Confronted with more to do and fewer resources, leaders often express disappointment at their staff's lack of initiative. As frustration grows, leaders tend to compensate by being more involved in the day-to-day and giving more directives. As employees sense their bosses' distrust, they shy away from taking initiative out of fear of making mistakes and disapproval. Productivity begins to spiral downward.
One contributing factor is that leaders see the world from a vantage point that others do not have. Employees cannot see as clearly how parts of the organization fit together and they need the opportunity to consider the ins and outs of the organization as a system.
The other factor is that leaders find it is more expedient to do things themselves, rather than lead others into doing a better job. The result is that things never get fundamentally better and are more likely to get worse.
Reversing this trend is actually simpler than it seems but requires some time investment, and here is the rub: leaders are always short on time. We see over and over how dysfunctional situations go on for months, sometimes years, when leaders do not make the time to break the cycle.
Conducting an open staff meeting around productivity problems can feel like opening Pandora's Box. Yet the goal is simple: everyone on the team needs to gain the same bird's eye view of the system they are a part of. All need to understand for themselves what the group stands for, what value they intend to deliver, and how they work together within the context of outside pressures and opportunities. When this alignment of perspectives happens, productivity takes off again.
From a greater collective clarity comes better idea generation, more open discussions, better understanding of the need for cooperation and communications, more individual engagement into the outcomes and better implementation.
The time previously spent figuring out the safe next step is now reallocated to productive activities. This is where the jump in productivity comes from. Time is used differently.