How Slow Can You Go: Why You Can’t Get Your Job Done
While technology should be enabling you to get more done faster, everything takes longer. Here are some suggestions for fixing that.
Admit it. While technology should be enabling you to get more done faster, your company is choking on risk management, compliance, “transformation” initiatives, over-“collaboration,” burdensome decision processes, and laborious hiring practices. Everything takes longer.
Now I can prove it to you. Tom Monahan, CEO of CEB, writes in Fortune about “The Hard Evidence: Business Is Slowing Down.” For a variety of reasons, says Monahan, “most business activity is slowing down, not accelerating” because decision-making has bogged down due to new choke points that are adopted to improve—not to hamper—business.
Remember the last time you were ready to introduce a brilliant new marketing campaign, only to have your legal and compliance people kill it because of regulatory risks? Ever assign a project to your team only to find it keeps dragging on, way past deadline—because the collaborative process is taking forever?
Of course, you’ve been told by sales that closing deals just keeps taking longer, no matter how much your team exploits social tools and analytics to get the message to the right decision-makers at your customer companies. And I keep telling you that your competitors are snapping up your best job candidates because your HR department takes weeks to close on a hire.
If the following findings from CEB’s research don’t scare you, then you’re a mighty good bureaucrat:
- The time required for a B2B sale has increased 22% over the past five years, and where a sale used to require the consensus of one or two buyers, now it requires five or more.
- Since 2010, the average IT project takes a month longer to deliver, and every month of delay in an IT project translates to about $43,000 in costs.
- Nowadays, “60% of employees must consult with at least 10 colleagues each day just to get their jobs done.” And half of those “need to engage more than 20 to do their work.”
- It now takes an average of 63 days to hire a new employee, when in 2010 it took 42. Meanwhile, an unfilled entry-level position costs a company more than $400 a day.
All of these slips in decision-making affect marketing. Meanwhile, your more nimble competitors are eating your lunch. Monahan suggests that business decision-making has slowed down for several reasons:
- “A proliferation of new tasks in compliance, privacy, and data protection—which have more than doubled since the recession.”
- “A ninefold increase in the number of different [enterprise risk management] functions over the past 10 years.”
- Due to “the rise of ‘transformation’ as a corporate mantra … [the modern company] often enters a state of near paralysis.”
- The prevalence of collaboration tools means more people must be involved in making decisions.
What’s the fix? You can read Monahan’s suggestions about speeding up sales, IT, and other business functions—but I want to focus on how to speed up hiring the best people before your competitors grab them. (Some of these suggestions are mine.)
- Hire faster by recruiting better candidates to begin with. Recruit via personal referrals—from your employees and from people outside the company that you know and trust. (See “Recruit Is A Verb.”)
- Limit interference: Make managers the first and main point of contact with job candidates. Let HR handle just the paperwork. (See “Why Do We Keep Waiting On HR?”)
- Stop having everyone interview job candidates. Limit it to managers who will actually work with the new hire.
- Make managers hand-walk job offers through HR to avoid snafus and delays.
- Keep your candidates warm: Stay in close touch with them throughout the process to avoid losing them to more aggressive competitors.
Risk management, transformation, collaboration—there’s nothing inherently bad about any of the initiatives companies launch to improve themselves. But, writes Monahan, “leaders … need to design organizations and processes to take into account—and offset—the various choke points that technology and organizational evolution have created.”
I’ll put it another way: If anyone gets in the way of your business objectives, challenge the person to help you instead.
Here’s an example: Most business people I know hate their lawyers because lawyers have 16 reasons why you can’t do something. I love my lawyer because he knows his place. I decide what I need to do, and I tell my lawyer to find me the legal way to do it. It works the same way with everything else: HR, IT, sales, operations. My objective comes first, and the process serves the objective.
When you run a business the other way around, everything takes longer—or it never gets done.
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