By Matt Collins – January 31, 2014
When we get defensive we make it harder for our conversational counterparts to hear what we’re saying, and we usually trigger the other person’s defensiveness, too. After someone has said something that causes you to want to become defensive, these three steps can lead you toward cooperation — and away from explosion:
• Take a deep breath. Think of the first thing you want to say or do and don’t do that. Your first instinct may be to defend yourself against what you perceive as an attack, slight, or offense.
• Take another breath. The second thing you want to say or do may be to retaliate, but that will only escalate matters. Don’t do that, either.
• Focus on a solution. Think of the third thing you want to say or do and then do that. Once you get past defending yourself and retaliating, you have a better chance of collaborating on a solution.
1. Wake Up Early
For many, this may be the hardest part of working from home. With no office to go to, and no boss to tap his watch and look irritated if you’re late, there can often be little motivation to get up at a reasonable hour and start work. I fell prey to this early on in my writing career, waking up at 10 or 11 AM and beginning the day from there. But it isn’t worth it.
Training yourself to get up on time like you do have a more traditional job will get you into a routine that encourages productivity. Studies have shown that getting up in the morning turns you into a more proactive person, and personally, I’ve found it makes me much more productive, much more quickly. Waking up at 7:30 AM every day allows me to start work by practically 7:45. It’s not obscenely early like someone with a lengthy morning commute to worry about, yet it’s not 11 AM either, like I’m a hungover college student who just remembered he has a term paper to finish.
By forcing myself into this schedule, I’ve found that over the years, my most productive time during the day has been from 8 AM to 11 AM. After breakfast, my mind is sharper. It’s early in the day so I’m motivated to work harder, faster and more efficiently in the hopes of finishing up the day early. In my business, this before noon time period is when many people are checking the internet for news as they themselves get into work, so for me, getting up early makes me more successful than my competition who is still sleeping. I get the worm, so to speak.
2. Put On Actual Clothes
It’s incredibly tempting when working from home to wear the most comfortable set of clothes you own whenever possible, especially since most of the time you’re rolling out of bed and starting work soon after. Again, with no coworkers, what’s the point of dressing up? Why can’t you wear sweatpants and/or a Snuggie all day until you’re forced to emerge from your cocoon to seek actual human contact?
From a Forbes article earlier this year, Dr. Karen Pine, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and fashion psychologist had this to say about dressing up for work (also, I didn’t know there was such a job title as “fashion psychologist”):
“When we put on an item of clothing it is common for the wearer to adopt the characteristics associated with that garment. A lot of clothing has symbolic meaning for us, whether it’s ‘professional work attire’ or ‘relaxing weekend wear,’ so when we put it on we prime the brain to behave in ways consistent with that meaning.”
In other words, if you are content to wear lazy clothing all day when working from home, you are probably more likely to act lazy, and therefore get less done.
Now there’s a limit here. I’m certainly not suggesting you put on a suit and tie and sit at your desk by yourself all day with no one to appreciate your snappy sense of style. But I am suggesting putting on actual pants, if for no other reason than to combat certain stereotypes about your profession (you would be amazed how often I get asked if I wear pants to work). To me, jeans and a t-shirt is enough, and I find myself in a much better mindset than if I simply work in sleepwear for the better part of the day. I haven’t actually tried wearing a tie, so I won’t completely toss that idea out the window, but that’s probably a bridge too far for me.
3. Don’t Work Where You Sleep
This is another lesson I learned early on, though I really didn’t have much of a choice as I began my blogging career sitting on my bed in my Manhattan apartment that was literally almost just that, a bed. If wearing pajamas makes you lazier while working, working in bed triples that effect at the very least. Not only that, but it will stress you out to have the place where you do all your work also be the very spot where you try to relax and fall asleep at night.
This can also apply to even working right next to wear you sleep. Once I upgraded to a room with a few more square feet of floor space, I put a tiny desk literally one foot away from my bed. I’d roll off my mattress and literally start working (in my pajamas) thirty seconds later. Sometimes this may be necessary given living space arrangements, but if you can avoid it, try to do so.
Now that I’m all grown up and married, my wife and I are shopping for two bedroom apartments. It’s not about a failing relationship that requires separate sleeping quarters, it’s about having a dedicated office space to call my own. A work room, for work only. Now that I have my own office, I’ve found I feel more like a person with a more traditional job, as opposed to a guy flopping out of bed and flipping open a laptop to begin the day. And if you work from home full time, you can write off at least part of your rent as a business expense, as it’s technically office space. You can also literally rent office space somewhere outside your home if your budget allows it, and you don’t mind an actual commute longer than the twelve paces it takes you to reach your home office from your bedroom.
4. Make a Schedule
This seems relatively self-explanatory, but most people will not be able to function properly working from home if they don’t have at least some sort of regimented schedule guiding them. This can start with waking up as a set time each day, as I’ve talked about above, but also translates into whatever you need to get done in a certain day.
Obviously this will depend on your job. In my line of work, I write for three different websites. I know what time posts are supposed to go up when (or at least a general window) and base my writing around that. Again, I do most of my work early in the morning, and I’m able to write something in the AM that gets posted in the PM because of the magic of advance scheduling. But it’s always done, and I do not miss deadlines because of the mental schedule permanently etched in my brain which includes not only work, but meals, errands and gym time to boot, all of which can often be accomplished within a given workday, allowing more free time later on.
I don’t physically write down a schedule anymore, as it’s all locked in my head at this point. But when you’re first starting out, it may be helpful to do so. And naturally, there are countless apps for that.
