Go on, admit it. You’re managing while hopping on one leg. This isn’t a criticism or a moral judgment, just a statement of fact.
I’ve worked with over 1,500 management teams, and I can’t recall one that wasn’t in some way consciously hobbling its ability to make high quality decisions.
We all do it, but over time we rationalize or compensate for the ‘hobble factor’, until eventually we become inured to it, and accept it.
Frankly, it makes my job as an external growth consultant easy, because to a fresh pair of eyes the hobble factor is usually startlingly obvious – and painful to watch. Calling it out, and working to remove it brings a quick and almost always financially impactful win.
Here are the five most common ways in which management teams hobble their ability to perform at a consistently high level:
1. Putting up with someone on the team who clearly shouldn’t be there.
This can be for any one of a number of reasons: not enough skills, a battlefield promotion, a legacy shareholder, the business has outgrown them, they’re the CEO’s favorite.
2. Poor communications.
Again, this can be for a variety of reasons: meetings not run well, personal agendas at work, too insular, “don’t bring me bad news” culture, to name just a few.
3. ‘Sunk cost’ mentality.
The management team are clinging to a practice or process not because it’s the best for the business, but because they’re so heavily invested in it. (This could be a specific product line, a pricing structure, distribution channel, a hiring practice, a commitment to a geographic or demographic market – again, your mileage may vary.)
4. Out of their depth / too lightweight a team.
The business has grown, but the management team hasn’t grown with it.
5. There’s an elephant in the room. Usually a ‘sacred cow’ that no one is allowed to challenge, or an individual or group dysfunction that must never be mentioned. It could also simply be a fact about the business or the marketplace of such glaring, damning, negative import that no one is brave enough to mention it.
So do yourself and your team a favor – call out your ‘hobble factor’, untie that strapped leg and after massaging the blood flow, enjoy the delight of managing on two legs.