It happens all the time, especially in start-ups and high growth companies.
We’re juggling multiple priorities, we’re understaffed, and we’re bombarded by emails and other media. Everyone wants a chunk of our time. In the quest to generate new business, there’s also the temptation to chase all the shiny new objects and say “no” to nothing.
Unfortunately, what often happens is that these companies continue to get new irons in the fire, but complete almost nothing. Their entrepreneurial founders get something started, then they’re off chasing the next big thing. This reminds me of a couple of great quotes:
“There will always be more great ideas than your capacity to execute.”
“When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.”
Write these down, memorize them, get a tattoo or print them on a T shirt. They are that important.
What kind of environment do these behaviors create in your organization?
- An atmosphere of “flash fires” and constantly changing urgencies. This quickly becomes standard operating procedure.
- Team members become unable to sort through the noise and focus on priorities. Heck, no one even knows what the priorities are.
- Responsibilities and accountability go by the wayside – “Oh, I thought so-and-so was doing that.”
- Communications become unclear, or they shut down completely.
- Employees experience frustration, burnout and disengagement.
Any one of these is bad news. Add a few of these to the mix and you’re in trouble.
What to do? Stand back and hit pause.
- Schedule an “intervention” with your team. Reaffirm your strategy and mission-critical priorities. Just as important, identify activities that you are intentionally going to say “no” to at the present time. [This last sentence might be the hardest part…]
- Establish clear responsibilities, delegation and reasonable deadlines.
- Take time to do things right the first time. Do-overs are frustrating – and they take far more time than doing it right the first time.
- Hold each other accountable for milestones and deadlines.
- Celebrate interim accomplishments; analyze failures (without blame) take corrective action, and move on.
Admittedly, there’s no rocket science in any of the above, and it might seem like the same old drivel from a number of management guides. What’s ironic, though, is how often these behaviors repeat themselves in different organizations.
It’s always better to complete three projects at 100+% than to get six projects half-way completed (half-way complete = nothing complete)!