I once had a client that brought me in as an interim executive to fill in for a departing employee. I was excited to join the company and knew I could have an immediate impact. In my first week on the job, I noticed something very strange. My calendar started to fill up with about three days a week worth of committed meetings that chewed up my time to actually do my job.
Some of these meetings were related to my department, some to the executive team and some to other departments. I had no idea why I was even needed in the room. I lost over half of my week doing everyone else’s job except my own!
So, I quickly reorganized the meetings. I got my department meetings down to one per week, plus the one-on-one meetings with my team members (in case they needed me for anything). I asked the CEO to reorganize the executive meetings so that we were only meeting one time a week and I cancelled all the meetings with other departments. I fit all these meetings into one day a week, giving me two days a week back to do my job.
I watched how the CEO made decisions. He didn’t trust his team to make the right decisions on their own. He needed to be involved in all decisions they were making. Because he didn’t understand their jobs as well as they did, he forced them to run through circles creating numerous iterations of business cases and financial models until he understood it and could approve the decision.
This irritated his team. The pace of making progress in the business screeched to a near halt, with managers waiting for the CEO’s approval before progressing. The business had a materially bottleneck in their process for making progress–and the CEO was that bottleneck.
I told the CEO to hire a new team if he didn’t trust the team to make their own decisions. That message resonated and he changed his focus from helping make decisions for everybody else to actually doing his own job! The business’ growth and rate of change improved as a result.
So, make sure to fine-tune every process. Only schedule meetings that are absolutely necessary and trust other team members to make their own smart decisions. In a perfect world, the key department managers should be telling senior management what to do, not vice versa. Don’t over-think and mentally masturbate every decision, since analysis paralysis can suffocate the life out of the business and your team.
This article was originally published on Red Rocket VC, a consulting and financial advisory firm with expertise in serving the startup, digital and venture community.
Image credit: CC by woodleywonderworks