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human resources, business, repetition, routine, management, presenteeism, people development, organizational development, communication
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Hook

Hook

With the return of “Roseanne” to the television airways this week, we prep for the Conner craziness again.  Early on, the show was a breath of fresh air in the way it tackled the redundancy of life.  Many of those early episodes showed the routine of life – breakfast, work, lunch, more work, dinner, homework – peppered with the humor that is distinctly Roseanne.  It opened a door for us to laugh with the unfairness, the inequity and the disappointment of life, while not taking itself too seriously.

Routine isn’t all bad and it is often quite reassuring when other areas of life start to get off-track.  The security of knowing what you have to do might be all you can hang your hat on today.  Repetition is the great learning equalizer.  Practice provides the opportunity for consistency and mastery of a skill or process.  Doing it over and over can settle in a great sense of accomplishment.

And yet, don’t assume that lifelong repetition will be enough for all.  Boredom can set in.  The ho-hum of life is not a strategy.

In the workplace, boredom can lead to:

  • Turnover
  • Safety violations
  • Unproductivity
  • Inefficiency
  • Selfishness
  • Insubordination/Disrespect

None of these points are attractive to an employer.  Think about it this way: would you hire the person who is currently struggling with the boredom and non-challenging role if you were interviewing him/her for the first time?  That demeanor and lack of enthusiasm would likely not excite you too much!  And yet, we will pay millions across our workforce for unengaged employees (see “She’s Not There”).  It is something we need to shake up.

Cross-training provides one strategy to deal with the boredom.  What would it do to your organization to have people functionally literate in other areas of a project, of the process, or of the business?  Of course, there are functional benefits to such a strategy (covering vacations, PTO), but it’s also strategic in the overall engagement and business progression plan.  Rarely do I hear that organizations have too much talent who are poised for cross-functional projects and new verticals.

A deeper dive with the master of a singular process is another strategy.  It’s not unusual for the very people who know the most about production, process or delivery to be overlooked in any efficiency or expansion conversation.  The leadership might have 8-10 meetings about such changes, with only one happening with the front line of defense.  Why not capture that body of knowledge sooner and more often?  Buy-in is a natural by-product of knowledge-share.

When Roseanne was asked her opinion at the manufacturing facility or the restaurant or one of the other jobs she had, she perked up and became engaged (albeit flavored with a healthy dose of sarcasm).  It was easy for her mangers (remember the very young George Clooney as Booker?) to dismiss her and those like her, and what they found out is that the “everyone is replaceable” attitude isn’t a universal rule.  The knowledge that walked out the door when she would quit had a value and the company didn’t figure out how to tap into it before it was lost.

Talk to your people.  Shocking, right?  But for the number of meetings we have, you would think we would have figured out how to be communicative.  We have not.  That tactic is not a good kind of repetition.

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