There is a small group of people found in every office that I admire. These are not your super achievers or diligent workers but people who have nothing to do but know how to look busy without anyone suspecting a thing. They spend their weekdays doing more or less nothing but convince everyone that they are putting as much effort and doing as many tasks as others. Even their Managers think they are doing hell of a lot and think twice before giving them “more” tasks to do. Sometimes I wonder how that happens as I for instance know what every billable minute my subordinates are doing.
My department consisting of product managers, has one marketing and communications manager (yours truly) and one training manager ( RP). Now RP sits in Delhi and has two people under her here in Bangalore. Both the girls sit next to me and I see them while away their time, talking on the phone (VOIP) and putting in barely an hour of work every day. My team consisting of three people is almost always totally working with their nose to the grindstone so that we can go home at 6pm, the mandatory requirement in our office. Weekend work is also not permitted. So we “actually” work every single second of the eight working hours in a day.
It can be argued that we have much more work doing various marketing activities for the eight product managers, while RP has to only schedule and coordinate the training activities with the training vendors. But then both the girls are champions in appearing busy. I noticed something about them that makes me admire them even more. Both have a lot of time in their hands. Hence both have scheduled the few tasks they have, to fit the working hours in a day. They then go about it leisurely, taking in a break here and there to fill in the gaps.
For example M, one of the gals was told to give the complete details of the August 2008 trainings she was in charge of. Since the training is done by training vendors like Aptech and NIIT, all she had to do was ask them for their Excels, put them in a master Excel and send them across. She took a weeks time from her Manager to do what could be done in an hour, citing various factors that require time like calling up vendors, following up with them for the latest training lists etc etc. Thus she made heavy duty of a simple task and won herself one whole week of legitimate time that she showed as productive time. Bravo!!!
Now I am beginning to notice other people in this category too. All of them know how to spread their meager work across the eight work hours and thus look like they are working every single minute like the others. What the Managers don’t notice is that the amount of work that is put in. They calculate finished tasks!!
Hats off to all you people who manage to pull this off. You save endless acrimony for no fault of yours. Everyone cannot have the same work load. But people resent those with less work getting the same amount of pay. People like M with their “time management” skills tend to remove this area of friction by their tactics. This actually makes for fewer tensions at the work place!!
But there is a flip side to this too. It was with amusement that I read the mail sent to me by RP asking if someone from my team could lend a helping hand to one of her girls. According to RP, her girls were “very busy”. The mail was cc’ed to the Boss. I replied to the mail with an Excel sheet which showed minute by minute the various tasks my team mates were doing...just to show that I couldn’t spare anyone. RP was shaken when Boss followed up that reply with a demand for the same kind of details from RP. A week later she submitted her Excel Sheet and I read with growing admiration as she put the measly tasks that her teams had to do as a war exercise. Here is an example:
M – Work Schedule for this week
Complete Training Schedule of August 2008 for IT and Developers
Work Started Aug 25th. Task completed Aug 29th.
Details: Coordinating with Vendors for lists, Follow ups, Clarifications, Correcting errors, Matching names, emails, phone number etc, Instructor bios etc etc etc…
Boss replied curtly that she would have to manage her team mates work within the resources allocated her and that’s all he could do. RP heaved a sigh of relief. She learned a lesson not to open a can of worms she cannot handle, and I thanked my stars that I wouldn’t have to contend with my people grumbling about RP’s people having less work. We all went back to our routines and peace was back in our lives. I think a lot of us have to learn that work is not all about completing tasks admirably and adding to the profits of your company. It is also about accepting certain indigestible differences at work place and swallowing it for the greater good of our sanity!
Have a nice week folks.