Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Slow Managers Aren’t the Same as “Slow Food”

Many readers will be familiar with the “Slow Food” movement in North America and Europe. World-class chefs and everyday kitchen cooks have been pushing back against fast, often unhealthy foods that have become part many North American’s lifestyles. Careful preparation, orchestrated service and slow consumption make dining a much more enjoyable and healthy experience.

The organizational equivalent, “slow management”, unfortunately does not deliver the same uplifting experience. In my 35+ year career I have surveyed and interviewed thousands of employees about their job satisfaction. Most are very clear on what organizational practices boost their morale and what thing need to change for morale and quality of service to customers/clients to improve. Employees rarely complain that managers move too fast. A frequent complaint is about managers who are too slow to make decisions that would solve problems.

To be fair, many managers face restrictive organizational policies, heavy workloads and may need to gather more information before making a decision. There may be several legitimate reasons that slow management action. However, managers sometimes take weeks, months, or (I hesitate here, but I can think of examples where a year or more has passed) to make a decision. They seem to have mastered the art of turning legitimate reasons into excuses.

Failure to decide is a decision in itself. Problems go without solutions, frustration rises and confidence in management declines. Sensing that management doesn’t care what happens, employees down the line begin to behave differently with customers and with each other as their job satisfaction plummets.

Management default in decision making is the Slow Food equivalent of a chef having the intention to cook a world-class meal but then leaving the kitchen to go for a long walk. Dinner never makes it to the table, the potential for a great meal is never realized and everyone goes home hungry.

Paula J. MacLean is the author of several best-selling human resource books that provide practical advice on how to be a good supervisor and manager. Visit her website at www.silvercreekpress.ca.

1 comment:

  1. Paula,
    You have made great points! Quality outcomes do not always result from taking your time to create something. Fully assessing a situation, then making a fully-engaged decision as quickly as possible is key. Especially when people's positions, their work processes and client services are affected.