No company sets out to let resources sit untouched and unused. Yet so many consistently do just that. Below are the most common ways I’ve seen clients waste resources that could be used to further their core business or mission:
#1 – Sidestep Difficult Issues
Instead of addressing difficult issues directly, people use their time, meetings, emails, decision-making structures, etc. to craft workarounds and unnecessary compromises to avoid having critical conversations. Address difficult issues head on, with respect and good will. Time and energy diverted to workarounds takes away from time tapping into the collective intelligence of your workforce.
#2 – Promote Silos
Remove the myth that we work in isolation. Keeping information rigidly separate from context, background and vision always – ALWAYS – backfires. Integrate. Demonstrate the domino effect that occurs between teams in the situations you regularly encounter. Put a spotlight on points of overlap and connectivity.
#3 – Shutdown Curiosity
Innovation arises from times when a person wonders if another, better way might be possible. Many managers assign tasks and expect their employees to do nothing more than maintain, maintain, maintain. By putting these blinders on your people, opportunities to streamline, cut costs and improve effectiveness are gone before you even knew they existed. Prioritize curiosity or you’ll maintain your way out of business.
#4 – Sideline Dissenters
Giving air-time only to those with whom you agree is a missed opportunity and a company culture liability. Those with dissenting opinions have different perspectives and therefore, have access to different solutions. By keeping dissenters in the shadows you miss the chance to create a richer, more holistic solution.
#5 – Hoard Power and Information
Limiting employee decision-making and access to information teaches them to think and act small. How can you expect workers to produce comprehensive, sustainable business solutions when you’ve essentially dealt your employees three cards but you’re asking them to play Rummy?
#6– Have Low Expectations
My volleyball coach used to always remind us to “play to the level of the competition.” Without having the bar set high by someone else, some people will not stretch themselves and grow in ways that are within their capabilities. Set reasonable expectations, but with an intentional stretch.
#7 – Stop Asking Questions
Remember, leaders are in the (real or perceived) power position, and that can inhibit some from sharing ideas. When directly asked, however, ideas abound and innovation has a chance at implementation. Ask questions often of those around you, especially the high performers. “What problems have we eliminated in the last quarter? What new ones have popped up? If you could dedicate one day a week to working on an issue that is significant in your estimation, what would it be and what would you need to get started?”
#8 – Forget Your Humanity
Work can provide you with many things. Things like security, purpose, impact, financial and creative sustenance, challenge and ways to make meaningful contributions to the world around you. People on your payroll seek these as well. By ignoring these motivators, you’re missing out on engaging people at a level deeper than simply getting the next paycheck.
- In which of these areas is your company leaving money on the table?
- How do organizational routines, mechanisms and practices keep your company in these patterns?