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  • Writer's pictureMESEJ

Who in your team is hurrying slowly?

In 2013 the Harvard Business Review "The Imperatives of an Organisation Built For Speed" identified that "to sustain a competitive edge, your company’s new business development engines must similarly fire on all cylinders at supersonic speed".

This has never rung more true than today. We are facing a global crisis and never, ever has it been more important to go faster.

The problem.

Every organisation has them. Individuals who appear to be moving around at lightening speed but get very little done. These folks are always extremely busy but in reality they “operate at the speed of a runaway glacier i.e. very slowly” says MESEJ Chairman Ian Sarson. This can happen intentionally as well as due to circumstances impacting the individual.

It is critical to work out who operates like this in your team and it is equally as important as a leader not to be seen as operating like this as you will propagate this culture down the ranks.

Classic symptoms of “hurrying slowly”:

  • Bouncing around from one meeting to another without generating the output expected of them

  • Not delivering on the outcomes you have set them

  • Always seeking extensions to deadlines or not taking deadlines seriously

  • Blaming others for their lack of progress rather than getting the work done

  • Claiming to "be right behind you" which whilst they are, they are 10 miles behind

  • Everything you need them to do takes forever to get done or never gets finished

  • Vocal in meetings, supportive but utterly useless when it comes to moving the business forward

  • Behaves like a corporate assassin i.e. the smiley face, but is disruptive behind the scenes

These traits are often (but not always) due to:

  • Too many tasks and ‘high priority’ jobs which allow the individual to hide behind the chaos

  • Insecurity in not knowing how to get business done and they are often reluctant to ask for help

  • Their own misaligned vision to the organisation or the leader accountable for the business

  • Generally incapable and are afraid of being found out (these types are masters at dodging being fired)

  • What you are asking them to do is stupid, and they hope you will wake up to that before they do something everyone will regret (this is a defence mechanism as well as potential sabotage)

  • You might be conflating hurry slowly with people who are always busy but never do anything. That is a “hide in plain sight” strategy that is equally damaging, but less difficult to spot

And it is a problem because:

  • It fosters a toxic culture as their peers and subordinates will copy this behaviour

  • Underpins low team morale because if you never make progress then you’ve very little to celebrate

  • Targets will be missed and no one likes to miss their targets come annual appraisal time

Do this now for immediate benefit:

  1. Identify who is hurrying slowly, the reasons for it and work these through one at a time

  2. Reset your teams targets and priorities by doing less, but doing things better

  3. Engage your HR business partner and performance manage those who are under performing

If you are in a hurry and individuals in your team are purposely slowing you down then you need to do something positive about this. Rooting out this toxic behaviour will only lead to performance gains in your organisation and improvement in morale. Where individuals are underperforming due to being drowned out by being overtasked it is your responsibility to help them and pro-actively manage their way out of the situation.

Your organisation, shareholders, employees and the community may now depend on your going faster.


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