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Stop Keeping the Lights On: Part V

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Stop Keeping the Lights On: Part V

Michael Dowden concludes his series on ''just keeping the lights on,'' focusing on how to avoid and correct the JKTLO mentality in your organization.

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This is the final blog post in my series. Over the course of the other blog posts, I have explained the JKTLO problem and examined its causes. Now, I will present some ways to avoid and correct JKTLO in your department or organization.

To start, you need to have good awareness in order to see when you are engaging in any of the anti-patterns that I detailed in the other blog posts. If you do recognize any of the anti-patterns occurring, then you need to take action right away.

Good communication between employees and managers can also help prevent JKTLO issues from arising. Many problems associated with JKTLO are first felt at the lower levels of the organization. Because of this, all employees need to feel comfortable communicating their concerns and be confident that they will be heard. Empowering employees in this way helps ensure that they are not blind followers.

Carefully avoiding moral hazard can also help you steer clear of JKTLO. Moral hazard occurs when the person making the decisions is not the person taking the risks. This happens frequently in organizations that are divided into silos. In these types of organizations, it is possible for a manager in one department to make decisions that can negatively impact employees in a different department (who will then take the blame if it fails). To avoid this, structure your organization so that the people making the decisions are the ones who are rewarded or penalized based on the outcome.

The way employees are rewarded in general can either have a positive or negative impact on the organization. Many companies reward employees who work overtime or implement last minute heroics when problems arise. Instead, management should reward those who are proactive in preventing problems — and who are able to do so within a 40 hour work week. It can also be helpful to reward people who only take on responsibilities they are capable of executing well, rather than employees who take on too much work and are unable to follow through on their commitments.

Poor employee morale is another indication of a company that is struggling with JKLTO. Employees can feel when things are not working well, and that is reflective in their attitude and performance at work. When employees are active and engaged, they are likely putting in their best effort, and the company certainly benefits from that.

If you want your department or organization to become as efficient as possible, contributing value and innovation, then just keeping the lights on cannot be the daily reality for you or your workers. Constantly be aware of the signs of anti-patterns, and keep communication honest and open between employees and managers. Most importantly, always be ready to make the changes necessary to eliminate the causes of JKTLO — allowing JKTLO to remain in your department or organization will ultimately be harder and more time consuming than addressing it head on.

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Topics:
management ,agile ,work life

Published at DZone with permission of Michael Dowden, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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