The Company’s “Guidelines”

istock_000002231792small.jpgI just found a most interesting set of corporate guidelines.

It comes from a marketing company called Sandia, in a document entitled “Being More Productive: Working more effectively will greatly benefit our clients, the agency and yourself.

The document describes 16 ideas for its employees on how to increase productivity, ranging from #16 – “Do not carry a cellphone or Crackberry 24/7” to #15 – “Prioritize.”

I think the ideas are wonderful, but there is not a single mention of basic Time Management 2.0 ideas, starting with the idea that the user is responsible for their own time management system, and must define, manage and master it for themselves.

In fact, in the document, there is no mention of the user at all.

It made me wonder —  was the article intended to be followed by all employees?  The language seemed to be a bit “mandatory” which I imagine could create all sorts of resentment– it’s very “1.0” in its tone.  The statement that “working more effectively will greatly benefit our clients, the agency and myself” which implies some kind of hierarchy in which my experience is at the bottom of the pile.

I would suggest to Sandia that their model is, on the whole, unsustainable.

The problem is in the assumptions that might be underlying the list, which include the notion that habits are easy to break, and that each employee should be using the same time management system as everyone else.

Research of all kinds shows that ingrained habits are difficult to make and/or break, and each person is different.  Employees  need to know this in order to see why it is they won’t be successful trying to put all these ideas into effect immediately.  Managers also need to know that they cannot evaluate their employees on how well they are implementing the 16 items the day after the list is passed around, or even a year after.

But maybe the biggest problem of all is that the employee seems to be the lowest priority, and a mere tool of the company’s productivity needs.  I don’t know for a fact if Sandia intentionally means to put customers first and employees last, but the way the document is written strongly implies that this is so.

I can’t imagine that the company means to replace a love of customer and company above a concern for self by just stating it in a document.  I think it’s a smarter strategy to speak to employee’s greatest concern when it comes to productivity, which is that it contribute to their peace of mind and other desired emotional states.

The days are gone when employees can be thought of as mere “tools” of a company that exist in order to produce results.  Thinking of them in this way misses the mark, and probably lead the company to think that putting out this list would result in changed behavior.

What employees do need is help to design their own system, and to see that the list of 16 items is a useful set of ideas that they must now work on to make their own.