Do you remember The Adams Family and Uncle Fester?
All organisations have their Uncle Fester (I bet you can hear the Adams Family theme tune playing in the background of your mind even now). Slightly mad he runs around a lot and makes a lot of noise, is directionless and lost. This festering problem hangs around with no one to solve it, no one to care or nurture it into something new.
As organisations, teams and individuals, we all have problems we keep putting off, hoping they’ll go away. Problems might be around staffing issues, a new product launch or it might be about the real problem and that’s often us.
The thing about leaving problems to fester is, that they’re still there, hanging around in the background (cue Adams Family music) constantly preoccupying our thoughts, distracting us from our work, and making us feel increasingly guilty about not tackling them.
Let’s consider the leader’s lot, you may well be one, one of the few caught in the middle between the directors and the workers, walking the organisational tight rope.
By putting off confronting issues it will undermine respect from both directions. This is not about being confrontational, it’s about common sense used in a clear and communicative way (and you know what they say about common sense).
Inaction leads to resentment, constant whispering and finger pointing which create a whole series of mini-problems ready to serve as Uncle Fester’s apprentices. Dealing with problems directly shows leadership, it gets things done with the least amount of wasted time, effort and energy.
So what if:
We recognise that problems exist
We are curious about wanting to solve them
We ask what and how rather than who and why
We try a three strikes and it’s out approach (strikes meaning we have avoided it)
We stop putting off, and start a to do now list
So what to do?
Problems only grow if we let them. Tackling them face on by talking them through or by seeking help to gain a new insight or perspective means we have taken our first step in solving the issue and Uncle Fester moves on.