People are unhappy at work. That is obvious. In a recent post I strongly suggested that leaders have a responsibility — to treat everyone with respect, set a positive example for the team, and create a framework for what success looks like. But what happens when leaders do not own up to that responsibility?
You can probably spot the signs. Sunday night blues. Feelings of “am I really making a difference.” I am not talking about the occasional bad day. No, this is an everyday pit-in-your-stomach malaise. You are miserable at work. Thankfully, it has been a while since I felt that way.
You do not write a book to make money. That’s true for most people unless you are already famous. And I am not. You write a book because you believe a story needs to be told. And you are willing to struggle to tell it. I definitely have had stories to tell, but I never wanted to write a book. That contradiction makes sense if you understand the backstory.
“Sort of like a walk in the wilderness, just not as refreshing.” That was just one of the hundreds of comments on my recent post about rude “animal” bosses. But I thought it perfectly captured the essence of a wild workplace. Many folks recounted their own experiences with beastly bosses. One reader made an especially salient point — that these animals can only thrive when the proper conditions exist.
Have you ever had a boss who seemed to leave behind a trail of disaster? I have. Too many times. There was the boss who threatened team members when he did not like an answer someone gave. The boss who chased the VP of Sales around the conference table when a major deal was delayed. And my favorite — the boss who was as spineless as a worm.
A friend approached me last year about starting a software company that would be an add-on in the Salesforce AppExchange. He was in the beginning stages and needed some advice. He had heard that he should have everyone he talks with about the business sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) to protect his idea. My reply? “No — but not for the reasons you might think.”
Ever work with someone who hogs all the credit? Or a parrot who never seems to have an original idea? I bet you can think of a few people who act more like zoo animals than the professionals they are supposed to be. And if you work in an environment with these types of characters, then you know that rudeness spreads like a contagion.
Nap pods. Stairs replaced with slides. A full-size Ferris wheel. No, I am not talking about an adult arcade hall. These are all real ways companies try to keep people happy. I even know someone whose company installed a ball pit. He said it was fun for a moment. But it ultimately became an office joke (and a great way to hide colleagues’ pens).
I love being outside. Just last week I went snowshoeing with some friends in Yosemite. But when I told a colleague about my trip, she wrinkled her nose. Snowshoeing? No thanks. Curling up indoors with a good novel is her idea of a good time.
It should be simple. But there are many ways to screw up a perfectly good apology. There is the over-apology — as if saying “I’m really, really sorry” carries more weight. There is the knee-jerk, insincere “sorry!” that does not ring true. Perhaps the worst is the non-apology, which begins “I’m sorry, but….” and ends with a finger pointing at someone else.
“The epitome of power.” I recently read an article in Harvard Business Review that proclaimed this was why we should care about building a legacy. It gave me pause. The word “power” suggests that legacies are about leverage and status, reserved for company founders and CEOs. I know that is not the case.
I am often surprised by what people choose to send as cover letters. Typos, broken links, and rambling emails. I also see messages like this one: “I was looking for work-from-home opportunities and I came across your company. Below is a copy of my resume. Please let me know if you have anything available.”