Are you the CWO* of your company?

Many CEO’s that I work with as a Vistage Chair have a different reality from the title they show on their business cards. I call it the CWO- Chief “Whack-a-Mole” Officer.

If you are not familiar with that description, Wikipedia says “the term is used colloquially to denote a repetitious and futile task: each time an adversary is “whacked” it only pops up again somewhere else.” Whack-a-Mole is also a game where you take a mallet and try to hit the mole as it pops up through one of several holes on the game-board. Each player takes a turn. The person to hit them all the fastest wins the game.

Can you see yourself in these examples? It could be that the problem you are addressing is the symptom, not the underlying cause. So often I hear CEO’s complain about the turnover in important positions that aren’t meant to be quick turnover jobs. Is the job description asking for too many different skill sets in one person? Is the pay too low for the level of complexity? What is happening in that department that might be inhospitable to a new hire? If the pattern is repeating itself, I suggest that it is a systems issue and that you do a deep dive into the environment to find the problem.

I can hear the push-back…”that is the job of someone who works for me.” And, so it might be. Are you asking THEM the right questions that indicate you are expecting better answers to the problem? Could it be that they don’t know how to solve it? Has the problem spread all through the company? Why is it that some people overcome it and others don’t? Do you need to look outside the company for answers? How do other people address that issue in their organizations? You can’t solve systemic issues within your company with whack-a-mole.

And, what about the idea that the first one to whack all the moles wins?  Look at your task list. What are the tasks you would like to get off your list? I recommend to my Vistage Members that they track their time for 1-2 weeks and then pull out the highlighters. Use blue for the things you love to do. (They may not be the most important).  Highlight in yellow the time spent that was strategic and important. Use pink for things you don’t want to do or that someone else could do. Immediately delegate the pink. Take a look at the blue. If you love to do it, is it because you are SO good at it? Is anyone else on your staff good at it, too? And, the reason you are the one doing it is…tell me again?

So put that mallet down and consider time…it does matter how you slice it.

. . . an old favorite from December 2013.