I was onsite recently working with a client. I dropped by his office to speak with him and realized he was on the phone, so I waited until he was done with his conversation. As I waited I realized that he was talking to the woman who sits two doors down from his office and they were speaking via speakerphone. I later learned that this is how the entire office interacts, rarely do they get up from their desks, step out of their own office and actually speak to each other face to face. It explained a great deal about the office environment that they are working to improve.
The first word that came to my mind was lazy. How unmotivated must someone be to talk to their office colleague via speaker phone from the next room? It speaks volumes about how they feel about working together, how they feel about their work, and how little they want to interact let alone cooperate with other colleagues. Somewhere along the way this type of lazy communication became the office standard. It gave the appearance that it is more important to sit at their desk than to get up and actually have a conversation about the topic. I see this same habit in the use of email or texting. In essence let me deal with you in the easiest way possible so I am not inconvenienced or bothered in any way.
Sure, they may have to talk often and getting up might seem to waste time. And yes, getting up and down all day may feel annoying and a bother. And sure, if the attitude around the office is ‘why bother’ then this behavior seems understandable. However, let’s look at the big picture here. When this lack of interest and laziness pervades the office something else is really going on, there is an 800 pound elephant hanging around that no one wants to address. As I began asking questions it was obvious that people did not matter, only getting the work done AND no one cared how it got done or how the people were treated as long as the work got done. Aha! THAT was the 800 pound elephant, people don’t matter only deadlines matter.
Business is about making money, I get that. And deadlines are important in making money, I get that as well. Smart business people know that process only goes so far, it is the people actually doing the work that make the business profitable. When the people are neglected, over worked, or ignored the message is clear and the people will behave accordingly…like never getting up from their desks to talk to each other. Upper management didn’t want to hear the problem nor cared about any solutions; it was only about the bottom line. If this group didn’t get the job done then they would find other people to do the work. Enough said, no need to waste anymore time on ‘fixing’ these colleagues.
I found out later that there was a silent pact amongst the players. The first person to leave for a new job and everyone would leave the company. In essence they were all waiting to see when and who would go first. Not a very healthy place to bide your time until something better comes along. The 800 pound elephant had pooped all over and no one cared to clean it up…very sad.