I listened to a report on the radio this morning about presenteeism, defined as “the practice of always being present at the workplace, often working longer hours even when there is nothing to do.” Once again, there seemed to be a focus on how to deal with the individual who has a problem, or the manager who cannot manage his or her workers. Little was said about systemic issues, such as the hierarchy that exists in most workplaces that forces many people to comply and park their brains at the door.
I previously quoted a fellow performance improvement practitoner, Klaus Wittkuhn, on the importance of initial work system design:
It is not an intelligent strategy to train people to overcome system deficiencies. Instead, we should design the system properly to make sure that the performers can leverage all their capabilities.
One of the models that I use is based on Mager & Pipe’s classic reference book, Analysing Performance Problems, which provides a step by step approach to finding out what the real work performance issue is, and how to deal with it. Based on this book, I have developed my own graphic, which shows some of the basic steps that you can take before jumping to conclusions on how to deal with problems like presenteeism.