Outside the Box Isn’t Easy

Would all the do-ers, please, please, sit down?

Stop fixing. Stop lifting. Stop starting. We’re tired of watching you do our work for us. And we let you get away with it, because you insist that it has to be done your way. Where’s the creativity in that?

You thought we were lazy, procrastinatin’, good-fer-nuthin’s. No, we’re smart, somewhat lazy (unless really inspired, then we’ll drill through steel to get what we want), procrastinating on select tasks, and good for plenty.

We frustrate you, don’t we?

You frustrate us, too.

You’re always coloring inside the lines, checking your watches, micromanaging us like gnats on nits. Don’t you know that we’d get the job done better, faster, more creatively, without your ever so helpful corrections, additions, deletions, and finalizations on everything that we do?

Want to know how to make us more productive?

Say it once.

Tell us when you want it.

The more room you give us, the more space we’ll take, so be very clear about your expectations.

And get out of the way.

By the way, we’ve noticed that you’re pretty stingy with compliments. It helps to let us know that you value our contributions without always adding a zinger to it: “Tom, you did a great job on the XYZ project. Now if you’d do that all the time, you’d be a great employee!” Now, that hurts, boss. That hurts.

Since we’re on a roll here, let’s talk about how you ask us questions. You don’t. You make statements that end with question marks. Those don’t count. For example: “You’re going to complete that by Friday, aren’t you?”

Is there a question there? I don’t think so.

And you say this one a lot: “You agree with me, don’t you?”

No, I don’t. But I don’t have the energy to argue about it every time.

Boss, we like open-ended questions. They’re the kind that don’t have a black or white answers. We like to ramble for awhile, and look at the possibilities without having to take a stand. We can’t help but notice that makes you a little uncomfortable.

We’re not like you. We thought that was why you hired us. In fact, here’s what you said at the interview: “We’re looking for folks who can think out of the box. We want employees who can find optional ways to solve problems. We need some spontaneity around here because we tend to get stuck in our own rut.”

That’s what you said, and that’s what  you got. Now you’re trying to change us into you. And that’s not going to happen.

But we can make this work if we bring what we do best to the table:

When you’re in a rush to take action, you’re not apt to think through the consequences. We can help you with that.

We tend to go back and forth when it comes to making decisions because we’re looking at all the options. You can help us clarify the issues that will move us along.

You tend to see people and things as either good or bad, right or wrong. We do a better job in the gray zone, and can see the value they all bring to the table.

We tend to overdo what we do well and procrastinate when we’re uncomfortable. You can help us define our priorities based upon what others need from us rather than solely on what we expect of ourselves.

You’re comfortable with rules and boundaries and do your best work within them. We prefer level playing fields with space and opportunity, to design and create what’s possible.

When we work toward the same goal and want the same outcome, we can work side by side, without limitation or hindrance. The only time we can get in trouble is when one of us believes that we have the one answer and the other one doesn’t. We’re too smart to let that happen.

* * * *

Yes! You may use this article by Executive and Career Coach, Joyce Richman, in your blog, article in your blog, newsletter or website as long as you include the following bio box:

Joyce Richman (www.richmanresources.com) has been specializing in executive and career coaching since she started her own practice in 1982. She works in a variety of environments including: higher education, manufacturing, sales, marketing, media, technology, pharmaceuticals, medicine, banking and finance, service, IT, and non-profit sectors. A member of the adjunct faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership, Joyce is certified to administer a number of feedback and psychological instruments. Joyce is a weekly guest on WFMY-TV and the career columnist for The Greensboro News & Record. She is the author of Roads, Routes and Ruts: A Guidebook to Career Success and co-author of Getting Your Kid Out of the House and Into a Job. A popular speaker, Richman conducts seminars and workshops throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Her coaching profile can be found at TheCoachingAssociation.com.

Bookmark and Share

Leave a Reply