Many a client throughout the years has told me when I said they were taking actions out of boredom with the status quo, “Bored? I can hardly catch my breath!”
Maybe… maybe not.
You can be crazy busy, but activity can serve to mask the underlying boredom that can creep into our life at work. This is especially so in a maturing company. The goal for leadership must be to make their companies perform consistently better (which can be done if you build operations manuals), and this can take its toll.
Boredom usually takes hold because this never ending-process is tough and, frankly, boring. So, they respond to it by starting a bunch of new projects that take away attention from the main objective they said they were pursuing.
Here are just four ways boredom can play out in a bad way:
- You decide to add new trades:
Example: Your company only does plumbing, and now you decide to add heating and cooling.
Note: This can be a great idea, but not if you’re doing it before you’ve mastered plumbing. And that’s especially the case if you don’t have a plan on how to master the new trades you’re intending to add.
Conclusion: Your boredom is causing you to add gasoline to a fire.
- You want to start additional companies in different industries:
Example: A friend or relative tells you they’re opening a restaurant and you should become a partner.
Note: Even if you’ve got a successful contracting business, it doesn’t mean it translates to other businesses of which you know nothing. But it seems like it’ll perk things up and break through the boredom.
Conclusion: You’d be right. It will break the boredom. But it is more than likely jumping from the frying pan into the fire. As my dad said, “If it were easy, everyone would do it. Business takes skills and hard work. Stay focused on what you do really well.”
- You want to reconfigure what the staff must do and who on the staff does what:
Example: Things are getting a little stale for you and the staff so moving the staff around to different areas of the company seems like a smart move.
Note: If you don’t have an Org Chart and standard operating procedure manuals for each box on that Org Chart, how can they hope to fill the new box you sent them off to fill?
Conclusion: The answer is… they can’t. It might be a fun challenge, but it’s more than likely going to put undue stress on you and the team, and that’s not the way to end the boredom. The trick is to find how they can rise up to fill the boxes that are higher up the Org Chart, and to do that they need resources for themselves and for those they need to train to replace themselves in their old position.
- You decide to redesign the office space or build a new building:
Example: Like “Retail Therapy,” which is buying something, it can feel, great and it will temporarily break the cycle of boredom to redesign your office or build a new shop.
Note: But if you don’t have a plan for your shop that addresses how to communicate better (which means redesigning your building so where you sit follows the Org Chart and the Flow of Communications) all you’ve done is reshuffle the chairs with a price tag that will come due.
Conclusion: We as contractors like to build stuff. But if buying and building a new office or redesigning your shop doesn’t make financial sense and serve logistical goals… it’s a distraction designed to mask the boredom at a very high cost. Because just like an online shopping spree can mask the boredom, it only works until the credit card bill hits you in the face.
What should you do instead?
- Reinvent how you work for the better:
- Write up a list of things you love and like to do at work.
- Write up a list of things you dislike or hate to do at work.
- Figure out how you can do more of what you love and like, and less of the things you dislike or hate.
- Energize more training and delegation to make all of this more doable.
- Change things up in your day-to-day approach at work to make things better:
- Make time for yourself. This can be in the form of attending more family events during the day, going to the gym, going out for a walk, or even going out to lunch instead of eating at your desk or in your truck.
- Build flex time into your calendar that has you working in different facets of the business that benefit your employees, the company, and gets you refocused on helping the team (which ultimately helps you).
- Make time to network with other contractors who you don’t compete with so there’s a social bond that can benefit their business and yours through referrals.
- Redirect the staff to figure out how they and the company can grow in a smart and consistent way:
- Have weekly meetings with the various departments at your company that focus on how the company can serve clients better.
- Talk about how the business can run better through consistent performance that is locked to repeatable systems.
- Speak to how the team as individuals can move up and have a career with you vs. just a job. This makes it better for them, and that makes it better for you. It will test you, but in a good way, and it will surely break the problem of boredom.
- Introduce fun or get it back into your culture:
- Has there ever been fun? My bet is probably not.
- So, work to create contests, games, and mutual goals that build the spirit of cooperation and good competition.
- Have events outside of work for the company like dinners, bowling, fishing, softball, basketball, and golf.
- Scavenger hunts and more are fun and are good team building exercises.
Boredom is a real thing for us contractors.
The question is… will you let it affect your actions in a bad way, or will you identify it and use it as fuel to get re-energized?