Maybe a better title to this article would have been "How To
Know If You Are Being Poisoned by Carbon
Monoxide". As I understand it, you'd be dead before
you knew you were in danger. But that title was to
long, and besides, there are many signs of a "drowning"
business that are readily evident if you know to look for
them. I'm going to outline a few in this article.
There are many more. And, just because one or more of
these symptoms exist doesn't mean you are doomed. In
fact, you might continue struggling along feeling pretty good
about where you are going - unaware that you could do
better. But if these symptoms exist, the best that can
be said is that you are not making the progress you
could be making.
Symptom #1 - Excessive Meetings. Are you always
in a meeting? Is your calendar full of nothing but
meetings? And do you ever leave a meeting and wonder,
"Now just exactly what did we accomplish?".
Symptom #2 - Communication Problems. "What?
That's not what I said!" "What do you mean you didn't
get the memo?" "Why can't they ever seem to get it
right!" "I didn't know that's what you meant!) If
you are hearing these comments, you've got a failure to
Symptom $3 - No Personal
Accountability. "That's not my job!"
"It's not my fault. She was supposed to do that!"
"I can't help that. It's not my responsibility."
Do your people accept responsibility for results and not just
Symptom #4 - Misaligned Efforts. Are your people all
working towards the same goals, or does it seem that sometimes
your people are in a multi-dimensional tug-of-war?
Symptom #5 - Poor Performance. How many less
than satisfactory performance reviews has your organization
had to administer lately? How many "just average"?
Do you feel your people could do better?
Symptom #6 - Power Struggles. Do you
have to referee instead of manage? Are "turf battles"
the prevailing form of corporate exercise?
Symptom #7 - Low Morale. Do you
think your people love to come to work? Do they come to
work with "Hi-ho, Hi-ho, it's off to work we go." or the
funeral dirge in their heads?
Symptom #8 - Micromanaging Managers. Do your
managers manage at the results level, or at the activity
level? Do they trust their people to produce, or do they
feel they must direct every activity?
Symptom #9 - Reactive instead of Proactive. Were you
able to plan your day and work your plan, or did you have to
"put out fires" all day long?
Symptom #10 - Lagging Sales. Are sales
where you feel they should be? Is the trend
Symptom #11 - "Can't be done" Attitude.
What's the first
reaction of your people when you introduce something
new? Is it, "But we've never done it that way before."
or "Not sure we can do that!"?
Symptom #12 - Duplication of Effort. Do you
find overlap of effort? Does time get wasted because two
people think they have responsibility for the same
Symptom #13 - Late Projects. Are your
projects always late and over budget?
Symptom #14 - Poor Quality. Do your
customers complain about quality?
Symptom #15 - High Turnover. Are you
always having to train new people?
Symptom #16 - Not Enough Time. Do you go
home every day satisfied you accomplished everything that
needed to be done, or do you find yourself at the office well
after dark just trying to keep up? (Does your dog bite
you when you get home?)
These are just a few of the symptoms of a business that may be
drowning. At the very best, if a business exhibits any
of these symptoms - especially more than two or three, that
business certainly could do much better. If you feel any
of this "pain", give me a call. Perhaps over a cup of
coffee, we can help you learn to swim