Do we hit the right flight level with our interventions?

Our recommendation is to question this in any case. Two examples from our current practice:

– In a very innovative supplier company, suspected burnout is piling up at the highest level. The requests we get: Do some coaching so that important colleagues don’t go to the dogs. Parallel observation: The fluctuation of executives is increasing.

And now the question: are we dealing with a problem that should be addressed at the individual level, or should we rather suggest an intervention at the organizational level? Do we have a time management problem of individuals (some by now) – or is it rather the organization that needs time management consulting?

– At a medium-sized tool manufacturer, a central management position has been filled 4 times in the last 5 years. Original statement of an insider: “and they were not all idiots”. In this case, too, it is worthwhile as an internal employee and as a consultant to take a closer look. What exactly are the basic conditions that cause experienced managers to fail time and again?

In both cases, consulting on an individual level is probably not very helpful.

In example one, after a brief joint analysis with the customer, it can be stated: It is not due to the faulty time management of individual managers that they reach their limits. It is simply too much work in the overall system.

In his book “Agility rethinking”, Klaus Leopold uses the beautiful image of the airport, where it is important that as many planes take off as land. If more planes land than take off, at some point the airport will be so congested that no plane can take off at all.

The situation is similar with companies that have too much work in the system. I can’t get anything off the table because of all the work. This leads to excessive demands and, in some cases, to burnout. Or just fluctuation. An individually more helpful way out than burnout.

“Then we’ll just have to hire people who can handle the pressure” is what we sometimes hear. Like example two, in which the managers were replaced until they began to think about whether there was a flaw in the system. (There actually was)  

This phenomenon can be observed with great publicity in soccer clubs and associations (including the DFB). As an external observer, you almost hit yourself in the head again and again and ask yourself why people don’t notice anything internally. Please dear Schalke fans, don’t be angry now, but wasn’t the dilemma obvious in the last few years? And the standard intervention “we change the coach, then it will be fine”?

This is almost reflexive behavior that decision-makers display when things are not going well at the moment or have not been going well for a while: We replace the people in charge.

It’s a bit like when a man or woman is constantly looking for new playmates because it didn’t work out with the last one but overlooks the fact that he’s taking the real problem with him into the next relationship. Himself.

A solution for case one can be to make clear (visualize) on a high level how much work is actually in the overall system. And then to prioritize consistently. Namely, the tasks, projects, initiatives that will lead to success in the marketplace the fastest and most effectively.

Case two is also rather complex and from company to company (this problem with the frequent exchange of management does not only exist at Schalke and our customer) a more intensive analysis of the environment of the vacant position is required. Reasons can be all forms of conflicts or also be of corporate cultural nature.

Important only: If you do nothing or continue to change only the management positions… well, you know what just happened with the famous German football club Schalke.

Image by Jan W. on Pixabay