Workplace Wisdom

Dirty Pots as a Management Metaphor

I like the idea of hosting dinner parties, weekend potlucks, veritable swapmeets of desserts. I enjoy the initial planning, reviewing cookbooks and recipes ripped from magazines, deciding which dishes will go well with which. Am very grateful that my husband does the lion’s share of the shopping, but don’t mind it when it falls to me. Mostly I enjoy the cooking, particularly now that my mother clued me in to the extraordinary usefulness of frozen chopped onions. If you’ve read my recent posts, you know that I learned to make a more-than-credible chicken soup. I’m also a good baker; I measure carefully and mix patiently.

But I really do hate washing pots. For me, there is just no satisfaction — nothing but back strain and lost time. None of the emotional kick that comes from working hard and taking pride in the result. None of the reflection and peacefulness that some people find when their hands are making repetitive motions in hot, soapy water. Even after you’re done, you’re not done. You still have to dry — and worse, you still have to put away.

I am everlastingly grateful to my sister-in-law, my sister, and one dear friend, who wash pots uncomplainingly and accurately. My husband is also a reliable pot-washer, and my son is turning out to be quite good when he’s willing. But when it’s up to me and me alone? The dirty pots often wait till the next day. Truth is, I skipped the last three pots from tonight’s event to sit and write the blog I had been procrastinating about.

Get Synergy from Team Skills and Strengths

Ok, here’s the management linkage. Most of us are not naturally drawn to everything we need to get done. And there are many crucial parts of management for which we may not have the skill or the patience or the persistence. But they need to be cleaned up or covered nonetheless.

It’s not that you can’t do it all alone. You probably can. But it’s rarely worth it. Your willingness to learn from others’ experience and accept — gratefully — others’ competent performance permits greater accomplishment and less cost than if you insist on struggling alone against every challenge and obstacle.

Whether it’s the village that raises the child, or the family that cleans the kitchen, or the team that runs the company, diversity of skill and inclination are almost always advantages. The value of complementary preferences cannot be overstated.

Do you recognize your strengths and preferences as clearly at work as you do at home? Do you know who’s on your team so you can be sure the whole job gets done? And have you thanked them lately?

Onward and upward,

LK

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