|A wonderful insight from the movie Office Space. Are you working just hard enough not to get fired?|
Okay, let's listen in the following dialogue as Peter Gibbon (left) speaks with the two Bobs who supervise him:
Peter Gibbons: The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.
Bob Porter: Don't... don't care?
Peter Gibbons: It's a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime; so where's the motivation? And here's something else, Bob: I have eight different bosses right now.
Bob Slydell: I beg your pardon?
Peter Gibbons: Eight bosses.
Bob Slydell: Eight?
Peter Gibbons: Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That's my only real motivation is not to be hassled; that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.
In real life, most of us do not have eight bosses. However, most people find they have too many "priorities" on their plate - as many as eight priorities, if not more - and the effect is the same. Let's walk through this:
- Your boss has given you a laundry list of important, "must do" items: each is a priority.
- There's just not enough time to do an excellent job on each one.
- Therefore, you go to "I don't want to be hassled" mode - do just enough on each item to avoid mistakes.
- Congratulations! You're working just hard enough not to get fired!
If you're honest, you'll admit the above scenario is the reality for way too many people, they are buried under laundry lists of tasks and responsibilities. (FYI: In an earlier post, I cited a study that showing that a mere 10% of managers spend their time in a committed, purposeful, and reflective manner. So in reality, most of us work for bosses who are not very focused.) What's more, the above scenario is a classic recipe for mediocre performance.