Stuck In The Run

Are you stealing opportunities for people to own their work?

In this new video, Ray Attiyah, founder/CIO of Definity Partners and author of The Fearless Front Lines, is committed to improving companies while inspiring the performance of frontline employees.

Unfortunately, he believes that senior managers often get the middle managers “stuck in the run” -- the daily tasks of running a business and “putting out fires.” Ray helps leaders get unstuck and focus on improving and growing their organization.
When I was director of operations in the 90s, I had a boss who came into my office one time and said, "Hey, do you know machine number 3 is down."

And I said, "Okay." I said, "Is Jerry aware of it?" Jerry was our operator.

He said, "Yep."

I said "Okay." I said, "Is there a maintenance technician there with him?"

He said, "Yes, they're working on the cutter."

I said, "Okay."

He said, "Then I went ahead and told the supervisor of maintenance, and he's out there as well. And I went ahead and told the production supervisor, so he's over there now as well. And I called the maintenance manager, and he's on his way from the other plant."

And I said, "Okay."

And then he said, "I need you to go out there and make sure they're doing their job."

And I said, "Who should I fire?"

And he looked at me with this face.

I said, "No, I mean, I need to fire somebody." I said, "Because if it takes that many people to fix something that two people should be fixing, then I've hired incompetent people. Or you need to fire me for allowing that to happen. But I am not going to go out there and make sure six people are doing the job of what two people need to do."

And that's an example of what I see as, sometimes, senior managers really get the middle managers stuck in the run. That means they're part of the day-to-day running of the business. They are necessary. They're making decisions. They are scheduling. They're buying material. They are part of the day-to-day interviews. So they get stuck in the run. They're preventing themselves from being able to work on proactive improvements in developing their team.

Why that happens? For a number of reasons. They don't do it to understand what's going on. They do it for the fact that they don't have confidence in their front line. They themselves are not confident in their role they should be in. They get a sense of success on a daily basis from the day-to-day activities. But what they're really doing is they're stealing an opportunity for people to own their own work.

Ray Attiyah

Ray Attiyah is an entrepreneur, innovator, master teacher, and optimist. He is the Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Definity Partners (a training, process and leadership improvement firm who works primarily with mid-sized manuf...

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