One of the curious phenomena in organizations is the inexplicable barriers that develop – often unthinkingly and unintentionally – that prevent employees from doing their work.
You would think that getting the work done would be a paramount objective for an organization.
But, for many reasons, things can go “off track” and impediments can arise.
A classic barrier is the unnecessary meeting. While meetings can have important purposes and are often critical to the success of an organization, they can also be time-wasters and frustrating occurrences for employees who have actual work that they must do back at their desk (or on the floor, etc.).
It’s important to maintain an ongoing awareness – esp. on the part of managers, supervisors, and others with decision-making authority – of how time is being spent in meetings.
Another barrier is the “side shows” that can develop that keep employees away from doing their assigned jobs. Participation on committees, task forces, writing for newsletters, social committees and other parallel activities can sap valuable time and get employees off-track. (This is not to say that there isn’t frequently value in these activities, just that it must be carefully evaluated).
A final category is sideline activities that someone in authority thinks will be of value in some way, but which are truly diverting from the work at hand. Think about exercises in how to do social networking on the web for people who do not use the web in their line of work. Or, taking quizzes or doing research on topics that have no bearing on the employees’ daily work. These sorts of activities not only detract from the work at hand, but also serve to irritate and demoralize employees.
The bottom line: when engaging in activities that go beyond the job description, it’s important for all concerned that the ancillary activity contributes in some important way to the ongoing work of the employee and organization.