The sharing economy is booming. Companies like Uber and Airbnb are all about sharing. Uber owns no cars but is in the ride share business and Airbnb owns no housing units but is in the house sharing business. The market for rides and apartments may be saturated but those two companies have created the metaphor for a whole new world of start-ups. Now we are looking at the Uber for dog walkers, the Airbnb for sports equipment. “We are the Uber for (fill in the blank) is the new mantra in the start-up/sharing economy world.
- It is a wonderful concept. Sharing creates efficiencies and allows markets to utilize resources in an effective manner. The sharing economy will continue to flourish and I am all for it. But my personal concept of the sharing economy at work is a little different:
- I want to share the big bonus that the boss received when mine was just a pittance.
- I want to share the credit for all the good things that happen at work and I want everyone to be happy about the sharing.
- I want to share my ideas about improving the ways we operate because I have some good ideas and I know others do too.
- I want to share the interview and hiring decision process. It is the best way to ensure we hire the right fit and experience mix and, that we agree on it.
- I want to share lunches and coffees with colleagues where we get things done as well as enjoy getting to know people.
- I want to share backgrounds and experiences so that we know who might be the best person to perform a specific task.
- I want to share the blame when things at work don’t go quite right. The more who share that, the better.
- I don’t want to share vacation photos or my favorite coffee mug. Nor do I want to share anything that is too personal, especially about the details of one’s love life.
It’s been said many times before but the things we learn in kindergarten about sharing are best applied at work too.
What do you want to share? Or not?
When my son was three years old he would occasionally call for a meeting. He didn’t know what a meeting was but he heard all the adults talking about meetings so they must be something worth exploring. We dissuaded him of the notion.
Some companies are eliminating the performance review process. Why not keep going and eliminate meetings? We like the doughnuts, we don’t like the smell of dry erase markers and the questions like “Can we do a process check?”
Would the world end if we eliminated meetings? What would happen if we just stopped meeting?
- Communications would suffer. Or would it? Between email, texting and checking out all the posts on social media, would we communicate less?
- Colleagues would not work together as well. Maybe. It does help to know each other but is partnering enhanced through meetings?
- Coordination between teams would be limited and we might duplicate each other’s activities and calendars would be a big mess. The alternative could be checking project schedules and checking for intersections. Maybe the projects would get completed earlier.
- Team building would not exist. I am not sure most people look at meetings like team building activities. Lunch is more likely to be seen as team building time. At a time when lots of people work at home, team building can come when time spent together outside of meetings is scheduled.
- The alternatives to meetings now include conference calls and actual one-to-one phone calls with people talking. Plus, the daily “coffee” with pals and lunch are now requirements. Things do get resolved in these interactions. People figure out how to get together to solve problems without having a routine meeting.
Think of the money that could be saved – white board markers would never dry up. Conference rooms could be rented out for Airbnb use. Think of the weight we could lose by not sitting for hours and eating doughnuts. Wait, keep the doughnuts, just put them in the kitchen.
Meetings are habit forming. We are trained in how to conduct effective meetings, maybe we should be trained in whether or not we really need to have the meeting.
Big progressive companies have eliminated the routine performance review. Why not move on to meetings. Come on, let’s try it. Or should we have a meeting about it?
Why don’t we learn? The evidence is overwhelming. Mattresses tied to roofs of moving vehicles are prone to blow off. On any given weekend it’s easy to spot mattresses on the side of the highways. No one is sleeping on them or even paying attention to them. The mattresses have blown off the roof of a car or out of the bed of the pickup, never to be retrieved. Laws of physics do apply when it comes to driving with a mattress on the roof.
When the mattress is overhead, the driver is clueless the front of the mattress is flapping like horses lips in the wind. Sometimes the driver and the passenger have their arms out the window as if they can hold onto the mattress while going 60 miles per hour. That probably won’t work. Any one sitting in the back seat is saying prayers.
Dead mattresses are a metaphor for what happens at work: If it seems like a bad idea, it probably is. If all the evidence is that you will regret the action, you probably will. If you know you shouldn’t do it, but you do it any way, what were you thinking?
Here are but a few examples that dead mattresses can teach us. All in the category of, you know better but you do it anyway.
- Badmouthing your boss or colleagues. Are you sure everyone hung up from the conference call? Or, did someone overhear your comments? The criticism always gets back to the person you don’t want to hear it.
- Telling a racist, sexist joke or spreading inappropriate emails or texts. People get fired for such actions.
- Blaming others for your errors or claiming credit when it is not due. Come on, bad form.
- Lying on your resume. The truth always comes out.
- Getting drunk with your boss. You will regret it later.
- Stealing office supplies. Stealing is stealing is stealing.
- Posing a danger to others at work. Ignoring safety and security protocols is reckless. So is sexual harassment or bullying or showing up with a contagious sickness. If you see something that could be a problem at work, change it or report it.
Jut like a mattress on the roof, when it comes to bad judgment at work; don’t try it. You might think you’ve developed that super-duper twine that will hold the mattress in place, but you’re bucking the trend that has been in place since the car was invented. You are not different. You may think you won’t get caught, but you will.
So the next time you see king size mattresses and box springs tied to the roof of a VW Jetta, don’t get behind it and ask yourself is there anything that can be learned from this spectacle.
At the very least, like mattresses lashed to roofs, at work remember the best indicator of future performance is past performance.