The Mad Scientist

I used to work for a boss who liked to do experiments. He wasn’t a scientist and the field that he was experimenting in was management. He would actually conduct experiments with people. He would do things without their knowledge and then see how they reacted to it. One of his self proclaimed tests was to load up an employee with work until they said “uncle”. Keep piling it on until they came back frustrated or beaten. The experiment was designed to see how much they could handle and determine their breaking point. All the while the unsuspecting employee was killing themselves to keep up with the workload in order to try to measure up.

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Little did they know that the ultimate goal was to overload them.

The effort was designed to frustrate them.

They could never measure up because he would just add more work.

I couldn’t do it. I thought that this strategy was cruel and stupid. I thought that it was not fair for the employee. I knew that by putting that much pressure on the person they could make a big mistake. They could also get really angry or they could burn out and quit. Why would anyone do this?

Through the years, I have seen others do these experiments. Let’s see if they can figure it out. Let’s give them less resources and see if they can get through it. Let’s push and see what happens. Let’s double things up and see if they crumble.  This just seems crazy to me.

I believe that honest communication is a better way. Rather than experiment, ask them what they think. Ask them how much can they handle? Ask them if they can work through the problem. Ask them if they are ready to come up with a strategy to do more with less resources? Give them more work when they want it. Give them a clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish. Give them the help they need to be successful.

Experiment with things, not with people. Don’t play games with their heads. Don’t be the mad scientist.  Ask them for help. Ask them what they can handle. It’s better that way.

So what do your think?  Should we experiment with people?  Have you experienced this before? Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me your story!

Serving Others…Without the Exchange

One of the keys to being a servant leader is serving others by putting their needs ahead of yours.  A great example of this is being a parent.  When you raise a family, you learn that the needs of your children naturally come before yours.  Children do not have the ability to take care of themselves.  They do not have the experience to make good decisions.  They are yours- so you love and nurture them and make sure they have the things needed to stay healthy and to grow and prosper.

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This is an easy one.  What about another tougher example.  What if the person that needs help is not your child?  What if they are not your relative?  What if they are an adult?  What if this person lives in another country?  What if they don’t speak your language?

Shouldn’t matter.  You were made to serve others.  Unconditionally.  Without strings.  Everyone.  Period.

This is tough stuff for someone who is used to the exchange.  I give something and then get something back.  This exchange can be very subtle.  Often when we lead others- we still get something back, right?  Is this really giving?  Serving your children benefits you by benefiting your children and your family.  Serving your workmates helps you while helping them.  You get something back for your hard work.

Can we give without getting back?  Giving in it’s purest form should be one sided- right?  Give and don’t get back.  If you skip the exchange, what is the great equalizer?

Kathy and I are leading a missions team to Costa Rica  May 21-June 1 to minister to the poor and support the local church. We will be staying Alajuelita which is in the central valley of Costa Rica near the capital city of San Jose.  This is a poor area of Costa Rica and we will be ministering in the poorest barrios (neighborhoods)- tin shacks with dirt floors.  These areas are full of families and children are everywhere.  We will be helping to feed the children and will spend time with the moms and the elderly.  We will also be ministering at a woman’s rehab center.  Drug abuse and prostitution (legal in Costa Rica), is a big problem in Costa Rica.  Many women are often forced to sell themselves just to feed their families.

Missions is very important to me.  I know that we are blessed beyond measure in this country and I have a burning desire to give back and serve the poor and needy.  The greatest gift that we can provide those in need is the reassurance that there is a God in heaven that loves them unconditionally.  Love makes all the difference.  This is often all we can hold onto when we are in the toughest situation.  This truth has helped me during tough times in my life.  And I have seen with my own eyes what this truth can bring to a Costs Rican who feels hopeless.  This is the power of the Gospel.  This is what we will share on our trip to Costs Rica.

Will you please partner with me on my trip?  We are trying to raise all of the funds through donations so that your money, prayers and love will actually travel with us and make a tangible impact in Costa Rica.  Without leaving your house, you can be part of the work that we are doing in Central America!  Any amount would be greatly appreciated.  This donation is also tax deductible- the church will send you a receipt for tax purposes.  You can send a check to me or you can donate on line by credit card (secure connection through Pay Pal). Below is a link to the online donation to our church- River City Church:

http://www.rccjax.com/give

Please click on “one time donation” and fill out the information.  This only takes a few minutes.  Do it now or you will forget! (I only say this because this is what I do!).  If you donate on- line please contact me  (Click on “Contact” tab on this website) and tell me that you donated.  I have to alert the church about your donation or your donation will NOT be appropriated to our mission trip.

