience, and at its worst can de-motivate and drive wedges between managers and their reports.

As Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman said “People join companies but leave managers.

So is it the sole responsibility of managers to look after feedback? This theme invites you as a leader to take a more global view of feedback by fundamentally re-framing why it is needed, how it is done, what might be the overall benefits, consequences which can arise and what is everyone going to do about it?

Leaders cannot work in a vacuum. They may take on larger, seemingly more important roles in an organization, but this does not exclude them from asking for and using feedback. In fact, a leader arguably needs feedback more so than anyone else. It’s what helps a leader respond appropriately to events in pursuit of successful outcomes.” ~ Jack Canfield

Feedback Gone Wrong

A major Achilles heel of typical feedback is that it is only viewed as an interaction between a manager and an individual report or possibly a team. It’s often one-way traffic and an unpleasant experience for those receiving feedback. Reasons for this may arise from poor manager awareness, poor training, pressure, etc. but perhaps the most pernicious is patchiness in the quality and quantity of feedback.

Interpersonal feedback functions best as an integral component of an organisation’s overall multidimensional communications system. The intention is to establish an atmosphere where senior management elicits information, opinion and perceptions from their staff, acts on them and reports back on their actions.

6-Stage Process for Feedback

Jack Stahl’s (Revlon’s CEO) 6-stage process for feedback aligns organisational conversations and manager – report feedback.

 

  Individual & Organisational Feedback
Stage 1 Value the person/people
Stage 2 Identify personal/organisational challenges
Stage 3 Provide targeted meaningful feedback
Stage 4 Identify and agree areas for improvement/development
Stage 5 Identify and agree benefits and consequences of improvement options
Stage 6 Commit your support and reaffirm person/staffs effort and value

 

Feedback is generally most effective when considered as part of staff engagement efforts as described by Gruman and Sacs in their research published in Human Resource management Review.

Setting the Tone

It’s vital for leaders to set the tone by encouraging an overall culture of open information exchange to develop (supported by robust and accessible HR & IT systems) making it possible to:

  1. Provide safe environments to build trust based on knowledge and rapport.
  2. Exchange authentic criticism and affirmative feedback
  3. Establish a cultural norm based on accepted feedback behaviours.
  4. Create feedback based on personal and organisational accountability

Steve Jobs says it all in his interview on managing people and the Apple ideas-based ethos.

He said, ideas always beat hierarchy.”

Re-framing Our Perceptions

If we re-frame our perception of and intention for feedback to mean honest, authentic, empathic, creative, effective  and productive conversation across an entire organisation then great things will follow.

Your Actions Today

  • Does your organisation have a communication system aligned with interpersonal feedback practices?
  • Do your reports get to provide feedback on you do you listen and do you act on it?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 most effective) do you know how effective your feedback to reports actually is?
  • Does your organisation act upon synthesised from all staff feedback?

Recommended Reading

Feedback Revolution: -From Water Cooler Conversations To Annual Reviews — HOW TO GIVE AND RECEIVE EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK – Peter McLaughlin

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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On Leadership, Anxiety and Stressful Decisions

Making Tough Decisions

So as a leader, do you feel like you are forced to make decisions much quicker and under more stress than you would like? Are you finding yourself in an anxious state when decision-time is near? And how do these decisions work out for you and your team?

Chances are that making great decisions while you are feeling anxious and stressed just might surprise you…

On Making Decisions

There is no escaping it: we all have to make decisions:

  • Some will be small and inconsequential whilst others will change the course of world history.
  • Some we can mull over and others must be instant; we may not get a choice.
  • The one thing we hope for is freedom to make decisions objectively based on best information and in a calm frame of mind.

But most often life is just not like this. We are faced with rapidly changing, high stakes emotionally charged decisions that fuel anxiety and over time cause emotional and physical stress.

Wouldn’t it be great to sit back let the anxiety subside and then decide? If you were a field commander faced with the possibility of being overrun by the enemy YOU DON’T HAVE TIME – DECIDE NOW!

“Neither comprehension nor learning can take place in an atmosphere of anxiety. ~Rose Kennedy

On Anxious Decisions

There is a strange but eventually understandable phenomenon where anxious decision makers are more likely to seek external advice, are less able to discern good from bad advice and will accept advice even from people with conflicts of interest. The greater the intensity of anxiety and stress the more driven to habitual and external advice we become.

