People routinely spend long hours writing proposals, filling out paperwork, or sitting in meetings at work only to wonder if their hard work has achieved anything.
In other words, many employees are caught in a trap of working hard but doing “FAKE WORK” that has no corresponding results.
They spend valuable time doing nothing to support the short or long term goals of their organization and consequently experience low morale, high turnover, broken communication, and patterns of low productivity.
Presenting Ten primary causes of fake work in companies.
1. Failing to Understand the Job. Often there is a huge disconnect between what people think they should be doing and what their organization needs them to do. This can be due to outdated job descriptions, employees failing to ask about and not being told what they are responsible for, or assumptions made by employees.
2. Failing to Recognize Results. Like runners who cannot identify the finish line, many employees undertake work without having an end goal in mind. Employees fail to ask what desired result is envisioned, why the assignment is important, or the target date for completion. Many people guess these answers and work without visualizing an outcome.
3. Failing to Focus and Prioritize. There are many things that employees can do on a given day, but they must always challenge themselves to identify what the most critical things to do are. Too many are trapped in busywork while the most important things are left undone. If no work takes precedence over another, fake work will inevitably occur.
4. Failing to Understand the People in the Workplace. Differing attitudes, personalities, and work styles can also contribute to fake work. Personalities such as isolationists, egocentrics, or obsessive organizers can set up fake work traps for those around them.
5. Failing to Communicate About the Right Things. One of the most significant causes of fake work is poor communication. When people are focused on the wrong project, poor communication is typically the source of the problem. The key is to recognize that everyone plays a role in the ineffective communication loop. Leaders may send out communication about company strategy but do not follow up to know if it was understood or even heard.
6. Failing to Understand the Importance of Teams. Tied to the failure to communicate, another top reason for fake work is the failure of teams to work cohesively. While people like to focus on the tasks they are individually responsible for, their work has value only when executed in the context of a team. When people in teams do not share information about what they are doing or how they can help one another, redundant or unfocused work is often the result.
7. Failing to Clarify and Drive Strategy from the Top Down. Majority of workers do not know how their company’s goals translate into specific, executable work. This means that often fake work is the result of an unknown or unclear strategy and/or that many employees do not know how to shift their daily activities toward critical, strategic activities.
8. Failing to Align and then Execute. When individuals do not link their daily tasks to strategy, they are not aligned with the strategy, and therefore the strategy cannot be well executed. Often the failure is related to poor communication, the failure to listen carefully, translate strategy into tasks, understand the broader business picture, or understand changing circumstances.
9. Failing to Manage–At Any Level. Managers are key propagators of fake work because their jobs are at the pivotal point between leaders’ strategy creation and their teams’ execution. When they fail to translate strategy, communicate expectations, or explain desired results, their teams typically engage in fake work. Whether people are managing or being managed, however, everyone is responsible to eliminate wasted time and resources. If managers are not facilitating, translating, or coaching, then their direct reports have a responsibility to seek out that information.
10. Failing to Foster a Culture and Environment that Supports Real Work. A company’s culture is primarily built on the values and behaviors present within it, i.e. the “informal attitudes and ethics and ideas that each person brings and expects of one another.” When companies are not attentive to defining what they will value and how they will behave, factors such as tradition, a controlling CEO, or complacency can influence the culture.
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