Archive for the ‘Improving Morale’ Category

Mean Girls

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Did you ever see the movie “Mean Girls?” If you haven’t, you probably don’t need or want to for that matter—it’s not exactly a classic.

That said, it packs some great lessons. When our daughter was a teenager, I took it as a moment to bond and joined her in watching it.

It was about what I expected. They gossiped. They eye-rolled. They manipulated. They did every awful thing in the book, and they recruited others into the “mean girl” group by making it obvious that if you weren’t one of them, you would be on the receiving end of their venom.

Then the heroine showed some character and put her foot down and made it clear that she wouldn’t participate any more.

Despite being a bit formulaic, there was a pretty powerful and relevant message in that, one that applies to the workplace.

If you’ve ever worked in an office, you’ve discovered that “mean girls” come in all genders and ages—people who put others down and hurt them while making it unsafe to stand up to them.

It takes character to stand up to them because you know you’ll be the next target. The problem is, it’s just a matter of time, and you’ll be the target regardless.

IF you want a safe workplace, you have to take a stand and disallow the hurtful behaviors that are normalized in most workplaces. Most workplaces are dysfunctional. Most workplaces are unsafe. All it takes is one person to take a stand and stop the pattern of
“mean girl” behaviors.

Build Community

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

With family, something is unique. You hurt when they hurt. You laugh when they laugh. You feel what they feel.

But elsewhere, it’s hard to find this same genuine support, this feeling of real community.

Your son’s hockey team wins the championship – a game winner scored by the team captain with 10 seconds remaining. It’s great that they won, of course, but you and your boy both wish that time could go back, so HE could score the game-winning goal.

Tim, your buddy in the cubicle down the hall, pretty much just won the lottery. He closed a monstrous deal with a customer who would’ve bought anything from anyone. You’re mature enough to congratulate him, but dang, you begin to think that he doesn’t deserve this kind of luck. YOU deserve this kind of luck! Right?

We’ve all been there. And it isn’t good. More than anything, this ME, ME, ME mentality gets in the way of establishing a sense of community, a sense of family, in the workplace.

Imagine just for a second what things would look like if everyone had each other’s best interests at heart.

When Jim closes the deal, you’re so excited for him that it may as well have been you.

When Marcia gets sick, she’s on your mind.

When Sally gets promoted, you’re thrilled.

When Tom struggles with his project, you assist him as if it were your own. When the business thrives, YOU feel fantastic!

A sense of family and community at work—now wouldn’t that be something? So why not make it that way?

Thank Your Boss

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

If you think “It’s lonely at the top” is just a cliché that doesn’t reflect a hard reality, then you’ve clearly never been at the top.

When one person is put in charge of others, no matter how good or kind or fair that person is, the power differential causes resentment in the others. Every time. It may be subtle or it may be overt, but it’s pretty much always there to some degree. And because of this underlying resentment, employees tend to be very unforgiving of tiny imperfections in the boss. And heaven forbid he or she has any major imperfections!

Your boss isn’t perfect—and neither are you. In fact, the world is made up of imperfect humans who make mistakes from time to time. So why do we tend to hold our bosses to standards of perfection not even WE can reach?

It can be lonely at the top. The fact is, bosses get kicked around, slandered, gossiped about, and blamed—a bit of a thankless job.

So why not make it just a little bit more…thankful?

Instead of joining in the chorus, show you are a class act by thanking your boss for all the things he does for you—the way she helps you learn, his patience, her clear direction, or even the special Dilly Bars he brings in as a treat occasionally. Be sincere when expressing your gratitude.

This kind of thing happens so rarely that, believe you me, it will make a huge impression. And it will go a very long way to blunting the hurt many bosses feel from the slings and arrows they get from the rest of the staff.

No, that’s not brown nosing. That’s being a good human.

The Go-Getter

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

Every boss loves a go-getter, somebody who goes the extra mile time after time. But once in a while, if you are that go-getter, you might get the sense that your contribution is getting on people’s nerves. Sometimes that’s just jealousy from coworkers who would rather clock in and clock out, so they feel you’re making them look bad.

And hey, you know what? Sometimes the shoe fits. If they’re dogging it day after day, why should you fall to their level? You shouldn’t. And for the sake of the company, you just CAN’T. But you also can’t plow through a wall of resentment every time you enter the office. That’ll eat your go-getting energy in no time flat. It’s worth thinking about how you might turn down the volume of resentment without completely folding your tent.

If your boss is also showing signs of having enough—well, then you know something has to change. Not your energy or commitment, just something about how it gets expressed.

It never hurts to take a close look at how you are approaching things. Put yourself in the shoes of a colleague or your boss. Is your tone always helpful rather than pushy? Are you careful not to elbow others aside? Are you always working collaboratively rather than going off on heroic missions alone? Are you taking on tasks that NEED doing rather than creating an empire of your own accomplishments separate from the strategic plan?

(Psst: that last one will get on the boss’s nerves quicker than anything.)

Most important of all, if you’ve heard direct criticism, especially from management, ask what you should keep doing and what you should stop doing. If you haven’t heard direct criticism, it’s time to invite it. Then listen—really listen—and make the necessary changes.

Keep your cool after rejection

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Remember that high school romance that ended badly? The one who promised you eternal love ended up on somebody else’s arm at the prom. And all you could do was watch.

Fast-forward to adult life and the workplace, and that painful prom is roughly the situation for millions of workers who are passed over for promotions each year, only to continue working in the same department—often for the person who actually got the job.

It’s natural to sink into a self-pitying funk and to beam that dark attitude into everyone you meet. But do yourself a favor and DON’T DO IT. Nothing will cling to you longer and harder than a reputation for being a poor loser or a whiner. (more…)