Maturity is achieved when a person accepts life as full of tension.”  Joshua L. Liebman

Re-framing anxiety can free us from seeking questionable advice and making inappropriate habit-based decisions. Fear drives anxiety and when we misunderstand the physical sensations triggered by fear, excitement, uncertainty, time pressure and importance we view the decision from a skewed perspective.

On Living In Reverse

Well, the good news arising from the basic research of Soares and colleagues is that “Stress-induced changes in human decision-making are reversible.

For those of you with a neuroscience inclination the author’s general conclusion can be interpreted as “chronic stress biases decision-making strategies in humans toward habits, as choices of stressed subjects become insensitive to changes in outcome value“.

Using functional brain imaging techniques, they demonstrate prolonged exposure to stress in humans causes an imbalanced activation of specific brain networks governing decision processes.

Importantly and reassuringly, a longitudinal assessment of the stressed individuals showed that both the structural and functional changes triggered by stress are reversible and that decisions become again goal-directed once the stress is removed.

Stress As An Option

I can hear you saying something along the lines of, “but the stress never goes.” This may be true, but you can alter the way you perceive the stressors and adopt mitigating measures such as mindfulness meditation, yoga or tai Chi to offset the downsides of pressure and stress. All of these practices have been proven to reduce physical symptoms of stress.

Stress is an ignorant state.  It believes that everything is an emergency.”  Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind

Q: How can you re-frame your perception of anxiety generating situations? Let’s assume you can’t simply sit waiting for anxiety to subside or rely on advice or look for perfect solutions?

A: Don’t wait until you’re faced with high stakes instant decisions.

  • Start small and become accustomed to physically and emotionally sensing anxiety associated with small low impact decisions.
  • Appreciate the small buzzes you get next time you have to select from a complex menu, or your partner asks for a decision on which dress or suit they should buy. This is what I call “decision-making homeopathy.”

It gets you comfortable with the physical and mental sensations of anxiety. Then later up the stakes by taking notice of your reaction to decision-making in increasingly stressful situations until you know you can make decisions under heavy incoming fire.

Your objective isn’t to squash anxiety but to function effectively alongside it, doing what must be done.

If you don’t believe me then take a short while to watch Kelly McGonigal’s fantastic TED talkHow to make stress your friend” where she shows you that stress can actually protect you and help you live longer; it’s just how you view stress that matters.

Your Actions Today

  • On a scale of 1 to 10 rate your anxiety prior to, during and after today’s decisions?
  • Whose advice did you seek for today’s decisions?
  • Did this advice alter your decision?
  • How anxious do you feel others are when they make decisions (scale of 1 to 10)?
  • Did they seek you advice?
  • Did your advice bias their decision in your favour?
  • Did you make decisions based on habit or adaptation to new circumstance?

Recommended Reading

Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan by Francesca Gino

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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On Leadership, Growth and Doing it Anyway

Do It Anyway

Do you know that song by Martina McBride titled “Anyway?”  

In the very first verse of the song she says this:

You can spend your whole life building
Something from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway”

On Life and Making Lemonade

My husband graduated from college and spent 6 years in the Air Force.  Then we settled down in my home town to raise our family and he went to work as an engineer for a large company.  We raised 3 boys.

I began a business. We invested and began preparing for the day that we could retire. We seemed to be on the right track as a couple and a family.

But despite our best laid plans, life brought us some lemons. Our lives changed in directions for which we had not planned:

  • We did not expect that my husband would lose his job after 15 yrs
  • I did not anticipate that my business would begin to lose money
  • We did not know that our son would cost us everything that we had worked for (at least as far as the things of the world are concerned.)

Lemons, Lemons, and More Lemons

Our youngest son became involved in drug and alcohol abuse.  He spent 4 years going to jail, hospitals, and rehab. There were about 3 years that I did not sleep through the night in anticipation of a phone call from the police. I was never sure if they would want us to pick him up or identify his body.

To say the least, these were very difficult years for our family!

The courts held us financially responsible for the crimes that our son committed while he was a minor child.

  • We paid fees, restitution and hospital bills
  • We paid for couple of rehabilitation periods
  • We suffered emotionally, mentally, and career-wise

Because of the time away from work for court and family rehab sessions, my husband’s work performance decreased. When it came time for layoffs at his workplace, he was on the list.  When he lost his job, we lost our ability to pay for our home. My business began to fail and our property investments no longer rented for enough to pay the mortgage.

