There’s a great scene in the Mike Judge movie called “Office Space.” Two consultants engaged in interviewing employees for an imminent downsizing sit across from a guy and try to figure out what he does at work all day. The guy stammers and explains how he has people who do this, do that, his secretary does this, but he obviously does no actual, discernible work.
One of the consultants, obviously confused but curious, asks, “What would you say… you do here?” Emphasis on “do.”
The guy in the movie is what I like to call a “TDEer.” What is a TDEer, you ask?
T, for talker: Talkers have their place, especially if people listen. Talkers can get unmotivated people motivated. But if it’s all talk and no action, talkers are just that. All talk.
D, for delegator: Don’t get me wrong. I manage and have managed people for years. We need people who delegate, especially when they themselves have too much on their plate. Again, we’re talking about resources. We all should move resources around to get things done. And that’s delegation. But what if a particular person only delegates?
And finally, E, for emailer: Email used to be a communication tool. It’s begun to fall out of favor in some circles in past years, being passed up in some businesses by messaging services such as Slack, for example. But for most businesses, email has become the predominant communication tool. I started off by staying it used to be a communication tool because lately, the act of emailing someone is being seen as actual work product. Not that you’re not working if you send an email regarding work. But if you consider the act of writing and sending an email as adding value to the company, you’re all wrong. I need to make a distinction between people at customer service centers whose job is to message customers and send them emails. That’s the job.
But that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean people who cross off tasks on their to-do list with:
1) sent that person an email;
2) sent this person an email;
3) checked back to see if person 1 received my email;
4) asked person 2 if you can be of service to them in doing their job even if you never actually come through on that promise;
5) more email, email, email;
6) a summary email to your boss telling them about all the emails you’ve sent today;
7) 99.999 percent of this person’s “work” consists of email.
Did you see anything of value created in the scenario above? No? But I can bet you’ve got people in your operation who believe that’s valuable, that it’s necessary. But it’s not. It’s all hands on deck out there in the business world. If every one of your employees isn’t adding value every day, isn’t creating something to sell, selling, servicing something, getting new customers, taking care of customers…
If all they do is TDE, take a good hard look. Then find someone who will “do” something for your business.