Management Block

By Jim Whitt

I found a treasure trove of ideas in responses from readers to my article about Writer’s Block on September 29 (if you missed it you’ll find it at

One of my Canadian friends called and asked me exactly what caused Writer’s Block. I told him I thought my case may have been caused by brain overload. If the cognitive circuitry is taxed beyond capacity (not difficult to do with my brain) it may continue to supply the brain power necessary to handle normal daily activity but there’s not enough juice left over for anything else. “Oh,” my friend said, “when that happens to me I procrastinate.”

What a great insight. When our mental capacity is overtaxed our brain puts off ’til tomorrow what it can’t handle today. In the famous words of Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” Eventually tomorrow comes though and we have to think about whatever it is we’re procrastinating. So, how do you think when you can’t think? I received an email from a reader that provides an example:

“It is funny you should mention how you are struggling with writing. Lately it seems I have had several management issues and I seem to have had ‘management block.’  I just did not know which way to go and how to handle it. But just like you, I took one step.  I terminated a problem employee.  My week has been better, but I still have some items to work through. It will get better.”

This reader has coined a new term that I plan on using with clients – Management Block. I can’t tell you the number of managers I know who suffer from this. They know what the problem is but are unable to deal with it. I’ve seen managers tolerate behavior from employees who should be terminated but can’t bring themselves to do it. This creates Management Block, as my reader so aptly put it. I like the connection he made with my case of Writer’s Block: “…just like you, I took one step.” He just ridded himself of a problem that was creating more problems every day he procrastinated. Not only will things get better for him but he’ll discover things will get better for the whole organization because the problem employee infects morale and productivity like a disease. Removing the source of the infection was the first step in his recovery from Management Block

This is just one example of one cause for Management Block. All of us suffer from some type of “block” from time to time. Unfortunately we may not always realize the cause or effect. One of the roles I play as a management consultant is to help clients identify their “blocks” and help them find a cure.

Whenever you find yourself suffering from whatever strain of block that ails you, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get the perspective of someone you trust to be honest with you. Typically, the solution is simpler than you think but that doesn’t mean the cure is easy. The key is to take one step. The first step is always the hardest. The next one gets easier. Keep stepping and before long you’re motoring again. Remember, it will get better.

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