Image via CrunchBase
Indispensability sounds wonderful. Doesn’t it? The other day, I picked up Godin’s book, Linchpin. It had been sitting in a “to read pile” for about a year now, so I thought it might be time. I opened the book, and the flap said:
“There used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there is a third team, the linchpins. These people invent, lead, connect others, make things happen and create order out of chaos. They figure out what to do when there’s no rule book. They delight and challenged their customers and peers. They love their work, pour their best selves into it and turn each day into a kind of art.”
Sounds wonderful. Sounds impossible.
How many people are truly indispensable? These stories sound great. Are we setting the bar so high that most of us just sigh at the thought of trying to turn every day into art? Are these unattainable goals for most of us that merely create envy or depression at the though of our rather normal jobs?
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that all of us need to have passion about what we do. But every job has its “crappy stuff”. Every professor I know hates marking papers and exams. It’s just not fun. There is absolutely no reward, and usually lots of punishment in the form of line ups of complaining students.
Several years ago, researchers looked at the happiness of men who attended the Harvard Business School in the 1930s, and followed them for over seventy years. What did they find? A great range of happiness. What predicted their happiness? Not money, or status or a nice wife or even a nice home. The best predictor of happiness was lower expectations. Lower expectations lead to less likelihood of disappointment.
Our jobs don’t need to be the be all and end all of our lives. While they can be fulfilling, they are not the only path to fulfillment. So I say, don’t set yourself up for disappointment. You don’t have to be indispensable in order to be effective in a workplace. Do your best, be conscientious and consistent, be engaged. We can all make a difference, but none of us are truly indispensable (at least at work).
Image via Wikipedia
What you might not know is that major business schools all seem to have developed practitioners’ websites — in other words, they have translated academic research into plain language and practical advice for you and I. Here are some of my favourite sites:
- Harvard Business Review
- Harvard Business School Working Knowledge
- Knowledge at Wharton
- INSEAD Knowledge
- MIT Sloan Management Review
- Ivey Business Journal
Don’t know where to start to research an issue? Start with these websites. They are from credible sources, based on expertise and research.
Posted in Ideas, Learning
Tagged Business, Business school, business schools, Colleges and Universities, education, Harvard Business School, Harvard University, INSEAD, research, resources, United States
When visiting the big city the other night, I had occasion to have supper alone in a very cool downtown restaurant. I overheard a couple beside me, clearly co-workers, talking about life at work. So of course, I listened in.
The woman was clearly frustrated. She said that it was no wonder that their organization was dysfunctional, because they did no team building. The horror of team building exercises I have been forced to endure during my era in corporate life raced through my head. The only people to profit from formal team building is the consultants who come up with these absurd team building activities. I have been forced to climb trees and walk on ropes strung between two large trees, scramble through woods on treasure hunts, do absurd, completely unrelated games, dress up in silly costumes and perform skits, practice improv comedy techniques — if you can think of an embarrassing experience, I have been forced to experience it in the name of “team building”.
The hard fact is that you can’t build a team with a weekend away from the office. You can’t improve team work by doing activities that are unrelated to the work of the team. You can’t build a team in the short term. There is no quick fix for poorly performing teams.
The research shows that teams go through several phases in their development. Forming, Norming, Storming, Performing and sometimes, Dissolution. Skip any one step, and you have the recipe for an ill-performing team. Conflict in teams occurs when there is relationship conflict (who — interpersonal or style); task conflict (what, i.e. conflict over goals); and process conflict (how; i.e. how is the team going to achieve this task). It takes time for teams to learn to work together. Building teams is not separate from the daily activities of running an organization, but an integral part of getting the job done. It happens as people learn to work together, trust each other, and communicate effectively with each other. I recently found a useful blog from Harvard Business publishing that provides some suggestions on team building without time wasting.
Team building takes place during the hard work of doing business, not having fun at some resort. Let’s all strike one more blow for eliminating useless time wasters in the workplace.