#Resilience Blog

Why Cleaning Gutters is Like Managing a Team

Recently, I got my ladder out, climbed up on my roof, and started cleaning my gutters. Even though they have protective covers that prevent trash from getting in them, they still end up weighed down with debris. Also, birds and hornets like to get in there and build their nests. 

As I was pulling sand and dirt from the gutters, it occurred to me that this activity is a lot like managing a team or leading your organization. It’s true that most of your time is spent on activities that drive the life of the organization…but periodically you need to dive into what’s really going on. You have to take the covers off the gutters to see what is in there. And often, there are birds in there that you may want to keep or find that it’s a quick and easy job. 

However, when you go deeper, it’s common to find things you don’t want to be there – like a hornet’s nest. Getting them out takes sensitivity and nuanced action. In my case, it was gingerly climbing the ladder with the can of spray to get rid of them while carefully planning my exit strategy. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you get stung. (Lucky for me, this time I did not!)

Most organizations benefit from this intensive look at what’s going on within their activities and relationships. The right person can often help facilitate and lead this inspection by finding what’s actually driving your organization and where you’re encountering friction and roadblocks.

Because all successful leaders know there’s never a better time to address a problem than when you find it.

Ignoring the problem never works. It’s important to respond thoughtfully in a timely manner…but that is easier said than done. This is why I specialize in helping teams to take a look at their gutters, appreciate the birds they find, and address the hornet’s nest in a straightforward way. 

As your team members discover WHY they do what they do, their interactions often become more professional and less personal. When problems shift from perceived personal issues to professional differences and unique attributes, they are seen in a different light. It becomes less about personal problems and more about how the team interacts and collaborates. It shifts to how they can work together to address challenges that come to light. 

If it’s been a while since you cleaned your gutters or if you have a suspicion there’s a hidden hornet’s nest in your organization, give me a call. I’d love to learn more about your organization and help you emerge with clean gutters…and avoid getting stung!


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