Two Buckets: A New Concept About Work

February 23rd, 2009   •   no comments   

Give Your People A Way to Invest Themselves in Their Work
Do it my way. Why? Because I said so. Sounds like a mom dealing with a three year old: defiant, oppositional. Might be needed in that situation. But at work?
We are meaning making beings. Work provides a good part of our meaningful activity. Don’t underestimate that or trivialize that.
Here’s an idea that provides the communication vehicle to assure that you, the boss, get what you want (or think you want or need) and your workers, team members — whatever you want to call them — get a chance to invent themselves in their work.
Bucket #1: (You can actually bring in two buckets to do just this.) This is the bucket in which you put all the tasks and methods that are not negotiable. Not right now anyway. If you wanted to be really clear about it, print out all of these items. For example, you can’t negotiate on the language one uses in emails: it must be professional. No slang, no expletives. Put that in this bucket.
Bucket #2: These are all the methods, behaviors that are negotiable. You and your people can collaborate on the list of things that goes into this: how your desk is organized (how messy it is); chewing gum at work; how you decorate your workspace; the order which you choose to get your work done in the day, etc. The more specific you can be, the better. The list is, in most organizations, quite big. (I’m sure even the Chinese bureucracy, as an example, can’t rule out the individual’s contribution.)
What do you end up with? Two buckets full of a bunch of papers. Some could be handwritten; use your imagination!
In the first one, there will be only a few pieces — 10-20 in all. The second bucket will have, could have 30 or more. Depends on your imagination: walk around the workspace while you’re doing this exercise instead of sitting in an office and you’ll notice all of the opportunities.
The psychological impact will be huge: I, the worker, gets this impression that I have control over a lot of what I do. I am not downtrodden or put upon; I’m a creator. I have power. Yeah!
Is this a gimmick? Of course it is. And, I’ll come up with another one in a week. This is part of the boss’ attempt at reinvention, innovation, self-investment. Coming up with new, workable, relevant gimmmicks. Some don’t or won’t work. Some will. Experiment; that’s the only way we’ll find out what does work.
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