The topic of hoarding has been getting a lot of attention in the media lately. Anxiety-driven by a fear of letting go of something that may be needed later, the hoarder is portrayed buried under mountains of items that are not only no longer needed, but often hidden from existence. The hoarder seeks shelter from change in a storm of stuff, and can barely function under the weight of it all.
In my years of working in corporations and with private clients, it has become apparent that hoarding is not just limited to the home. It spills into the workplace, not in the usual sense of “stuff”, but in the plethora of processes and procedures that may give some people comfort, and can bury an organization alive.
I have seen this all too often. I have heard it often too. Phrases such as “Well, we’ve always done it this way…” is usually a call to action to take a much closer look.
Too often, clients come to me complaining that their company has just gone through a massive downsizing, and as survivors, they are now weighted with the responsibilities of those cut as well as processes that may not make sense in the new order.
A perfect example would be when I replaced a director who left unexpectedly. I inherited a massive report he distributed every week for 20 years to 250 executives. This report was miles long in excruciating details and took up to a full day to prepare. Since the company was rapidly growing, I needed to jettison as much as possible to make room for new goals. So, one day, I just stopped sending the report. The upshot: Only one person called to inquire. Yes–one.
So—as we begin a New Year, I offer you 8 tips for purging the old to make room for the new:
- Review and renew your goals and keep and/or adapt only the procedures and processes that bring your organization closer to them. Let go of the rest.
- Look at meetings, reports and schedules that could be shortened or deleted. Keep a log of how long these things really take—you will be amazed. That’s time holding you back from more important endeavors.
- Remember that not all things are created equal: some processes or reports may need to stay, but may not need to be as complex or as detailed as they were before. Keep them short and simple.
- If you truly fear a procedure or process may be needed again, store it in the archives. Keep only active ones at point of use.
- Some processes and meetings and the like have intrinsic value to only you and no one else. So, you hold on to what you think is treasure but is trash to others. Get input from your team and the departments you touch.
- If you hear or say the magic words “Well, we’ve always done it this way”, it’s time to start sorting and purging. Keep only what’s essential to reaching the company’s goals.
- If you have trouble letting go, always prioritize (and purge) according to the revenue line. Ask yourself: is this making my company money? Is it bringing us new or repeat customers, improving products, or increasing market share? If not, it’s time for the heave-ho.
- Set up regular review periods to repeat this process.
Avoid being a hoarder—it will lighten the road ahead for you and your organization and keep you both from being buried alive.
Copyright 2013, 2014 Michelle Kerrigan