…More Lemons

As a result, we lost 2 properties, our home, and my business. We continued to fight to save our son. My husband finally found a job in a different state and he relocated. I had to remain where I was to close my business, sell the properties, and be with my son who was not finished with school.

On Making That Lemonade

Over time, my son finally completed his GED and got a good job. It took all the worldly possessions that we had, but our son is alive, healthy, drug free, and working.

After 18 months I was able to join my husband in our new home. I had to start over. He had to start over. I won’t lie, it was the most difficult time of our marriage. We became stronger than ever as a couple by pulling together for the sake of our family.

Although we were financially ruined, I can say with all the confidence in the world this:

Losing your fortune is not that big a deal. After all, it is just money. You can get more of that.

There is no battle more worth fighting that the battle to save a child. There is no amount of money that could change my opinion on the financial, emotional, and family decisions that we made. In fact, I would do it all over again for what we gained.

Keep Trying. It’s Worth It All

Now it is time to start building again.

Did I hesitate to start over? 

Absolutely.

Did I fear the idea of losing again?

You better believe it.

Is it going to be painful and difficult?

You better believe that, too!

Did it stop me?

NO!

There is nothing more painful than the thought of losing a child. Losing “stuff,” well that was easy by comparison. Your true success lies in what you put your hope in.

So, what sort of life-altering challenges have you faced that you were able to overcome? How did that build your character, your family, your relationships, or your business? Are you facing something now and need encouragement? If so, please connect with me and I think I can offer some sound personal advice. I would love to help.

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———————–
Phyllis Rodriguez

Phyllis Rodriguez is a Producer at Insphere Insurance Solutions
She serves as an Associate Broker, Short Sale and REO Specialist
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Web | Personal | 520-220-4021

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On Leadership, Playing Sports and Achieving Business Excellence

I have long recognized the strong correlation between having a history of playing sports and success in business.

And as a general rule, I have found this link to be remarkably evident in females.

Having competed in sports as a child and competing in the business world today, I know firsthand how valuable the experiences gained in sports can be.

On “Sporty” People

As a hiring manager, I often favor candidates who played team sports or engaged in other competitive activities in their youth. I find that the skills they honed on the “playing field” were often the very same that propelled them to the top of their game in business.

The most prominent skills are:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Perseverance
  • Discipline
  • Sportsmanship
  • Time Management
  • Grit
  • Punctuality

In my experience, “sporty” people are taught to stay focused on their goals. They have the motivation to continue following setbacks, and they know that success takes hard work.

Just the Facts

I recently found two studies that validate my experience and underscore the fundamental role that participation in sports plays in developing female leaders.

The most recent data is from a global survey commissioned in 2013 by the professional services firm Ernst and Young. This survey found that 96% of women in the “C-Suite” played sports at some level while growing up.

These survey findings are consistent with an earlier study conducted in 2002 by the mutual fund company Oppenheimer. The Oppenheimer study revealed that 82% of women in executive-level jobs had played organized sports after elementary school, including school teams, intramurals or recreational leagues.

It’s Not Too Late

If you didn’t play team sports as a kid, it’s not too late.

The study also showed that businesswomen exercise and play sports significantly more than the general population of women. Two-thirds of women business executives exercise regularly, which other research would show is close to double the proportion for the general population of women.

The data is clear and that is this:

Being sporty not only helps women succeed in business, it sends them straight to the top.

On Playing Sports

Consider the benefits of playing teams sports:

  • Teamwork:

Team sports teach athletes how to cooperate with others to achieve a common goal. Being able to work productively with a team is critical to achieving success in business. Being able to work on a team is a crucial part of my hiring process.

  • Goal Oriented:

As an athlete, you are always looking to improve your performance. It may be to run further, faster or lift more weight. Employers need workers that will work hard to accomplish their goals and continually “raise the bar.”

  • Perseverance:

Athletes learn that if you get knocked down, literally and figuratively, you can pick yourself up and keep going. People that persevere in business, work hard to hold themselves and others responsible for achieving business objectives. They don’t let obstacles get in their way.

  • Time-Management:

Child athletes learn at a young age how to balance school, homework and athletics. Employers desire efficient workers that are self-motivated and stay on task.

  • Competitive & Assertive:

Competitive activity teaches the importance of winning and bouncing back after losing. Engaging in competitive activity as a child may help women learn that it is acceptable to compete aggressively.

