Have you ever noticed how we tend to hire fast and fire slow in organizations? That’s because leaders shy away from managing the performance of their under-performers. They avoid engaging in the process, instead choosing to shove their heads in the sand waiting for the wind to blow past them and everything to get better on its own. Have you ever had an under-performer who actually got back on track simply by figuring it out on their own?
Ostrich management, as it’s often called, simply doesn’t work. Underachievers aren’t likely to get better on their own. If they haven’t figured it out yet, what makes you think they will now? Under-performers don’t turn things around and become star performers without focused and intentional training and management intervention.
I have a CEO client whose direct report has not been meeting expectations for quite some time. Business has fallen short of the stated targets, and until very recently this team member – who is himself a C-level executive – didn’t even realize the company was consistently delivering unprofitable work under his leadership!
One of my former coaching clients contacted me earlier this week looking for direction. Now I’ve had several clients over the years share with me during our coaching programs that they regularly find themselves wondering “W.W.J.D.?” When my first client shared that acronym for “What Would Jeremy Do?” with me, I laughed. Since then, I’ve simply come to appreciate that my role as an executive coach is to shift my clients’ thinking with new insights and ideas whether I’m there by their sides or not.
This one was different though. I haven’t coached this leader for several years, and he’s now CEO of a completely different organization. These are unprecedented times though, so I probably shouldn’t be surprised that even he’s looking for some outside perspective on how best to make decisions with all of the uncertainty around Coronavirus. He was in the process of drafting communications about their future plans for his key customers, and as he put it, “No one really knows what October is going to look like!”
The guidance he needed comes from the distinction between “Now” and “Not Now”. You might think you know what “now” means. Sure, it’s right now. If you’re open to it, now can mean so much more than that though. Now serves as a powerful way of classifying anything that exists and is already being managed, whether it’s in this very moment or something for which we’ve already planned. Now, I’m writing an article about decisive leadership. I’m also handling several other things now though.