male gossips 1I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “everything in moderation”.  Sometimes I feel like I experience this on a consistent basis.  This morning it popped into my head as I was drinking my second cup of coffee.  My heart started racing, my hands felt a little shaky and then that friendly reminder hit me: too much of a good thing can be bad. I notice as we over indulge these days, bad things can happen.

Let’s take socializing in the office, for example.  Socializing can be a wonderful thing for everyone.  It forms camaraderie and builds relationships, (which is what life is all about).  When normal socializing turns into extended socializing, however, it can have serious impacts on your team’s productivity.

Is Your Culture Conducive to Productivity?

The first step in figuring out if you have a productivity problem is to pay attention to your social culture.  If it’s 10:00 AM and you notice a few employees have been gathered around the water cooler for the last 20 minutes chatting it up, you might have a problem.  But how they act when you arrive on the scene is even more telling.  Do they scatter and get back to whatever it is they were working on?  Do they seem to not feel it’s an issue and include you on the conversation?  If it’s the latter, then you’ve inadvertently created a culture where socializing for extended periods of time is encouraged.

If your environment lacks a sense of urgency, the first place to check is at the top.  When you’re your management team arrive on the scene?  Do they roll in at the crack of dawn or the crack of lunch?  Does leadership socialize at the water cooler for extended periods of time?  If so, the first step is to change your behavior.  Your culture always starts at the top. After all, you can’t ask an employee to do something you’re not willing to do yourself first.

What You Don’t Say is a Form of Endorsement

A heavy socializing culture at work usually creeps up on you.  It starts with a 5 minute water cooler chat then moves to 10 minutes a few weeks later.  No one says anything so next month it moves to 15 then to 20 minutes.  Before you know it, you see an inordinate amount of everyone’s day spent not working.  When cash is tight and time is of the essence, there’s no worse feeling than realizing your culture has no sense of urgency any more.

The easiest way to correct this is to say something.  Many times employees don’t even realize it’s a problem since it’s imbedded into your culture.  So when you see extended socializing going on, call it out.  “Hey guys, are you short on stuff to do?”  Do it with a laugh or a tease – most employees will get the message.  Sometimes a gentle reminder or a solid correction to a few key individuals sends the message loud and clear.

Houston, We Have a Problem

Dealerships that chat it up extensively can cause huge productivity challenges for your operation. They can also create environments where drama thrives.   Most likely, though, they will create an environment where there’s no sense of urgency and rarely, if ever, will employees go the extra mile on a work task.  Why finish it today when you’re in the middle of a great conversation about Judy’s new dog and her hilarious house-breaking story?

So What’s A Cabinet Dealer To Do?

Creating a sense of urgency in your workpalce is one of the hardest things to do. But some simple corrections and communication usually does the trick.  When that doesn’t work, go to your socializing ring leader (the one whose always in the know on everyone’s dirty little secrets) and have a heart to heart about the challenges with productivity you see around the office.  Then enlist their help.

Within a few short weeks you’ll see your company culture on the road to a more productive 2012.