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Roy Osing
Roy Osing


Ten workplace dysfunctions that must be eliminated Add to ...

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab.

Every organization would like to build a high-performance culture, but these 10 non-strategic activities are in the way of making serious progress.

They consume precious time and suck up emotional energy.

1. Committee work. How many committees do you have working on various projects? What would happen if you reduced the number by 50 per cent and empowered folks to make decisions and get on with execution? Committees are charged with the responsibility of coming up with recommendations that satisfy everyone. Often these decisions take a long time to reach, they are watered-down and produce forgettable results.

2. Hyper-analysis. Analysis can paralyze an organization and is a symptom of being afraid to make a call. Don’t over-analyze. Do the amount of study that is consistent with the decision to be made. A $10-million decision will need more work than a $100,000 one.

3. Seeking the last 10 per cent of perfection. Read this as trying to get it perfect. It’s a crazy quest that will never happen. The right action to take is to get it “just about right” – execute flawlessly and learn as you go.

4. Co-ordinating. What value is there in this? When teamwork fails or systems are deficient, we don’t need a co-ordinator, we need people responsible for delivering results not managing process.

5. Consensus building. You can’t craft a solution that represents everyone’s input. So make the call and sell it to others. Decisions with “rounded corners” architected to satisfy everyone have no originality and satisfy few.

6. Following rules. This stultifies creativity and innovation. Some rules are necessary, but others have outlived their usefulness. What if you reduced the number of rules and policies by 25 per cent over the next 30 days? Do you think it would open up the possibilities for more employee engagement and better customer service?

7. Punishing failure. Another great way to beat innovation out of a person. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not moving forward. Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” Honour imperfection and those who create it.

8. Giving orders. Managers do it; change leaders avoid it. People are generally motivated to do the right thing, and if not, they haven’t been properly prepared. It’s a leadership issue.

9. Benchmarking. This tool may help you improve your performance but copying someone else will never make you remarkable, unforgettable or give you a strategic advantage. Consider best in class as the highest bar to distinguish yourself from.

10. Doing what the job description says. Internal enforcers want the job description adhered to to control people’s behaviour. “It’s not my job” influences action rather than doing the right thing. Ignore the formal job description when it makes good sense to do so. We need people to spot opportunities and do whatever it takes to create innovative opportunities regardless of formal job limits. We need people to step out and do amazing things not be bridled by a straight jacket.

This list of 10 is a product of the past. It represents a control management culture.

Stand-out leaders find a way to break away their organizations away from as many of these dysfunctional elements as quickly as possible.

Roy Osing (@RoyOsing), former executive vice-president of Telus, is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead, dedicated to helping organizations and individuals stand out from the competitive herd.

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