Get Out Of The Weeds Or You May Get Wacked

I was surfing for some information the other night. I found what I was looking for in about 3 minutes. One hour later I was reading some article on training porpoises. How I got there I don’t know!… Actually I do. Threads from the first article kept leading me to other interesting articles until I landed on porpoises.

I recall similar experiences at work. It happened when I got involved in reviewing marketing and sales programs with my staff. Before I knew it I was right into the middle of designing the program…maybe even writing copy! It was more interesting and fun than dealing with some employee performance issue or customer complaint.

Ever Have This Happen To You?

Most executives I work with in my coaching business have some areas in which they invariably get caught up in the details of a situation rather than providing leadership. They take on responsibility for a task that really belongs to one of their people. It’s easy to get caught in the weeds. We all do it from time to time. When you are not providing the right level of leadership to your organization or you are doing some one’s role, you are not leading at your level. You know it. They know it. Others see it.

Whatever the reason, it is diminishing your value as an executive. It is robbing one of your people of the opportunity to learn and grow. It is adding to your workload.

You are shirking your duty. You are wasting your energy and intelligence that could be better utilized leading the organization to become more effective, more efficient and more successful…making it a high performing model.

It may be detrimental to your career.

3 Quick Tips For Leading at Your Level

  1. Write down the critical deliverable’s of your role. In a perfect world, where should you be spending your energies? A good place to start is your objectives. As a leader what is the true business value you bring to the organization in terms of its top line and bottom line? What is it that only you can do in your position that will make this team great?

    Examples are: setting vision and strategy; removing road blocks; creating a winning team culture; developing your people; motivating; staffing with the right talent; dealing with non performers.

  2. Be aware of the types of tasks, issues or opportunities that typically draw you into the details and pull you into the weeds. Think of past times when this happened. Just being aware will cause you to recognize when they arise. At first you may only notice when you are already involved. However over time you will immediately recognize the situation and take alternative actions. Be particularly vigilant in meetings in which you may dominate the discussion and drag it into the details rather than identify the deliverable and assign responsibility and accountability.
  3. Think about these situations as professional development opportunities for your employees. It will also enhance and strengthen your leadership. And free up your time to work on moving your team forward.

What Causes You To Get Bogged In The Weeds? Be Honest With Yourself.

      I have a natural ability in that area. It’s my expertise.
      So why not create other experts?
      Time is short. It’s critical. It won’t take long. I’ll just get it done.
      And what about the next time…and the next time…and the time after that?
      This is too important. I don’t trust him to do it right.
      Is there a competence issue here that you are ignoring or not acting on?
      It makes me feel good to show my expertise.
      What ego?
      She’s overloaded. I’ll just do it.
      Is this a professional development issue, resources issue or competency issue?
      I enjoy it!
      Then give up your real job.

By taking on others’ tasks or getting wrapped up in the details, what is the cost in terms of your personal productivity, leadership growth, and lost contribution to the organization?

Lead at your level.

Are Your Co-Workers Killing You?

Unfriendly, non-supportive or toxic co-workers can not only make your business life unpleasant and reduce productivity, they can reduce how long you live. A new study found that workers who felt they had strong supportive relationships with their peers at work seemed to live longer than those who didn’t. Co-workers who were friendly and helpful in solving issues contributed to this positive feeling.

Interestingly, whether the boss was supportive or not didn’t seem to have the same impact on a worker’s mortality.

Just Another Reason For Creating A Positive Team Environment

  • Besides the powerful impact it can have on your life span, obnoxious or poor peer relationships can impact business productivity and the bottom line.
  • Studies have shown that focusing solely on productivity leads to burn out, higher churn rates, isolation, sub-optimization, and eventually lower productivity.
  • It has been shown that organizations that build stronger relationships among their constituents create powerful ongoing improvements in planning, responding, and reacting to competitive and business issues. Trust, respect and constructive interaction are just some of the characteristics of successful teams
  • Toxic behaviors that are allowed to exist destroy good will, trust and respect. Many times, individual workers (at all levels) do not admit if they are uncomfortable with this behavior for fear of being seen as weak, not fitting in, or too sensitive. However, it is costing the company heavily in lost productivity and employee turnover…not to mention potential lawsuits. Toxic behaviors include name calling, sarcasm, back biting, stonewalling, exclusion, cliques, and inappropriate language.

