Work Doesn’t Have to Suck

I just listened to Season 1 – Episode 11 of the podcast FRICTION. It’s something Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao do in their ‘spare’ time. I recommend it.

Episode 11: Five Ways to Reduce Workplace Friction

In this episode, Bob reflects on five lessons learned from previous podcasts.

#1. Hold one another responsible for not making life harder for one another.

#2. Reward people for making life easier for others.

#3. Agree on norms about how we do things around here.

#4. Insecurity and fear cause friction.

  • Petty tyrants – people driven by insecurity – increase friction.
  • Silence – not speaking up to help others – increases friction.

#5. Hierarchy isn’t good or bad. Does it amplify or dampen friction?

Team discussion:

Here’s a project you might try with your team. Listen to several FRICTION podcasts.

Have each team member privately rank themselves on the “not making work harder for others” scale.

Draw a line across a sheet of paper. The left end of the line is, “You make work like hell for others.” The right end of the line is, “You’re the Magic Fairy of making work easier for others.”

Put a mark on the line that reflects where you fall on the scale. Go with your gut.  Don’t put numbers on the line.

Have a conversation with the team. (You don’t have to reveal your mark.)

  • Question #1: Why didn’t you place your mark closer to the left end of the line? Discuss ways you’re already working to make work easier for others.
  • Question #2: What might you do to move your mark closer to the right end of the line? Come up with three suggestions for behaviors you might adopt to make work easier for others.

Commitment: Each team member publicly chooses the behavior they will employ to make work easier for others. Report on efforts and results at your next meeting.

How do leaders make work harder for others?

How might leaders make work easier for others?

Check out the podcast: FRICTION: Work Doesn’t Have to Suck

Note: Petty tyrants will most likely misjudge their negative impact on others. For this exercise, it doesn’t matter. The goal is to choose a behavior that makes work easier for others.