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Three Ways Leaders Can Solve the “People Problems” That Hold Teams Back

Sometimes the conference room should be a boxing ring, other times a campfire.

By | Leigh Thompson | Tanya Menon |

The Friday team meeting you lead has gone off the rails. The same way it did last Friday, and the Friday before. In fact, it’s hard to remember the last time you had a truly productive meeting.

Individually, none of these tangents or bungled opportunities would be a big deal. But cumulatively?

“It’s not in our everyday awareness,” says Leigh Thompson, a professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School. “But it turns out these small but numerous time sinks are piling up to the equivalent of a massive landfill.”

Thompson and her colleague Tanya Menon of the Ohio State University distinguish between two types of spending. “Type I” is spending in its typical sense—the kind that prominently appears on financial statements. In contrast, “type II” spending—squandered work time—goes unrecorded. But it is no less important. To start to get a sense of how much type II spending occurs, Menon and Thompson asked 87 senior executives to estimate what wasted time had cost their companies. The average answer: nearly $15.5 million.

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