Tag Archives: work

Paper vs People

This challenge continues of figuring out what really constitutes your ‘work’.  It’s a tricky little thing.  Our brains are often the culprit that gets us in a tangle.

Let’s see how this works.  When we go to lunch with someone and then say: “Thanks for a great lunch, now I need to get back to work” we are telling ourselves that the ‘people’ part isn’t work.

When our ‘leads group’ meeting is running long and we think: ‘Wow, I wish they’d get done – I have to get to work” we are telling ourselves that the ‘people’ part isn’t work.

When we are helping a colleague or employee solve a problem, we are glad when it’s done so we can ‘get back to work’.

Notice a pattern here?  When we say we have to get back to work, we are implying that we aren’t currently working, and that being in conversations, schmoozing and connecting with people isn’t part of our work .

peopleThe truth is that the ‘people work’ really is the work.  Without the people work, you have no clients or customers.  The ‘people work’ generates the other work.  Without the clients, whatever your work is, you wouldn’t have it.

There is an easy fix to this.  Change your language.  Here’s an effective way to do that.  Avoid using the word “work” without a descriptive adjective.   So instead of getting back to the ‘work’, you will be getting back to the ‘office work’ or the ‘paper work’.  It’s all work.  Be specific about which work you are referring to.  Don’t let your brain, and your subconscious keep perpetuating the idea that the ‘people time’ isn’t ‘work time’.

This can be a challenging transition.  When I went from being a ‘bookkeeper’ to a ‘controller’ in what seems like the last century (oh wait, it was the last century!)…anyway, I had a very challenging time realizing that talking to people was now a part of my job.  I had a staff to support, I had a board of directors to work with, I had sales people to interact with.  Initially I kept feeling that if I hadn’t moved all the papers (you remember paper?) from one side of my desk to the other by the end of the day, I wasn’t really getting any work done.  Silly me.  The conversations and the interactions were crucial.

Now my work is mostly people, with very little paper.  The people work includes both marketing, presenting and coaching.  I need to balance it all.  And I need to think of ALL of it as work.

Take a moment to decide what you want to call each of the work things you do:

Paper work, people work, busy work, administrivia work, money work, promoting work…just remember it’s ALL work!  Changing the language will change the perspective, and bring you both peace and balance.

What Is Your Work?

How narrow is your definition of work?  As an entrepreneur, you’ll want to check out the answer to that question.  We all wear many hats, and yet there is a way in which we think hatsthat only a few are actual work.  Make a list of ALL the things you do in your business.  Note which ones you currently consider the “work”.  How many are left over?

Long ago, in the 80’s, when I was a Controller/CFO I was faced with this question.  I initially felt that my job was to process paper.  To get things done, complete, finis.  To move the paper from the inbox to the out box.  To be productive.

And then I learned what my job really was.

Certainly, there was a time when processing paper was my job.  When I was the Accountant, my job was to crunch the numbers.  When I became a CFO I had a staff to manage, other departments to interface with, and many more broader roles than moving paper from one side of the desk to the other.  I had to discover (albeit the hard way) that my work was more about people and relationships than about crunching numbers.  It was more about making sure that all the tasks assigned to my department, not just the ones that were mine alone,  got done.

How do you define the work you do?  Think about it.  Recently, a client noticed that she had an idea about what was her work, and what wasn’t, that was really causing stress. She has several employees that need direction and support.  She has to both acquire and maintain her customers.  She has to do billing, and watch the money.  Oh, and she has to do the “work”.   Can you see the problem here?  She thinks that the “work” is the product she makes, and all the rest are just fiddly bits.  She feels like at the end of that day, if she hasn’t finished anything product-wise, that she hasn’t actually done any “work”.

Based on that idea, she’s always feeling behind, like she’s not doing what she “should” be doing.  The pile of unfinished “work” looms as she does all these extraneous tasks.  Or all the other tasks get put on the back burner as she does the “work”.

Here’s the rub…they are ALL the work.  It’s part of being an entrepreneur. You either wear all the hats, or you wear some and are responsible for all the hats being worn by someone else.  Even if you have someone else doing some task, it is ultimately your “work” to guide, watch and foster.  As your business grows, your “work” shifts from actually producing the product to making sure the product gets produced by others; from doing it to overseeing it being done.

This shift in your thinking, this understanding of what your work really is, will help you see the big picture.  It will help you see ways out of any overwhelm you might feel.  It will bring clarity…and that is always a good thing.