Greetings all. I got told off today for saying Happy New Year. Apparently it’s too late for that. According to some rule book or other. So, best wishes for 2011, and I start the year with a gift for you: a punch on the arm and bucket of cold water over your face. I am guessing that you have over the years fallen asleep at your wheel, and slipped into some of the incredibly bad habits which I bump into as I do my bit in the training room (because people trust me and tell me all about them).
Here’s a list of the 8 worst or most prevalent ones. I urge you to make a written note of any that you (having taken an honesty tablet) recognise in yourself. These will form the basis of your New Year’s resolutions, and may transform your relationships at work. Are you ready for this? Here goes:
1. Running or passively accepting the running of Dysfunctional Meetings. The dysfunctionality comes in many shapes and sizes, including no agenda, no timings on agendas, no clear purpose, wrong people in the room, no clear objectives, no record or review of agreed actions, Extroverts ignoring Introverts, people reading PowerPoint slides out like a voice over narrator, PowerPoint in lieu of discussion, wrong stuff on the Agenda, allowing AOB hijackers. And so on and on. Let me stop myself before I get too depressed.
2. Working with weak (or no) Objectives. Without good Objectives performance will be lower than it might be, motivation is lower, buy in is reduced, and confusion over priorities can reign. I am constantly amazed at how many people do not know how to set a good Objective, let alone manage one. I would say that the percentage of people I meet who have clear, motivational, agreed and relevant Objectives is less than 10%.
3. Dysfunctional Appraisals. For many the annual Appraisal is a form of institutionalised bullying, when it could be oh so different. Are you allowing others not to make your Appraisal the honest, balanced and developmental meeting you deserve, or are you conversely denying others that opportunity? I attempted last year to demonstrate some of the behaviours necessary to run a Dysfunctional Appraisal in this video, ably assisted by my victim and close business associate Spencer Holmes. There are 20 gaffes in this meeting: how many can you spot?
4. Abuse of PowerPoint. Enough has been written on this subject to fill a small library. We all know what the PowerPoint crimes are. So why do we keep doing them? The most common error is inserting full text into the slide (so it can be read out verbatim in case you don’t know what you’re talking about/didn’t get round to preparing/got dropped in at the last minute to present for someone else/fear a total mental shutdown when you stand up. If you are guilty as charged, slap yourself on the wrist and resolve to STOP IT!!!
5. Abuse of email and email addiction. If you have lost sight of what it was like to discuss an idea with someone face to face, or think that because you sent the email you must have communicated it, maybe it’s time to remind yourself of what human interaction at work is like. Go and see them. Pick up the phone. You may be surprised at the results.
6. Inability to concentrate on anything for more than 5 minutes. I read some research recently which suggested that typically a manager only does a 30 minute stint of uninterrupted thinking time once every 3 days. They confuse busyness with productivity, think working hard means removing their mental hard drive, and that planning is for wimps. If this is you I’m talking about, GET A GRIP!!!
7. Jumping out of aeroplanes and working out how to open the parachute on the way down. This one is my favourite. I see it all the time. I do an exercise to expose it on virtually every course I run, and in 15 years I have only had one group who have taken the time to read and understand the brief before they jump. Hilarious really, but also highly damaging. Testosterone rules the day. NOT. Try doing more by slowing down this year.
8. Fear of asking questions. Of which “Why” is the best, in my view. It doesn’t get asked enough, leading to repetition of bad practice, acceptance of the status quo, resignation to our fate, doom gloom and despondency and if I don’t stop this paragraph now I am at risk of imploding. If there is something going on around you that you feel should be challenged, why not resolve to do so by asking a few questions about it? You will probably not get sacked and may even be thanked for having the courage to ask. It’s called Leadership.
I could go on, but, (forgive me), I won’t. I’m emotionally drained from just writing this stuff, so you probably are from reading it. I hope you got at least something on your list. If you didn’t, it doesn’t mean you’re perfect, just that you are not as dysfunctional at work as you could be, and that there is hope for you yet! Either that or you are just kidding yourself. Besides, you probably have some other nasty habit: stealing office pencils or not washing up your coffee cups.
If you enjoyed this Blog and haven’t yet done so, please Subscribe using the box at top right of the page. And do let me know what other dysfunctionalities you have to put up with in the zoo you call your office! Happy New Year.