Organizations, as well as children, can have ADD (attention deficit disorder)? Do your managers have trouble keeping their attention focused on new performance-improvement initiatives? Do they get excited about new management models and new (or reconstituted) management/leadership theories but lack the persistence to follow through on implementation. Many executives, because either they are desperate to achieve performance goals or they are afraid they will miss out on the latest management trend, will flit from one new program to another. Wally Bock aptly describes this phenomenon in reference to a client who worked in an ADD organization.
He worked for a large company for seven years. In that time, the company had at least one management fad per year. They found their cheese, learned about some fish market, discovered their strengths, and tried to master the carrot principle. When they found that they couldn't balance their scorecards, they aspired to develop into Level 5 Leaders. They only got to level 1 before they moved on to something else.
Each “fad” could be helpful to managers in this company, but by not following through on one method and giving it a chance to take hold and improve the management practices of the organization, two detrimental things happen. First, the company wastes time, energy, and money on activities that do not help the organization achieve its goals. Second, the company creates a culture in which employees don’t want to commit themselves to new initiatives because they assume management will move on to something else within a short time. Managers might go through the motions of attending training events, or company-wide meetings, or becoming familiar with a new method. However, if they are not committed to change, they will not support implementation. They will not talk about the new approach with the people they supervise, they will not provide resources for the initiative, they will not make time available for teams to work on related projects, and, worse, they might intentionally sabotage efforts to change anything.
Then the management method gets blamed for a lack of results.
- “We tried lean six sigma but our quality ratings didn’t improve.”
- “We gave all of our managers 360 feedback and they still don’t talk to each other.”
- “We sent everyone to three days of emotional intelligence training and it seemed like things improved for awhile but now it’s back to where we were before.”
Usually the problem is not the method; it’s the way the method is implemented. If managers don’t see how the method will help them achieve important business goals, if managers don’t have clear expectations for learning and success, if managers aren’t being supported by their bosses, if managers don’t have any immediate opportunities to apply the new method, and if managers aren’t held accountable and rewarded for applying the method, then the company can’t expect to reap any significant benefits. Like a diet, it doesn’t matter which one you choose. It could be Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Zone, or Biggest Loser. You won’t be successful unless your goal is clear, you have support from others, you are persistent, and you get feedback on your progress.