"Fix" The System Rather Than The People

Let’s talk about management ROI—the return on investment you can expect from your management efforts.

What offers the best payoff? Experience proves that you’ll enjoy the biggest benefits when you focus on system changes, rather than trying to improve the various people who work for you.

Nobody’s arguing here against training. People definitely need coaching and development to make sure their skills measure up. The point we’re making is about leverage. About playing the odds. About investing management time and energy for maximum return.

Historically, managers are inclined to over-manage individuals and under-manage the environment in which they work. They spend too much of their time “fixing” people who really aren’t broken. They invest too little time fixing organizational systems that are broken. The figures vary a little in different jobs, industries, and countries. But it’s argued that 80 percent of performance improvement opportunities are located in the environment. Chances are only 15 to 20 percent of the opportunities will be found in the area of ...