Recognising Poorly Managed Organisations

“Unfortunately it’s also true to say that good management is a bit like oxygen – it’s invisible and you don’t notice its presence until it’s gone, and then you’re sorry.”
― Charles Stross

Have you ever walked into a business and realised it was poorly managed before you even met the management team?

Years of experience has sharpened my ‘antenna’ to organisations with poor management. The symptoms are apparent even when you first come in contact with the business or organisation.

Think about the last time you visited an organisation – what were your first impressions? They are generally a guide to the rest of the organisation. I can remember a recent visit to a business. My first impressions proved to be correct.

The reception was untidy and dirty, no visitors book, no induction procedure, no chair to sit while waiting for the owner, no coffee, tea or water was offered at the meeting, the meeting room where customers would obviously meet had broken chairs with paper and cardboard boxes on the board table. When I politely requested a cup of coffee there were no clean coffee mugs or milk.

Was this initial experience an indication of how the business was managed? Yes of course it was!

The staff were surly and demotivated, and initiative was discouraged. The owner treated them poorly which were exacerbated by his erratic behaviour. The business went into administration within 4 months of my visit.

By comparison, another business I visited was the opposite. Although the office area was ‘dated’ it was neat and tidy, a drink was offered and there were pictures on the wall showing what the company did together with certificates of appreciation from charities and the company’s values were prominently displayed. I subsequently found out that this company was growing profitably at 20% per annum and had been doing so for the past 3 years.

Another indicator is telephone manner – if the phone is not answered promptly, if the person does not state the company, introduce themselves and have a helpful and pleasant manner then it is probably a symptom of poor management. Telephones are the face of the business and often the first interaction with customers.

As an extension of this theory, we often don’t notice good managers or good customers until they have left. They are often ‘invisible’ and do their job without ‘noise’. In one of my earlier blogs Beware of the Operations Hero explains this concept as well.

Like a well serviced and driven motor vehicle that performs well and does not breakdown, good management is the same.

Good managers recognise this in their staff, customers and suppliers……….do you?

11 thoughts on “Recognising Poorly Managed Organisations

  1. So true, so true. I am working with one now. The other kind is they have great products but that’s where its seems to stop, or they are been badly advised by their “boards” they just can’t recognize that! They have a list of wants, but can’t actually see what they need! Best, Gary

    • Gary, thank you for your comments. Wants Vs Needs is an interesting comment and is very true. Many organisations do not understand the difference and do not get their fundamentals right – such as following up customer complaints, providing the services their customers expect and so on.

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