In any organization, managers and leaders must deal with issues. Conflicts arise, schedules slip, and other unplanned events inevitably occur. This is to be expected, and most managers leap into the breach, doing any number of things to confront these challenges. This may include lending their own technical know how, working “on the line”, adding time and resources or forcing longer hours onto the team to name a few of the techniques I have seen over the years. Sometimes these sort of interventions can help a team, other times they can be destructive. Of course, if you approach a manager about a specific incident as a coach to understand what happened, there will always be a perfectly understandable explanation.
A very important customer was at stake if they missed the date, they weren’t going to finish anything if more pressure – really overtime work – wasn’t applied, or this was a totally unique circumstance which will never occur again. Of course, these arguments in isolation are frequently correct, and the solutions sometimes work, for a time. When looking for an analogy of how to explain this behavior, I have come to characterize it as “organizational pain killers”. We work to deal with the various crisis, conflicts and challenges that confront a team, we must ask ourselves, are we solving the actual ailment or are we just administering pain killers?