GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski
There’s a lot of noise at work. I’m not talking about the audible noise you hear in your office or the chatter of your coworkers. I’m talking about the noise purposefully created to slather a layer of importance to things that aren’t all that important.
Corporate priorities are created at the company level to move the company in a new direction. There are regular presentations made by the leadership team to educate everyone on the new direction and help everyone think the initiative is important. This takes a lot of time and energy. Then, there are regular meetings held across the company to hear the sermon of the corporate priorities. How much does it cost for everyone in the company to sit through a one-hour sermon on corporate priorities? How much does it cost to do this quarterly or monthly? Because the cost is high and the value is low, corporate priorities have a high noise content.
Monthly reports on the status of the corporate priorities take a lot of work to pull together. These reports tell us how things are going at a high level but are not actionable. Some initiatives are green, some are yellow, and some are red. So what? After reading a monthly report of a corporate initiative, have you ever changed your work in any way? I didn’t think so, because the report is noise.
If your work brings about no changes, the work is noise.
If you complete a talent assessment for your team and no one’s work changes or no one changes teams, the talent assessment is noise. If you are asked to create a summary of your work experience to support a talent assessment and nothing changes after the assessment, the talent assessment program is noise. If you are asked to put together a succession plan and nothing changes, the succession planning process is noise. If you are asked to put together an improvement plan for your team’s culture and no one reads the plan or holds you accountable, the culture improvement program is noise.
If you write a monthly report and no asks questions about it, the monthly reporting process is noise. If you write a charter for a project and no one asks questions about it, the project definition process is noise. If someone sets up a meeting without a defined agenda, that meeting is noise. If no one writes meeting minutes, the meeting is noise. If there will be no decision made at the meeting, don’t go because that meeting is noise.
Work is 95% noise.
If someone asks for help, help them because that is not noise. When you see a problem, do something about it because that’s not noise. When you see something that’s missing, fill the hole because that’s not noise. When something interests you, investigate it because that’s not noise. When your curiosity gets the best of you, that’s not noise. When something is important to you, that’s not noise. When something should be important to someone else, tell them because that’s not noise.
When the work is noise, don’t do it. But if you must do it, do it with minimal effort and do it poorly. Don’t start the work until two weeks after the deadline. With luck, next time they’ll ask someone else to do it. If you think the work is noise, it probably is. Don’t do the work until you’re asked three times. Then, do it poorly.
If the customer won’t benefit, the work is noise. If the work is new and the customer might benefit, the work is not noise. If you are unsure if the work is noise, ask how might customer benefit. If you are pursuing something that will grow the top line, it’s not noise. If you’re unsure if the work is noise, ask how the work might grow the top line.
If it’s noise, say no. That will free up your time to say yes to things that are real.
Image credit: Pixabay
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