Most managers want to focus on the strategic goals of the company, but find themselves tied up with repetitive problems versus addressing root causes. It takes less time, in the moment, to put out the fire than it would to do an arson investigation or find the loose wiring that caused the fire. Easier to simply put it out and move on. But is it?
Are you too busy bringing on new customers to find out why the existing customers are leaving? Do you find your day is full of meetings with employees about their problems versus finding out what is causing the problems? Or are you too busy hiring to find out why people are leaving?
A common phrase is that, “It is difficult to run the company, when you are running the company.” Finding a way through this typically involves committing to improve the effectiveness of your work while at the same time focusing on the current business challenges and strategies. Some basic steps to keep in mind to help with this challenge are…
- Evaluate and strengthen the basic processes and take a strong look at how well your team is following them. Break free from the concept of “this is how we always do it” Look at the process and identify where it commonly breaks down. Or you may also find that the way we are doing it, is not the way we designed it. Work arounds and alternative solutions may have become the norm and are causing other disruptions in down stream processes.
- How can you make time for improvements? Find ways to get your team together and discuss improvements to the current state. One way of doing this is to get your team engaged. Engaged employees will find the time and will have the drive to make the solution successful. You are not in this alone.
- Are you truly committed to stop wasting time in your own work? As problem solvers, there is comfort in solving problems, it’s what we are good at. But as managers, our duty is to elevate our team to prevent and otherwise solve their own problems. If we are truly doing a great job then we should feel the problems start to resolve themselves through a strong process and an empowered team. That is when our involvements are more meaningful and strategy related.
My psychologist tells me that the first step in solving a problem is admitting I have a problem. If you are a manager who spends the majority of your day worrying about things that have happened in the past or in the present versus what should be happening in the future, then you have a problem. Admit it is a problem and start finding ways to spend time focusing on the future.