Should not be breaking news that priority alignment and management is pretty poor at most companies, yet still often is to many. Take a look at this section from a recent article on “why kindness matters:”
“… this crisis in engagement that we’re facing now, where only one in three people can actually tell you what their role is at work. Two out of three people don’t know what they’re doing, so of course they can’t be engaged in it. And even if they know what they’re doing, they’re distracted by competing demands.”
Two things pop for me from that:
- Job role and design should be a much bigger deal. It’s not, unfortunately.
- While we all deify tech, it’s actually just becoming “more shit to manage” in many offices.
How did we get to this spot?
Lots of different reasons, but the big ones include:
- We were never supposed to work in companies as large as we do (anthropologically speaking)
- The hiring process is very rushed, flawed, and subjective
- Whenever you try to ask someone for work priority or context, mostly you get back “So slammed!”
- Managers often aren’t very good at their jobs
So here’s where you net out:
- Garbage in (bad hiring)
- Garbage through (bad management and low context around priority)
- Garbage out (turnover/firing/etc.)
- Garbage back in
Nice little cycle.
OK, so how do we fix it?
A few approaches:
- Promote more women into managerial roles
- Hire more (and promote more) for soft skills
- Don’t promote people just off their numbers
- Teach your managers how to set context for their direct reports
- Have more conversations about career skills as opposed to job role
- Maybe let employees design their own jobs once they have the lay of the land
- Realize that people spend 10–12 hours/day at work and they want to be at a place where they feel necessary, needed, and relevant. I know the top brass might not care about every rank-and-file and their needs, but these are people with families, friends, backstories, lives, broader contexts, etc. It’s important to remember they deserve a place where more than 33% of them know what they’re even supposed to do.
This isn’t about creating “employee engagement” programs or having “critical job design” off-sites. This is about just being a caring leader. It’s about wanting to provide some degree of import to the roles you do have.
And hey, if you find you don’t need 21 “strategic account managers,” cut some. Save money there. I’m good with it. Rather have 10 doing legit work and feeling good than 21 with 11 sitting on their thumbs all day — and heck, put that money into a foosball table! Yaaaaas!
But seriously: 67% of people in your office are probably surfing the Internet most of the day. How’s that useful? Think on this stuff.