‘Unspeakable practices’ get the job done — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

‘Unspeakable practices’ get the job done

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

If you want to accomplish anything, master “unspeakable practices.” That sounds worse than it is. Unspeakable practices are just methods that go unmentioned, unrecognized and sometimes are forbidden by the top dogs.

Unspeakable practices come in two varieties:
  1. They’re subtle and dependent on the situation: the kind of art or craft that’s learned through observation and practice, giving the apprentice a “feel” for the work.

  2. They cut against the grain of officialdom. Read that as too many cumbersome rules. Technicians, for instance, often solve problems “any way they can.” They share methods informally. You’ll hear things like: “You’re supposed to get six signatures, but if you need it right away, Joe can take care of it.”
A true story: After mailing taxes to the IRS, a small firm realized that it had grossly overpaid. Company leaders called the IRS to ask that the check be returned, with no luck. The IRS would credit them. But a secretary in the firm knew someone in that IRS office. One call got the check retrieved and mailed back.

Lesson: Simple human networks create efficient processes.

—Adapted from In Good Company, Don Cohen and Laurence Prusak, Harvard Business School Press.

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