We were doing some work for a legal firm many years ago, and one of the partners in the business wanted to know how I could stop a certain employee from wasting time in Microsoft Word.

This particular partner was complaining that this staff member seemed to spend a lot of her time “fiddling” with macros and templates and not doing what she was paid to do, which was type up documents in Word.

This staff member had been in trouble numerous times for not doing her work.

I suggested a different solution.

I asked some of the other typists if they needed additional templates and macros to make their jobs easier. They all had a number of examples where this would help their jobs, but they found it painful to do anything else in Word but type. Their skills included fast typing and fast production of documents, and that is what they enjoyed doing.

Obviously, the original staff member who kept getting in trouble for “playing around” with the other features of Word seemed to enjoy creating macros and producing templates. It seems obvious now as you read this story, but the partner in the business couldn’t see the solution. She was so focused on what her typists should be doing that she didn’t see the obvious.

I suggested that the best solution would be to give the “naughty” staff member one hour every day to talk to the other staff and create macros and templates that they required. The rest of the time she could do her normal typing work.

To this day, this staff member is more productive in her role as she does more of what she likes, and the rest of the typists are more productive as they are doing what they like. Never underestimate how productive employees can be when they are doing more of what they like.

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