Interoffice mail. Fiefdoms. Committees. Lack of technical knowledge. Sound familiar?

Traveling through my work day recently, I realized that a lot of time and money are spent on making things right after someone goes about their business ignorantly. Sometimes, its not their fault: they dont know how to set up a new printer profile, hire an outside vendor or how people get certain campaigns set up. They just didnt know better or have the skills to figure it out on their own. But, thats not their fault – or is it?

When does ‘Office Ignorance’ become more than just a nuisance? When it costs money? Maybe someone screws up big time, in an obvious way and they get canned or have their budget stifled. But what about the larger resource we all lack: Time.

Can and should people of all statures be held accountable for taking the time to figure out how things work? When does is stop being your problem and become theirs? The truth is, it doesnt. You have to have a fantastic poker face, carry on and ‘get-r-done’. This can take a toll on even the best of us. The most people savvy employee will reach their boiling point.

Then what? Do you lose your best and brightest because they just cant deal with inconsistencies and lack of planning? Even worse, they stay, continue to appease you and become complacent never pushing the envelope for creativity. This benefits you in the short term, but in the long run defeats the purpose of hiring great people. You also do yourself a disservice by never learning how the company ‘machine’ works – making you less of a prospect should you try to find another job.

But should employees rock the boat? How do  you deal with Office Ignorance creatively? Has it ever caused you to rethink your current situation?

2 Comments

  1. The frustrating thing about office ignorance is the different value sets people bring to the workplace. Some people seem to value personal loyalty or friendship over competence. I, like you, value competence. I don’t have to be a co-worker’s BFF, I just want to do the best job possible.

    Another issue has to do with the values that come into play in the hiring process. People who hire replicants of themselves (because they want yes men or women or think their way is the best way) ultimately do a disservice to themselves and to the organization.

    It isn’t just in higher ed. It’s everywhere. But it IS in higher ed.

    Good post.

  2. I try to take a balanced approach. Not all companies and managers invest the time and resources to properly train new employees. By the same token, employees who fall victim to the aforementioned lack of training need to take some initiative and seek out the resources and/or people to get the training they need to do their jobs. If an employee has to perform a particular task or complete a project and there are information and/or resource roadblocks standing in that person’s way, then it is incumbent upon that employee to communicate clearly to his or her manager what the issues are propose solutions. Whining and complaining do not get the job done.

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