The following common syndromes can cause teams to operate at sub-optimal levels. Although many managers are hesitant to admit to having any symptoms, please be assured that they are all quite common and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. If you or anyone in your organization is displaying any of the symptoms described below, simply pick up the phone and schedule a consultation with Rebecca or other trusted professional who is trained in containing and eliminating such issues.
Keep in mind that, while all of these are fairly normal in the course of any organization, they are also highly infectious, and in some cases terminal to companies. Getting professional help at the earliest stages of symptoms is best, but even if they have become chronic in your organization, professional intervention can eliminate these potential fatal pathologies.
In this common ailment, more than 40% of team time is spent in meetings with more than 5 participants. Meetingitis is often accompanied by Anatomical Deficiencies (see entry to the right) on the part of management, but not necessarily. In severe cases of Meetingitis, managers may find themselves in meetings for upwards of 10 hours a day, impacting their brain function, social lives, and eating habits.
While tact can be a useful tool in communication, Tact Disorder occurs in organizations where team members feel that telling the truth about a project would be tactless. In other words, individuals afflicted with Tact Disorder display confusion between politeness and accuracy. Rather than reporting unpleasant news, individuals keep this information to themselves, citing Tact, Manners, or Politeness as the reasons not to dispense critical information. Tact Disorder causes victims of the tact to go on Wild Goose Chases for extended periods of time, never knowing that their colleagues knew all along that their efforts would be fruitless. When Tact Disorder is endemic in an organization, it causes Grand Delusion at the upper management levels.
Chronic SEP Syndrome
SEP, as defined in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is a situation in which a problem is invisible to the human eye because it is Somebody Else’s Problem. Healthy individuals appropriately identify SEPs in the regular course of life for basic function. However, in SEP Misidentification, employees fail to address an issue in the organization thinking someone else will take care of it, or that it belongs to another department, despite the fact that it is affecting the overall health of the organization. In acute cases of Chronic SEP Misidentification, in particular where Tact Disorder coexists, individuals not only misidentify problems as belonging to others, they also fail to report the problem to those they think should resolve them.
Closely related to SEP Misidentification (see below) is NMJ Syndrome, where individuals claim that a particular task is “Not My Job”. NMJ Syndrome is a symptom of low motivation or poor treatment of workers, and can be easily remedied with appropriate recognition and compensation of accomplishments in an organization.
In One-Uppedness, an individual is obsessed with the need to appear more productive than other individuals in the organization. While this may cause some individuals to produce higher outputs, over the long term it reduces teamwork and can lead to useless posturing rather than productive output.
Sadly, some individuals lack the spine, guts, or other anatomical structures to make difficult decisions, or to stick to those decisions once made. Through rehabilitation efforts, it is possible to restore this ability in some people, and in others it is adequate to put them in positions where they are able to simply carry out decisions made by others. Anatomical Deficiencies are sometimes accompanied by Perfection Paralysis.
Characterized by the inability to focus on long-term goals and important maintenance tasks, urgentmania occurs when organizations lose sight of the larger purpose of being in business. In advanced cases of Urgentmania, team members are constantly responding to email and calls, never prioritizing their own work. While individuals afflicted with urgentmania feel satisfaction at multiple tasks being accomplished, they often feel burned out at the end of the week, and can develop advanced Excusitis, that is, accumulation of reasons why they have not accomplished their long-term objectives.
Buzzitis, known informally as Chair-Warmer Syndrome, is a condition that causes individuals to engage in activities that make them appear busy long after they have completed their tasks. In pervasive cases, the employee may have no work to do at all, but have mastered Buzzitis, appearing indispensable to the company while producing no constructive output. Severe Buzzitis is common in organizations where senior executives need to have assistants or employees in order to appear important, whether or not there is work to justify the assistance. Buzzitis is distinguished from Urgentmania in that not only is there no benefit to the activity, Buzzitis can actually cause others to have to respond to the Buzzer, interfering with activity of productive workers. Urgentmania tasks, while they may not be the most important ones, do contribute to the organization in some way
In this common affliction, managers and teams are focused on the minutia of projects. Rather than hiring professional proofreaders or administrative assistants to manage such details, highly-paid employees are fixated upon details that make almost no difference to the overall project goals. As Minutiamania penetrates an organization, the entire team can lose sight of the goals of the organization as a whole, completely failing to serve customers or provide innovation. Minutiamania can occur in organizations with overly rigid reporting structures, forms and procedures that have been developed over time. See also Perfection Paralysis.
Perfection Paralysis causes severe project blockage, and can occur when any individual refuses to allow any part of a project to progress until it is perfect. Perfection Paralysis may be accompanied by Meetingitis and Anatomical Deficiencies, and sometimes is mistaken for Urgentmania as or Sudden Decision Attack Syndrome as deadlines become near. Appropriate teamwork and a trusted support system can help any individual overcome Perfection Paralysis.
Sudden Decision Attack Syndrome
Sudden Decision Attack can afflict anyone, and can happen any time in a project lifecycle, though it typically appears very close to deadlines or large events. In this common affliction, an authoritative manager makes Sudden Decisions to change or add something just as it is almost too late – but not too late for everyone to complete if they work around the clock like maniacs. Sudden Decisions are easy to identify, but for the manager, the issues appear existential and essential for the success of the project. When Sudden Decision Attack Syndrome is highly ingrained in a manager, it’s important for them to create a support group of managers to help them distinguish truly existential from unnecessary decisions in order to reduce stress throughout the organization.
Peter Principle Compliance
The Peter Principle states that “Anything that works will be used in progressively more challenging applications until it fails.” The implication is that individuals will be promoted one level above their highest level of competence. Because demoting people is not acceptable in most organizations, an increasing number of managerial positions are populated by people who are simply over their heads, making both the employee and those around them suffer from accompanying symptoms such as frustration, desperation, and general malaise around their professional responsibilities.
In highly structured organizations, legacy systems can cause Hyper Reportatia, in which most of the team’s time is spent in following procedure and filling out forms. In highly regulated industries, this may be a necessity caused by Governance Ridiculosus, which can only be addressed on a national level. In other organizations, it may simply be residual and the only way to combat it is to eliminate existing structures, look at the actual purpose of Reportatia, and start from scratch. Mild cases of Hyper Reportatia can be found where senior managers are obsessed with knowing every detail of employees’ activity. Mild cases can be addressed at the root, with the senior managers’ cooperation.