I am so excited to be going to Costa Rica to spread God’s love to the poor and needy. Please give to help us fund this trip so you can be with us as we work to make a difference in the lives of those we reach.  Giving them our time and our love.  Taking your love to others far away.  Giving unconditionally.

God bless you and your family!

So what do you think?  Do you give without the exchange?  Is love the great equalizer?  Click on “leave a comment” and tell me what you think! 

 

Trust is the Glue

The power base of any cohesive and unified team is trust.  If you believe in your people and you have confidence in their abilities and decision making, it has a way of multiplying the impact of the team.  You are, in effect, advancing your leadership to all of your team members.

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Leaders often have a tough time passing this responsibility on to others.  They are often used to making the decisions and developing the strategy for the group.  Leaders have confidence in their abilities to provide direction with effectiveness- that is how they became a leader.  The problem is that one person cannot think for the entire organization.

Once you let go of the reins and allow others to think and make decisions, you are tapping into more brain power.  Much more brain power.  The front line team members often know the situation better than the leaders.  They are involved in the struggle every day.  They see things first hand.  They know the intricate details that are involved in the process.

Most employees have no problem following direction.  They will proceed as directed.  If the plan is flawed from the start, they will generally avoid blame for the outcome.  The tension develops when you allow your team to think for themselves.  When they are allowed to put together their own plan and strategy, they are now open for scrutiny.  They feel vulnerable to judgement.

How do you remove this apprehension to leading?  Trust is the key.

Once the employee knows that his manager and the company are squarely behind them, they will feel the freedom to step into a leadership role and make decisions.  Without trust, there is a breakdown in authority.  And trust must go in both directions to bind the team together.

Trust is the glue that holds together a successful organization.

Mistakes will be made.  There is no way to completely avoid them.  You must always be ready to help clean up a mess resulting from a poor decision made by someone other than yourself.  This is natural- but not fun.  You can’t avoid it.  This is part of the learning process.

To unleash the power of your entire team- you must trust them and they must trust you.

There is no other way.

So what do you think?  Have you experienced a lack of trust that kept you from acting?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!

Angry, Cool, Weird and Stupid

Ah, here we go again- another election cycle!  I used to really enjoy politics.  Political science was a favorite of mine in school.  I love the unique characteristics of politics and the history that goes along with it.  But I can tell you politics is not something I care for anymore.  I really dislike the new face of politics.  The discourse is broken.  There is no civility.  It makes no sense to me.  Here are a few observations in this election season and the leadership lesson that goes along with it:

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Angry:  Voters are angry and the politicians are completely puzzled. Why are they so angry?  What could possibly be wrong?  Maybe years of gridlock, ideology and rampant spending?  Voters want anyone but the establishment.  And this is really evident on both sides.

Leaders:  The problem with angry is that you can make some really bad decisions when you are angry.   Leaders need to guard their tempers and stay composed.  If your team is angry, you need to address it head on.  Don’t put your head in the sand and let it fester!

 

Cool:  There is a new phenomenon emerging- the cool factor!  This is the breeding ground for the PC (politically correct) group.  We have become obsessed with the coolness principle.  What is cool anyways?  Are we still in high school?  I just don’t get the attraction.  Grow up please!

Leaders:  Cool at its roots is being self-centered.  I do what is cool so I look good.  Cool people make me feel better.  If I get invited to hang out with the cool group then I am cool too.  Be approachable- not cool!

 

Weird:  Both sides are convinced that the other side is weird.  They are freaks.  Guns, global warming, faith, same sex marriage, abortion, environment- anyone that doesn’t think they way you do is just weird.  They are broken.

Leaders:  Everyone is different so get over it.  Diversity is a strength.  You will never feed innovation if everyone thinks the same.

 

Stupid:  Both sides are convinced the other side is just stupid.  If they were just smarter they would see that I am correct.  They are just ignorant.  I am smart and have this all figured out.  Really?  Do you actually think you are just superior and everyone else is not up to your intellect?

