It's a rare thing to have the freedom to do your best at work nowadays. With tightening budgets, pressure from upper management and a constant focus on time and money, the workplace can be a tough place to grow. And what keeps you from spreading your wings and flying (with a soundtrack of triumphant R&B music playing in the background) worse than anything else? Time-sucks disguised as productivity.
Photo credit: Phil and Pam, Flickr
Everyone in a big company, small business, non-profit organization or educational institution, no matter what their title is or who they report to needs to remember they're on the same exact team. Childish, professional rivalries only happen when people start to take themselves too seriously. A focus on overarching goals would negate a lot of this B.S. that goes on at work. Remember, you can't spell "team" without "fuck you."
Say you have a high-pressure position where you or the department's work is constantly being scrutinized. How do you get by? Unfortunately, strategies have to be formed with the express interest of making sure you don't have any holes in your defense in case you're being questioned. Being on the defensive is never fun, and when it turns into a regular part of your job you know you're one step closer to a stress-death induced early retirement. Yay.
On the other hand, sometimes you need to put in extra time documenting the worth of your actions to ensure you're getting credit for your accomplishments. Wouldn't it be nice if your management just sort of noticed automatically instead of you having to beg for their approval like a dog presenting their master with the fat possum it just killed?
I've been told (by someone who's been a boss so long she probably forgot what it's like to do anything besides delegation) that your chief role in any position is to make your boss look good. That's funny, I thought it was to successfully achieve the goals of the position, team, department and company. While letting your boss stand on your shoulders may be your surest way to get a recommended for that promotion, it's also a time-consuming soul-suck that won't build character or develop any actual skills besides ladder-climbing.
This is my favorite! NOT. (Remember when people used to say stuff and then say "NOT"? The 90s were pretty sweet...) This is one of the most time-sucking, fucking-annoying things ever. Have you ever heard a cop on TV complaining about having to fill out paperwork? That's exactly what I'm talking about. How come you can't just shoot a guy and be done with it?
Teachers constantly have to write out day-by-day lesson plans to show administrators that they're doing their job, and this is a perfect example. You know what falls by the wayside when that occurs? Actual time enriching students with educational guidance, especially the ones who lag behind and need the additional attention the most. I'm pretty sure Ms. Frizzle never had to fill out any paperwork or make lesson plans...but mostly because she was probably (definitely) on drugs.
Meetings really are the quintessential alternative to doing actual work, aren't they? According to a Virginia Tech study, researchers found that meetings cause people's IQs to drop, keeping them from solving problems together that they'd normally be able to solve alone. This has a lot to do with social ranking, with those already in power showing their dominance and the underlings being more submissive about expressing ideas and feedback. But hey, isn't that work in a nutshell anyway?