Why are you wasting time at work?

Marshall Loeb’s Daily Money Tip – General News – Personal Finance

First off, are you reading this at work? ;-)

This has been in the news the past few days and all of the blame seems to be pointed at “the workers”, as in “why are you workers wasting time?” What about the role of management and leadership? Aren’t they paid the big bucks partly because they are supposed to design the workplace and inspire people? Wishful thinking, I know.

What are some reasons why people might waste time? I can think of a few broad categories, with “lack of trust” layered on top of that.

Category #1: Not enough to do. This could come from a lack of level workload (we have time to waste early in the quarter but man will we get slammed next month), an imbalance in workloads, basically the “Mura and Muri” forms of waste. Lack of trust enters in because people might be afraid to tell management that they have time on their hands for fear of job cuts or worse.

Category #2: Don’t care anymore. How many employees waste time on their first day of work? Typically, people are very motivated early on. But if they’re treated unfairly, punished for taking initiative or for things that aren’t their fault, or if they don’t believe in the mission of the company, they might decide it’s better to waste time than to be productive. Lack of trust and fear can also paralyze people, leading them to “waste time”.

Think of the main character from the movie Office Space. I’m paraphrasing, but his argument for wasting time and doing nothing is that “If I do everything right, do I see one more dime? No. But if I do something wrong, I have eight different bosses telling me about it!”

I’m not saying people shouldn’t be responsible for their own actions and their own careers (wasting time is hardly a way to get ahead in any company). If you’re wasting that much time, you should find a new job or find your real passion career wise, or accept a mediocre, go-nowhere career.

Do “lean” managers do a better job of designing a workplace and culture where people don’t waste time? What do you think? Click comments….

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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