Leaders:   Look at all sides of an issue.  Don’t get tunnel vision.  Don’t typecast others as stupid just because of your title.  A line person has first hand knowledge.  You can’t completely understand things until you are in it.  Don’t assume you have it all figured out.  Question yourself.

 

We have become intolerant of any viewpoint except our own.  Can you see the crazy arrogance in this?  We will never solve the problems in this country without an open mind and you will never be an effective leader being close minded.  Consider other options.  Look at the other side of the issue.  You may see a better solution.  And keeping an open mind will make you a better leader!

 

So what do you think?  Do you have any insights on the elections that you would like to share?  Do you think we have become increasingly intolerant?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!          

The Hero and the Villain

A good action movie or a novel generally has these roles.  The villian is the dark and scheming character who is struggling to get what he wants in an unscrupulous way.  The hero is the character who is on the right side of things. The hero struggles with the villain and his schemes and works hard to make things right.

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A wise woman once described a relationship issue I was experiencing in the metaphors of the hero and the villain.  But this description is much different than what you would see in the movies.

The hero in this situation convinces themselves that the other person- the villain, is broken, weird, evil, twisted, crazy, or just wrong.  This gives the hero the license to do whatever they want.  The hero feeds off of competition, power and control.  The hero is always right.  They have to be at the front.  They have convinced themselves that the villain is so messed up they can treat them in a way that can be cruel, unfair, and disrespectful.  Or they see the villain as competition. The hero can distort the facts so they feel like they have to take care of things.  The hero has convinced themselves that the villain is so messed up that all regular conventions do no apply.  They have free rein to do whatever they want.  And its their job as the hero to jump in and make it right.

Meanwhile, the villain is just doing what they always do.  They may be way different from the hero- but their heart is right.  The villain may be unattractive or introverted or eccentric or have problems that the hero can’t understand.   Things that really grind the hero.  But generally, they are just different from the hero.  The villain can’t understand why they are treated so harshly by the hero.  They see the hero as someone they respect.  They can’t understand why the hero wants to continually put them down.  And the actions of the hero can be so subtle that the hero doesn’t even know what they are doing.  But I can assure you- the villain can see it.

I’ve been the villain.  More times than I can count.  I am different.  I am introverted.  I am not competitive.  I am an easy target.

Have you been any of these characters?  Let me give you some dialogue/thoughts you may be able to relate to:

  • All my son wants to do is play video games.  I can’t get him outside and he hates fishing.  I don’t know what’s wrong with him.  I’m going to take away those stupid games.
  • I’m just going to go talk to the client.  John is just not good at this.  I can’t trust him to take care of it.  He’s not like me.  I will close the deal.
  • I have to take control of things.  My husband is so passive.  Yes, I can be a little bossy- but I have to.  Somebody has to do it.
  • Why do I have to do everything around here.  When I give you a task to do you always take too long and make mistakes.  Good thing I am here to clean up your mess.
  • There is no way I could promote her.  She barely talks to anyone.  How can she be a manager?  I’ll continue to take care of it myself.
  • He is so weird.  I am afraid to take him to any meetings because he will make us look bad.  He just sits there and when he talks he makes weird comments.  I am so glad I am good at covering up his comments.
  • I don’t get her.  She hates shopping.  What woman hates shopping?  I am surprised she has any friends.  All my friends love to shop.

And so it goes.  The discouraging thing is that once the roles are set the hero rarely changes.  They continue to see the world as though they are the only person who is equipped to handle things properly.  This sounds as though they are well equipped, right?  No.  The truth is the hero is actually very insecure.  They see the world as a stage and they need to have everything looking good.  Any opportunity that could make them look bad is intolerable.  The hero must continue to be the hero and will fight for it at all costs.

So where are you on this?  Have you seen the villain or the hero?  Maybe a hard look at your relationships is in order.

Remember that different is good!  And just because someone is different than you does not give you a blank check.  If you are inherently competitive or have an issue with control you may need to do some self-examination of your real motives.  The villain is not broken.  They are just different than you.  And you need to give them some space!

So what do you think?  Have you seen these roles played out in your life?  Do you have a story about one of these roles?  Click on “Leave a Comment” if you want to join in or click “Like” if you agree with me!   

