Why doesn’t management address issues and deal in reality?

| January 10, 2018

Alexander is the founder of an international services business with eight offices worldwide.

The nine-year-old company has 30 employees and is very profitable. He sees the business as his “baby” which requires his full-time management, energy, and focus.

As the founder-owner of the business, he has trouble letting go and developing people he can delegate to.

The result is he has twelve different departments in the company reporting to him. They all know he wants to be kept informed and they should check with him before making important decisions. He once told me he had an average of 130 emails a day from employees.

My concern is for his health and his effectiveness. He told me he had adjusted to an exhausting international travel schedule and to projects unraveling at the worst time. He added that I need not be concerned. He was handling it!

I said, “Listening to you reminds me of the story of the frog in water, on the stove, that slowly gets hotter and hotter until it boils and kills the frog. He had heard the story but didn’t hear how the story applied to him…neither did the frog.

We discussed the increased pressure on the company to handle new business and keep his customers happy. We had discussed this situation earlier and he had cut back on high maintenance, slow paying customers, and said that he should do that again.

His using the term “he had to cut back” leads me to the analogy of a fruit tree. That if the dead branches were pruned the flow of sap would increase to the branches that would bear the fruit of projects completed on time.

I was curious so I looked up the definition of pruning. “Pruning fruit trees is a necessary task that improves sunlight penetration and increases air movement. It also develops the structure of the tree so it can support the crop load.”

Building on letting the sunlight penetrate I’ll equate it to telling the truth and dealing with reality.

When someone is not doing their job they deserve to know what they need to do to keep their job. What does wrong look like and what does right look like. Hopefully, the message is delivered in a caring way.

If they can’t do the job and there are other opportunities in the organizations they can transfer, if not then emphasize what they do well and prepare them for finding another job if you can introduce them to other companies.

Once they have “landed” elsewhere there is increased air movement meaning others can do our job without walking on eggshells or wondering why management hasn’t addressed the issue.

Why doesn’t management address issues and deal in reality? The reasons vary and here are a few.

“I’m so busy keeping things going I don’t have time to deal with the people issues.” (Read inability to delegate so he can think strategically.)

“I don’t like confrontation, so I try to deal with it indirectly.” (Read passive-aggressive.)

“I didn’t think it was much of a problem.” (Read denial which resulted in low morale and a ‘Why should I break my neck. He’s paid the same as me and doesn’t do his job.’)

I challenged Alexander to get back to me in 48 hours with a plan to not be the frog in the boiling water and reminded him he’s had a previous stress related episode.

I didn’t get a response. Sometimes the motivation comes later or from painful circumstances.  

I sent him this quote from Ayn Rand, “You can avoid reality but you cannot avoid the consequence of avoiding reality.”