It’s all well and good wanting an organisation that is efficient, productive and forward thinking, but without the right long-term approach from the top, even with the right people underneath, your organisation is unlikely to ever reach its full potential.
SHORT-TERMISM is an ideas and creativity killer in business.
Your organisation may well encourage a ’speak-up’ culture, but unless you truly empower middle management to act on ideas that come their way and stop focusing solely on short-term goals, you will never unlock the real advantages that come with an ideas driven culture.
It’s easy for an organisation to blame the middleman for not encouraging more ideas and bringing them to the fore and its easy to assume it’s ego or fear of change that creates a bottleneck, but recent evidence indicates this is not the case. 9 times out of 10 the block is simply that your middle management feel compelled to focus on short-term outcomes.
Organisation Science undertook a study earlier this year that interviewed hundreds of middle managers across a wide range of businesses and countries, they found that a large proportion of these people didn’t’t encourage ideas simply because it would put them in an impossible position.
Managers know that it is likely the individuals they are responsible for have good ideas to improve efficiency in the area in which they work.
However, if they were to encourage staff to share their ideas, they felt a sense of obligation to act quickly; something they typically cannot do as there is an arduous approval process and chain that the idea needs to follow. Not only that, but typically these managers are rewarded on short-term success such as meeting the next deadline or target, whereas implementing new practices/processes would disrupt the current workflow and, whilst beneficial in the long run, the time it takes to implement a new idea could jeopardise the looming goal.
The study proved that short-termism reduces the amount of ideas from below that flow through to the top. As top management it is important to nurture long-term views and open up opportunities for managers to step-away from the immediate demands of the work to promote creativity and innovation within their teams. It is proven encouraging a more long-term focus within middle management reaps greater business rewards.