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How to Manage a Boring Job

How would you like job sticking labels on packages all day?

Would you take the job of dressing in a human-sized banana holding a pizza advertising sign while dancing on a busy street corner?

How about being a toll booth attendant, a questionnaire coder, or a printer operator.

Some creative people have identified those as some of the most boring jobs available.

And while most people would do anything not to have a boring job, someone has to do those jobs.

While I have respect for the people who do the dirty and boing jobs in our world today, the people I have the most respect for are the men and women who have to manage those jobs.

Boring Jobs

Just image going to work every day, not to be the employee whose job it is to stuff envelopes all day, but to be the one whose job it is to encourage the envelope-stuffer.  This manager needs to make sure the employee shows up on time, stays focused, maintains a level of quality, and is ready to show up tomorrow and do the same job, again.

So, how do you manage people whose job it is to do the same thing, hour after hour, day after day?

Managing Boring Jobs

Since every business has at least one boring job, I’ve accumulated a few thoughts that might help in managing your staff whose job has such a consistent repetition to make it extremely boring.

  1. Provide a global perspective. Remind them that most jobs have boring parts, theirs just happens to be mostly all boring.  For example, performing is considered a glamorous profession, yet many performers get bored with singing the same songs night after night after night.  The good news is this boring job is only a step in a long career, and their next step hopefully will be just a little less boring.
  2. Provide a local perspective. The company needs what these employees are doing.  It may be boring, but it is important.  They are a small part of a larger machine, and you need to make sure they see that part.
  3. Support the employee. Make sure the rest of your organization knows and respects the employees who are filling the most boring jobs in the organization.  Some organization requires everyone else to at least spend a little time in their one particular boring position.
  4. Encourage the employee to make sure they connect with others. They are part of a team, and while they are stuck in a mailroom or a back office, they need to know who the other teammates are.  The opposite is also true; the rest of the team needs to know this employee as well.
  5. The employee needs to know about their job. For example, if they are handling envelopes, they should know why, to whom, is there an urgency, and what should they look like.  This is the last person to touch company correspondence before it goes to its destination.  This person is the last chance for quality control.  Now the job is not just stuffing envelopes but is an integral part of quality control.
  6. Remind the employee this is a step in a career. Let them think of how they could improve their job, give you suggestions on what you could do to make it better, and let them see in your organization where their next step might be.  Have them start learning their next job now.

The Bible

The Bible teaches that monotonous work is part of creation and that God never gets bored with His creation.  God raises the sun every morning, again and again, and again.  He makes daisies and grasshoppers over and over again.  He sees us, his jewel of creation, make the same mistakes over and over, and yet He never tires of us.

Psalm 19:1-2 says.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.

Think of where biblical history transpired—it was in the deserts of the ancient Near East.  To the untrained eye, deserts are boring.  But the writers of scripture knew that they were part of God’s creation, and if you look closely, His creation, no matter where it is, is alive and beautiful.

For boring jobs, just like the desert plains found in the Bible, you need to look closely to see its value.  Managing boring jobs is an opportunity to help someone grow.  Not just helping them grow into a new job position, but to grow in seeing that no job is really boring when viewed as part of God’s creation.