Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Value of Order

I had a to-do list prepared for today. The plan was to start on it first thing in the morning. I was supposed to sit behind my desk, check my email and immediately start tackling that list. What happened? Not really much. 

As usual, one distraction after the other delayed my intended plan. First it was the request for documentation, then something needed updating and finally someone shirked from their responsibility. It was the latter that consumed most of my morning, particularly because a discussion ensued on the merits of the task and why it was being given such priority. Which is a primary reason why almost nothing is accomplished most work days: someone, somewhere just doesn't see the importance of their assigned tasks. 

Perception has plenty to do with it, of course. Not sure if it was a gender thing, or if birth order played a part. Maybe genetics determines how and why we place importance on one thing over another. I'm not sure. All I know is that after the debate was over, the women were able to see the benefit of the task and the men, naturally, dismissed it as a waste of time - even when they were aware the order came from up above. Roll your eyes all you want, but that's exactly how the consensus was divided: the women saw the significance and the men shrugged it off -stereotypes intended. But that's not the point of this post. I merely felt the need to share that observation. 

Here is the real point: when individuals don't place value on something, they naturally tend to avoid it. This is true in personal and professionals environments. I have found this to be the case with my children as well. They resist a request until I point out the rationale and explain its importance. It can be an importance based on emotion or reason, but give a person a reason to do something and they will. At least in most instances. 

The challenge is to get individuals from different backgrounds to accept something as important. We all have different values and expectations, as I pointed out yesterday in my performance evaluation rant, so how do we get everyone on board so the real work can get done? You can try the 'boss said so' approach but chances are that will lose its affect after awhile. The boss gets busy pretty fast. She hired you to do the job, not to babysit you. So that's not a viable solution. What is left then is a vision of the intended outcome. 

With respect to today's dilemma, it was to envision that time around deadlines, when everyone is scrambling to get their work in on time. It's that desperate period when you have hours to accomplish your work and all the info you need is accessible, so that instead of needless overtime and migraines, you have that chance to look forward to deadlines because everything is in order. Now if that's not a vision to strive or, I don't know what is. 

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