The Effective Executive – Do You Create or Remove Barriers for Employees?

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This is the 47th episode of the Effective Executive podcast. In this episode, Tripp Babbitt describes how executives create barriers when they should be removing them. Download our Effective Executive Starter Kit.

Show Notes

The Effective Executive – Episode 47 – Do You Create or Remove Obstacles for Employees?

Micromanagement Defined


The Customer Connection

Build Trust Through the Barriers You Remove

Who Makes Decisions about Work?

Let’s Talk



[00:00:00] This is the 47th episode of the effective executive podcast and YouTube video, and I wanted to do a little bit of a follow up on the power shift and that employees now hold some of the power, so to speak, within organizations so they can replace you as easily as you can replace them. So I wanted to cover the subject of, you know, do you create or remove obstacles for employees? And in some conversations that I’ve had over the past week or so or even really over the past couple of years, I’m finding more and more that people don’t really understand what I mean when I’m talking about creating obstacles and removing obstacles.


[00:01:02] So, you know, I’ve talked quite a bit as well, at least off and on in this podcast and YouTube videos about micromanagement. And a lot of the executives said, oh, I don’t I don’t micromanage. You know, I don’t look over people’s shoulders. But micromanagement plays out in a lot of different ways in people’s minds. And micromanagement can mean multiple things that have nothing to do with your physical presence. So things like measures, you know, ones that are not associated with the customer, you know, in a context center, you might have average handle time, you know, how long you’re on the phone with a particular customer. And, you know, that gets managed very heavily. You know, how fast can you get a customer off the phone so you can get to the next call as opposed to what my system advocates is developing relationships with customers.And it’s a little bit foreign in that way. But it actually reduces your handal time. It reduces your cost, because when you have people rushing on and off the phone with a customer and they don’t get a complete answer, they’re going to have to call back, which adds to your costs and and just anything associated with costs. And General, I’ve often told executives that, you know, a focus on costs increases them. You know, they’re always looking for ways to reduce costs and then the bureaucracy filters in and you start looking at expense reports and for salespeople and things like that. And, you know, it’s it gets to this.


[00:03:02] Well, control is certainly a big part of that, and then there are other things like the the policies that you have in your organization, the rules, the procedures, all those types of things can become obstacles for employees trying to deliver value for customers. And being able to look at them in fresh eyes requires developing your synthetic thinking skills. So in other words, that you can see the system, you can see the hole to see whether they’re creating value in the eyes of the customer or not. And I really want to go back to this is kind of really fundamental and basic financials will take care of themselves. And no matter what size organization, if customers are getting out of your organization value.


[00:03:59] And so a lot of the measures that are done around financials are more keeping score. It doesn’t mean that I’m not saying you need to pay attention to costs and things of that sort, but the thing that you really need to do is grow your organization by creating value for customers. And sometimes some of the things that you put in place in your organization create barriers for customers to get value from your organization. And so employees often, especially front line ones that are facing what they see it immediately, it’s really evident. And and unfortunately, a lot of executives that I’ve worked with over the years see that as complaining. Oh, they’re just complaining about, you know, something and they’re always complaining about something. But if it’s associated with the customer, you might want to pay attention to what they’re saying and see if others are saying they’re in the front line. You know, are we what are we doing here? And this goes to looking through your customer lens to kind of see your organization as a customer would. The other thing is how you’re motivating people can create an obstacle. You know, if you’re incentivize people to do something, whether it’s get off the phone fast or, you know, a quota for sales or whatever it might be, these can create barriers are obstacles for for employees to they can create a situation where you have to, on one hand way what incentive you might get against what what’s doing right for the customer.


[00:05:50] And I’ve always found that the best answer is doing what’s right for the customer. And as long as you’re doing that, then you will, for the most part, grow your financials and things will pretty much take care of himself so that the the financials are scorecards. They’re not what creates good financials. Good financials come from creating value for customers, whether that’s through their tremendously good service or new innovations and product and service. So those are the types of obstacles I see. So when I see micromanagement, you know, I’ve got people that will say, oh, I don’t, you know, look over their shoulder or whatever. But you are indirectly. One of the thing I might mention that that is also an obstacle is security. And yeah, I know it’s passwords and things like that. Those are a pain in the butt. But I’m talking about physical security. I work with a number of distribution and manufacturing firms that are so concerned about employees stealing stuff. It could be iPhones, there could be, you know, whatever that product is, especially if it’s a retail product that people have and they have their badges and metal detectors and security. And we got to check them and, you know, consider what you’re you’re paying for all that stuff. And would it be better to spend more time getting people in the organization that are paid well? And then you don’t have to have these huge things? Because if you have a really good job in an organization, they’re often hard to find in large organizations is, you know, it’s there’s this distrust that that that setting of security and metal detectors and pat downs of that sort.


