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?
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.
One way leaders make work harder is through negative emotions. This is when a leaders shows up with their unresolved issues and make everyone in the room pay for their bad day.
Thanks Gerry. Nothing like dragging around the bosses negative attitude/emotion. Everyone walks on pins and needles!
The issues need to be joint efforts by all parties. If you have established guidelines and people don’t follow them, they need to be accountable. Work can be fun if you enjoy what you do.
What makes work hard is when individuals don’t do their share and expect the same benefits. Equal work for equal pay is nice thoughts, then we insert quality, neatness, clean workspace are a few examples, that takes equal to new extremes.
Everyone needs to pitch in, otherwise work can be harder for others if they don’t pull their weight.
Thanks Tim. It seems that permission and resolve to point out destructive behaviors is one way to lower friction. The other is everyone pulling their own weight.
Creating friction may be what’s needed to help the person or group.
Is friction always a bad think?
If there is no friction–does that imply groupthink?
When we have healthy disagreement and debate, the friction meter may go up but the end result is often something better.
Thanks Paul. You bring up something that Bob and Huggy address. There is such a thing as good friction. I’m so glad you jumped in to expose this idea.
What strikes me in this article is that some leaders just have this instinct and make work enjoyable and challenging. The culture becomes so natural that of course-of course! we support and raise each other up as a team-why wouldn’t we? We are respectful and have a genuine desire to see each person rise up-well yeah…what else would we do? However I think these leaders may see themselves or others may see them as less effective compared to other domineering leaders who boast and promote competitiveness until it becomes toxic to team dynamics. The humble leaders can become insecure. Praise our humble leaders with specific reasons that are not compared with other leaders on how they challenge us and have made us better. This is their strength-do they see it or are they still giving out the credit to all around them?
Great stuff, Dan. I’ve found this approach works very well in the home as well. Agreeing on norms and holding/helping each other is how my wife and I keep making life better. Thanks for the post!