Avoid the Hot Air and Get Stuff Done

6 08 2008

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Image by TKelly on Flickr via Creative Commons

Image by TKelly on Flickr via Creative Commons

“I think people talk too much anyway. Sometimes people are talking to me and in my mind I’m just like “shut up, shut up, shut up…blah blah blah blah blaaaaah.” Ellen Degeneres

On a recent trip to my head office, I really began to notice the amount of Hot Air that spouts from the mouths of the people I work with. They are people with all talk and no action. Since I joined the company over two years ago, a lot has been talked about to do with strategy, change and improvement. However, I have not seen any change. It is all Hot Air, and this is now ingrained in the company to the point where I think that all employees spend more time talking about doing things than actually getting things done. I’m glad that I have bought this observation to my conscious mind so that I can work on it personally so that I don’t sucked in to the same culture.

Here’s my 5 point Plan to cut the crap and get stuff done with other people:

  1. Only talk to people at work when you need something from them. This is like my previous post about only going on to the computer when I need to do something. We all spend hours at work talking about how the company should be run, gossiping etc. I’d much rather get my work done and get out of there. An hour spent talking to my girlfriend is a much better use of my time than an hour spent talking about the same old stuff with a colleague.
  2. Say No, mean no and don’t do it. It is one thing to say no to things, and another to mean it and stick to your work. This is a skill I am still developing but if you master it in the right way you can eliminate the crap and get on with what is going to make a difference.
  3. Cut the Crap. When talking to people or trying to get your work done, cut the crap. Eliminate what you don’t need, get to the point, get it done and move on.
  4. A lot of hot air comes from a group of people ‘Brainstorming’ ideas. Often I find that they go round in circles and the logical conclusion is inevitable 90% of the time. Cut the crap here too, get straight to the point “We WILL do this”, “I’ll get this actioned NOW”. I’ve found that when you are in a position to make decisions, then make them and do it. People will step in quicker if the action you have taken is wrong, whereas if you don’t take the action it could be hours or dozens of CC’d emails later before the a decision is made.
  5. Avoid meetings like the plague. Most meetings are, lets face it, a waste of time. Always ask why a meeting is being held. Ask for an agenda and timescale up front and try and schedule meetings back to back to get them all out of the way at once and avoid overruns “Sorry I can’t stay I have another meeting on the hour.”

Some people may worry that they could give the wrong impression to their peers and superiors with this approach. Remember the goal is to the get stuff done. You will (and should) be measured by your results. You are aiming for a work:life balance and being productive at work is not about doing more, it is about doing what is needed (and only what is needed) better and faster.

If your company doesn’t operate a Results-Only Work Environment, then don’t worry. Just make it your own personal ‘culture’ to work like that and see the results. You should work better and live better.

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