I dare say that most humans are creatures of habit and routine. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; in our hurly-burly lives it’s nice to rely on muscle-memory so we can drive the same daily route to the office or know that Friday evening will inevitably be comprised of pizza, pajamas and movies. The usual and ordinary tasks we have are pretty straightforward when we do them the way we’ve always done them.
Naturally this tendency to adhere to the tried-and-true carries over into our work life. Whether we’re cranking out TPS reports or processing journal entries we get into the flow and rhythm. This is also a good thing. People who take comfort in the unremarkable may find a sense of peace cranking through mundane tasks. And for those folks who chafe at “sameness” day-after-day, entering automatron mode allows them to churn through the repetitious soul-crushing chores that exist in every job.
Now envision a department filled with people simultaneously jogging on the procedural treadmill as they push out the same reports, take the same phone calls, and sit in the same meetings week after week. Picture rows upon rows of cubicles. Department after department. Floor upon floor. A humungous organization located in either a suburban office park or on a busy street in a bustling urban city center.
Certainly all those workers are providing some sort of value as they strive to meet organizational goals while, undoubtedly, participating in the latest Corporate (HR) program-of-the-month designed to simultaneously boost engagement, track OKRs, and determine annual compensation increases?
There may be a fancy new name to this program-of-the-month but, let’s be real – it’s the same old state of affairs.
And when you’re part of an existing entity, whether that be your job/company or your personal life/family, there’s an incentive to maintain the status quo.
And while human resources professionals are particularly adept at (and quite fond of!) maintaining the status quo, we are not alone amongst our corporate brothers and sisters. In the corporate setting we’re often more keenly focused on reducing risk rather than setting our sights on maximizing potential.
So we make the “safe” hire. We stick to the same procedures whilst also building additional steps and creating complexity for the most insignificant processes (“let’s have the SENIOR Director sign off for all office supply purchases too!”). We rely on last year’s numbers (and the year before and the year before that). We look backward (only) instead of looking forward. We research other companies’ ‘best practices’ instead of designing our own ‘NEXT practices.’
We stay on the hamster wheel.
I get it. I totally get it.
But as for me? I want to try new things. I don’t want to settle for merely doing what’s easy, comfortable and that-which-has-come-before.
I refuse to maintain the status quo.