Sunday, January 25, 2009

Doer or Slacker?

In the last couple of weeks I've been developing a theory about how people work. When deadlines get tight and project hours get long there seem to be two kinds of workers. There are those that buckle down, and no matter how crappy the conditions, how tough the job, how many other items are on their to do list, or how inconvenient the hours may be they just "get 'er done". The other kind shows up late, is missing many of the tools they need to get the job done, has multiple excuses for why they can't complete the task ahead of them, and needs constant supervision and nagging to get the job finished. I am developing a deep admiration for the former (the doer) and an equal disdain for the latter (the slacker).

The doer seems to be an expert in task prioritization. If they have a list of 15 things that need to get done over the course of the day, they pick the most important one to get done first or properly order tasks so that work flows smoothly. In the face of an interruption that requires them to step away from one task and deal with some sort of emergency, they do so without grumbling, quickly and efficiently deal with the situation, and then get right back to the original high priority task. You'll never hear them complain about having too much to do. Conversely the slacker jumps from task to task, often inappropriately reacting to an interruption or emergency by permanently switching their focus so that no task ever gets finished properly. Their work flow is not managed well so that badly-needed materials will show up at the job site but are rendered useless because the equipment or personnel needed to use those materials has not been scheduled. The work they do perform is done to a minimum quality standard and will not be improved upon until they are specifically instructed on how to fix their mistakes.

The doer seems to always be getting something done. They may be ill, tired, sore and terribly overworked but rather than spending time complaining they lead by quiet example, simply getting the job done. The slacker will start his day enumerating all of the ways he has been ill-used by his boss, his subordinates, the virus that has attacked him, or his car that has broken down. Throughout the day he will stop often to talk with others about how tired he is, how he has been asked to work that falls outside of his job description, or how much more grandiose his former job was.

I will admit there have been many times that I have been guilty of being a slacker, and no doubt some of the hardest working doers on the job go home on the weekends and refuse to do little around the house but hold down a recliner and watch football. My goal with this new job is to be viewed whenever possible as a doer. With that said, I think there might be something good on TV right now.....


Anonymous said...

All doers are people who easily multi task. You've just described yourself.
All I need to do is get rid of the grumbling aspect, especially when I get up in the morning after having people to dinner and discover it takes me an hour to clean up the debris from the night before. Grumble, grumble.

Steve said...

You are certainly a doer, as evidenced by the amazing amount of work you get done every day. And even doers need to put their feet up every now and then.