No More Workarounds

Recently, a very good client asked me “does everyone know about workarounds?”

Workarounds are the extra steps you, or your staff, take because something, or more likely someone, is getting in the way of the ideal work flow in your department.

Here are some examples:

The report should go to Ned for review, but he holds everything up. Everybody knows the report will sit on his desk forever and when he Workaroundsfinally gets to it, he’ll miss things. You give it to your superstar to check over, even though it isn’t her job. WORKAROUND

ABC client refuses to work with Nelly because of her attitude. You are a manager. You aren’t a sales agent anymore, but you put the agent’s hat back on with this one client just to keep the peace. WORKAROUND.

On the org chart, Norris is supposed to report to Fiona, but they don’t get along. When he quietly requests that he report directly to you, to avoid playing referee, you agree. WORKAROUND.

Here’s the problem with workarounds. They typically mean that because someone on the team isn’t doing their job effectively, someone else on the team has to pick up the slack.  Very often it’s you.

Because of someone’s lack of ability, aptitude, maturity, patience, tact, etc. you or your staff work around them to get the job done as swiftly and painlessly as possible. I’ve seen examples of workarounds with every one of my management coaching clients, and I can confidently say that every time a workaround comes up, morale and ultimately productivity go down.

3 Steps to Get Past Workarounds

  1. Make a list. Get it all out of your head and down on paper. Who or what did you have to work around this year?
  2. Be honest. Did working around the problem make the problem go away? Have you dealt with the root cause of the workarounds yet? If not, why not?
  3. Lead now, not later. What are you going to take from your experience, and do differently in the New Year to boost productivity? If you have an opportunity to make a change, you have an opportunity to lead – don’t put that off any longer.

FYI: Managers who delay making decisions, or who fall into habitual workarounds, inadvertently force their staff to work around them.

Look back at the obstacles that slowed your team down. Instead of continuing to work around things, make a commitment to yourself and to your team to remove any and all obstacles that you have the power to remove. You need every advantage. And it is your job to create an environment where your team can succeed.

This article was originally published in Chris Obst’s monthly e-newsletter. Sign up on the side.

Category: All, Manage your People, Managing Conflict, Managing high performers, Team building
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