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An Unexpected Benefit

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

The story is that Dougla Bader, the World War II fighter pilot, took up golf after he lost both his legs. He discovered that the stance forced on him by his handicap meant that he always hit the ball dead straight. I was reminded of this by a conversation with one of my clients.

This client wanted to talk about something he found rather strange. He has had to move his employees to remote working and to help with this has instituted a weekly (online) meeting with his project managers and a daily (online) meeting with the whole team. He had also extended the use of a cloud-based collaboration tool.

The productivity of his business appears to have gone up and his stress levels have gone down – at least where projects are concerned. When I asked him to unpack this a little he replied “Our communication is better, even though we are not all in the same office.”

A classic answer I receive from clients when I ask them whether they have regular management reviews is “Oh, we talk about things all the time.” It is often difficult to explain to them that constant interaction over the detail of operations a) is time consuming for them, b) prevents the development of any accoountability in their employees and c) results in undocumented processes and inconsistent results.

I am helping this client, as with all my clients, to move beyond this form of management and develop a scalable business. This means developing the employees, and to do this we implement processes and measurement, clarify responsibilities and introduce routine formal management reviews. Like many business owners he has struggled a little with this, somehow seeing a lack of structure as liberating or responsive, and fearing the reaction of his employees to change.

It seems that the apparent handicap of enforced remote working has accelerated the development of the clear responsibilities, regular formal review and measurement of results his business needs.

I anticipate that this change to a more effective management approach will stand my client and his business in good stead during this crisis once things return to normal.

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