80% of your time spent on the wrong 20%

You may have heard that 20% of your problems take up 80% of your time.

It’s the same with people.

One of the most frustrating parts of my job as a supervisor was time spent dealing with “bad apples”. One time that really sticks out is when I had to deal with two back-to-back “BIG UGLY’ HR issues. To give you perspective (and maintain confidentiality), both “issues” involved a glut of lawyers, HR managers, risk-managers, top-level executives, and their boss, who just happened to be me.

I was frustrated. I wanted to invest my time in people who were not in trouble.

Countless hours are spent, even wasted, worrying about and dealing with these problems. Don’t forget the mental space lost by having these issues play on your mind. More importantly, those are the same hours you could have spent investing in those who need – and deserve – your time.

Imagine what could have been accomplished if all of those resources wasted on the bad apples could have been invested in high potential people.

Everyone on my team knew about the conduct of these two people. Actually, most of the team thought that they had been unfairly getting away with something for a long time. The big surprise was that the matter had finally been dealt with.

It is our job to deal with issues and problems. But, when issues and problems threaten strategic goals and team dynamic, what is the cost to the organization and our people?

On reflection, three things come to mind:

  1. Don’t overthink things. Manage the risk and get rid of the problem as fast as you can.
  2. People are not stupid. They often know more about what is going on then you do.
  3. Keep your eye on your goals. Invest time in those who can help you get there.

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