Common sense is a rarity in the office
THE funny thing about common sense is that it is not so common in the corporate world.
Common sense is the ability to perceive, understand and judge matters in a manner shared by nearly everyone. An easier definition is when the answer is so obvious, it makes you say: "Ah, of course!"
If common sense is so obvious, why is there so little of it in the corporate world?
Businesses complicate matters by introducing guidelines, rules and procedures. Then again, some people believe quantity is a substitute for quality. So, they complicate and lengthen matters instead of taking the simplest route.
Perhaps the most likely reason for a lack of common sense at work is that people are too lazy to make the mental effort to get to the heart of the matter. They prefer to provide easily invented waffle, in the hope that the right answer is there - or the waffle sounds impressive.
The good news is that common sense can be taught. Here are four ways:
DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE FROM THE START
Once you are clear about what you need to achieve from your efforts, you can proceed with an end goal in mind. This makes it easier to cut out nonsense that has little or no relevance to your purpose.
For example, I was recently invited to give a talk about helping people find their objective in life. As I've often said, this is something I could talk about for hours - but I had a 15-minute limit.
Once I was clear that my goal was to introduce the audience to the benefits of an initiative that allows the individual to review his life and find direction, I was able to condense my content and keep it engaging for the audience.
NEVER CHURN OUT MORE WORK FOR THE SAKE OF DOING IT
Some people like to make themselves busy doing meaningless work. Perhaps they want to demonstrate how hard-working they are to the boss, or they may be trying to avoid being handed other, more difficult, work.
Whatever the reason, this is a waste of time and bosses should discourage it. Common sense dictates that employees should do their work as efficiently as possible - and go home.
IF YOU GET STUCK IN A ROUTINE, EXAMINE THE SITUATION FROM A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW
Changing perspectives and thinking creatively will reveal a simpler solution.
I recall an example of a skyscraper built in the 1960s with glass walls. As this was the first such building in the town, people working in it were afraid to walk near any of the glass walls. They mistakenly believed the glass might break.
Those with desks near such walls were uncomfortable. Others took detours to avoid corridors alongside the glass.
Productivity dropped and management looked for a solution. Various contractors suggested installing railings or other protective structures. Management were not keen due to high costs, lengthy installation time and the ugly appearance.
An imaginative contractor resolved the issue at a fraction of the cost and within half a day. He simply assembled staff from each floor, and demonstrated by throwing himself at a glass wall with all his might. Obviously, it did not break.
Staff who saw the demonstration realised the glass walls were safe, and work went back to normal. That was common sense in action.
KEEP IT SIMPLE, KEEP IT SHORT
The more you train yourself to employ common sense at work, the easier it will become. But remember - applying common sense is not an end in itself. It is a way of thinking that needs to be constantly refreshed and encouraged. Makes sense?
The writer is founder mentor of Terrific Mentors International.