The Real Reason We Haven’t Cured Cancer

I am sure that you have been touched by the tragic effects of cancer.  My mother passed away at the age of 49 from lung cancer.  This was certainly one of the low times of my life.  I couldn’t understand how it could happen.  She wasn’t able to see her grandchildren grow up or be part of their lives.  Her life was cut off early.  I miss her every single day.

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I have a theory on why we haven’t cured cancer and other similarly tragic diseases.  And this is not your typical theory- healthy, scientific, you need to eat more of this or that, exercise more, take the right vitamins, etc.  This goes to the heart of the problem.  The real reason we haven’t been able to attack this disease properly.  So what’s the reason-

We are too cheap.

We expect someone else to handle the money that it takes to find a cure.  We want the government, rich people, philanthropists, charitable organizations, pharmaceutical companies, etc. to pay for finding a cure.

We want someone else to solve the problem.

We want to keep ALL of our money.

The real tragedy is that we have forgotten how to give.

You can always find an excuse why someone else, other than yourself, needs to provide the money.  I need to save for retirement.  I need to fund my kid’s college.  I need a new car.  I have credit card bills.  All of these are great reasons, but we cannot solve the world’s BIG problems without BIG numbers.  And it takes all of us to make it happen.

Kathy and I have been involved in many fundraisers through the years.  Kathy also leads a non-profit ministry (www.here2there.org ) that travels on mission trips to minister to others in need all over the world.  I am always amazed at how folks can get agitated when you simply ask them to give.  So they are agitated at us for trying the raise money to help out someone in need or a special cause?  That just doesn’t make any sense- right?  I am past it.  I will continue to ask and let it be their struggle- not mine.  The statistics we experience for giving are generally pretty low.  I bet less than one out of fifty give on the average.

There are plenty of ways you can rationalize not giving.  You heard the execs at the organization make big money.  You heard that the percentages that goes to research is lower than average.  You heard that someone was caught taking money at the organization.  On and on it goes…

The fact is- you can’t control those things.  And for the most part, these organizations do a pretty good job with the donations.  There is only one thing you can control- and that is to give.  If we all decided to cure cancer once and for all- we could do it.  If everyone who has a story like mine gave $1,000, we would amass such a huge amount of research money that a cure would be inevitable.  The problem is we are too cheap.  Most folks generally ignore requests to give.  They give a big fat zero!  They will leave it up to everyone else to do the giving.  And the giving is just not happening the way it should.

One way that I learned how to give was through tithing at church.  When you actually write a large check each week and find out that you will still make it financially, you are truly exercising your giving muscle.  The Lord tells us to test Him on this.  I have done it and He has always provided!

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, a day that is targeted for giving to non-profits and organizations that are trying to make a difference in the world.  Instead of buying a gift for someone who doesn’t really need anything, how about giving to an organization that really needs your money?  Yes- it may go towards someone’s salary and feeding their family but that’s not all bad- right?  If you are stuck on the efficiency of the organization, there are watchdog websites out there like www.charitynavigator.org  that provide ratings for non-profits that can assist you in making a giving decision.  It’s a good idea to do your homework, but don’t get too hung up on the percentages or ratings.

Give to a charity where your heart is or an organization where you have a personal connection.  Give to someone you know.  Give to an area where you want to make a difference.  Give until it hurts!  We will not solve the problems in the world until we realize that we are all individually responsible.  It’s not someone else’s responsibility- it’s yours too!  Start exercising your giving muscle.  You will find out that you can do it.  And you, yes you, will actually help to make the world a better place.

So what do you think?  Have we become too cheap to give?  Do we look to others to take care of the problems or needs?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!

The F Word

When I was in high school I remember sitting frozen by the phone thinking about all the things that could go wrong.

Would I be rejected?  

Would she laugh at me?  

Would she make me feel foolish?  

Would everyone hear about it and think I was crazy?

Was I overstepping my boundaries?

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Sometimes I just couldn’t pick up the phone.  I tried to overpower the thoughts that I had, but sometimes they just won.  I wasn’t good enough.  What was I thinking?  She is way out of reach for me.

I was strangled by the F word.  FEAR.

Now as I look back at it- what is the worst thing that could happen?  She says no.  There may be some laughter and maybe I was overstepping.  Yet, I will never know because I didn’t try.  The F word.

