C-Suite Network™

Hey Leaders, Are You Setting Up Your Team to Fail?

Take, for instance, when we hear about air traffic controllers reportedly nodding off on the job and pilots being forced to land unassisted. As frightening as that may be, personally, I don’t blame the controllers. They were set up for failure.

The majority of these controllers work schedules that sound something like this: work an 8-hour shift, rest for 8 hours; work an 8-hour shift and rest for 8 hours. Many work repeated back-to-back midnight shifts, during which most of them are flying solo.

As Charlie Sheen would say, “DUH!” They’re all falling asleep at the switch because they’re all sleep-deprived!

This system is clearly flawed and therefore, it has failed the controllers – and us. Where are the leaders here? I know grocery store managers who do a much better job of scheduling their clerks than this, and these clerks (typically) are not responsible for the lives of hundreds or thousands of people in one shift.

So, here is my question for you as executive leaders, as bosses, as team leaders, as business owners. Are you scrutinizing your procedures and systems to make sure that you are setting people up for success rather than failure?

I once had a client contact me requesting a team-building training program. In an effort to conduct a little quick and dirty needs analysis I asked him what was going on – what prompted his request. (Since I’ve worked with this company in the past, I have a pretty good idea of their leadership structure.) He explained that they wanted to provide the teamwork training to their salespeople. He further elaborated that these salespeople are set up into two divisions and are essentially competing against each other for customers.

Wait a minute. Back up! You want to provide teamwork training, presumably to help them to work together better as a team, while they are expected to compete against each other? Sounds almost like an oxymoron to me.

The heaviest dose of team-building, training, or rah-rah-rah inspirational/motivational pep talks can’t get these people to function as a team when they are required to compete against each other for their livelihood. That system is inherently flawed.

Policies, procedures, systems, processes all have to be established to set your team members up for success. Do you periodically re-evaluate and re-assess yours to make sure that they still make sense?


What will you:

  • start doing,
  • stop doing, or
  • continue doing or do differently

to make sure that you’re leading your team and preparing them success rather than failure?

Use the comment box below to share your action plan and experiences with us!

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More articles by Jennifer:

Leadership Team Accelerated Results Program

12 Powerful Questions to Stash in Your Leadership Toolbox

Leadership Lessons to Push Past Homeostasis

Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems.


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