According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, two-thirds of Americans would take the same job again “without hesitation.” So why are we continually hearing about surveys that point to workplace dissatisfaction? It turns out that people aren’t dissatisfied with their jobs or their paychecks. What’s driving them to dissatisfaction, according to the same article by Jared Sandberg, is “a small but disproportionately powerful amount of office inanity.”
Robert Kriegel wrote a whole book about office inanities—those ridiculous rules and processes that have outlasted whatever usefulness they once had but are still being strictly applied. He called it Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers.
Employees love to hate sacred cows. While they can drive you to pull your hair out in frustration, they are also fun to talk about. It’s a time-honored workplace tradition to gossip about work that appears to be pointless, rolling our eyes at “them” (those higher ups who came up with the tasks). Senseless tasks are easy to spot when you look around. They are less obvious when you are the one who is blindly doing them or (gasp!) the one who actually created them.
Sacred cows don’t just suddenly appear one day. There is always at least one person behind them—oftentimes it is a worker just like you who developed a procedure that, at the time, was the most efficient way to perform a particular task.
I don’t have a magic formula to erase the sacred cows that may be rampant within your organization. I do know, however, how you can eliminate a few that are bothering you: take a fresh look at the way you do your job. As you look anew at the way you fulfill your duties, make a list of procedures you’ve identified as sacred cows. Are there reports you produce that no one reads? Are you still gathering people in a room for a meeting when a quick phone conference would be better? Are you making paper copies even though you now have the ability to file things electronically?
There is an old bumper sticker that you can still spot on some cars. It says, “Question Authority.” I would add this caveat—especially your own.
Law of Attraction says “you get more of what you focus on.” Unless you take a look at ways to streamline your job, how can you expect your organization to do it? You ARE the organization. We often forget that.
As you consider each item on your list of sacred cows, ask yourself, “Do I have any control over this?” If the answer is “no,” then put those items on a separate list and set it aside. After you clean up the ones you DO have control over, you may want to return to that other list and approach whoever does have control to see if they’ll work with you to eliminate them.
Admittedly, there are things at work and yes, at home that frustrate us. The trick is to use your focus to concentrate on the ones you can do something about. As you focus on solutions, you’ll be surprised how those around you begin to do the same. Such is the power of the Law of Attraction.