First 30 Days Blog

21 jan

WorkplaceRx: Is Hoarding Burying Your Company Alive?

MichelleKerriganThe 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 subject is portrayed buried under mountains of items that are not only no longer needed, but 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 been doing it this way for a hundred years…” 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 a new year is here, I offer you 8 tips for purging what may be keeping your company from functioning and meeting new and important goals:

1. 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.
2. Whenever you downsize your organization, repeat this process.
3. 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 that could be holding you back from more important endeavors.
4. 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.
5. If you truly fear a procedure or process may be needed again, write it down and store it in the archives. Keep only active ones at point of use.
6. Get input from your team and the departments you touch. Often, processes, meetings and the like have intrinsic value to only you and no one else. So, you may be holding on to what you think is treasure but is trash to others.
7. If you hear or say the magic words “Well, we’ve been doing it this way for a hundred years”, it may be time to start sorting and purging, keeping only what’s essential to reach the company’s goals.
8. If you still 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 our products, or increasing our market share? If not, it’s time for the heave-ho.

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 Michelle Kerrigan. All rights reserved.

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping organizations and individuals improve performance and productivity in the day-to-day workplace. A trusted expert who uniquely combines extensive leadership and operations experience with powerful coaching and organizing techniques, Michelle helps clients develop skills and confidence critical to the bottom line. More at

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Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on January 21st, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments Read related posts in , , , ,

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