Two of my clients who recently started new jobs shared similar experiences with me: they both joined an organization where key elements of the role had been neglected and left to run “on automatic” during their predecessors’ tenures — resulting in adverse results for the business. In one case, there was a poor supplier choice that had been made and left to stand, costing the company time and money; in the other case, there were several underperforming team members who were left to struggle, bringing down productivity and morale for everyone in the group.
By walking in with fresh eyes, my clients were able to see these issues clearly and prioritize their resolutions. They both wondered, “How could things be left unattended for so long?”
And yet, I know that I myself have let things slide into the “good enough” category, never to be properly addressed. Think about the process: your to-do list grows, velocity picks up, and you find yourself in triage mode choosing what will get handled and when. Over time, items that aren’t urgent and that we are uncomfortable with (e.g. negotiating with a supplier or managing underperformers) fall to the bottom of the list. And stay there. Responsibilities that are urgent, high-visibility, or squarely within our comfort zone get the attention.
So. What are you letting run on automatic? If someone took over your job tomorrow, what would they see clearly that you’ve relegated to the background? And what can you do to dust things off and finally take these responsibilities on?
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