Cafe Witness

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Does Your Job Matter?

A friend of mine works for a non-profit arts organization. She laments, continually, that she cannot accomplish anything at work because her coworkers don't DO anything. She's walked into their offices dozens of times to ask IF they've done something -- or, more accurately, why they HAVEN'T done what they were SUPPOSED to do -- and is repeatedly met with excuses and shrugs.

Thus, she's come to the conclusion that, no matter how much effort SHE exerts, IT WON'T MATTER. That's a very debilitating POV to take to work every day, every week, every month...

(One apparent problem? IT DOESN'T MATTER if they do anything or not, because they're funded primarily by government grants. As long as those grants are stable, they have absolutely zero need to DO anything because they'll receive funding whether they're active or not.)

But this isn't an indictment of the non-profit arts system, because it works quite well for companies that DO something with those funds. Instead, this is a snapshot of a company with an even LARGER problem:

It doesn't matter of they do anything or not because THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES FOR BAD PERFORMANCE.

Heads Will (Not) Roll

Motivation starts from the top down.

As anyone who's ever attempted to work for himself knows, the number one hurdle to clear is motivation. With no one MAKING you work every day, it's easy to backslide into the illusion of "having it easy," and of things "not mattering."

Ironically, that same hurdle exists in every company I've ever witnessed. If an owner / president / manager / CEO isn't responsible and doesn't impose penalties for failing to achieve goals, a company has no clear-cut reason to take a specific action.

(Or, in this case, ANY action.)

Thus, employees realize they can remain at this company until they retire or die -- that they can accomplish absolutely nothing every day and still be employed -- because THE DECISION MAKERS DON'T IMPOSE CONSEQUENCES.

Few are the organizations who are motivated enough to accomplish their goals (much less achieve actual change). I believe this is because so few individuals are properly motivated in the first place -- and that includes a clear understanding of the goals AND reasonable cconsequences related to accomplishment or failure.

At the top, every company -- whether a sole proprietorship or a Fortune 500 corporation -- is led by individuals. How properly those individuals are motivated -- and how reliable, reasonable and consistent their imposed consequences are -- determines how successful they'll become.

What are the consequences if YOU fail? What are the rewards if you succeed?

Does your job matter?

Do you want it to?

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2 Comments:

  • Yup, quite right.

    I've had to reduce some hours to part-time staff over the summer period.

    I had to do this, I had to spot there was slack, otherwise it would have continued unmentioned.

    Sure the staff member will have a lower pay packet, but they will return knowing that you have to work for a living, and every hour and every dollar is accountable, or should be.

    Thanks for sharing.

    By Anonymous Chris Hambly, at 3:20 PM  

  • I've totally been there!
    Thanks for making me (and others) feel less alone!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:04 AM  

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