Do You SLUDGE at Work?

Accountability Management Productivity


Key Point: We are going through a work revolution in many ways. But perhaps the biggest mind shift is recognizing that for many of us, work is NOT just where we go. Instead, it’s what we do. And related to that concept is the emerging understanding that all of us need to concentrate on managing work rather than each other. This combination of different thinking about work and management will be an opportunity for each of us. It is also a risk if we don’t revisit our thinking about the nature of work and how we are personally adapting. One-way to determine whether a person “gets it” or not is to observe how much they “SLUDGE.” What’s SLUDGE? Read on.

Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson coined the term in their fascinating book, Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution. SLUDGE refers to any comment we make that reinforces old, outdated ideas of how work gets done. It is hard not to participate in SLUDGE, especially if you’ve been in the workforce for more than a decade. Many of us have it firmly placed in our heads that success at work is related to time spent in the work place. But if we give this view serious thought, this way of looking at work is complete nonsense. Here is the new deal: NO RESULTS = NO JOB.

It doesn’t matter how many hours we put in, how hard we try, how nice we are, how loyal, etc. We can get in the office before the sun rises and drag our way home after it sets… It does not matter unless we get the results needed from the work we are assigned. Since mobile technology lets many of us take work everywhere, it is vital to get clarity on what results are expected and to deliver, from wherever we need to be. Additionally, managers have a renewed responsibility to spend most of their time recognizing, assigning, measuring and delivering what adds value. Let’s all manage what needs to get done and encourage people to be self-accountable and manage themselves on achieving the needed results. (Do you personally need to be MANAGED)?

“Bill gets in the office after 9:00 a.m. every day. I get in at 7:00 a.m., and he gets a promotion. Obviously they don’t value hard work here.”

“I can’t believe how much time she’s out of the office. I bet she’s got a job on the side!”

“I haven’t taken a vacation in five years. That’s dedication.”

“Oh you’re here? That’s a surprise.”

“Sally must be close to pushing up daisies. Why don’t these oldie mouldies retire and make room for some one younger?”

The above are examples of SLUDGE and serve no value. In fact they are subtly or not so subtly sucking away energy from where it is supposed to be… IS the person getting the required results or not?

Character Move:

  1. Be able to observe when you or others are participating in SLUDGE. (I did it the other day when I jokingly teased one my associates about leaving “to go golfing”).
  2. Recognize that SLUDGE reinforces outdated beliefs that you’re only committed based on hours spent in the workplace, that you’re not trusted enough to be left unsupervised, and that you’re really not worth being respected.
  3. Stop SLUDGE in your head and coming out of your mouth. And when you hear someone else doing it, ask him or her how that stuff they are SLUDGING on really is negatively impacting results and/or stopping them from doing good work. Or are they just being gossips? Don’t let SLUDGE stink up your department.
  4. Get hands-on and granular on really defining results and spend time evaluating what you’re doing to get that work done. Spend less time worrying about appearances and office politics. If you’re a manager, help people get great results and expect them to have the value of self-management. Don’t use “time” to control your direct reports because they will learn how to show you how much time they’re putting in instead of spending their energy on delivering great results.
  5. Remember… NO RESULTS = NO WORK! For you and others.

SLUDGE free in the Triangle,

– Lorne