Sunday, November 25, 2007

Adjusting to Change or Just Being Lazy?

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the ideals, values and workplace methodologies at my current gig.

My contract ends in a couple of months, and I know they are leaning towards keeping me on past my current contract.

Problem is – I don’t feel that confident in the company to continue beyond my current contract.

Finally, after months of my nagging and complaining about the lack of project management, management is starting to admit to me that there is no project management at the company.

Usually when I nagged or complained about the lack of project management, management would always shoot me down with a snarky – we’re working on improving it, or in the case of the top dog, the president actually named someone in the call centre as being in charge of managing projects.

Funny though, when I asked the president why then, have I never seen a project plan, he simply refuted back that none of the projects I’ve worked on have been under project management.

My manager says I can adapt to this lack of project management system they have in place. She even claims she has books which discuss it.

That really surprised me, because most MBAs would tell you project management is the only acceptable way to run an effective and efficient business. Without project management, you have – well – you have what I experience every day.

Chaos. Confusion. Frustration. Exceptionally high levels of stress – and a never ending pile of work which just gets dumped in your lap, despite already being overloaded with more work than one person should be reasonably expected to complete.

So, one of the big questions I have been exploring is this – is it possible to adapt to a chaotic, unmanaged system of running a business, or is just those that choose to work under such a system have other reasons to give up the methods used in most successful businesses?

Why would someone give up something which is known to work better, in place of a less effective system?

I know most of the employees have been around forever. For many of the staff, this is the only job they have ever known. Right out of school, for the past decade or more, in terms of employers, my current employer is all they have ever worked for.

For the “old schoolers” as they have become known at the company, it is understandable that they adapted to this chaotic system. They have never experienced the efficiencies provided by a properly project managed system, so they think all offices work as scatter-brained as this one.

But then there are others who have worked elsewhere, most likely some of these people have seen the light, and know there is a far better way to run the shop. Why are these people here.

I’m starting to wonder if these people haven’t so much adapted to a less effective system, but instead just gave up trying to find something better.

Looking for work isn’t always easy. With more people than there are good jobs, it is easier to just toss in the towel and take whatever you can find, regardless of how stressful it really is.

And working under a chaotic system is very stressful. In all my working life – which is probably well over 15 or more years – this contract has been the most stress-filled experience I have ever endured. It may even be the most stressful thing I have ever lived through in my whole life – and that says a lot, because I’m not exactly a spring chicken.

People who give up and just accept where they are, regardless of whether it is the best practice (and project management is a best practice) probably aren’t very good at what they do. Getting another job isn’t easy, but if you’re that concerned about finding work that you’re willing to work someplace which one day may cause you a heart attack or a stroke, chances are you know you’re not very good at what you do.

There’s another possibility – pure and simple laziness. Managing anything takes energy and effort. It requires work. People that are lazy will find every reason in the book – and some that aren’t in the book – to avoid doing more than they absolutely have to, to get the job done. It may be done quickly, and it will be a shoddy job – but it will be done.

That’s pretty much how all projects are “managed” where I am now. They just happen, as fast as can be completed, and usually are full of errors, bugs and noticeable problems, that would have been caught had the project not been rushed, but properly managed from the beginning.

I think I’ve discovered the fatal flaw of this company – laziness. People don’t adapt to something of lesser value, they see their leaders slacking off and do the same.

So, now the real question – do I continue past my contract with a bunch of slackers?

Stay tuned . . .

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