[00:07:56] Yeah. You’re going to run into the occasional person that’s going to steal from your organization. But you don’t create trust with your employees by putting this huge security, physical security type of a barrier around things. Now, I understand about cybersecurity because a lot of that comes from the outside. It’s not necessarily that you don’t trust the employee, it’s protecting from outside agencies. So another thing that I’ll mention with regards to obstacles that are created are approval’s. Over and over again, when I go to especially frontline people, they have and this could fall in the line of policies, rules and procedures, but where somebody has to get an approval. And the question I love to ask is how often is it denied? And it might be somebody at a bank says that they were supposed to get, you know. Four percent interest and they only got three and a half percent interest, you know, and then it gets escalated and, you know, all those types of things. And then you go back and you when you ask the question, how often does it get denied? It never gets denied, you know? And so why are we prolonging things for both the customer and the employee? The employee is in a better position to know whether something is should be approved or not.


[00:09:29] And again, this is a trust thing to do that you’re hiring people within your organization that you can trust and if you’re already if your system is already hiring the people that are the cheapest just because we’re trying to save a dime and then put on, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars of security and approvals and things of that sort so people can’t do their job, you’re going to you know, you’re going to reap what you sow, so to speak. And so that’s not good for for anyone in an organization. But take a look at the you know, I encourage people that I talk to to take a look at what you’re doing in your organization around these things and how much is it really costing you? And, you know, would you be better off shifting some of those funds to to a different spot? Now, with regards to removing obstacles? That’s what I really think that executives should be spending more time on. Our management in general is how do I allow an employee customer facing or not to be able to do their job completely? And one of the biggest areas that I run into, especially as you go down the hierarchy and unfortunately, a lot of people that are customer facing are considered in organizations down the hierarchy.


[00:10:53] I don’t know why that is. When you have your. Oh, we don’t you know, what’s our cheapest people to be customer facing? That makes zero sense to me, but then they can’t access it systems. Well, you’re not allowed in the financial system. You’re not allowed and in the tech system or, you know, the technicians are the only ones allowed access to that. That’s their territory. And some of this is born from this analytical versus synthetic thinking. You know, we try to we created these organizations where we have, you know, operations and, you know, we’ve got finance. And, boy, you can’t really cross those lines, even though they’re all one thing, especially if you go through the exercise of looking through the customer lens. I don’t really care how you’re broken out. They just want the answer that they’re looking for. And so access to IT systems lot. Oh, it’s, you know, boy, you know, we’re in finance. We can’t let you get into there because, you know, you’ll screw everything up. A lot of times they only need read-only access just to to answer a question for a customer. But I find that to be a huge barrier. And there’s a lot of I get lots of excuses on this, but this is something that only an executive can tackle as these things that are create barriers for or obstacles for employees to help a customer or to do their job.


[00:12:29] A decision making is another thing, that obstacle that you can remove if you find that your managers or even you are making decisions on work that you don’t understand or have never done or haven’t done in 20 years, then you can understand the frustration of the people, especially on the front line, that are having others, whether they be supporting areas like I.T. or finance or or training. Those are all supporting areas they need, especially customer facing. People need to make decisions about their own work. I would say that in general for any worker, but they need control over what those procedures and policies and rules are going to be. And what you get is instead of getting compliance, you get people that are engaged in and trying to make the work better as opposed to waiting for the next command from you in order to do their work. Another thing is participation of this is a huge problem. And for the most part and there’s a lot of ways this could play. But let me just hit one thing here is participation in innovating or making changes to the work that that’s being done. But innovation is a big one. People don’t organizations don’t tap into people. There’s usually a separate group or a small group of people that are allowed to come up with new ideas for products or services or just in general. And that’s unfortunate. Everyone needs to participate in creating more work.


[00:14:25] So that’s another obstacle that you can can help remove, as are we getting ideas from from everyone or are we just getting it from a small set of people? And what’s the participation level or is that your job is to just do the work? I’ll make? You know, there’s something that that around innovation, we’ve got a whole group of people for that. So just, you know, be quiet and don’t cause any waves. So anyway, yeah, and I’m amplifying this a bit, but I don’t think many executives, when I talk to them, really see what’s going on. They don’t see it as creating obstacles or that their job is even to remove obstacles. So that’s what I wanted to cover this week.


[00:15:12] If you’re having trouble seeing your organization or yourself, I welcome you to have a 30 minute conversation in the. Below, I guess I should say, in if you’re looking in YouTube, you’ll be able to find that you can get a 30 minute conversation with me and get you started down the path of, you know, sometimes just helps to have somebody from the outside look at what you’re doing. Let you talk what you’re trying to do, what you’re trying to accomplish, you know, with some of the things that I’ve brought up and give you a different view on what’s happening. So you can do that at the ninety five method dotcom forward slash. Let’s talk.

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