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When being operational is more comfortable..

Sometimes people are not strategic in their thinking because they choose not to be. It’s much more comfortable to do what’s familiar and that is often operational, short-term tasks.

I often think back to a good example of this. I had not long been in business when a friend kindly introduced me to a friend of his who was an HR Manager responsible for a considerable geographic region of a large organisation. When I met with him he explained to me that his role involved a lot of disciplinary issues. These were particularly prevalent he had noticed in winter and just prior to Christmas.

Immediately interested in this trend, I enquired why that was. He said he didn’t know but these were his busiest periods and could be the time of year he might need a consultant to help out. I came back to the question again. Why was this trend occurring? And then the critical question, what preventative action could be taken to reduce it?

It became apparent that this HR Manager was not in any way interested in identifying the causes of the trend, and certainly not interested in preventing it. I could only conclude that he was very comfortable with reactive work and while he was busy being needed for this work, he did not have to tackle the more strategic proactive aspects of the role.

On the other hand, perhaps he just didn’t know where to start with identifying causes. Either way, I imagine that 2 years on he still has those busy periods dealing with disciplinaries!!

The problem is that while we are busy fighting fires, we are actually irresponsibly wasting resources. Only by taking the time and energy to identify trends and respond in a pro-active way, are we actually doing our jobs well. No matter whether the job is strategic or operational in nature.

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