The Mediocrity Limbo

As part of the new year, I’d like to see more people being proactive and not waffling on decisions. One of the major issues is of having things that don’t suck enough. That’s when you can trick yourself into believing it’s not that bad. However, once too much time passes, it definitely is taking a toll on your team that can become substantial. Let’s unjam the limbo.

Bad Hires

If only all hiring decisions that didn’t work out were as obvious as that time you hired someone who was clearly a fraud and was let go quickly, right? However, many cases—in some companies, the majority—are in a grey zone. The person you hired isn’t horrible, but they’re definitely not where you had hoped they’d be when you hired them.

Having these people not be horribly incompetent puts us in a tough spot. However, life’s short. Get moving. Provide them with clear feedback early. In mean, within weeks, not quarters. If the improvement after the feedback isn’t very promising, it’s time to call it. The longer you wait, the harder it will be for you, your team, and that employee. Waiting longer doesn’t usually result in any real improvement, but it makes things harder-set. Harry Stebbings says you can generally tell within a week, and I tend to agree. Therefore, you shouldn’t take much longer than that to course correct.

Zombie Initiatives

Next, you need to pull the plug on things you keep doing out of sheer habit or momentum. For example, you have those projects that no one still believes are going anywhere but continue because the roadmap’s only getting redone at the end of the quarter. Or the recurring invites people sit through, though they stopped making sense months ago.

I bet many of you reading are thinking that this is something that only happens in Big Tech. My experience is that I’ve yet to do a calendar review and not come up with at least one such example that could be changed or canceled altogether. And any recurring meeting you cancel frees up tons of productive hours throughout the year (we all know engineers stop concentrating about 20 minutes before meetings).

Cryogenic Leaders

And then, dear reader, we’re left with you. Looking back at the last year, how much have you moved forward? What have you achieved personally? If you had to write down your personal “release notes” for the past 12 months, would you have anything worthwhile to report? What’s likely to make it to the release notes that will be written a year from today?

If those lists seem depressingly short or uninteresting, you, too, might be in limbo. There’s no textbook answer here for what might be holding you back, but I can say addressing it usually starts with deciding to take control of your career and stop wasting your time. I routinely tell my clients that life’s short—and boy, did we realize it all the more over here recently. Don’t let precious months go by like that. You can create a team worth leading—a career highlight. If you need a hand with helping your team become an impact powerhouse—reach out.