Is Your Head Ready to Explode? 4 Ways to Keep It Together. | Simplifying

“Make it stop,” you say,  “–the noise, the confusion, the stupid mistakes, the wasted time.”

When our work days amount to one distraction and miscue after another, we feel caught in an endless squeeze, desperately trying to get our work done in spite of it.

If we could only find the cause and do something about it. Or if our boss would just stop contributing to or ignoring  the problems.

Alas, we’re left helpless and ultimately succumb to our new reality– frustrating disorder.

Disorder creeps up on us, our coworkers, and our boss. It grows microscopically in the folds of our daily tasks and gradually infects the way work gets done, relationships evolve, and organizations perform.

The symptoms are often in full view, but we’re too busy to notice them, until they stop us cold.

Early detection

Disorder is a work management issue. You know you’re mired in it when:

  • It’s unclear who’s responsible and accountable for specific work products.
  • Work stalls because someone in the process flow keeps dropping the ball.
  • The same errors are repeated by the same or different people.
  • Mistakes are made and no one notices for a long time.
  • Assignment specifics are changed mid-stream or shifted to different employees.
  • All direction is by e-mail: You miss one, you lose.

If you’re a supervisor reading this, you’re perfectly positioned to fix things. If you’re an employee feeling crushed by the weight, here’s your chance to showcase your value by stepping up, identifying the cause, and proposing a solution.

If no one does anything, the disorder will get worse and all you can do is wear a helmet to keep your head together.

Simplify

Lack of clarity around expectations and processes is most often the cause of disorder and confusion. The more employees and layers of management a company has, the more the internal working parts (roles, processes, and strategies) need to align.

When you feel like the air is being sucked out of you, it’s time to stop and look at what you’re doing and how. In most instances the fix is about simplifying–reducing complexity, getting back to basics, and realigning

Here are four ways to recalibrate the way you work and uncover fixes:

  1. Tune in: Listen to the voice that matters. Tune out the coworker noise around you. Your boss is the person whose expectations you need to meet. If you don’t understand his or her direction, then be a pest and keep asking until you do. Get clear and then get on with the work.
  2. Own it: Follow or create a process. Most work includes a process that, when executed effectively, delivers consistent output. You’re part of the work flow, so take ownership of your role. If there’s a snag, figure out where it is and suggest a way to alleviate it. Your fix adds value.
  3. Get it: Recognize boundaries. Organization charts supposedly reveal the hierarchy of roles and responsibilities in the company. When you  can’t tell who’s accountable for results by the org chart, you need to ask your boss. Knowing where the buck stops can absorb some of the pressure you’re feeling.
  4. Do it: Prepare and submit performance goals. Self-preservation is a motivator and having specific written goals that your boss has agreed to can be a career-saving initiative. Write goals whether your boss asks for them or not. If s/he gives you goal statements, edit them to make they’re measurable and observable. If your work changes, revisit your goals with your boss. This might make his or her head explode, but it will save yours.

Elegance

Simple is chic in fashion and at work. When leadership, processes, roles, and goals are aligned, outcomes take on both ease and elegance. You have more power to impact the way work is done then you think. Go ahead and seize it.

 

 

 

Why You Need to “Kill the Company” Before It Kills You

At first I hesitated when asked if I wanted to take a look at Lisa Bodell’s new book.  Her somewhat startling title, Kill the Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution, made me wonder whether or not the topic would fit here. Well, it did that and more!

As employees, we’re often assigned new work methods that were designed without our input.

As managers, we’re often expected to implement work process improvements with one goal–to reduce costs.

As executives, we’re expected to develop more and more innovative ways to improve market share and share owner value.

No matter what your job, you play a killer role in the the company’s future and your own.

Take aim.

Lisa Bodell reveals in her new book, Kill the Company, what she does with corporate clients to shake up their thinking and bring real innovation to light. What’s unique here is that Bodell, as CEO of futurethink,  “gives away” her model and numerous tools that liberate fresh thinking.

She proposes uncovering, in specific terms, how a competitor could “take the company down.”  It’s a matter of asking employees and the leadership, given all the insider information they’re privy to, what it would take to “kill the company.”

It’s that knowledge that readies the company to take internal and external actions to survive!

Bodell writes:

The challenge for most companies isn’t how to get people to be more innovative; it’s how to stop paying lip service to innovation and create a structure and culture in which it can actually flourish and deliver results.

The traditional organizational structures…have innovation in a choke hold.

Too many change initiatives simply add another layer of processes to the to-do lists of already overwhelmed and tired employees….Innovation is supposed to make things better, not worse, easier, not more complicated.

Does this sound like your company? The way you’ve handled or experienced change? If so, it’s time to get serious about turning things around.

Protect yourself.

Not everyone gets to sit in the room where strategies to kill the company are identified and the remedies devised. Each of us, however, needs to make sure that we have what it takes to add value in our jobs for the future.

A stagnant job in a stalled company will kill our careers. Our resistance to innovation in a growing company will kill it too. That means we have to be ready to recognize and take advantage of the changes, both obvious and subtle, in our work environments.

Bodell makes this significant observation:

Soft skills are the new hard skills. You can see evidence of this everywhere…many CEOs and leaders now hail creativity and creative problem solving as the most important business skills.

Just what soft skills will employees need to possess and will organizations need to seek in the coming years? They will be the skills that help organizations challenge the status quo and look into the future, the ones that turn employees into visionaries and help them seek out opportunities and growth in new ways. They will be the skills that enable dedicated learners to handle the blessing and burdens of change.

Bodell identifies these five as the most valued skills in successful employees of the future:

  1. Strategic Imagination“dreaming with purpose”–the ability to recognize the “driving forces changing our world and imaginative enough to harness this potential in a business context”
  2. Provocative Inquiry–”the ability to ask smart, even disturbing questions” that “stretch their own thinking and that of others”
  3. Creative Problem Solving–applying “best practices from offbeat sources and unrelated industries, making connections that others wouldn’t think of.”
  4. Agility–the ability “to think on their feet and nimbly change directions…to be resourceful and confident in their own abilities to handle unexpected situations.”
  5. Resilience–tenacity and “courage to overcome obstacles and push on undeterred” giving their organizations an advantage in good times and bad.”

Reexamine yourself

The same principles that underpin a stagnant company create a stagnant employee, career, and life. The approaches, strategies, and insights that Bodell uses with companies can be put to use by you, whatever your circumstance.

We all need to kill the preconceived notions that we are currently living by if we want to take that next step forward.

There’s no time to kill when it comes to ensuring our future success, only complacency.

Image Source: Gen Connect and Amazon