Opening the blinds


I was challenged by one of my devoted readers this week [and I am up to a whopping six of them…], let’s call him Blane Gordon, to come up with a name for serial nine-to-fivers. You know, people who go through the motions at work, spend way too much time looking at the clock and praying for lunch time or the “official” end of the work day or who just feel like every second above 40 hours (or apparently 22 if you live in France…) is somehow a gift they’re reluctantly giving to their ungrateful employers. Good challenge, Blane!

So, as usual, I started with the obvious. Dolly Partons, clock watchers, whatever. But that doesn’t really get at the root of the behavior and the problem, plus it’s completely lame. The problem, first of all, is a lack of one of Peter Senge’s Five Disciplines – Shared Vision. And I could argue that it is the most precious commodity any company over 10 people in size could have. Shared vision means that everyone in an organization can both articulate what everyone is REALLY working for, and even better, they believe in it!

It’s not extraordinarily difficult to have shared vision in a five person company. There’s a good chance there’s some ownership split and that all five had some part in crafting a vision in the first place. But as an organization grows, it’s very easy to have that original vision slowly watered down until you wake up one day and see a frighteningly large number of nine-to-fivers heading for the door at 4:57 PM.

Think about the last time you worked really hard on something with no regard for effort or time consumed in the pursuit. I built a deck with my son and some good friends not long after we moved into our house a few years back, and I worked on it three or four weekends in a row from dawn til dusk and never really thought about anything other than making progress ( and of course, not screwing it up too bad in places people could see – if you’ve seen me use power tools, you’d know why that’s such a big concern…) But I know folks who could spend 16 straight hours sanding a boat getting it ready for sailing, training endless hours for the Boston Marathon, or building a new web site. They have vision. Which I define, in this instance, as a clear objective that they can imagine in their minds and the determination to get there. If you can instill that feeling in yourself or your team at work, you are a great leader indeed!

The opposite of that, of course, is no vision. And so, Blane, I would recommend that when you’re looking for some other term for a nine-to-fiver, try Magoo…

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One Comment on “Opening the blinds”

  1. mgtstr8talk Says:

    I got an semi-offline comment suggesting that SheepWalkers would be a good name for 9-5 ers


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