the worst feeling in the world


"Next time you're goofing off on the internet, in other words, the next time you're at work, visit Motel6.com." - Tom Bodett

Craigslist posting:  "I'm looking for a body double - you really don't even have to look like me. Black hair would help. I'll pay you by the hour, rates are negotiable. Your responsibilities will include sitting in my cube all day, surfing the net, looking busy, keeping quiet, laying low, and ignoring anyone that approaches. Will provide access badge and transportation to and from work. Office is located on Arques Ave in Sunnyvale. Position needs to be filled ASAP. Thanks."

The worst feeling in the world is to sit at your desk without work to do.  When this happens for a few hours, the staff person will usually ask their supervisor for a project to work on.  When this request is ignored, the hours turn into days.  At that point, the staff person starts to panic, because their productivity (utilization) metrics start to decrease.  They'll start telling their coworker friends that they have nothing to do.  This decreases overall morale.  Sometimes the days turn into weeks with nothing to do.  Occasionally the time is filled with busywork, like photocopying something.  But it doesn't matter, the work is unproductive, and the feeling of being unproductive and not making a contribution is the worst feeling in the world.

I spent much of the time between 2000 and 2004 with this feeling.  It made me want to be a better manager, and always make sure the people I was assigned to oversee were productive and making a contribution.  

Starting in 2005, I learned that the second worst feeling in the world is being a supervisor or manager, and not being able to keep your staff busy.

There are a number of factors that contribute to this:
* Overhiring
* Poor resource management
* Ineffective delegation by managers
* Gap between the capabilities of the staff and the requirements of the project

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