Monday, June 13, 2011

The Strategic Process of Wasting Time

Last week, we spoke about authenticity in the workplace. Earlier this week, I authored a piece on the desire for Empathy from Leaders. Today, we will take this a step further...why must we be so dishonest in the workplace?

Think about it....we hold back emotion, frame language to sound more appropriate, dress a certain way, and neglect pointing to things with which we disagree. All because we don't want to be unprofessional.

I think we have it backwards! I think we should drop the bravado and get down to what helps us win!

Disclaimer: No, I am not advocating that you say what is on your mind, in any audience, at any time!

What I intend to impress upon you is that we waste a lot of time allowing "process" to trump common sense. We think ourselves experts, we design strategy....and we often forget common sense.

Here are 3 considerations for common sense in the workplace:
Exceptions to Expectations
The Real Reason You Care
Consideration of Audience

Rules, Rules, Rules.....
I remember over hearing an Administrator ask our General Manager if she had to fill out a report for the XYZ vendor approval.

To which he answered: "Yes, and what's the XYZ vendor approval?"

Must we have a formalized process in place to defend each and every decision we make? It may be conveyed that this is the best way to prioritize really means we have to have documentation to cover our ass.

How much time is wasted on "process"?

We have meetings about meetings. You are held on the phone for 30 minutes to hear excuses from someone who does not have 30 minutes to complete the documentation you requested. Wouldn't it be refreshing if we could approve or deny business initiatives on the spot and move on with our day? Why can't we?

The Meltdown
I wish I had a dollar for every time I have seen an adult throw a tizzy fit. We are on the phone, web, or in a conference room deciding how to manage a particular project. Any ideas....?

Yeees, there are plenty of ideas, a whole lotta chiefs, and not nearly enough Indians. Are we genuinely focused on the team's success or do we just want our name stamped on a project. Do we think this directive will assist in organizational development or do we want the validation of having an idea adopted? Do we really need to conduct meetings about meetings or are we just there to speak and pretend to be part of something?

The boss is coming, act busy....
The most idiotic thing I've done as a professional is spouted my opposition to organizational directives in the presence of a Vice President. The VP didn't make his annual visit to hear about the mundane detail of my day, I had no evidence to support my claim, and my teammates cringed as I put myself on the 'people to fire' list.

There will be times when you can speak openly, there are co-workers with whom you can be completely honest, and there are times when you might have to stick up for yourself. But, consider your audience.

A VP doesn't want to hear excuses. Just because your friends think you are right doesn't mean they want you to speak on their behalf. You should respect the guy in the warehouse as much as the lady in the board room.

It comes down to this....we waste an inordinate amount of time on process and idea promotion. In reality, we don't care about either.

At some point we need to determine that there are things we cannot change. The best way to accept the inevitable is to smile, keep your mouth shut, and let those who do nothing pretend to be part of your success.

Don't Forget to Remember!


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