Thanks for nothing

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Why we shouldn’t give credit unless credit is due

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. September 16, 2015

Now and then we find ourselves sending praise to someone who doesn’t deserve it. This tends to happen in environments where you have to work as a team or as an ensemble. It seems when bad work is done, blame is passed around and fingers are pointed. That’s a destructive attitude, solving nothing. Alternatively, the reverse problem is as bad. It seems that slackers in a group with success would also join in and receive praise. I believe the second scenario can be as harmful as the first.

Riding on the coattails of others is a survival strategy that should have been eradicated at some point during human evolution. We all know someone who does the bare minimum, or little to nothing, and allows others around him or her to pick up the slack. The same way you would cut out a cancerous tumour, you should do the same for that member of the team.

They might be nice, kind-hearted, or have some positive trait. They might have personal issues that stop them from excellence. Regardless, you want to give them the benefit of the doubt and help them along. Still, nothing is more infuriating than someone getting praise for work they didn’t do.

There is a Douglas Coupland quote from the novel Hey Nostradamus! that has always stuck with me: “[I] was raised to believe that the opposite of labor is theft, not leisure.”

The person who doesn’t perform is essentially stealing from the collective. They might not be stealing anything tangible and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, but if you allow them to take what isn’t theirs, you are feeding a wild animal, causing them to become dependent on others. You are not helping them. You are not a charity. You are enabling a lazy attitude and that is a benefit to nobody.

One common problem, especially in a professional environment, is when a superior takes credit for work their subordinate had done. While this is indeed a bitch move, I also believe that subordinates allow this to happen by displaying weakness. We need to stand up and defend ourselves without seeming entitled or arrogant.

If you notice someone taking your work and soaking in the praise themselves, you’d need to understand that they might never see their own self-righteousness. They may be a pathological liar or a narcissistic asshole. Don’t call them out immediately, keep a record, and approach their boss. Alternatively, you can try to empathize. Ask: why do they need to lie and steal your efforts? Often it is because of their insecurities and failings. If that is the case, give it time, and be patient. If your work is good and your aim is true, you’ll shine.

In an Email-Overload Work Culture, Nugg Connects Teams More Effectively

Nugg, a workplace collaboration tool based in Vancouver, understands that every morning, consulting, IT, sales, corporate and communication team members across the globe wake up to the smell of coffee and the often tricky task of emptying their email inbox.

Not surprisingly, the increased volume of digital correspondences has made it difficult to track key decisions, relay messages and identify success and failure throughout the course of a disorganized message thread.

It is the standard, but it is far from perfect. Miscommunication or misplaced messages ends up causing impactful errors that waste time, energy and money.

Nugg breaks workplace communication down into four categories: Focus, decide, track and align. This enables team members to mark each significant message as such, helping the whole team collaborate better and succeed long-term.

“A lot of people live in email,” said Tris Hussey, director of customer success at Nugg Solutions Corp., “and we are not going to fight that trend. It’s a really interesting dichotomy, where we know people are looking for tools that will help keep their team on track above the area of having meetings, emails and task managers.”

It is not good enough for Nugg to simply operate on its own; it must work seamlessly with other platforms, not just forwarding emails, but also completing the round trip. If a worker wants to do everything on Gmail, they can, and that’s the beauty of Nugg.

“Teams don’t often communicate their decisions well or quickly,” said Hussey. “They don’t track or connect decisions with goals. And then they never review their decisions. With this first iteration of [Nugg], you can see the decision records and everything you decided in the past on a particular team. There you can go: ‘Oh yeah, that was a bad decision’ or ‘Yeah! That was a great decision, we took a risk and we made it.’ Before that you don’t really have a record of that.”

According to the work by Professor Alex Pentland of MIT Media Lab, truly effective teams have a high level of energy, engagement and exploration. Energy can be the act of discussing, brainstorming or negotiating, while engagement is the reaction to the energy, should it be a nod of comprehension or feedback to what has been said. Finally, exploration is the act of bringing in new external ideas that has yet to be present within the team. Nugg is currently promoting energy and engagement within workplace, while refining the capability to explore within the platform.

Nugg wants teams to focus on the big picture by allowing the whole team to see what is happening above, below and all around them. The transparency of the application is an important aspect in terms of building a free flowing communication highway with the various company goals as clear destinations.

“We believe teams are more than just projects,” said Hussey. “They are bigger than projects. And there are things that people need to talk about that are bigger than what will happen day-to-day. If I have a project today to update the website, that’s just a facet of the entire mission of the company.”

Hussey added, “It’s the idea of capturing information, ideas and progress in a way that isn’t lost in emails or chats. Someone can say something really brilliant in chat, but if you come back to it five hours later, are you going to see it? No. But in Nugg, you’ll see it.”