The economic downturn we’ve experienced for the last few years is taking its toll on the workforce. Whether you work in a project environment or not, "Businesses expect a lot more out of their employees these day…" writes Anne Kadet for the Wall Street Journal. In her article, ‘Superjobs’: Why You Work More, Enjoy it Less, Kadet writes about organizations of all size who are expecting employees to "…take on extra tasks that have little to do with their primary roles and expertise—with engineers going on sales calls, accountants pitching in on customer service and chief financial officers running a division on the side. And some believe this shift is permanent, as the quickening pace of change demands more flexibility from everyone at the office."
Although I have always felt that it is a good idea for everyone in the organization to be willing to pitch in and help when times are tough, I worry that too much "pitching in" will do more than lead to burnout—it will lead to exhausted workers who are frustrated and unmotivated to do anything more than what they must to survive (I guess that’s the real definition of burnout, isn’t it?). Which is not an environment where project teams can creatively problem solve or invent and create. Ultimately, this type of environment will lead to an even greater project failure rate and ultimately organizational failure.
My daughter lives downtown—about twenty or so minutes away from where my wife and I live in the suburbs. We decided to stop by for a visit. It was the perfect weather for a short bike ride. Although I am an "epic ride" sort of guy; disappearing on the road for hours at a time, just before dark is my favorite time to ride. The light is soft, it's easy to see and somehow you can almost sense the day winding down. Even though it was a very short ride, it was still a "great" ride.
Over the last couple of years project managers in many organizations are being asked to manage and organize many different types of projects. I've spoken with a number of project leaders who spend time regularly jumping back and forth between agile and waterfall projects (some may even be concurrent projects). It's pretty obvious to me, that a one-size-fits-all approach to managing projects and other work doesn't fit.
30 years ago when your boss told you to do something, you did it (at least I did). And no, we didn’t like it then either. Let’s face it, times have changed. Generation X and Y are used to having more control over what they do and when they do it than any other generation of workers before them. They’ve also been trained to work in a more collaborative environment and are used to receiving frequent and regular feedback and recognition for what they do.
Over the weekend I spent a wonderful Saturday cruising the canyons of northern Utah on my motorcycle. It was a beautiful day and the canyons were incredible. My favorite rides are from canyon to canyon and Saturday was the perfect example. I started with a ride to Pineview Reservoir and over Monte Cristo into Wyoming. From Evanston I headed for the Mirror Lake Highway and a beautiful ride through the Uinta Mountains and home.
Unfortunately, there was a casualty on the highway. Sometime around 3:00 pm, a motorcyclist and his wife crossed the center line and hit another automobile head on. Accidents happen, but two fatalities marred what was an otherwise beautiful day to ride for that family. The local news hasn't shared many details about the crash, but it has caused me to evaluate what I do to stay safe on the road.
Since I was a young man, I've spent countless hours in sitting around the campfire telling and listening to stories. People whom I respected often taught great life lessons sitting around the embers of a fire at the end of the day. I have also taken that time to share those same lessons with my sons (who are now all adults) and have been teased in recent years about how many of my stories tend to repeat themselves.
"I know that one Dad," says one of them. "That's the one about ABC."
Not exactly your fault, but according to Scott Blanchard of The Ken Blanchard Companies, "Leadership development training is a smart, prudent investment that drives eoncomic value and bottom line results. But if people perceive that senior executives don't care about development then—guess what—development will not be a priority for the company."