Revising work we've already completed should be easier than doing it the first time, because we know so much more about it. But many have trouble getting motivated to actually make the revisions. They resent rework. They regard it as frustrating, boring, or beneath them. If you're one of these, you might hear things in your head like, "I don't have the patience for this," or, "I'm a trail blazer, not a trail maintainer," or "Not again," or "Time for a coffee break." But unless we can give rework the best of ourselves, what we created can never be the best we can do. How can we generate a desire to do revisions well?
For situations like these, instead of creating the desire, what might work better is removing the revulsion. That is, find ways to remove or alter any perception that makes the work of revising repellent. In the examples that follow, I'll pretend that I'm advising the person making the revisions, and I'll refer to the people providing feedback and requesting revisions as reviewers.
Here's Part I, focusing on workplace politics.
- They're making me redo this just to demonstrate their power
- The signature of this scenario is the utter triviality of the requested changes, which arrive in a staccato stream faster than they can be fulfilled. One trap here is assuming that when a revision request arrives, it's the last one, and so the time has come to prepare a final draft. Frustration sets in when you're about to deliver that draft, and a new revision request arrives, possibly contradicting an earlier request.
- Turn the tables on the power game by avoiding responding to requests one by one. Let time pass, and accumulate several revision requests into each revision. If the reviewer complains about the slow pace of your responses, explain that you're packaging them, and suggest that things will speed up if the reviewer can notify you when a package of requests is complete, to enable you to start implementing revisions. This tactic might move the interaction in the direction of joint problem solving, which might resolve the power game.
- To revise would be to concede to a political rival
- When a political When a political rival is driving
the demand for revisions, confusion
between the work and the self can
dominate the situationrival is driving the demand for revisions, confusion between the work and the self can dominate the situation. It's easy to make the mistake of experiencing the requests for changes as personal attacks.
- Here the politics is probably the real issue. A political concession need not be a defeat — it can be the wisest available option. At an opportune time — possibly later — address the politics politically. Meanwhile, resenting the revising won't help. Do a superior job of revising.
Is every other day a tense, anxious, angry misery as you watch people around you, who couldn't even think their way through a game of Jacks, win at workplace politics and steal the credit and glory for just about everyone's best work including yours? Read 303 Secrets of Workplace Politics, filled with tips and techniques for succeeding in workplace politics. More info
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More articles on Workplace Politics:
- Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True
- Maxims and rules make life simpler by eliminating decisions. And they have a price: they sometimes foreclose
options that would have worked better than anything else. Here are some things we believe in maybe a
little too much.
- Reverse Micromanagement
- Micromanagement is too familiar to too many of us. Less familiar is inappropriate interference in the
reverse direction — in the work of our supervisors or even higher in the chain. Disciplinary action
isn't always helpful, especially when some of the causes of reverse micromanagement are organizational.
- What You See Isn't Always What You Get
- We all engage in interpreting the behavior of others, usually without thinking much about it. Whenever
you notice yourself having a strong reaction to someone's behavior, consider the possibility that your
interpretation has outrun what you actually know.
- Projects as Proxy Targets: I
- Some projects have detractors so determined to prevent project success that there's very little they
won't do to create conditions for failure. Here's Part I of a catalog of tactics they use.
- Suppressing Dissent: II
- Disagreeing with the majority in a meeting, or in some cases, merely disagreeing with the Leader, can
lead to isolation and other personal difficulties. Here is Part II of a set of tactics used by Leaders
who choose not to tolerate differences of opinion, emphasizing the meeting context.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming July 22: Red Flags: I
- When we finally admit to ourselves that a collaborative effort is in serious trouble, we sometimes recall that we had noticed several "red flags" early enough to take action. Toxic conflict and voluntary turnover are two examples. Available here and by RSS on July 22.
- And on July 29: Red Flags: II
- When we find clear evidence of serious problems in a project or other collaboration, we sometimes realize that we had overlooked several "red flags" that had foretold trouble. In this Part II of our review of red flags, we consider communication patterns that are useful indicators of future problems. Available here and by RSS on July 29.
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Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
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Decision-makers in modern organizations commonly demand briefings in the form of bullet points or a series of series of bullet points. But this form of presentation has limited value for complex decisions. We need something more. We actually need to think. Briefers who combine the bullet-point format with a variety of persuasion techniques can mislead decision-makers, guiding them into making poor decisions. Read more about this program.