Do it the Right Way Right Away

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.” — Chinese Proverb

When I drive through an older neighborhood the trees are the first things I notice. I love the big, arcing canopies covering the streets and sidewalks. They provide shade for the humans, an ecosystem for the squirrels and birds, and a subliminal connection our primal need for the wilderness and is so important in an urban environment. I think to myself, someone had good sense when laying out these streets and now I get to benefit from her well-thought-out plans.

As the organizational leader, you, too, must have good foresight in areas that take a while to develop and grow into something produce results. Employee culture, training and on-boarding, solid contracts and agreements, accounting procedures, building capital reserves, maintenance programs, and so many other long-term needs are dropped on the priority list when starting a business or developing a new idea into a productive part of the organization. Yes, it takes a lot of time to do these things right, and, yes, short-term gains are rarely seen. The ROI is a long way off, and in this world of monthly goals and immediate needs, it’s hard to justify spending the time or resources on programs that aren’t visible within a relatively short time period.

We’ve all worked in companies where we’ve dealt with the fall out from not having a solid foundation. One poorly written contract can create unimaginable losses. An unsupported middle manager with three years at the company leaves and then you’re stuck dealing with the turnover. A simple mistake in setting up an accounting procedure underaccrues sales tax and you’ve not collected from your clients but still need to pay the state revenue department. What should have been a very easy component of your business has now set the building on fire, and you and your team are moving from crisis to crisis.

So, deal with the important stuff the right way right away. Every time. Don’t run from the hard stuff. It’s only going to get harder.