Stuck in Status Quo: Five Crippling Habits That Inhibit Change and Agility – Part 1 of 5 – By Bob Prosen

bob-prosen4We all have excuses for not changing, and you’d better believe that companies are full of excuses. The following phrases may sound familiar to you: “We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.” “I didn’t make my numbers because . . .” “Here are all the things that could go wrong.” “I can’t get everything done.” “It’s not my job. It wasn’t my fault.” “I wish management would stop changing their minds.”

Excuses signal systemic problems that are deeply embedded in the corporate culture. And while some hostile economic events are unavoidable, I find that many companies suffer from the same five crippling habits that inhibit change, progress and growth.

Crippling Habit 1:
Absence of Clear Directives

If you’re hearing or saying any of the following, then your company or organization suffers from an absence of clear directives: “I can’t get anything done.” “Everything is a priority.” “I wish management would quit changing their minds.” “I didn’t know I was supposed to do that.”

As a leader, you must make sure everyone who reports to you understands and stays focused on achieving the company’s most important objectives, the things that matter most and must get done. Listen for what’s keeping people from doing what’s important. Have you set goals that are specific and measurable? Can everyone in your company articulate those goals? Do they understand how their jobs directly support those goals?

It’s easy to discover the answers to these important questions. When I’m working with a company to improve operating results and profitability, one of the first things I do is walk around and ask people at all levels what the company’s goals are. If they can tell me, pull it up on a computer screen, or point to a sign in their office or a break room and then describe how their work fits into the company’s top objectives, my job is going to be a lot easier.

Most of the time, employees don’t know their employer’s top objectives, and they struggle to directly connect their work to desired outcomes. Sometimes I don’t even have to ask the questions, all I have to do is listen and observe. Are heads down and focused? Are people having action- and goal-oriented conversations, or are they surfing the Internet or reliving their weekends?

Put the objectives front and center on meeting agendas, in ongoing written and verbal communications, and in marketing collateral. Make them come to life in everything the company does.

Bob Prosen is president and CEO of The Prosen Center for Business Advancement®, where he teaches business leaders how to rapidly increase performance and profits. He is listed in The International Who’s Who of Entrepreneurs. Visit his website at

Join us next week when Bob discusses Crippling Habit 2: Lack of Accountability.

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