Dive in early.

For months, teams of people have been working on a project with your approval to “keep moving.” You’ve been sent things to review and have been on status update calls, but you’ve been multitasking and half listening.  Now, it’s nearing the end of the process and the deadline is looming. When you finally pause long enough to take a close look at what’s been done, it’s not what you wanted.  You dive in, and shift into revision mode.  Although it’s messy at the end of the process, the team pulls through and you get what you want. 

Sound familiar?

As much as we’d all like to say, “that’s not me,” this tends to be the norm, not the exception.  It causes untold stress on your team, it’s demoralizing, and it costs your organization money. Worst of all, you remain blissfully unaware because no one has the nerve to talk with you about it.

If you are the boss, understand that lots of people are trying to please and accommodate you.  They do not want to be labeled the naysayer or the non-team-player. So instead, they suck it up and deal with it. This scenario leaves you ignorant and your teams burnt out. 

Break the cycle. Have honest conversations about how things are working, and commit to changing how and when you engage. As a leader, it is up to you to create the space and trust so that people can tell you the truth. Start by asking questions about how the process might be improved and what you can do differently. And be willing to dive in and get involved when the initial strategic work is being done so you and the team are in synch.

By engaging and focusing up front, you can save yourself, your teams and the company time and money.  Plus, you can achieve the added benefit of having happier, more productive employees.