Over the holiday break, I started to think about work. It happens to all of us. I started to think about all of the things we do in the world of the Corporate Overlords that are wasteful – both in terms of time and money. We do many of these, “because we always have.” We often don’t think about or even question the usefulness of the process.
So here is my list of things that are utter wastes of time and effort:
Year-End Department Reviews and Recaps. Every company does this. “What did we accomplish over the last year?” Hours are wasted putting together a reminder that management is claiming credit for all of the hard work that you do. We all know what we accomplished and it is embarrassing that we have to document it for our leadership. Way to motivate!
Defining What Services Your Team Delivers. “We need to catalog all of the services we provide.” If your team has to invest time detailing what services you deliver, then your team is not really needed. Talk about an exercise in navel gazing.
Company Mandated Fun. Company picnics, happy hours, team bowling, etc. It is bad enough that I have to go to work every day for 9-10+ hours, but for the company to expect me to show up after work…well, that is douchebaggery.
Regular Status Reports or Meetings. Preparing status reports is useful if you need decisions to be made or if there are issues that need to be addressed. Otherwise these are pointless cost wasting efforts. I include in this RAID meetings where the status of the risks never changes.
Annual Reviews Where the Manager/Counselor Cannot Influence Raises or Promotions. Organizations love to keep salary information secret, because if we knew what people were getting paid it would cause rioting in the streets. If you can’t tell me how I am compared against my peers and how that impacts my career and money; why do we need to talk?
Town Hall Meetings Just For the Sake of Having Them. “We didn’t have a lot to tell you, but it’s been a while since we shoved PowerPoint slides down your throat.” Some managers mistake having these meetings as “leading.” Let me help you, it is not.
Rebranding (anything). Rebranding rarely solves problems. Calling something by a new name does not fix any underlying problems that exist. In fact, most things tagged with the word, “branding” are mislabeled and misunderstood. If anything, it adds to the confusion.
Communications Reviews. Nothing defines time-wasting like someone who sends around a message or email for review and input. By the time you get eight people to contribute to anything, it is diluted and usually much longer than necessary. No one has ever been fired because of a lack of proper sentence structure…just send the damn message.
Enforcing Company PowerPoint Standards. This screams “Hi, we’re here to stifle creativity!” Companies like to box in innovation by saying, “Your PowerPoint decks have to adhere to our dull, boring, bland, and emotionless standards. PowerPoint standards are pointless monotony in digital form. Yes, I understand that it is all about the company brand. But you are also telling your customers that you don’t flex enough to demonstrate creativity.
Webcasts or Meetings With Live Audiences and Clearly Staged Questions. We have all been there, when someone gets up and is clearly reading a prepared question. Save me some time – write that stuff down and email it to me. Or better yet, don’t!
Timesheets for Internal Functions/Teams. Timesheets are the bane of business. I actually worked in one place that had a charge code for the time used to fill out timesheets. Back office operations don’t need this. We are not billable. Our utilization is irrelevant for billing purposes. Having administrative activities fill out time sheets is an utter waste of time and effort.
Eighty-Percent of Live Meetings. There are times, rarely, when a face-to-face meeting is needed. Usually it is not. More often than not these meetings are held so that people can rack up their frequent flyer/hotel points.
Creating Mission Statements. I dedicated an entire blog post on this one. Humorous Mission Statements ‘Nuff said.
Learning With Required Pass/Fail Tests. This does NOT prove that you understand the content. It only proves that you have passed the test. It doesn’t drive a bit of behavior. And who was the moron that thought that 80% was a passing level?
Employee Satisfaction Surveys. I am all in favor of doing surveys, if you intend to take the data and do something with it. I took one for years where the results clearly pointed to issues with leadership. The actions that were taken were to educate us, the staff, because clearly we didn’t realize how awesome our leadership was. The action that should have been taken was to fire some of those managers (or break their kneecaps, I’m pretty flexible here.) When they saw the results, most leaders spent their time either trying to track down who gave the negative feedback or to argue why the data was invalid. “We were in the middle of reorganizing…so you can disregard the negative stuff.” Morons.
Company Dress Codes. I remember when the firm I work for allowed blue jeans on Fridays (only in the summer). They called them dungarees. Seriously. Wow, talk about dating yourself! Most offices, in a vain attempt to appear more hip to the millennials, have pretty much ignored dress codes…but for some reason keep them up to date. It’s a pointless exercise at best – a wasteful one at worst.
Meaningless Compliance Exercises. Annually you must read the code of conduct, then click on five buttons to acknowledge that you will follow it. Nothing says trust like a forced reading assignment. It also does not assure compliance, only that you acknowledged you read the material. It’s akin to clicking on a software licensing agreement. We all do it, but do any of us sit and read that stuff word-for-word?
Videos About Senior Leaders. Look, if your ego is so big that you have to order videos created about how great you are, well, you’re a douchebag.
Providing Feedback For The Sake of Providing Feedback. Most feedback we get in the world of the Corporate Overlords is fluff…meaningless praise. People don’t want to give critical feedback because it upsets people and requires uncomfortable follow-up discussions and usually a dab of retribution. Forced feedback accomplishes little.
Dashboards For The Sake of Having a Dashboard. If it doesn’t drive decisions, actions, or raise concerns…it is a waste of effort and time. The more graphic intensive it is, usually the more wasteful. Can we only produce these monstrosities when there is a problem looming?
Meetings That Could Have Been Emails Instead. I traveled an hour and a half to attend a meeting that lasted 20 minutes. That could have been covered in a two sentence email. A lot of meetings are utter wastes of time.
Every Self-Help Diagnostic Tool or Bot Ever Written. Memories of Microsoft’s talking paperback haunt my dreams. Does this feel familar? “Did this answer your question?” “No” “Why didn’t it? (Provide response in this box). “Because it didn’t have the answer.” “How would you rate this response? “Do you have something below one star?” I get it, robotics – automation. It’s a cost cutting move. Write a bot, lay someone off. I have yet to encounter a self-help tool that actually helped or provided a meaningful answer.
People Presenting Information in a Meeting by Reading to You The Slide They Are Showing. “It may shock you Veronica, but I can actually read on my own. I have been for years!” If all you are doing is reading, you should not have been allowed to schedule a meeting.
Working Through Lunch. “I’ve ordered in food so we can work through lunch.” “All that proves is that you are an asshat. Oh, and how did you know what I wanted to eat? Jackass.” Most people can barely do one thing at a time well. Eating and working – generally is non-productive. Why not let everyone step out for a half-an-hour to eat? Is your productivity gain really worth that rubber-chicken-salad-sandwich-wrap’s cost? Also, I don’t want to watch other people eat – especially coworkers.
Any Trophy, Plaque, or Award and The Cost to Present/Ship Them. The time for me to get awards was back in high school. I have a box in my basement filled with hunks of plastic thanking and congratulating me on stuff that I have done or accomplished at work. They mean so much to me I stuff them in a box. I swear, I will burn them one day.
Exit Interviews. Seriously, has HR ever taken tangible action based on exit interviews? These are designed for one thing – to ferret out possible lawsuits as an employee leaves – period. Think about it, at that stage, it’s a bit late for action, isn’t it?
So what have I missed? Please add in the comments. Oh, and check out my funny book on work – Business Rules.