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How To Break Free from Being the Go-To Guy at the Office

How To Break Free from Being the Go-To Guy at the Office

You are staring at your computer screen and you are stressed. Yet another day has passed and you haven’t really made any progress with your work assignments: instead, the whole day has gone by helping your colleagues. You’re known as the go-to guy in your office when it comes to all things IT-related, and although you love to help people out with their computer woes, this activity is starting to burn you out.

There is also a price to pay when it comes to your unofficial role: you help others at the expense of missing deadlines in your own assignments and projects. Because of this, your bosses and project managers have already started asking why you are unable to keep up with agreed-upon timelines.

The situation becomes unbearable: you want to help your colleagues, but at the same time, you’d like to take care of your work as well. Unfortunately, you have run out of ideas on how to solve the situation.

Open Doors, All Year Long

When looking more closely at your situation, it’s very easy to understand why you are feeling stressed and burned out: you’re a nice person and you want to help others, and you probably feel good about yourself when you have fixed issues for other people so they can continue with their work. People probably realize that they can get answers more quickly from you than by following official routes—by calling the IT support office of your company, for example. That’s likely another reason why they come to you.

Finally, your open door policy and unwillingness to say “no” is like an open invitation to others: You are kind to them, you do what they ask you to do, and you are always available.

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Do You Care What Others Think of You?

There is most likely a conflict deep inside you, as part of you wants to change the situation, but again, you are afraid to do it. You might be scared of what other people would think of you if you say “no” to their requests—you want to please others, not make them feel bad, making it difficult to say “no” to them.

Ultimately, this niceness is causing more harm than good to you as you end up having a hard time doing your own work on time.

You Need a Policy

To make things easier and to solve the situation,you need to set a policy that defines how these unofficial tasks are going to be handled in the right way: this policy will determine your general accessibility, how you will communicate with others and how others will communicate with you, as well as the official routes when dealing with IT problems.

To make the policy more powerful, you have to define it with your superior, and it has to be communicated clearly to your colleagues—only in that way will things will get better and you will finally be able to focus on your own tasks.

Be a go-to Guy, But Only When You Want to Be

To implement this policy, consider taking the following steps:

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1. Talk to your boss. It all starts by having a meeting with your boss.

Let him/her know that you are overworked because of being the go-to guy at the office and as a result, you can’t handle your own workload anymore. Make a decision to craft a special policy about this, which is communicated to your colleagues via e-mail or another means determined by your boss.

This policy sets the rules how you should be contacted with regard to those unofficial tasks.

2. Define the right way to communicate. Implement this part of the plan in two ways: electronically and physically.

The electronic part pertains to how other people contact you by e-mail and via instant messaging, and when you are expected to get back to them. It should also define how you will communicate with other people on the phone. The physical aspect defines how you will communicate with people who approach you directly at your office work space .

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In either of these cases, you can make it clear that you are only available during certain hours of the day for unofficial matters, but for the rest of the time you are focusing on your own work assignments. Be sure to make it clear that any question that’s not related to your work assignments is handled with lower priority, as you are busy with your own projects.

3. Isolate yourself physically. If you still get distracted by others, it’s time to take more drastic action and relocate yourself physically to another part of the office. For instance, if your office has any rooms free, you could start working in one of them and keep the door closed. If that doesn’t work, then you could make an arrangement where you work from home—this cuts physical contact with you to minimum.

If you have talked with your boss about your current workload (as in step 1), there should be fewer distractions than before and you should be able to work with a much better focus.

4. Ask people to follow official processes. You can ask people to follow official protocols when dealing with certain types of issues. For example, if the issues are specifically related to IT problems, then ask them to contact the official IT support people for sorting out those matters.

You can also ask your boss to remind your colleagues of this protocol as well: that the right way to get help is to use the official channels—even if it takes longer to fix the issue.

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Finally, if your colleagues are more willing to come to you than use the official channels, this should ring an alarm bell for your boss. Maybe the corporate policies are not as effective as they could be, and they should be changed as soon as possible.

5. Change roles. Finally, ask yourself if you are in the right position inside the company—should you be working for the IT department instead? If you are already doing well with people and you are knowledgeable about a specific topic, would you consider switching over to another role instead?

In Conclusion

There a lot of these go-to guys and girls in offices around the world who are kindly helping out their colleagues, causing their own workplace performance to suffer as a result. If this has been happening to you, discuss it with your boss as quickly as possible: with this single step, the whole issue could be resolved and you can focus on the work you are supposed to do.

(Also, please note that this post focused on IT related matters, but naturally you can apply these steps to other businesses and roles as well.)

Over to you: If you are a go-to person at your office, do you say “no” to people when they come to ask for help?

Featured photo credit:  Handsome guy looking down via Shutterstock

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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