Are you in a SEP zone?

A customer left to wait after returning at our request. Departments not being made aware of new customers, trash left on the floors and equipment not put away.

All of these – and more – can be found in so many industries, in so many businesses.

All of these are evidence of a Somebody Else’s Problem zone. SEP zones are, IMHO, created when there is a lack of trust or information. Perhaps the person feels that they will then be responsible for *all* problems of one type. Maybe they don’t realize why someone else’s job is important. Perhaps they are completely unaware of the other parts of work around them. Or perhaps the person feels put upon, or is engaging in revenge politics with others around them. Sometimes SEP zones are better known as “It’s not my job” zones.

Regardless of the motivation, SEP zones must be stamped out.

There is a real fear, though. The perceptions and worries of those under the SEP field must be addressed concretely and seriously via the Yes, and… methodology. Otherwise, the SEP field will be more evident and more forceful without an external enforcing authority. Lip service “venting sessions” that do not provide concrete solutions or real resolution are only going to make things worse.

When there is not a SEP field – that is, when things are good – there is a work environment more like a Pauline marriage. Let me explain – St. Paul is repeatedly misquoted by mysogynists. While he did write that women should be submissive, the next line says that (in effect) husbands should give up everything to be complete servants to their wives. It’s a relationship of mutual dependence and selflessness.

It is, in short, an environment where everyone cares about everyone else. It’s also a relationship that breaks when one party gets to be selfish again – or one party THINKS the other is going to be selfish again.

We should hold the rough outlines of the whole job in our heads. Firstly, that helps us appreciate the others who contribute to making our work possible. Secondly, it allows us to anticipate shortfalls and gaps and move to make them irrelevant. Otherwise, our own slices of the whole job will be unable to continue because our “suppliers” will be woefully behind.

The equation is frequently misunderstood as “If I help someone else, I will be less efficient.” But if you do NOT help another, then ALL will be completely inefficient. If you do help your co-workers, associates, and team-mates, then everyone can resume normal productivity. Since no-one can do their entire job entirely by themselves, the “normal” productivity should be measured when everyone is helping everyone else.

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