In a recent Harvard Business Review article titled "Beware of the Culture of Busyness," author Adam Waytz discusses how corporate cultures contribute to the rise of "time poverty" and how busyness has become a status symbol. I agree with Waytz's assertion that corporate leaders tend to reward the "morally admired" who demonstrate their ability to produce the most output with a figurative Superman cape.
What surprises me most is that many individuals in the industry frequently complain about being busy and needing more time to do meaningful work. However, when I ask for more information, they often express the need for clearer objectives and goals to tie everything together. Many people in corporate America crave a sense of direction and a justifiable reason for what they are contributing to their companies. Busyness is not a virtue, and corporate leaders must stop celebrating it. It is not a measure of success; without a plan, it is likely the first sign of failure.
Waytz proposes a basic five-step plan to reverse the trend, which includes rewarding output, introducing slack into the system, and forcing people off the clock. However, this plan must address the precursors necessary to effect cultural change. Changing a culture that focuses on rewarding output requires a clear direction toward a unified strategy that breaks down departmental goals and objectives and ties them to individuals' objectives and key results. To achieve this, leaders must let go of old principles and bad habits and recognize that quality is better than quantity. Measuring progress is essential to understanding if you are moving in the right direction. This type of change requires an all-hands approach, with everyone on deck. It reminds me of a great book, "Change Management The Essentials" written by Lena Ross, but that's for another time.