by CIO Staff

Leaders Should Be Realistic About Results

Jun 23, 20053 mins
IT Leadership

It’s time for business leaders to be more realistic in the results they demand from those who work for them. Many organizations have become more results oriented in recent years. The economy, market conditions, increased competition, price pressures and more selective customers all have forced businesses to watch the bottom line more closely.

Everyone is doing more with less, while even more is expected from unforgiving shareholders and top management. As a result, the overwhelming majority of senior executives and managers view top management at their organizations as either extremely or somewhat demanding, according to a recent survey. And the larger the company, the more demanding is top management, according to the survey over a base of 2,000 executives and managers conduced by NFI Research.

In today’s business climate, it is only rational for the top brass to be highly demanding of results. “As a publicly traded company, it is all about results,” said one survey respondent. “While can’t ignore, we have to focus on today tomorrow quarter in order get to the future shareholders. Wall Street demains this approach and our executive team replies responsibly.”

Leaders must demand results. But that’s not the issue. Top management is not always realistic about the level of results demanded and how well those results can be delivered by those below.

In fact, almost 80 percent of executives and managers surveyed do not see the results expected as extremely realistic for them to deliver. In companies with more than 10,000 employees, it’s almost 90 percent.

Top executives have a right to be highly demanding from those who are paid to deliver results, as they are. The problem comes in setting proper expectations, based on the real capability of delivering.

“My team and I have a ton of pressure daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly to hit our numbers,” said one respondent. “At times, the requests from above are not manageable or attainable, so I reset expectations on what I need (people, money, both) to run the business. I do not take higher expectations on without getting what I need to get that new job done.”

The two questions top executives should consider are whether the original demands remain consistent and whether those who are expected to deliver are properly equipped.

“The demands are somewhat fluid,” said one respondent. “And what starts out as realistic demands, from a financial standpoint, can turn into unrealistic ones as unforeseen problems arise with the economy and our customers.”

Said another: “The single reason the result expectations are unrealistic is lack of support. People have been replaced with technology to the extent that there are too many bosses and not enough workers. Ten years ago, a person in my function could have a dedicated assistant and several shared support staff. Today, the assistant has been replaced by the computer. I draft, compose, proof, print, copy, mail and file. Instead of a 10-minute task it is a 20-minute task.”

It is important for top executives to stay highly demanding in requiring results, but also to make sure that managers are provided constant feedback on how to deliver those results.

When more managers face what they consider to be more realistic demands, better, or at least more predictable, numbers will be delivered.