Fear is powerful.  Yes, I am a man and I have been afraid and ducked out plenty of times in my life.

When I should have moved forward.

When I should have taken the chance.

When I could have stepped out and made a difference.

What does the F word do?  Let me give you a few of the finalities of fear.

You Freeze:  Fear stops you from making a decision.  You stop.  And while you are stopping, the rest of the world is moving.  You loose your advantage.  You are now looking from behind.

You Miss The Boat:  Opportunities are an instant.  A moment in time.  When you decide to wait or you decide it’s too risky, the opportunity is gone.  Things change.  You can’t go back to that spot.  It’s gone, quite possibly forever.

You Determine The Outcome:  If you fail to act you know what will happen.  Nothing.  You have decided it.  Maybe that’s what you want.  Maybe the risk is too high.  But one thing for sure,  It’s done.  If you choose to risk the outcome might be good.  Choosing not to risk decides the answer.

Often the root of a failure to act can be traced to pride.  I never loose.  I always come out on top.  What would everyone think if I actually failed?

Yet failure is actually healthy.  It doesn’t feel good when you are in it, but I have learned some of my greatest life lessons through failure. So what do you really learn in failure?

You learn that the sun will rise the next day.  You find out that the people that really love you are still there.   You find out that the F word is mostly in your head.  You find out that faith is the thing that allows you to risk.  Faith in yourself.  Faith in your family.  Faith in a Father who loves you no matter what!  Fear is a product of the enemy.  An old scheme he uses to take away your power.  A way to neutralize you in the spiritual battle that is going on around us.

So what are you going to do?  Are you going to crumble and let the F word decide for you and make your final decision OR will you fight through it and go for it!  Do something risky.  Do something big.  Shake off the F word, have faith and trust in yourself!

So what do you think?  Have you had times when you were overcome with fear?  Have you failed to act because of fear?  What do you do the beat the F word?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and let me know what you think!

Money Wart

I grew up in the construction business- literally. My father had a subcontracting business and fact that he was in the construction business affected many things growing up. He would be fixated on the weather. The weather determined the schedule and a large portion of his life. Also as business was good and bad it influenced the family purchases and the grip on the family purse strings.

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My father taught me a great deal about business and how to take care of the customer. He had a great reputation and worked for some of the most respected builders in the business. He also taught me about the importance of doing a great job and letting your work product speak for itself.

I remember him telling me- “Don’t worry about the money. Do a great job and the money will take care of itself.”

This really made an impression on me and it has been one of my guiding principles. Make the customer happy. If it costs you some money, don’t sweat the costs. Do the right thing and the money will follow because of your actions, your commitment, your heart. Don’t worry, it will happen naturally. Don’t be a money wart!

This is really simple business logic. However, do your actions really support the principle that money is not your primary concern in your business? Do you get hung up just continually counting your money like a Monopoly game just obsessed on the financials? Is the mark your trying to hit always a financial target? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Where do you spend your time? Do you spend your days pouring over cost projections. profit and loss statements, cash flow projections, etc? Yes, we are in business to make money and you must be good stewards of the resources you are blessed with but at what percentage of your time? Are you completely consumed with the numbers? You are just counting your money.

What is your focus? Do you spend significant company time and resources on improving your product? Are you an innovator and continually looking for ways to improve your product? Or are you satisfied with producing the same acceptable product because being an innovator costs money. You are just counting your money.

Is it costs or revenues? Do you focus on the cost side or the revenue side? If you are continually trying to squeeze costs you may be a money wart. Working the revenue side is about expanding your business and your influence in the industry. Increased revenues have a way of taking care of financial issues. More revenue helps with overhead and fixed costs. Expanding revenue will reduce the need to squeeze and reduce the pressure on the company and it’s clients. If you are a squeezer, you are just counting your money.

What do you spend on product improvement? If you are not improving your product you will eventually be out of business. What are you doing as a business to get better? Are your improvements always focused on reducing costs. Are you recognized as a market innovator? Focusing on your product and being a leader requires resources. I was recently in Rochester, NY, the home of Kodak. What happened to Kodak? They were convinced that digital photography would never be better than traditional paper photographs. Look what happens when you fail to be an innovator. They were just counting their money.

