Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Executive Priority is Priorities

Executives in an organization have a responsibility to set and maintain priorities. They determine direction based on their position and ability to see across functional silos. They collect inputs, knowledge and feedback to discern strategies and establish goals for tangible progress. And, to advance those basic responsibilities they must determine priorities for the people who will implement and execute.

And, by setting and maintaining priorities they don't keep piling one thing upon the other. Once you've piled two things atop each other, let alone five to ten, you diminish productivity. Those of you who follow me know that against what I might at time profess, I believe people are fundamentally good. That means I believe that fundamentally people want to do a good job -- perhaps not the same good job as you want them to do, but that's the subject for another post.

I've seen it inside and I've seen it from the outside consulting in, when people feel overwhelmed or overloaded, you lose them (and not because they want to get lost). You reduce their abilities to stay focused and to find their way to fulfilling the corporate need. So, here's something to consider. The higher up the organizational chart you are, the more restraint you have to show in creating "fast track projects" or proclaiming that you need the analysis and recommendation on a major organizational undertaking "by the end of the month." Do it and remove something. Consider that your people are doing the day-to-day work that has to get done, and if you have those urgent needs then someone else needs to take on doing the routine assignments.

Executives must prioritize people, which means prioritizing priorities.
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