4 Common Mistakes Managers Make That Put Them In ‘Debt’

So, what exactly is management debt? The concept of management debt stems from an article about technical debt. You can read the entire article here, but the gist is technical debt is caused when you hack together a solution to a technical problem in the quickest way possible with little regard for the long-term implications.

Joseph, Director of Customer Success at ClearPoint, has over 10 years of experience working with customers to create efficient performance management and strategy execution processes.

The debt you must repay is the additional time you have to spend down the road dealing with the poor solution you created. Basically, by cutting corners, you will end up spending more time working on the patches to your ill designed solution than taking your organization to the next level. You will lose more time than you saved when you cut corners at the beginning of the issue, and the longer you put off paying down the debt, the worse the repayment becomes.

Managing any organization presents the same challenge as the technical issue described above. If you try to hack together some quick fixes, you will ultimately pay for them through productivity losses. Here are four common mistakes managers make that will cost productivity and put you in management debt.

Avoid These Common Mistakes That Managers Make

  1. Standing meetings with no agenda – It seems like a great idea to have the leadership team get together weekly or monthly, but without a clear purpose, agenda, and some discipline, these meetings can be total time killers. You don’t prepare for the meetings, you don’t discuss important things, and you don’t make decisions. The meetings are useless. An additional problem is that you don’t get together much outside of the meetings because you have already spent some useless time with these people and you don’t want to continue the bad habits.
  2. No accountability – Does this sound familiar? You have a three hour meeting that seems pretty productive. You talk about a lot of things related to your organization, and you write a lot of stuff on the white board or flip chart. Then, you end the meeting and the stuff just gets erased or put in a corner. No one follows up, and you don’t review it later. Ultimately, you end up discussing the same thing six months or a year later, and wonder why you aren’t making any progress. And the cycle continues. With interest!
  3. Dashboard to nowhere – You know that having a dashboard is important, so your team creates a quick dashboard with “key” measures that you look at regularly. You still struggle with targets and cannot tie the dashboard in a meaningful way to a current strategy that everyone understands. So you talk about the measures, but to what end? Why are these measures important? What are we going to do about them? It’s exhausting, and people lose focus.
  4. Excel Hell – You have probably seen the infographic, but remember when it seemed like a good idea to run your scorecard in Excel? Then, you started trying to run every department with Excel, and link all of your spreadsheets together. Now you have broken links, out-of-date data, and people complaining about bad reports… and it is using up all of your energy to create. The interest on that debt keeps compounding.

How does this happen? Typically, all of this debt is built up by taking small management shortcuts. For example, we need a dashboard quickly, we know the key measures, gather them in excel…ok what’s next? Valuable management time and attention are used on viewing dashboards that are out of date, meaningless when accurate and reviewed during regular meetings without any accountability for decisions we might make.

If this sounds familiar, it might be time to really start paying down your debt. Think about the long term management solutions that will help you and your team be more effective. Start with the strategy, nail it with clear objectives. Structure your meetings around these objectives and measure things that will tell you if you are making progress in achieving your strategy. Hold people accountable for understanding the measures. Have real discussions about how to improve. Take notes and follow up on actions.

It is not easy at first, but avoiding these common mistakes managers make (and removing the management debt burden) will liberate your organization. Take the time to pay off the debt, invest in solid management techniques, and become debt free!


4 Common Mistakes Managers Make That Put Them In ‘Debt’