What Are You Going To Do About It? Today?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Be aware. Look for the signs and behaviors.
  • Notice where you may be exhibiting some toxic behaviors: sarcasm, inappropriate jokes, put downs, silent treatment, ranting, etc
  • Have an open and frank discussion at your next management meeting. Ask HR to facilitate.
  • Survey your employees.
  • Create a simple code of conduct.
  • It might be a good time to review your organization culture. You may want to convene an off-site workshop to review and update what this organization is all about, and how as a team you can make a powerful impact on the working lives and productivity of your employees.

    The Study

    Kate Lunau in Maclean’s Magazine in Canada wrote about this new study from Tel Aviv University that was published in Health Psychology (a journal of American Psychology Association).

    • 820 workers were tracked from 1988 to 2008
    • From some of Israel’s largest companies including finance, public utilities and manufacturing
    • They worked an average of 8.8 hours a day
    • One third were women
    • 80 % were married with kids

Does Your Team Mirror Need Changing?

We See What We Want To SeeRemember those mirrors at the funhouse? You’d stand in front of them and see yourself in all kinds of goofy configurations:elongated, really fat, small head bloated body-(OMG I must have one of those in my bathroom!) and as you moved you’d see your body image change. At hockey games these days they do the “bubble camera ” by taking a shot of a fan and distorting their image. Fun stuff.

Not So Fun In The Office Though

Your leadership team is the model that the organization emulates. Like it or not, how you act and react as a team, is interpreted through your employees’ filters…their eyes, their ears, their feelings.

You may say that the leadership team acts as one and supports each other. However, if there is back biting or finger pointing or self promotion then your message is negated. In fact, it erodes your position and credibility.

“How can we believe you and this team when we see how you actually behave?”

    • “You preach to us about team work and working together.
      Yet we observe your leadership team saying the right words in public but something different in one-on-one’s or staff meetings.”
      “You talk about respect and trust.
      Yet we don’t see this team demonstrating it when things go awry. “
      “You ask us to sacrifice our time and compensation for the good of the company.
      Yet we see your team spending company time and money on non essential perks.”
      (And you say, “Yes, but we have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders.”)
      “You talk about being optimistic and forward looking.
      Yet we don’t understand the direction we are going, how we are going to get there, and our own roles and responsibilities in helping us get there.”
  • Maybe It’s Time To Look In The Mirror

    Actually, it may be time to change the mirror. It may be distorting your view of reality. What you think your team is doing may be diametrically opposite to what others think. This difference is costing you dearly in financial results not to mention employee productivity and morale. (oops, I guess I did mention it)

    Research shows that employees’ behavior and culture reflects that of their leaders. It is not “do as I say” but “do as I do”. I remember years ago a GM took over a manufacturing division. He had a habit of using the “F” word as part of his normal every day language. I visited one of his directors about 3 months later. It was amazing how the management team, by osmosis, had let the “F” word infiltrate their language. In fact even the director’s administrative assistant would occasionally drop the “F” bomb unintentionally. (“Here’s your F***ing report”)

    While your situation most likely is not this bad, the negative business impact could be worse. Are you ignoring the effect your team’s behaviors are having on the whole organization?

    Better Now Than Later

    Do something now. Take an honest view of the behaviors of your team as a whole and as individual leaders. Are you acting true to your values? Have you as a team reviewed your organization’s culture and decided what you want it to be or have you just accepted “the way things are done around here”. If so, you are shirking your responsibility as a leader.
    You are letting your employees down. You are not achieving the results you could attain.

    Not to mention, you are leaving money on the table. (There I go again!)

    You might even want to think about having an off-site meeting to come to grips with your team culture and vision. In fact, you may even want to engage a professional facilitator to make sure all voices are heard and you can focus on getting the most out of the session.

    If as a leadership team, you are not all in agreement with how you want to be as a team and as an organization,then how will anyone else know?

    You reap what you sow.