And this week, you are still there and your colleagues wish you had left!
That’s right. Last week, I wrote a blog called “Why Are You Still There”. When I wrote the article, my intention was that readers would think about all the reasons their work was fulfilling and their workplace was positive. Fortunately, I heard from a number of my readers about the rewards they find in their work and from their colleagues.
I would have been thrilled, but I heard about a few cases where recipients of the blog added a caustic note, “Yeah, why are YOU still here?” and sent it to colleagues. If it had happened once, I would have been bummed, but I am aware that it happened in several different organizations.
What I know about that behavior is that the sender:
- didn’t have the courage to talk to the person directly
- didn’t have the skills to talk to the person directly
- hides behind email rather than talking face-to-face
- felt superior to his or her colleague
- didn’t see that one’s behavior influences (in this case negatively) the behavior of peers
Only workplace bullies would send a hurtful message like that to a peer, a manager, or a subordinate. Our role as colleagues is to make the workplace positive and productive for all. We must support one another and bring out the best in one another. We should act as though our work depends on the success of others. In organizations where employees are accountable, their work does depend on the success of others.
I do hope you will forward these blogs to your colleagues and your associates. And when you do choose to forward them, send them as a way to build another person’s confidence, to show your admiration for them, and to appreciate them.
Isn’t it interesting that the same article can be used to empower or to hurt?
My colleague, Arnie Sanow, is so resilient! Recently I asked him about his ever-present ability to not take things personally and to always focus on the next opportunity rather than lament the moments that fell short.
He told me that he learned the skill a very long time ago when he played tennis at the University of Maryland. Whenever a ball sailed past, or a volley didn’t make it, his coach would say, “Next Play.”
The words “Next Play” helped Arnie to refocus his attention on his actual step forward, rather than to fret about what had just occurred. We understand how critical this skill is for sports and athletes, but I think it is equally, if not more important, for all of us who work in office jobs.
How resilient are you? Here are some of my favorite examples of resilience. How quickly do you bounce back when an email backfires, a member leaves, or a fender bender (literal or figurative) occurs?
I welcome you to add “Next Play” to your vocabulary, and use it frequently!
I was working with a retail company recently and the senior leaders were trying to figure out why their competitor had higher than average sales in the fourth quarter while their company had sluggish sales. Sitting around the table at their weekly meeting, the leaders were offering reasons.
“More people are shopping online.”
“The traffic patterns are diverting people to another part of town.”
“We can’t get the inventory we need.”
My thoughts wandered to the reports of the mystery shoppers that the retailer had employed, but that the senior leader group had dismissed. Some of the concerns the mystery shoppers highlighted were a lack of and distracted store personnel, crowded aisles, and dirty bathrooms. While the report sat on the shelf beside us, none of the leaders referred to it. Instead, they felt that their competitor had an advantage because they were new to town, and shoppers were checking them out.
The lack of responsibility reminded me of my daughter Katie’s soccer days. She played soccer throughout her school-age years. Too often the girls, and even more unfortunately, their parents, complained.
“The field is lumpy.” And indeed it was. The teams played on some amazing fields, but they also sometimes played on county fields that were very bumpy, lopsided, and overgrown with weeds.
“The wind is blowing the wrong way.” And again, it was indeed. One place the girls played, the Germantown SoccerPlex, I am certain was where they filmed the tornado in The Wizard of Oz. The place just seems to be a huge wind tunnel.
“It is too hot.” “It is too cold.”
Oh, and the officials were a source of frequent complaints. They were overzealous and made too many calls, or they were too timid and allowed egregious behavior.
Fortunately, my daughter had an amazing coach through most of her soccer career, Kelly Wallace. Kelly had played college soccer, he still played soccer as an adult, he coached his son’s team, and now he was coaching his daughter’s team, and Katie’s team as well. Most of all, Kelly was a leader in these youngsters’ lives and he believed that there was more to be learned from the game of soccer than just how to kick the ball.
Kelly had many quips when the girls and parents complained, but my favorite was, “The field conditions are the same for both teams.” He would fill in the blank as appropriate. “The temperature is the same for both teams,” or “The sun is blinding for both teams, we just haven’t changed sides yet.”
During the weekly meeting with that retailer, the floor manager, Sarah, spoke up. “Perhaps we should stop focusing on what they are doing and start focusing on what we can do better.”
Who is the person in your workplace who helps the group shift from blame to responsibility?