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Out with the new, in with the old

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Many managers try to leave their mark by favoring anything that’s new and different. They figure that whatever happened before they arrived was wrong.

These managers love to hype new technologies, new processes and new paradigms. They blather on about the importance of “change.”

Meanwhile, employees run around in a state of fear and uncertainty. Even if they’ve produced superior results for years, they may assume that was all for naught under the new regime.

A.G. Lafley, Procter & Gamble’s CEO from 2000 to July 2009, understood the foolishness of chasing newness for newness’ sake. After he took the helm, he decided to focus on boosting sales of P&G’s core brands (such as Tide, Crest and Pampers) instead of developing the Next Big Thing.

Over the past decade, Lafley stabilized the company after his predecessor tried to make lots of disruptive changes. Lafley insisted that his management team improve on existing success rather than roll out risky new products into new markets.

Management experts credit Lafley for telling his managers to concentrate on what they do well rather than abandon their strengths to pursue unproven projects. By expressing confidence in his managers’ ability to parlay existing success into greater gains, Lafley reassured them that they were capable of driving the company’s numbers higher.

Remember Lafley’s strategy when you push people to produce better results. Identify existing strengths and build on them. Don’t abandon what works in favor of new systems that employees may not accept or understand.

Above all, evaluate the recent past with an open mind. Extract lessons from your organization’s successes. Beware of tinkering with what works.

Employees want you to recognize their triumphs. If you disregard what went right and insist on doing things differently, you may hurt morale while missing your production targets.

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