Procrastination and egos cost businesses…


Procrastination and egos cost businesses…

“It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”
Elbert Hubbard : writer, publisher and philosopher

How often, as business owners and managers do we procrastinate on making decisions because of the feared consequences?
Sometimes we procrastinate making the most obvious decisions and further compound indecision by allowing our egos to rule rather than practical common sense. Let me give you an example.

Recently a friend was caught up in a situation that not only cost the business significant money but was a major distraction for the business in general. An employee who was still within their probationary period was responsible for bullying two other employees causing them to leave. Despite advice that the offender should be terminated without recourse as they were within their probationary period, the owner procrastinated and the offending employee remained employed after their probationary period. The owner then decided to act on the advice and terminate the employee, who immediately filed for ‘unfair dismissal’. Australia’s employment laws make it quite difficult to terminate employees after their probationary and court imposed penalties are high.

The owner was advised to make a one off payment to make the problem ‘go away’. He refused, stating it was against his principles to make such a payment. Lawyers were engaged, time was spent to present the case to the government tribunal and everybody was distracted. The indirect cost was considerable. The offender then doubled their demand for ‘go away’ money. The final outcome was a large legal bill, plus a payout to the ‘offender’ and wasted time and effort by the business owner and advisors.

All this was avoidable. The offender should have been terminated within their probation period. Their actions had already resulted in two long term employees leaving the business which was poor management. The second piece of advice to pay out the claim would have also solved the problem. However, pride and ego rather than common sense ruled the roost.

In business sometimes we have to put our pride and ego aside and make a decision that is best for the business. I have been guilty of this in my career, however several painful experiences have caused me to reflect my actions.

Can you think of an example where you procrastinated or allowed your ego to either delay making a decision or discarded common sense advice and made the wrong decision?

9 thoughts on “Procrastination and egos cost businesses…

  1. what role does fear play in this David? I always thought a reason we procrastinate is fear of something e.g. fear of being told no so delay following up with a prospect? Could be ego but I suspect more fear of rejection?

    • Tim, that is a good question. Is it fear that makes us procrastinate? Ego certainly makes us often eschew common sense or listen to other advice and make the wrong decision. I procrastinate when I don’t wish to do the task or make a decision. However, when you make the decision or complete the task its generally much easier than you ‘feared’ and wonder why you didn’t do it in the first place. Perhaps we do things we like rather than do things we should – is this the normal human reaction?

      • Thanks David. I actually think fear is a bigger driver of our behaviours (good and bad) than we think or want to admit.

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