Thursday, May 16, 2013

Are You Too Competent? 5 Suggestions.

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In the industrialized nations, most employed persons are either apathetic (i.e., willing to embrace mediocrity) or incompetent. They have either kept under the radar to avoid being tossed out, or they have spent far more time politicking than doing anything meaningful for the advancement of any project or directive within the organization. Smaller, entrepreneurial companies don't suffer from this malady as much as do their much larger counterparts, where the mere size of the staff and the vast amount of unproductive administration help to camouflage apathy and incompetence.

If you seek acceptance, admiration and kudos (i.e., you might have low self-esteem, and your therapist is telling you -- every week for $150.00 per session -- that your mother is probably at fault), and if you are truly stunningly competent, you often volunteer to take on more responsibility than you can actually handle in order to impress others, who are trying to shed their workload and put it into your briefcase. You are likely overworking because of your competency and willingness to take on extra responsibilities beyond the scope of your position.

What may indeed be worse is that you are aiding and abetting others at continuing their policies of mediocrity, apathy and incompetence. You are covering a hole in the boat with scotch tape - it causes you to suffer, and it helps others to remain non-contributors to what should be a project management effort or a business management effort.

In most medium to large-sized companies and organizations, most of the employees are either incapable or unwilling to do the critical inch of work required of them - instead, they are politically jockeying for preservation or promotion, and passing the work (and also any blame for failure) off upon others. Don't allow this to continue. Here are some constructive ideas:

1) Learn to simply say "no" when put upon by your "admirers";

2) Learn how to simply recommend to others how they may do the chore or solve the problem themselves. Point them to resources;

3) Learn to delegate some of your lesser responsibilities to others - some reasonable amount of delegation will actually ease your burden and enable you to focus more on the quality of your own workload;

4) If you are a manager or team leader, don't just give assignments to your charges -- ask them in a quick weekly progress meeting what they have accomplished, and for a brief explanation how they went about it. The laggards and politicians will be exposed, and peer pressure, combined with a small hint of embarrassment will get them to be a bit more self-sufficient. Call upon each person to account for his or her assigned responsibility;

5) If you are a manager, don't promote sycophants, toadies, and followers. Work hard to spot the problem-solvers, and promote them. Also (and this may sound ironic), promote those who show the greatest potential to lead others -- these people are not your future competition, per se; view them instead as your successors as you climb higher within your company, organization or project team.

What? You'd like another picture. Always happy to oblige my fellow strategic management consultants and project manager brethren!

Thank you, as always for reading me, and for sharing my articles with your connections and colleagues through your social media.

Douglas E. Castle for The Business And Project Planning And Management Blog and The Sending Signals Blog.

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