It seems nuts that something so dry can be an expression of ourselves, but I honestly believe paperwork is a part of our personal branding. You know paperwork! That record keeping, desk work, filing, administration, typing, forms, reporting, correspondence, and documentation type of stuff that is freaking hard to give a crap about because it’s so much to do around what we’re actually doing.
|When Saul views a video of Estes approving a drone strike that
killed 82 children, he hears the official phrase required to
approve attacks in pursuit of terrorists that will also kill
civilians, and sighs “somebody wrote that wording.”
Homeland – seriously good TV!
Of course I get people hate it. There is Russian literature on the shittiness of paperwork. But hating it doesn’t mean dismissing it. In Homeland’s first season finale, Saul Berenson makes his abhorrence very clear at the wording of government paperwork (or in this case, verbal justifications recorded) but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t necessary. The record needed to be made. He used that exact record he recoiled at to find the truth.
Paperwork isn’t just a sign of respect, it’s a vote of confidence in the fabric of an organisation. As people participating in an organisation (be it employment or social) the very act of completing paperwork reveals our character. People that require chasing for every form, those that never take the time to fill it out properly, those that can’t meet deadlines or like to reverse engineer processes – it says so much about them. As I said earlier, I believe it reveals so much that paperwork is part of our personal branding. It exhibits our true thoughts of whether we are really engaging with the whole of an organisation, or are in a personal project we perceive as separate to that organisation. Basically, do we give a damn? If we return that book club feedback sheet with suggestions and an encouraging note on the back for the organiser, it says “yes, we give a damn, and we’re grateful to be here!” Well that’s what my crazy deductions brought me to anyway.
However, if my theory is true, not many people have caught on that paperwork is a part of their personal brand. It seems the more powerful people get, the less they can be damned with paperwork. The less they can be bothered with what they perceive as the ‘little things’, and probably the ‘little people’ dealing with it. Who is going to question them? Who is going to challenge their laziness with some basic documentation? I mean, what a shit personal brand to have! How arrogant, short sighted and small minded. But really, who is going stop their best player on the sports team from playing because of incomplete sub forms?
So yes, paperwork does say something about us, but does it matter? I mean, does it really matter whether we diligently complete paperwork or not? (Although I will say, YES it matters if your paperwork is open to Freedom of Information Acts!) Does it affect our personal brand? Does anybody care other than the ‘little person’ chasing after that paperwork?
I suppose sloppy paperwork is generally not a reputation deal breaker. But neither are things like perpetually running five minutes late, using people as Google, and having neglected greasy hair. No, they’re not habits or characteristics that precede a person, they’re more like the drops of water that seep through our smooth limestone perceptions of each other. We can’t tell where the drops come from, but we can certainly see the stalactites that form over time – just like we can’t tell where it came from, but we can clearly sense that doubt about someone’s reliability. Not giving a shit about paperwork seems to be just another one of those long term self sabotages we can do to ourselves. Probably nothing to get stressed over, but neither is sitting at a desk all day – and we all know what the outcomes of that can be.
What are you like with paperwork? One week ahead of the deadline, or half completed after three reminders? Tweet me up at @whippasnappahr!
Btw, if you’re wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR – here‘s my explanation.