The 3 Core Indicators You May Be in a Rut

Do you find that your days are a set routine?

You get up, you go to work, you get home, you go to bed, you get up, you go to work, you get home, you go to bed…. 

Your business stopped evolving, heck, you’ve stopped evolving.

You may be stuck in a rut?

Loretta Kuhland

Loretta Kuhland

According to Business Consultant and HR Practitioner, Loretta Kuhland, it takes people a long time, even years, to get out of the rut.  “One of the reasons we get stuck is we have abdicated control over our lives and then we use all that negative affirmation language and that victimized language,” says Kuhland.

It’s like business owners and managers get stuck with giving up the hold and control over various aspects of their life. They get stuck day after day after day bereft of knowing how to break free from this vicious cycle. This toxic condition can also rub off on their employees, setting unreasonable expectations for performance, resulting in stress, burnout, lower engagement, which in itself propagates a vicious cycle in its own right.  

It can take people a long time, even years, to realize that they are indeed suffering from a precarious condition and are in need of help. And even then, most business owners, C-suites, managers and their employees are not aware that there are tools to help them get unstuck. 

As a co-owner of a restaurant, I fell into a complacent routine back in the ‘80s. I spent at least seven of my twelve years with the restaurant living the cyclical routine mentioned above. For me, it was a fact of life. This was my life!

Like any problem or condition, the first step to solving the issue is to realize that there is something wrong. In the first of this 2-part series, we will be segmenting my interview with Lorretta Kuhland and will uncover the indicators and pitfalls that lead us to be stuck. 


Here’s How you Know You Might Be in a Rut

Defining the problem is the first step to working out why business owners and managers get stuck. As a first step, let’s uncover 3 symptoms of being in a rut.

You end up doing more operational roles instead of leveraging your core competencies and working within your zone of genius.

Being focussed on what you do well, give you the opportunity to live your passionA client of mine in Calgary, Alberta, owns a landscaping company, making beautiful gardens around the city. She started her business because people loved her garden, and wanted something similar for themselves. After 3 years of operation, she has 5 employees. Her typical day is that she delegates one job to three members of her team, “I give them the layout plans, and all the resources to get the job done properly. Then I take my other two workers to another work site that I lead. While my team is having lunch, I’ll run over to the other worksite only to get frustrated that the work is not getting done the way it should. Inevitably there are things that are wrong and have to be redone.”

This is a continual cycle for this entrepreneur. Sometimes at the end of the day, she will go back to the site she “delegated,” and work into the night fixing what she feels is wrong.

By far, the most common pitfall managers and owners feel is, “It’ll get done fast (and better) if I just do it myself.” This drives leaders to work IN their business, not ON their business.

The rut leads to a perpetual cycle of crisis, frustration and eventually, burnout.

For our gardener to get out of her rut, she needs to hire and train her staff properly. “I’m a gardener. Until three years ago, I’d never hired anyone.”

Kuhland says, “That’s why there are specialists like me out there. No one can expect to be masters of everything. As consultants, we have areas of expertise that we lend clients so that they can think differently and do differently.” Finding and reaching out to experts can help widen one’s perspective as to what solutions and best practices exist.

Depending on your situation, having the guidance and support of a coach and/or a subject matter expert can alleviate the stress and burden in areas outside your own specialty. 

Regardless, the objective is to get other people hired and trained to do the work so you can run your business.

 Business owners and managers don’t always articulate what they want frequently enough.

Communication is the key to ensuring delegation, followup and accountabilities are set and realized.

According to Kuhland, all too often business managers fail to realize that their initial expectations have evolved. Although the “Why” of what we do remains a constant, the “How” and the “What” are constantly in flux.

“Business managers need to invest more time in communicating with their employees and contractors.” Says Kuhland. In any operations that I’ve personally coached and counselled, I  advocate for daily stand-ups. “How are people feeling?” “How are they doing?” “What is each team working on?” “Are there any changes, changing conditions, etc?”

Creating an open and safe space for these stand-ups is essential. If people feel that there are negative consequences to their input, or they feel devalued in any way, stand-ups will turn into a one-way conversation with the manager speaking, and everyone nodding, and feeling like, “yeah, yeah!”

‘But Marc, I have to correct one of my employees, if I can’t do it during the stand-up, when can I?’

In a recent article (, I talk about the power of establishing a coaching and mentoring system with your team. Effective managers drive excellence through mentorship rather than through the carrot and sticking mentality of micromanagers.

Your expectations evolve as the business grows and as you gain new insights, Hence, the need to refresh those expectations with your team. If you don’t tell them your expectations or articulate them frequently enough, you’ll get stuck with unrealized expectations, disappointments and more stress. 

You go through your day on Auto-Pilot

Living on AutopilotHave you taken the time to ask yourself if you have stopped being thoughtful about what you’re doing? Some people just keep on taking work and don’t take the time to pause. The day and tasks are so routine they don’t have a conscious thought about what’s bothering them and what they are doing. 

In order to feel a sense of control, Kuhland suggests we stop going through our day automatically. By instilling the practice of planning time on our calendar, we can proceed through our day with intention.

Kuhland recounts how one of her clients agonized over an hour being wasted speaking with an employee.  The high-needs employee would regularly come to her to raise concerns and complaints about issues he was having. The business owner learned to take back control of her time by planning ahead. She scheduled time in her day to meet with staff and established a 7-minute rule. That is, seven minutes each day is set aside for each member of her staff to discuss the concerns for the day.

Instead of getting distracted and sidelined by concerns, Kuhland’s client owns and controls the time. This results in the manager being more present with her team members and more intentional about the outcome.

Effectively managing the calendar also includes setting the intention for the next day, at the end of each day. Reviewing what you’d like to prioritize the next day punctuates what you managed to accomplish during the day and helps set the tone for the following day. It also has the added benefit of removing those tasks from your brain so you can be more present and intentional with your non-work hours.

“Calendar management not only organizes your activities but also gives you that sense of control on how you can maximize those working hours and personal time,” Kuhland says. 

For many, these three indicators become the pitfall to high-stress work environments for both the leaders and their teams. It forces managers into a micro-managing mindset, conquering trust within the team and the inability to sleep at night.

Next week we cover the six best practices you can take to get unstuck.

If you took anything away from this article, it is that you are not alone. There are steps that you can take and resources you can tap into to help you and your business. Do check out the latest article, 6 reasons Why You Need a Business Coach (

 If you’d like support sooner than later, you can reach out to Business Consultant and HR Practitioner, Loretta Kuhland at, or book yourself a complimentary 30-minute brainstorming session with Marc Haine (

Check out Marc’s Book, LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION! Business Operational Excellence Through the Lens of Live Theatre

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