After I sent out a message to managers you employees didn’t think I forgot about you, did you? I certainly did not I have just been out kicking some employees’s asses and getting some inspiration for this post.
Here is where it begins. The workplace can be a shitty place no doubt about it but it doesn’t all land on the shoulders of the managers. Some of the blame can certainly lie on you employees. So what is my advice to folks for making a better work environment?
It is as follows:
1. Don’t worry about what other people are doing, do your own damn job. I know it is always tempting to look over your shoulder and wonder what everyone else is doing but just don’t. “But Shawn….sometimes those other people effect the work I’m doing.” Ok fair enough I can understand that. You need your team members to complete a job. What I don’t accept though is how you might handle that.
2. Stop being so damn passive aggressive. If you are having trouble with someone at work then I suggest you actually have a conversation with that person. You heard that right, a conversation. I didn’t say scowl at them like their head should explode and raise your voice. What I said was ask them to have a quick conversation, ask them what they thought or saw. Oh yes imagine that THEIR opinion first. Let the person you see at fault have a chance to say why or how they saw the situation and then maybe you might understand. Remember a conversation goes both ways and definitely includes LISTENING, a skill I have seen disappear in the workplace far too often.
3. Just because you don’t like confrontation doesn’t mean you should hide behind it. Something someone else said, maybe even your boss, really didn’t sit right with you. Speak up! If you choose (it is always a choice…”oh but Shawn I might lose my job. Well you’re not happy anyway so get over it) to not say anything and to deal with the confrontation that may occur (probably because people aren’t used to openly talking about things in your office/place of work) it will only get worse. Trust me when I say this as I speak from years of listening and working in team development IT WILL ONLY GET WORSE. So speak up.
4. Your managers are stressed out to the max. Now stop laughing and pick yourself up off the floor. I know you all think your managers don’t do nearly the work that you do. Well you are dead wrong. They are doing one of the toughest jobs on the planet. They are dealing with bosses above their head, they are dealing with all kinds of different employee personalities, then they have to think about the future of their business, and goodness only knows what else is on their plate. Your bosses get tired, your bosses have bad days, your bosses can be jerks but in the end they are all human beings. It has even been my experience that most managers find themselves in those roles because of seniority and NOT because they have any formal training in that area. So ask yourself this, if you had to all of a sudden be in charge of 5, 10, 20, or even 50 employees as well as manage all your other tasks AND answer to a higher power than yourself (be it another boss or a stakeholder) how do you think you would handle it? Along these lines I always find myself working with employees and hearing that they want more positive feedback so to them and now by proxy I ask you, how many times have you ever given positive feedback to a manage that has helped you out? You know if you do it enough they might just pick up on what you are doing and reciprocate. Show them you care and they might just show you the same. (Bah but sometimes it is just the chicken and the egg game, eh? well stop it! Be the first, give them a compliment.)
5. Remember the best times. I try to encourage workplaces all the time to chat about the best moments on or around the job. For instance I worked with a veterinarian clinic and everyday those people saved an animals life. I reminded them that collectively they are all doing amazing things. We began talking in specifics. How did you Jennifer help Kevin when there was a major complication with the Golden Lab last week? The reply was so interesting because what happened in the room was first I got a look for saying the breed and not the dogs name-which is a HUGE no no in their clinic. Every dog is a patient. That was a huge sign to me that even in this slightly dysfunctional family/workplace that they had some things they were willing to agree on and bond around. Then it was not only Jennifer that answered my question but so many other people pitched in and pretty soon people were just laughing and crying and remembering their purpose. There isn’t a week that goes by that someone shouldn’t have a good memory and that there shouldn’t be time to chat/read about it somewhere prevalent.
6. Remember your purpose. Why are you there? What got you there? If you don’t have an answer anymore I don’t give one care in the world what the reason is you need to probably be looking at an exit strategy. On the other hand if you can remember why you are there and find that spark again then that will for sure help you get through many days. Have those reminders posted all around you. Talk about your passions with your colleagues.
7. Everyone is a human being. At the core of all of this is the notion that sometimes we forget that our co-workers and bosses are human beings. Take yourself out of the situation and think about the other persons life for just 2 seconds before you react. Take the time to find out who you are working with. Do you need to LOVE them? No. Do you need to know that they are human and that things in their life can change and that sometimes they might need support? Yes.
Ok 7, that is a good number. There are a whole lot of other tips to share but for now I feel like that is probably all your asses can take. Thanks for following along my friends. I hope some of those kicks in the ass found themselves well placed.
Working can be such a struggle but you always have to remember you play a part in that role as well, so ask yourself what are you doing to contribute?