"Even though I have authority to make this decision, she jumped right over me to my boss."
Challenges like this generally arise from one of the following: (1) The original decision maker is not trusted, but their boss is, so team members leapfrog; or (2) the decision maker is trusted, but the coworker wants to "shop" for a more favorable answer.
The solution is always the same: The trust in this relationship can't be undermined, e.g. this person's boss should bounce it right back to her team member and emphasize that "shopping" is not tolerated. On the flip side, the employee here must consistently send a message through words and actions that they can be relied upon to make decisions. Then, he or she should take it a step further and ensure that the decision will be honored by other key players. Sometimes, this can be accomplished by simply copying people into an e-mail chain.
It's OK to call out a "shopper" by saying "I see that you reached out to my boss about this request. I just want you to know that he/she/they have given me full authority to address this issue and that I'm happy to do so!"
One aside: Things like this can be symptomatic of serious issues, such as sexism. I once worked with a senior executive that ignored my advice, but then easily accepted the exact same feedback from male attorneys. This kind of situation should be addressed with more gravity, likely through HR.
"Even ordering a cup of coffee here would take five meetings and three layers of approval!"
This is an issue common to large companies, where it is essential to maintain financial and business controls to manage things like fraud on a large-scale. The solution here lies in empowerment. I would bet that most individuals at a company like this are wasting time making decisions that are not in line with their "pay grade." People at lower levels of the management hierarchy should be given the ability to make more meaningful decisions. Approval processes should be replaced by "notice" processes. It's easy to confuse the group of people affected by a decision with the group of people (or person) who should be making the decision. They are not often the same. I also recommend that everyone make an effort to ask: "How does this serve our customer(s)?" It can be easy to create processes that seem important at the time, but create unnecessary delays or problems for customers. Many times, people end up on approval processes because they want to be informed of a decision (but they don't necessarily need to give input).
"Sorry! That person is the worst. But, at least he/she/they are good at their job."
Here is a short answer: "No, they are not." If an employee is "good at their job," but rude, abrasive, upsetting or worse to their coworkers, I would argue that they are not actually good at all. Part of almost any job entails playing well with others.
The solution here has to do with focus: shift it away from the problematic employee and onto the people who manage, supervise or otherwise have oversight with regard to the problematic employee. When a truly problematic employee is allowed to persist at a company, it doesn't just tell you about that person - it tells you something meaningful about everyone at the company that enables their continued employment. Scrutinizing these other people and their attitudes will often inform the next step, whether that is reaching out to HR, confronting the problematic employee directly, or otherwise.
"Why am I just hearing about this now?"
Poor communication is a challenge that can exist not just between individuals, but also between departments, functions or third parties (like vendors or customers). Although it can be tempting to react by copying everyone and their brother into every single e-mail, that often swings the pendulum too far in the other direction - the epitome of "this meeting should have been an e-mail" culture.
Instead, I recommend thinking of the following: (a) what information is most valuable to me to do my job? (b) who owns or creates that information? and (c) how am I currently obtaining this information? Then, the goal should be to work with others at the company to make the flow of this information completely automatic. Instead of waiting on a set of e-mails, can everyone reference a single dashboard on the company intranet? Can certain documents be automatically generated and distributed? Another helpful guide: There should only be one owner for generation of data (at the department or individual level) and this owner should be fully responsible for distributing it to everyone else. The owner should also be the only one making changes.
"I spend more time tracking metrics about doing my job than doing my actual job."
A somewhat cynical approach to this divides positions into two types: (1) Those where the employees work to benefit a cause, industry or customer need; and (2) Those where employees work to stay employed.
The collection of an undue number of metrics can often indicate that a company falls into the second category. Metrics should have a means to an end, as a way to gather information in order to make improvements. Metrics that are used to garner competitiveness within an organization or for other divisive reasons are always a bad idea. Metrics that are collected for a long time, but not acted upon by management, are wasting valuable time. Even worse, in the era of GDPR and more robust privacy practices, metrics can even present risk for your company.
At the individual level, there is nothing wrong with going to your manager and saying "Tracking these data points is becoming burdensome and interfering with the parts of my job that I enjoy the most - can we track on a yearly basis instead?" At the department level, I again recommend that each metric be held to the standard of "How is this benefiting our customers?" It is easy to justify metrics, because they almost always can be characterized to benefit the company. However, many will not pass a higher level of scrutiny about how they benefit the customers.
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I've included stories, anecdotes and useful tips I've gained over my career as an Entrepreneur, Board Member, Executive and Senior Counsel. I hope you can find ways to navigate to your own dreams by learning from my experience! Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or want to share your own stories. Stay inspired!