One of the best pieces of advice I received from a former mentor was “Don’t chase a bad decision”. People chasing bad decisions happens all too frequently in business. Many people deceive themselves into believing their decision was sound and a little more time will prove them right. All too often the “little more time” results in the problem worsening and the remedy being further delayed. They wish the decision would prove effective but wishing is often far from reality. Wishing cannot make a bad decision change into a good decision.
Managers, including the most senior managers often fail to address a problem and allow the problem to continue for fear the mistake may end up on their resume. They make great effort to distance themselves from decisions they see going bad. Their efforts are spent in building a wall of defense rather than addressing the problem and seeking a solution. The worst managers will seek out a potential scapegoat and try to place the blame on them.
Bad decisions come in many forms but one of the worst involves personnel decisions. Younger people in a company will see someone promoted and wonder why that person received the promotion. When they then see the person perform poorly at the new job they further wonder why management tolerates the poor performance. After a period of time they really begin to question why the person retains his job or why he is not replaced. The answer all too often is the manager who initiated the promotion refuses to admit he made a bad decision. In his mind replacing the poor performer will reflect poorly on him. So he will tolerate and try to hide the poor performance of the person he promoted rather than address the problem and fix it.
The impact of chasing bad decisions has enormous impact on the company and the employees. The impact can result in costing the firm time, money, market share, brand image, opportunity, as well as the loss of good employees. In addition the manager who chased the bad decision in an attempt to keep it off his resume almost always suffers as his resume and image in the firm is negatively affected. In my opinion the loss of good employees is the worst result of chasing a bad decision. A manager’s every action is watched and evaluated by those who report to him. When the manager sends signals such as supporting poor performance by one employee and expecting good performance by everyone else his credibility is destroyed. In addition the company suffers due to decreased morale by the employees.
The formula for success in these situations is spelled out in my book “Theory You”. In brief, the first step is to face the issue honestly. Mistakes happen in every business. Once the bad decision is identified develop alternatives to fix the problem. Select a best alternative and then develop a timeline. Speed is important but avoid haste. Implement the best alternative and have a process for evaluating the new decision.
If the decision involved personnel you will see a change in the employees immediately. Just make sure your best alternative is in fact the best alternative. Chasing after a bad decision never results in improving the company. Time spent in perpetuating an illusion serves neither you nor the company well.