You have a task to do. Not your favorite task, but it’s okay. The problem is that you don’t have time to do it, and it cannot be delegated. It all depends on you. The usual stress symptoms appear in your body. You ignore them, and tell yourself to get your act together.
After some struggle, you finish the job, just to realize that another even more exhausting challenge awaits you. And after that another. With little or no time to rest, you reluctantly start on the next project. You always find the way, but rarely enjoy the ride.
The treadmill syndrome is well known in many organizations. You run and run, but get nowhere. You constantly feel that you are not doing enough. You need to do more. You find it hard to make your own choices and have difficulty saying no. You feel stuck and disengaged. Perhaps the worst thing is that you know it could be different.
The metaphors of movement that exist in an organizational culture indicate how engaged people can be in their work. The treadmill is a metaphor for meaningless and endless work where nothing moves. In my research, I found other metaphors related to movement, such as carousel, rollercoaster, journey, expedition or game. Maybe you will recognize some of them from this short description:
The carousel. Round and round it goes, like the treadmill, but nicer and more socially involving. Some people ride the high horse, others get sick from the spinning. You can get on and off as you like, you can choose your place, but cannot influence the speed and schedule. You get onboard, stay for a while, and leave again. No matter how many rounds you take, you have no real impact.
The rollercoaster. There are ups and downs, and you feel you are getting somewhere. The loops and turns imitate real movement, but in fact you will end up in the same place you started. You have to take the good with the bad. As with the weather, you prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It can be fun at first, but after a few rides, you start to get bored and long for something else.
The journey. The idea is to move from one point to another as smooth as possible. At least that is the intention. Unexpected hurdles can derail the project, and minor details can block the route to major goals. Still, each move is planned, evaluated and…