Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's Almost Vacation Time!

I need a vacation. Actually, this has been the most stressful contract I have ever had. There is no project management, and there is a lack of any real management at all levels, making working at this company very hard.

Everyone is really nice – they’d make excellent friends. However, when it comes to work place standards, practices, policies and procedures – they are decades behind the competition.

People come and go as they see fit – they have the most flexible “flex” hours I have ever seen. Most don’t put in a full working day – coming in around 10:00am and leaving at 5:00pm or sooner.

When they are at the office, they yak your ear off about their lives, and they want you to tell them all about yours. They spend hours surfing the net for things which aren’t work related, and they often spend hours chatting on the phone with relatives and friends about things which have nothing to do with the office.

Things get done, usually – no ALWAYS – rushed and last minute. Nothing is ever planned organized in a consistently professional manner.

I joke that it’s as if the executives sit around their “planning” meetings, brainstorm great ideas, and without taking the time to think about how and who they need on these projects, they just say “let’s do it” and expect it done.

That’s why there is one fire of a project after another – often the one I’m working on gets dropped or rushed to completion, so that the new firestorm can be worked on. This complete disregard for resources usually bankrupts most companies, or at best, causes high turnover of employees.

Surprisingly, the majority of the staff have stuck it out and remained – the average lifespan is well over a decade for most people. The national average for employees staying at any one company is usually between three to five-years.

But I’ve noticed a distressing thing – the reason people stay isn’t because they agree with or enjoy the lack of any sort of real management. It is because they are lazy, and they know the lack of management is due to lazy bodies occupying senior roles.

Often, the argument why some companies are more heavily managed than others is based on creativity. Creative people, so the argument goes, tend to be poor planners, and need that creative freedom to do what it is they do, in their own creative way.

I don’t know about that argument, I’ve worked for many creative individuals, and they all had far better management structures in place. I think in the case of where I work now, that’s simply an excuse for a deeper rooted problem – apathy and laziness.

Planning – good planning – takes time, energy and effort. To plan is to think – to create a blueprint for success, and a backup in case of failure.

To create a blueprint, you have to take into consideration all the elements which you need to build the projects you want. This takes effort and effort requires people have enough energy to get off their lazy butts, and actually do the work behind the planning.

I see a significant lack of work in the planning area of the company. It isn’t because they don’t know how to plan, and it certainly isn’t because they are the highly creative types. I’ve worked with the highly creative types that lack the planning gene – they still have the energy and the wisdom to get someone else on the team that can do the planning for them.

What it comes down to is laziness. And that brings me to my initial point – why people have been here so long.

If the leaders are lazy, then the workers need to be lazy too, otherwise they don’t fit in. They stand out like a sore thumb, and you don’t want to stand out in this way. People that aren’t in the same mindset and business class as those they work with, either get handed all the work, or they get so frustrated with the lack of anything getting done at a professional level, they become disengaged from the rest of their team, and eventually either get fired or simply quit.

We all want to do a good job – but it is hard to do a good job when those leading you don’t put in the effort to do one in the first place. If everything is done last minute, rushed, and then has to be re-done to correct the mistakes made during the rush – which happens all too often where I am – then it becomes hard to do a quality job yourself.

But that’s the whole reason why people have been here so long – like attracts like. Lazy people are attracted to lazy leaders, because they can get away with being lazy. That’s why people that are supposed to be in from 8:30am to 4:30pm meander in around 9:30am and leave at 4:30pm. That’s why you have managers coming in at 1:00pm and leaving at 3:00pm for a “smoke break” – but then you never see that person for the rest of the day. That’s why people spend hours chatting instead of doing real work. And that’s why it is so very stressful when things need to get done, because they are left to the last minute, rushed through errors and all – only to have to be redone later on a second, and even possibly a third or more time.

Laziness attracts laziness. I’m not a lazy person, so I get dumped on – because people know they can count on me. Problem is, I’m tired of being the first one in the office, the last one to leave, and the one that everyone comes to, to get the job done. I’m not making millions of dollars, I’m not getting a share in everyone else’s salaries, and I’m certainly not getting all the overtime off which I put in.

Hopefully, there are still companies with a real vision, a real drive, and real leadership.

And now I’m off, to my vacation.

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