The “Ginormosity” of it All

Clearly, the value of engaging in physical activity throughout you’re your lifetime is enormous.

Hiring managers consider the benefits of hiring candidates with strong competitive and/or sports backgrounds? Individuals with a sports background, consider the skills you have gained and use them to help you garner success in business.

So did you play sports growing up? If so, what lessons did you learn that have helped you in business and in life? How has this background benefited you and those you lead? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————
Dee (Wolfe) Mahoney

Dee Mahoney is Founder and President of Career-Lessons, LLC
Dee is an Executive Coach and a Leadership Trainer
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog

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Does Counting Coins Make You More Money?

Technological advancements just keep on coming. And all the while we tout them as “more efficient” and “better.”

In many ways, though, the technologies seem to only take care of “keeping the lights on” tasks.

Wasting Our Time?

These are just mundane or routine undertakings that once “wasted” precious human time.

  • Are we really any more productive though?
  • What do these technologies do to our ability to collaborate and innovate?

Compare and Contrast

I recently took a trip to the grocery store with a year’s worth of change, and after about 30-seconds of dumping coins into a machine, I was given a total and a receipt for my 22 pounds worth of coinage. When I was younger, I would bring this same pile of change to the bank, and wait patiently while the teller spent 10 minutes counting it out. During this time, my parents would chat casually with one of the bank employees.

While this wasn’t a huge transaction, or even particularly important business for the bank, manually completing the task allowed time for relationships to be built between my parents (the customers) and various bank employees (the business).

Now the automatic coin-counting machine has replaced the teller for this task. Yes, that bit of technology frees up some time for the teller and allows him or her to “get more done,” but at the end of the day, is it really making any more money for the bank?

Getting More Done With Less

With all of these technological breakthroughs, most of us are able to be very self-sufficient in the workplace. We can accomplish dull tasks more quickly and more accurately than in years past.

With that tech-based efficiency, however, we’ve adopted this idea that the same amount of work can be done by fewer people – and therein lies the problem.

It’s true that technology allows us to be more “productive,” but what are the underlying costs to the organization?

No Bandwidth

A recent client of mine, an information technology group, reduced its team of database engineers from 55 to 45 employees. Because they are exceptional people with state-of-the-art technology, they were able to maintain the same level of customer and project support even with the reduction in staff. There was no noticeable drop off in performance or reliability. There were, however, some unintended consequences:

  • The team has little to no ability to take on new projects
  • Team member get over 400 emails every day, and that’s not including phone calls, instant messages, and texts
  • Career development is stagnant – not intentionally, but because there is no time to dedicate to it
  • Database interruptions, though rare, now take almost 30% longer to resolve

While the current workload wasn’t impacted, the reduced workforce left zero bandwidth available to take on anything outside of their narrowly defined roles. Customers were mildly disappointed in this lack of expandable service, and other IT teams found the group difficult to work with – because the level of stress (with no prospect of relief) has the team stretched tight like a drum.

Now What?

Instead of looking at how to get more done with fewer people, organizations need to start asking themselves, “what’s best for the company?”

In an emergency, sometimes layoffs can’t be avoided, but it’s worth considering that a team with adequate resources and enough members is far more capable of scaling to meet demand.

When every member of a workforce is operating at maximum capacity, there is no room for additional polish on a task, no room for an expanded market share, and perhaps most importantly, no time to devote to solving problems and innovating within the company itself.

Doing Things Better

Instead of looking for ways to do more with less, companies should simply be look at how to do things better. The push to “increase productivity” is a false measure of success, because efficiency is not necessarily akin to quality.

Productivity is not just accomplishing more with fewer resources, or in less time, but rather the collective result of taking on greater workloads, improving efficiency, and delivering a higher quality result at the end of the process.

There is an assumption that technology has made organizations more productive, but is this really the case? They may be able to get the same amount of work done with fewer people, but what about taking on more work? What about coming up with innovative solutions to customer issues? What about fostering relationships?

At what point does squeezing efficiency out of a company become strangulation? When does “trimming the fat” turn into cutting out muscle? How much staffing margin be in place to make sure your organization is primed for growth and opportunity? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Anil Saxena

Anil Saxena is a President & Senior Consultant Cube 214 Consulting
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | (847) 212-0701

Image Sources: kristeligt-dagblad.dk

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