Managers' Lack of Confidence in Their Employees' Discipline, Capabilities, and Skills

This factor is most serious. The best laid plans, the most ambitious goals, and the most vibrant business strategies are not going to work with inexperienced employees who lack the essential business competencies. Also, if they do not display an implacable discipline, or if they cannot demonstrate an aptitude for the job, the organization is in deep trouble. As has been amply demonstrated in this and the previous chapter, discipline, training, morale, and skill form the underpinnings of speed.

That ties to yet another contributing factor to support speed and the push for performance: the amount of time an individual stays in one position. As one executive at Citigroup explains, “There is kind of a natural evolutionary process where at some point people have been here a long time and they go off and do something else. That’s healthy for an organization.”

What is behind that statement? First, speed of reaction is needed at the lower echelons—from field personnel through mid-level managers—so that they can adapt to the unexpected with timely actions.

Second, more often than not, success in the marketplace is rarely a one- shot event. Rather, it is a serial process composed of many localized actions. Exploiting market situations depends on the intelligence and initiative of junior managers. For them, “the decision can never be reached too soon.” From their point of view, they are the ones at the grass-roots level most prepared to grasp the need for change, even where senior executives are reluctant to move away from their comfort zones.

Third, long training and extended time at one job level may make managers experts in execution, but such expertise is bound to be gained at the expense of fertile ideas, originality, and flexibility—the essential elements for swiftly meeting the day-to-day demands of the marketplace. Junior managers, therefore, should demonstrate those qualities needed for speedy reaction. This is particularly relevant as the lean and mean organizational format takes hold and field personnel begin taking responsibility for on-the-spot decisions.

Consequently, if there is a lack of trust in some personnel, do not lay blame on them entirely. As pointed out above, a certain amount of attrition is desirable to maintain the agility, motivation, and energy to solve problems and identify moneymaking opportunities. Whatever pathway your organization takes, there still is a primary responsibility to maintain an environment where personnel development through ongoing training and discipline are bedrock components for successful performance.

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