Are You, As A Leader, Unwittingly Preventing Desired Results?

Ever felt like you’re banging your head against a wall due to company practices and policies?

Tell me what’s wrong with this picture …

  • A sales person is told to prepare a letter to their customers announcing that the company will no longer honor product returns – effective immediately! This directive comes with no rationale from senior leadership to aid in explaining why this new policy is going into effect.
  • Sales reps have to get all travel approved by senior leadership. No trips have been approved in nine months. Instead, those sales reps are sent requests to reformat reports in 10 different ways containing all the same information.
  • Weekly reports are required by all sales reps outlining all interactions with their customers and a status of each account. Once submitted, they then spend time defending why there is not much to include in the report. Odd, they don’t seem to make the connection that the lack of activity is due to no travel being approved to call on their customers!
  • Senior leadership requests the sales rep to develop new and creative promotions that could be offered to their customers. History has proven that 1 out of 10 MAY get approved.

Yes – this is a real company, to remain nameless.

I’m stunned and amazed how the company could not see the connection in their practices and policies and poor sales results, but I suppose if there is someone in charge who is focused on standard processes, cost savings and has a high need for control, it can happen.

Often practices and policies are put in place to address one issue without thinking through the implications on the business.

There are more than a few people who view the HR department as a group who has a high need for control and are out of touch with the business, which leads to practices and policies that ultimately prevent the very results the business needs.

If this is sounding familiar, here are a three simple questions to ask yourself to ensure alignment with the business in order to ENABLE the desired results:

  1. Do I have a clear understanding of the desired business results across all departments in the company? If the answer is NO, get meetings set up with each department head and seek to understand.
  2. Do our practices/policies support the behaviors we want to promote and reward? Let’s be clear, the behaviors that are rewarded are the behaviors that will be demonstrated. Never forget – those behaviors ultimately create the culture of the company.
  3. What new practices/policies need to be created to support the business? Business requirements change – make sure you have the right practices/policies in place that address the changing needs. This may mean changing or eliminating existing practices/policies.

When you stay close to the business, you will be viewed as a true partner. A partner people will want to work WITH not work around!

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at