Personnel Management. Mary Poppins syndrome

All entrepreneurs who work with wage earners end up with what some ingenious business coaches call Mary Poppins syndrome. It lies in the fact that the company hires a person who, in their firm conviction, must do everything right and correct absolutely all mistakes. Often these people are hired with a transfer, so they need some time to get to a new job. And in anticipation of them everything freezes, freezes and stops. Business processes are frozen, new people are not hired, campaigns are not launched - because everyone is waiting for a magic figure to arrive, who will put things in order with one movement of the hand. And in the end, when this person appears, the company is disappointed, since, of course, no one is able to do everything, and even more so - all at once.


And it’s even worse if such a person does not appear. For example, refuses to move. Or it turns out to be intercepted by competitors. And here comes the most severe deadline and recession of all business processes, moreover, a recession diligently created by the entrepreneur himself.


Mary Poppins Syndrome (or SMP) leads people to genuinely believe that poor leadership is at the root of all problems. Accordingly, in order to solve all the problems in one fell swoop, you need to find a good leader. You, too, have probably heard such arguments more than once? “The new head of sales will greatly increase our profits”, “When the department is headed by a new manager, things will be different”, “We will become world famous when we find a good marketer” and so on.


Phrases like these are a symptom that your company has had a serious EMS attack. And guess what the problem is? Here's the thing: 99% of the time, there is no Mary Poppins. Moreover, such a syndrome makes it difficult to see problems that are really serious and deep, and to start looking for solutions.


Let's take a look at the example of the sales department. Of course, a good leader can motivate people and build a good work team. However, problems in this area can be the result of warehouse or production problems, or poor marketing, or the wrong market. And it may well be that the head of the sales department, who now occupies this position, cannot improve the work of the department at all through no fault of his own.


Either way, your salespeople will probably be able to find the problem faster than you can find a new sales manager. And even if objectively you need a new person for this position, it is not at all necessary to expect from him a solution to all the problems that your company has in this area.


So you have two options. Either you find the cause of your problem and start solving it, or you leave everything as it is until you find someone who will fix it.


Let's try to consider a more optimistic scenario. Let's say you found your Mary Poppins in two months. It will take her another month to come to a state of which one can say “be aware”, and will be able to start working. Maybe it will take her another month for her work to start yielding any results. And after that she has to do what? That's right: she will have to solve all the same problems that existed long before her appearance. So the fact of hiring her didn't actually fix anything. At best, the new employee (or employee) really turned out to be a worthwhile and valuable acquisition.


In a scenario that is as close to reality as possible, finding the employee you need can be a lengthy process that can last up to (or even more) six months. In the most horrible scenario (according to which the action develops with everyone at least once) it takes six months to find the right person, and then another six months to make sure that your Mary Poppins is not a sorceress at all, and you need to look for a new Person who will fix everything ...


Of course, every company should seek and retain good leaders. And, of course, changing the top management when everything goes badly is also a sensible decision. However, you should never leave problems unresolved because you hope the new person can solve them. You know your business much better than any Mary Poppins. You and your team are the people who can look at the root of the problem.


The main trap that those who become infected with the SMP fall into is postponing work on mistakes and problems in the hope that the new boss can magically solve them. It almost never works. Start solving problems as soon as you find them, and your company will be better than any other scenario. If the new employee can make things better, great. Don't bother him in this. But do not place all your hopes on this either.


By the way, if you hire someone for a management position in a company where everything is going the way it should, you are much more likely to get a good productive employee than if you throw them right into the furnace of unsolved problems. On the contrary: if he finds himself where everything is put on the right track, he has a much higher chance of being a little bit of a magician.


30 October 2020

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