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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Small Businesses To Fortune 100 Companies Frequently Confuse Symptoms As Problems

Small businesses to Fortune 100 Companies are organizations comprised of people who work together collectively to achieve business goals that they could not achieve individually. What these large to small businesses share beyond people is a strong tendency to confuse symptoms as problems. The result is that by crafting a solution addressing the symptom, the real problem continues to grow. And be it a small business or a Fortune 100 company, the drain on the bottom line continues to expand as well.

For example, in meeting with the President of a service related small business (less than 500 employees), he began talking about employee responsibility and employee productivity. There was one employee who had failed to turn in his expense account for over one year. This lack of compliance to the standard operating procedures had a cascade affect not only on the financials, but the attitudes of the other employees.

The president then asked me to confirm that this was an example of poor employee performance and accountability. My response was that "I appreciate that this individual has neglected his personal accountability to this organization and his fellow team members, but I am curious as to who his supervisor was and why that person allowed this to go on for over 1 year?" The President said that was another issue and did not respond to the inquiry. In watching this individual's face, I realized the employee directly reported to the person sitting in front of me.

Poor employee performance is many times a symptom of poor executive leadership as well as management. The fear to take action appears to paralyze many executives. Possibly, it is the dwindling reasonably qualified labor force or the culture within a particular industry. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that a lot of resources are being directed at the wrong solutions in the activities to achieve those business goals.

To avoid this trap suggests that those in executive leadership positions or management roles must have the higher order thinking skills (decision making and problems solving) along with a strong organizational values statement (non-negotiable behaviors). Of course, these individuals must be able to be brutally honest with themselves and ask this question: How have my actions contributed to this poor performance?

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