Two Cent Tuesday: Company Culture – Don’t Chase the Symptom, Chase the Cause

Two Cent Tuesday: Company Culture – Don’t Chase the Symptom, Chase the Cause

In the medical field, you may have heard the phrase,

Don’t chase the symptom, chase the cause.

For example, treating someone for depression without therapy is chasing the symptom. Or telling someone who gets eight hours of sleep a night, yet is constantly tired, just to get more sleep is chasing the symptom.  The underlying problem is not being addressed, and until that underlying problem is discovered, no lasting and significant change can occur.

It is my belief that this concept can just as easily be applied to the success of a civil engineering consulting firm as well, right?

If a company has a high turnover rate, and they continuously run ads for the same types of positions where they have a revolving door of employees, they are treating the symptom.   So it is probably not that you are hiring incompetent people, but rather a flaw, or even worse a major problem within the culture of the company that should be investigated.

If your firm is failing to make any inroads in a new service line, and you are continuously blaming and replacing the leaders that you put in that expansion role, you are likely treating the symptom, not the cause.  As it turns out, it’s not the quality of the people you are putting in that role, but rather you are not giving them the necessary tools or investment to allow them to be successful.

Addressing symptoms should merely be stop-gap for handling deeper lying causes.  Putting a band-aid on the situation time-and-time again will land your firm in the hospital, if not the morgue.   Identifying the cause can be a painful, time-consuming, and sometimes financially burdensome process, but the payoff is worth the investment.


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