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Continued from Previous……
There are several more reasons for the underperformance of tired organizations, some of which are described here.
Quality of leadership – The quality of leadership in an organization is a critical factor in its success. Inadequate leadership can result in a lack of direction, poor decision-making, and low employee morale. We are not just talking about the quality of leadership of the chief, we are referring to leadership at all levels; heads of functions, heads of departments, senior managers, managers all suffer from the same problem. Part of the problem is that they would not want to do something which the chief does not approve. The style of leadership cascades from the top to the lower cadres.
We discussed lack of vision earlier; it is also part of quality of leadership to provide a vision with which people would relate and be motivated to follow it. Effective leaders lead by sharing their vision which they themselves follow and others also follow. Leadership is the most critical aspect of anyone who is running an organization, a function, or even a department.
Lack of clear goals and objectives – The actionable version of vision is carried as goals and objectives. Clear goals and objectives have several important implications. One, it is easy to make plans for achieving such goals; two, the progress can be measured more accurately; three, the deployment of resources, be it human or material, is adequate; four, time management gets built in the plan and steps are accomplished in planned time.
Tired organizations usually do not have a clear sense of what they want to achieve. They will therefore struggle to prioritize and allocate resources effectively. This leads to confusion, disorganization, and ultimately, underperformance.
Inefficient processes – Inefficiency runs in the fabric of even better performing organizations. We still have to go a long way to achieve real efficiency. The inefficiency in our processes comes from several factors. One, the hierarchies are not clearly defined; two, the decision making is highly centralized, and things keep queuing up; three, redundancies are built in the system, which means that things are duplicated and repeated unnecessarily; four, guiding policies are missing; and five, flow of processes is not smooth. This is also linked to the insensitivity about time by virtue of which insensitivity about efficiency creeps into the system.
Poorly designed processes are a major obstacle to organizational performance. Inefficient processes lead to delays, errors, and wasted resources, all of which have a negative impact on the organization’s performance.
Inadequate resources – There is no doubt that tired organizations have inadequate resources. However, it is debatable why they have limited resources. There are two major reasons: one, due to underperformance, they generate less resources; two, due to inefficiencies, resources are wasted. Another critical problematic area is allocation of resources. Because there are no clear goals and objectives, the allocation is all messed up. Many times, unviable projects are taken up, leading to more wastage. All in all, the resource scarcity is further compounded by inadequacy.
Resource inadequacy is not limited to money, it is spread across all facets; human resource, technological resource, and management resource. People are low paid, have low morale, and even lower drive to achieve. Technology is old and redundant and causes more wastage. Expertise in management to drive teams is missing and staff is largely on their own. In this environment, opportunists, scammers, fraudsters, and conmen thrive. They are still able to extract money for their own good.
Poor communication – Tired organizations universally suffer from poor communication; from vision to goals to plans to resource allocation to performance measurement, nothing is communicated clearly. Some owners shield themselves behind a senior manager and refuse to interact with the staff. The communication is channelized through that one window. That person has huge opportunity to manipulate both ways. He (mostly) may block or distort all that comes from the staff, and the chief will never know. And he can twist the instructions given the chief and change these to his vested advantage. Issues keep lingering on due to this system and precious time and resources are wasted.
Effective communication is critical to the success of any organization. When communication breaks down, misunderstandings can arise, information can be lost, and important decisions can be delayed.
Inadequate training and development – I would go the extent of labeling it ‘Absence of training and development’. There is no system, even informal, to train people. My observation is that this is deliberate. The managers do not train and develop their staff to keep them under their thumb. First, they hire compromised staff, then they do not train them, and they treat them poorly, but they cannot go and find a job elsewhere.
Development comes from doing work, coaching adds to learning, but even if coaching is not done, doing work itself is a great source of learning. I have seen managers who design jobs in a way that no one learns any work completely; they only know parts of it. I may draw analogy to the tactic used by the old Soviet Union. They scattered components of manufacturing and assembly in so many places that no one state had expertise to produce anything independently. When I visited the newly independent states like Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, they talked about the same issue in all industries. It is criminal to play with the careers and exploit people, but a majority of managers do it.
Employees who lack the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs effectively are unlikely to perform well. Organizations that do not invest in employee training and development never see improvement in performance over time.
If we go through various factors and reasons, we find that all these things are interrelated. Leadership, human resource, material resources, time management, planned working, efficiency, smooth flow of processes, nothing happens independently. One issue leads to another, and to another, and so on. Can we pick one reason as the key factor? The mother of all ills? I would choose leadership. If the leader is visionary, strong, sensible, resilient, and empathetic, great things should be expected.
In the next couple of posts, we shall go through the cures and solutions.
To be Concluded……
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