Are your employees well compensated? My father also told me, “Don’t look in your employees pockets. If they are making good money then you will too!” Again, simple logic, but the employee pockets can be an easy target. You can always find cheaper help and squeeze payroll. But, what is the cost? If your employees are not making a superior wage, then how can you expect superior work. If you are known to pay better, the best of the best will end up coming to you to find work. Trying to save on payroll is just counting your money.

So, like the saying goes, where you put your time is your treasure. Are you continually focused on money? This is a sign of plain and simple greed. Life is not a race to make the most money. You were put on the earth to serve others by producing a product or providing a service to address a need. The goal must be the product or service first. What if your mission statement read “Make as much money as possible by controlling costs and providing a mediocre product.” Look hard at this and determine what is truly first in your business! Obviously, costs and money are important. Just don’t get them in front of everything else. Don’t be a money wart. Produce a great product first and the money will follow. It always does!

So what do you think?  Do we get hung up on the money too much or am I full of you know what?  Click on “leave a comment” or click “like” if you agree!

How to Create a Drama-Free Workplace

Most of us love a good drama at the movies, but not so much at work.  Office drama can be draining.  It’s hard enough to keep the plates spinning without the added pressure of drama.  It seems like finding the right mix of folks is like a science experiment.  Unfortunately, in a drama filled environment, we often hire the person who is non-threatening instead of the best candidate.  Then one day you look up and wonder how in the world these folks ended up on the payroll!

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The root of most office drama is insecurity.  The problem is that it’s not easy to see during the recruitment process.  You may have a candidate that appears confident and assertive, yet they have social or personal issues that won’t appear until they are introduced into the mix.

Intent can also skew your thinking.  In a recent post in Forbes, (link here) Erika Anderson points out that staying positive with others intentions naturally diffuses drama.  All you have to do is believe their intentions are good.  Seems easy- but for some that live their lives in the negative zone, it can be very difficult to trust that other coworker’s intentions are good.

Many managers see drama as purely a result of immaturity.  But it often goes much deeper than that.  Many times there are wounds or events from the past that have shaped the person into who they are.  Don’t always dismiss poor behavior as simply a result of immaturity.

Many of the deeper issues that result in office drama are not easy to fix.  There is likely a long process involved and it may even require professional attention.  Aside from the complex cases, there are strategies to address some of the common office strife.  Here are a few of them:

Dump the Stupid Rules:  Drama feeds off of petty infractions of the rules.  As a manager you may think this is counter intuitive.  You may be tempted to add more rule when you have drama.  The fact is if you give more power to the “rules police” you will only add fuel to the fire.  Turn the conversation back to performance.  If the person is doing a good job, then give them grace on the rules.  Get rid of as much of the petty rules as you can and you will benefit in the end.

Choose Your Managers Wisely:  In the book “Managing for People Who Hate Managing”, Devora Zack divides managers into two categories, Thinkers and Feelers.  Both can be great managers but you have to understand that they see the world differently and will react differently.  Drama feeds off of emotion.  It is very important that your managers are emotionally intelligent.  They must understand there own emotions and how they are affected by the emotions of others.  Just dismissing drama as stupid or silly emotion will not solve the problem.  You can’t tell someone who is upset that they are just being a baby.  There are great management strategies on how to be empathic, yet not feed the fire.  If you have a manager that is unskilled they will react incorrectly and make poor decisions that will only continue to feed the fire!

Watch for Type A’s:  The talented and driven are often a target for the drama group.  They are threatening to the status quo.  They want more.  They are used to getting what they want.  I have witnessed “the pack” systematically run off talented folks.  You need to watch for this and address this as soon as you see it.  Find the leader of the opposition and discuss the situation objectively.  Reassure them that this person is not threatening their position and reaffirm that they are not going anywhere and they need to develop a good working relationship.

React Well:  Be very careful how you react to the situation.  Strong reactions feed the drama fire.  If there is a situation that needs to be addressed, do it quietly and without fanfare.  Be very careful about getting both parties together to “hash things out”.  I have done this in the past and have had both good and bad results.  Try to respect the position of the person who is upset, but be very careful that you don’t add emotional fuel to the fire.

Watch For Alliances:  The office can be similar to an episode of  “Survivor”.  There are alliances that will naturally form, and you must be aware of who is where.  Sometimes you can break up problem workgroups.  The main thing is to see through the drama and find the alliance.  Seek out the leader and discuss the problem directly with them.

