REFLECTION: Are you familiar with the term, Hail Mary? Devout Catholics will recognize a Hail Mary is a Rosary prayer. A struggling football quarterback will throw a Hail Mary in the dying seconds of a losing game. He’ll toss the ball as long and deep as possible. desperately hoping to connect with a receiver in the end zone to put a few more points on the scoreboard.
As I work with clients to resolve their challenges of Overload and Overwhelm, it seems that Hail Marys are becoming more common in the workplace, too.
Workplace HM’s come in many forms. An HM could be a late afternoon, last minute request to handle the details of a project that will mean the receiver stays late and misses dinner. An HM could be a middle of the night email fired off with a request for a last minute bail-out on a project may have been in the works for weeks. Welcome to hustle and hassle central!
Now, we’ve all found ourselves in tight situations and we’ve probably tossed out a few HMs ourselves. And, the truth is, when we’re on the receiving end of an occasional HM, as team players, we’re usually happy to pitch in and lend a hand.
However, in some workplaces, HMs have become an everyday management (read mismanagement) practice. As a recurring pattern of behaviour, HMs don’t lead to winning results and answered prayers. They do generate great grumbling gobs of resentment and bitterness.
It’s true that HMs escalate during busy, unpredictable times. But, repeatedly pleading busyness and overload is no excuse for poisoning the work environment – creating hard feelings and damaging relationships in the process.
At the core, HMs signal an individual’s or a team’s inability to plan ahead, communicate in a collaborative way, set limits, and treat colleagues with the respect that they deserve.
ACTION: Give your workplace a Hail Mary check up in the days ahead. If you’ve noticed an increase in the number of last minute panicky hand-offs, bring it to the attention of the offenders.
Share this message with an invitation to talk about it. It could even be that as you notice who’s generating those HMs, you may need to hold a chat with yourself!
Here are a few helpful Hail Mary conversation starters:
* How often are HM’s happening? Between whom? In what circumstances?
* What’s the impact – short term and long term – on the work, the workplace and the relationships?
* How often do we look at or inquire about the impact of HMs on other priorities and tasks already on the worklist? How can we make that conversation part of the equation?
* What could we do to anticipate tasks so we could communicate and share the work earlier and more fully before zero hour knocks on our door and a Hail Mary pass rockets in our direction?
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“Whoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him.” – Lord Chesterfield
“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster.† One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” – Chinese Proverb
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: If you’re a football fan, you might enjoy watching Flutie’s Hail Mary miracle in Miami: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3ykWbu2Gl0
Footnote: As you’ll see, they are dancing on the field and cheering in the stands. Flutie and his receiver look like heros. Though an HM might work occasionally on the football field, as an everyday strategy for winning at work – it’s unnecessarily exhausting to all concerned!