Managing people
November 12, 2016

You Could be Wasting Time on People Problems

 |  By: Mike Opperman

A recent Harvard Business Review study showed that companies waste a significant amount of time on issues related to managing people. The study surveyed 83 company executives to gather insights on what issues were most significant and the cost factors associated with each issue.

Data shows that companies collectively acquire more than $50 million annually in lost value spent working through challenges relating to managing people. Researchers found that employers let that spending escalate by falling into one of five spending traps:

  • Expertise trap: managers become so good at their jobs that they begin to function on auto pilot, relying on past success and solutions without recognizing new innovations to solving problems.
  • Winners trap: similar to the expertise trap, this burdens managers that have become accustomed to staying the course to see challenges through to the bitter end. Researchers note that sometimes solving difficult problems comes from knowing when to second guess decisions or when to give up on a doomed initiative before it’s too late.
  • Agreement trap: managers who are too focused on being well liked fall into this trap. Too afraid to address sensitive issues, they end up giving vague feedback that misses opportunities to stimulate performance, or constructive confrontation that can lead to breakthroughs.
  • Communication trap: managers are bombarded with so much data that it is difficult to filter out the noise and hone in on real communication opportunities.
  • Macro management trap: opposite of micromanagement, this happens when managers become too far removed from their teams by offering too much empowerment and delegation. These leaders are so hands-off that they fail to provide guidance that leads to successful individuals and teams.

Understanding and avoiding these traps can help managers identify real solutions without losing value from lost productivity or human resources.

View a video of the research here.