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Short Cuts at Work: Curse or Blessing?

Realistic deadlines and clear priorities are minimizing risks





When we think we are too slow, we cut things short – also at work. 1. Because we want to fulfill expectations of superiors and clients an 2. Due to frustration, since when not getting along quickly enough we tend to have inferior feelings. Additionally: Short Cuts occur more often when immediate short-term rewards like bonusses or prestige are to be gained by keeping the deadline. That is even though the neglecting of standard procedures may be more lead to more damage than keeping the deadline – according to a newly published Canadian study.

Hence the researchers advise leaders to reflect the issue „Speed at the working place“ with their staff much more often and to proactively convey that Short Cuts have to be for good reasons the exception to the rule.

Phan/Nishioka/Beck/Scholer, “Goal progress velocity as a determinant of shortcut behaviors”, in: Journal of Applied Psychology, 108 (4), 553-570, 2023.

From the practice:

Short Cuts are a big topic. Why do they emerge? For many different reasons: a) structurwise: standard procedures may be not suitable for keep the specific deadline, b) personalwise: you might have started to late o rare simply not knowledgeable enough to finish the work within the time frame, c) leadershipwise: the requirements have been too high from the very beginning and incentives might have been connected only to meeting the deadline.

For solving or even avoiding the issue of short cuts at work I recommend something astonishingly simple: talk with each other! Talk to improve standard procedures if necessary, to get better organized, to set a later deadline from the start or to define together when and under which circumstances short cuts are welcome and what is to be noted then particularly.

When is it unconditional to keep the deadline? When is it good, when bad? Please talk about that in your offices – it pays off.

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