Fatigue makes cowards of us all. ~Vince Lombardi
Two great coaches with unprecedented winning records, Vince Lombardi and John
Wooden both believed that fitness and conditioning were the secret weapons of winning teams and each made fitness a part of every practice and the daily regimen of their teams. With fitness comes the mental and physical stamina to execute well and quickly turn an opponent’s mistake into a score.
Over the past several years I’ve noticed a definite trend occurring in business – management fatigue. Managers are bone-tired and feeling frazzled. And as a result I see good managers making silly mistakes, not always thinking clearly, short-tempered with their peers and staff, less creative and allowing negativity and cynicism to creep in.
One of the reasons they are fatigued is definitely lack of exercise and a general deteriorating level of personal fitness. Most of us in the management and business ranks are overweight and out of shape. And it’s getting to be an epidemic the world over. Fast foods, eating poorly, skipping meals, drinking too much, lack of exercise, all contribute to management fatigue.
Poor Business Process and Mental Management Fatigue
But there is another, more insidious type management fatigue and it’s harder to cure. It’s mental and some feel it even erodes the soul. This management fatigue is experienced as an overall lack of enthusiasm for the work. Mental management fatigue is the result of the frustrations of trying to make things happen inside organizations with poor business processes.
For example, more and more there is a growing resentment with meetings. Most meetings are poorly run, longer than necessary, reach few decisions, and are fraught with hidden agenda, interpersonal conflict and lack of candor and teamwork. Several managers have described their meetings as trying to sprint through molasses (treacle for my UK friends), lots of energy is expensed (and hot air as well) with little results. After months or years of putting up with bad meetings and trying to get something accomplished, we just get mentally tired of it all. Then the door is open for cynicism and negativity. In some organizations, the culture can be described as management fatigue and cynicism.
Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything. ~John Kenneth Galbraith
And the “process of meetings” is just one of many internal business processes that don’t work well and need to be redesigned in order to be more productive and eliminate waste. Another major contributor to mental management fatigue is the strategy execution process, or in reality in most companies it’s a non-process. As a result of not having a robust, horizontal strategy execution process, many execution issues get bogged down in turf wars where managers are bickering over limited resources instead of swiftly moving the strategy forward.
What’s insidious about meetings and strategy execution is that they are daily events. There is rarely a holiday from meetings or trying to move the strategy forward; these issues are with managers every day.
If I were to do a root cause analysis of mental management fatigue, I would find meetings and poor strategy execution processes as key causal factors. The good news is, we can do something about them, if we’re not too fatigued already! Oh, diet and exercise also help!
Tight Lines . . .
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