Whose fault is poor implementation?

Tracy Luo July 7, 2014 3 mins read

Most business owners think that poor implementation is a result of problems with employees’ abilities and attitudes. This is incorrect. Poor implementation is merely a result—the root of the problem itself is poor management. In practice, the phenomenon can be understood in this way: individual cases of poor implementation are caused by lack of ability, whereas poor implementation across the whole company is caused by a lack of effective management.

The five causes of poor implementation

Through extensive research into domestic companies and comparisons with foreign firms we’ve discovered that poor implementation is simply the result of the following five factors:

1. Employees don’t know what to do

Without a transparent and viable strategic plan, a distinct marketing strategy or a yearly sales outline, employees don’t have clear directions to follow. In some companies the sales strategy is at odds with market necessities and employees are forced to revise it on the go. At other organisations, policies and strategies are always changing. When combined with a lack of adequate communication, employees are left completely in the dark, the company’s focus becomes off kilter and the most important work is unable to be implemented or completed.

2. Employees don’t know how to do it

At standardised companies, new employees are usually provided with intensive training. In others, however, employees receive training which isn’t specific or workable, or they receive none at all. This reflects a relatively widespread and deep-rooted cause: the middle and top-level leaders lack ability. As these leaders themselves don’t know how to go about business, they’re unable to provide subordinates with clear instructions. The results are seen in the final implementation, with professionals at the lowest levels unable to complete their work and suffering all around.

3. Employees lack the proper support

If soldiers fighting on the frontlines aren’t getting the proper logistical support or supplies; if their requests for back-up are met with silence at the command centre or if the wounded aren’t getting immediate assistance, their morale will take big hit. As their fighting spirit is sapped, the soldiers will become increasingly passive. Employees are the same.

4. Employees aren’t clear on what they’ll get in return for their hard work

Most companies have incentive structures to keep employees motivated. However, in some cases companies make these too complicated, leaving employees unclear on the amount of bonus they’ll receive. This makes the incentives themselves significantly less effective.

5. Employees know that poor performance won’t lead to negative consequences

This usually results from one or more of the following three situations: (1) there are no evaluations, (2) evaluation indicators aren’t accurate or reasonable, and (3) punishments are lenient or non-existent. What does this lead to? Those who aren’t putting in the effort are still getting high marks without suffering any negative consequences whatsoever.

Tracy Luo's picture
Associate Director | Finance & Strategy Recruitment
tluo@morganmckinley.com