Leadership

The “MET” Obstacle Course in the Day to Day Workplace Rat Race

Daily Prompt: The MET obstacle course in the day to day workplace rat race

Every Monday starts off with grand goals shining brightly.  Well, except for those that hate Mondays. Mind you, Mondays get a bad rap. Wednesdays are by far way worse. Anyway, Mondays are officially the start of the work week, although for some the work week never ends. Mondays, I tend to come in all caffeinated wondering what the work week will bring and what I will have for lunch that day. I set about writing up both my daily and weekly work goals because it helps me focus and also because I just love lists. I review the lists from the week past and realize that some of those hoped-for tasks may have been a bit unrealistic. There are numerous reasons why tasks do not get accomplished in the workplace. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but a review of the overall problem that I refer to as the MET obstacle course. MET is an acronym (for who in the workplace doesn’t love those) for: Meetings, Expectations and Technology.

1. Meetings.  Go ahead. Count how many meetings you not only have for Monday but for the whole week. I currently have 15 meetings calendarized for the week. Note the key word is calendarized. I can readily assume, based on past experience,  that a few more will spring up in order to put out the metaphorical fires, brainstorm on a cool new project or to straight up vent. Now go ahead and count how many action items are created in said meetings. Think back to past meeting action items and note how many action items were carried out or that resulted in a better workplace or higher productivity.  I can tell you the ratio of meetings to impact however defined (whatever indicators or metric you use) will be somewhat disappointing. Meetings take up time, air and brain cells with little returns at times.

2. Expectations.  The reason Mondays aren’t so bad and Wednesdays aren’t so good is that on Monday morning the goals seem achievable while by Wednesday we realize they are not. By Wednesday, we start revising that list and pushing some items to the following week. Sometimes, we set very high unrealistic goals. Other times, others set them for us without realizing the full impact of those expectations. Then there are times when projects just “magically” appear with quick turnaround times. Workload expectations can lead to long work days, miscast attention and focus, and a downward spiral in morale. At that rate, not many tasks may be accomplished.

3. Technology. Machines are supposed to enhance our lives overall and our work delivery mechanisms. We can quickly type up reports, do research in a few hours across hundreds of online resources (although, please note Wikipedia should not be your sole source) and we can communicate with hundreds of people on a daily basis. Technology is the workplace savior! Right? When email or the internet goes down what happens in your workplace? I am some staff are despondent, but probably more so that they can’t keep up with Kardashian’s latest selfie or their friend’s 100th facebook rant.  They are other staff that immediately start to fret at not being connected to the point that they freeze up. There are also those email communications that leave one even more perplexed as to what the project goal really is. A slew of emails are sent back and forth, flooding the email inbox and emitting a ping sound every two seconds, before people realize they do have a phone on their desk as well. Better yet, they could even at times, walk over the 20 feet over to their colleague’s desk. Technology at the end of the day can be just as much a hindrance as a project facilitator.

As you step into the office today how will you navigate this upcoming week’s MET maze?

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