Don’t Let It Smolder:  Drama tends to naturally escalate.  If you are aware of a problem, it is best to address it quickly.  The longer it smolders the group will internalize and the issue will become fact.  This is human nature.  Find a confidant on the inside and try to pinpoint the issue.  The quicker you address the problem the better.

Make Changes:  If the drama is always centered around one person, maybe it’s time to make some changes?  Office drama is damaging.  Don’t be afraid to dismiss a person who continues to cause trouble in the ranks.

Have Fun:  Office outings and fun environments can help lessen office drama.  When you provide opportunities for interaction with someone outside of work you may find that you have things in common and actually like to hang out together.  It’s not uncommon to find out that the person you have a problem with is actually just like you!   Don’t forget to do some team building by having fun with your group.  This can pay off big in diminishing drama.

The business world is hard enough without having to deal with office drama.  Dealing with drama is difficult as it involves people, personalities and emotion which is a pretty scary mix for anyone.  As you become more skilled in sensing what is really going on you will be better equipped to address the situation.  Devora Zack cautions to be careful in how you address these issues in asking questions.  By asking the questions in the wrong manner you can actually reinforce the toxic thinking.  Ask questions about the outcome not the problem– i.e “What do you want?”  “What will this get you?”  “How will this benefit everyone?”  The fact is that keen management skills are often the key to killing office drama.

See- we all want to have “peace in the valley”.  Work is hard enough- right?  So…let’s leave the drama for the movies!

So what do you think?  Do you have other strategies that you have used to address drama and agitators?  Do you have a story to share here?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!  Click “Like” if you can relate!

Me First

I hate to wait in lines. I don’t know why, but long lines just really irritate me. If I walk into a restaurant at lunch and the line is long, I’ll go back to work hungry and just skip lunch!

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Except for the line thing, I am generally very patient. I understand that sometimes to get quality it just takes time. There is no way around it. I wish everyone else felt that same way. Unfortunately, our instant everything, super fast, efficiency driven, want it yesterday world feeds this impatience. We want it now. We don’t want to wait.

A very wise woman once told me that the root of impatience is really self-centeredness and pride. You want everyone to drop everything they are doing and serve you. It’s like taking cuts in that lunch line. You don’t want to wait your turn. You want them to rearrange their schedules to make you first. So impatience is more that just a characteristic or just “my thing”. It’s much deeper.

After she shared this with me I could see the connection. When I get frustrated with the long line, I am saying that I should not have to wait in the line. It’s OK for everyone else, but not for me.

How do you avoid being that impatient person? How can you manage people without being “me first” all the time? Here are some ideas:

Clearly define the time constraints. If you need something done quickly then communicate the reasons for the rush. If you can’t really describe significant reasons to reorder priorities then it may just be a me first situation.

Consider the workload. Ask your report what they currently have on their plate. Don’t assume that they are in a position to drop everything they are doing to address your needs. Work together to help prioritize the item so that you are both comfortable with the schedule.

Quality takes time. Let’s face it. If you want quality work, it will take time. A rushed job will always show it. Give the person ample time to produce quality work. It’s a win win situation. You will get better work and they will feel better about what they produced.

Provide resources. As you are delegating tasks make sure they have sufficient resources to do the work. if they are are short on resources, then it will always take more time than it should. Ask your report if they need anything to get the job done efficiently and according to your schedule.

Consider the costs. There are always trade-offs in time management. If you are busy taking care of a special project for your boss, you cannot be doing your regular work at the same time. When you delegate, make sure that you are targeting the right person who has the time to be pulled from their regular work without serious damage to your operation. Fight the urge to further load up your workhorse employee who never says no. You will likely be overloading your best employee!

Yes, you are the boss and you can make them drop everything to take care of your special task. But is this really the right thing to do? Or is it just your pride and ego driving the boat. Next time your “me first” kicks in, remember that your stuff may not be the most important thing on their to-do list. Your reports are paid to think and prioritize. There are obviously other tasks and assignments that they are working on and they must also be completed! Maybe it’s time that you take a number and get in line!

Have you worked for a “me first” boss before? Do you struggle with waiting for your tasks to be completed? is patience your weakness? Hit “Like” if you can relate or click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!