5. Work Out
As I just mentioned, working from home allows you to schedule activitiesduring your workday that you wouldn’t normally be able to do in a traditional office. One of these is working out, and for me, it’s an absolute must when working from home, and plays into both motivation and self-discipline.
Most office jobs these days are relatively sedentary, but none more so than working from home. At that point, you’re not even doing minimal walking around your office building. I joked with my wife when she got her Jawbone Up pedometer band that while she was hitting 10,000 steps a day, I’d be lucky to break a hundred with my trips from my bedroom to my office and a few to the kitchen and bathroom. I might go up and down some stairs on a good day. Once.
But in reality, it’s no joke. Being that sedentary isn’t just harmful for your health, it’s terrible for your motivation and discipline. Working out gives you a boost of energy that’s incredibly helpful for productivity, as every study on planet earth has revealed. It will get you thinking more clearly, and simply make you feel like you did right by yourself for the entire day.
Planning a trip to the gym that’s more than a few miles away can be tough during the workday, and can sometimes take too big a chunk out of your day. This is why I highly suggest trying out home workout programs. They can seem goofy at first, and have a stigma of being aimed at bored housewives, but honestly, these kinds of programs have really turned my personal and professional life around. I’ve completed what I thought was the borderline impossible P90X, and am currently in the middle of a similar program called Les Mills Combat. They take sometimes as little as 20 minutes to do, or an hour at most, and if you stick with them, you’ll be in amazing shape and have a brain that’s firing on all cylinders every day. It helps to do your workouts earlier rather than later, as you can reap the physical and psychological rewards for the entire day.
6. Earn Rewards
Another common refrain I hear from people who think they could never work from home is “If I did that, I’d just sit around and watch TV all day.” I’m here to tell you that you can do this, to a certain extent.
One of the perks of working from home is that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, but the whole point of this article is to show how you have to balance it with actual productivity and discipline. Rather than simply sit down and binge watch six episodes of House of Cards, putting your actual work off until 8PM, use the show as a reward.
Do two hours of solid work and then watch an episode of something. Get that one important project finished and play some PS4 for a little while. Turn these distractions into rewards, and then have the willpower to use them in moderation. Don’t get carried away and convince yourself an hour of work entitles you to five hours of a Sons of Anarchy marathon. But micro-rewards will go a long way to both making you feel accomplished, and giving you a brief respite to boot.
7. Get Off Gchat
Speaking of distractions, there is no bigger motivation or productivity killer than Gchat. I have literally been invisible on the service for close to five years now, and I’ve probably completed hundreds of more hours of work than I would have had I been chatting with people all day. This applies to actual jobs as well, but many offices ban such services, and there’s a reason for that.
It’s not just the physical time it takes you to read and type messages to your friends that makes Gchat your mortal enemy. It’s the fact that that little “bong” message noise instantly jolts you out of thinking about whatever you’re supposed to be working on. The time lost isn’t just the chatting, it’s the constant mental interruption that will sap your motivation and distract you from doing a proper job on whatever it is you’re working on. For me, it’s almost impossible to write a coherent article with Gchat flashing or chiming in the background every few seconds.
I’m singling out Gchat here, but there are plenty of other “bongs” that can go off and distract you, from Facebook and Snapchat to old-fashioned texting. If you do have to have a conversation, limit it to one other person, and don’t have it continue on all day. That sounds harsh, but it will allow you to finish all your work faster and then have complete, unrestricted free time once you’re done for the day early. Then you can Gchat until your fingers bleed.
8. Go Outside
When working from home, your house or apartment can become your bunker. It’s a safe spot that has everything you need, so why should you ever bother leaving? This generally isn’t a problem for extroverts, as they’ll seek out adventure elsewhere as part of their personality. But extroverts also really can’t handle working from home very often for many of the reason I’m listing.
But us introverts? We can thrive in such an environment. Almost too well. There have been stretches of time where I’ve looked back and said “shoot, I haven’t left the house in three days, have I?” This is not good. In addition to your body needing actual sunlight to live, going outside to do anything, run errands, take a walk, etc. is required for your mental sanity. You don’t want to slowly morph into a recluse and find yourself with drawn blinds and fifty cats in a few year’s time.
Related to this, there’s the famous “can’t you work in a coffee shop?” question I get all the time. The answer is yes, you can, but it depends on your personality. Yes, you’ll be out and about, but it depends on if your job can rely on Starbucks’ crappy Wi-Fi, you don’t mind being constrained to your little table instead of your entire home, and you’re fine with permanently smelling like coffee for most of your adult life. As you may have deduced, despite being “out of the house,” the cons tend to outweigh the pros in my experience.
9. Talk to Other Human Beings
This one kind of goes hand in hand with the previous item. There have also been days where I haven’t seen another human being other than my roommate, or now my wife. And sometimes, I don’t even see them if they’re out of town. Even if it’s just going to the grocery store and making conversation with the clerk, it’s something, and will help your social skills not atrophy. If you live somewhere near a bunch of existing friends, that’s great, but if you’re like me and moved to the middle of nowhere for reasons beyond your control (a smart wife getting a great job), it can be a lot tougher.
Working from home is a far cry from working in an office where you have coworkers you talk to day in and day out. I have coworkers too, but most of the ones I’ve talked to for years online, I’ve never even met before. I worked for Forbes for three full years before I ever met another employee in person. This is the way the world works now in many fields, so you have to adapt and improvise, and make up for the lack of human contact where you can. By interacting with others on a daily basis, in whatever form, you’ll continue to develop social skills that email and Gchat simply won’t give you. Take a class, join a team, or really anything that forces you to have a conversation with another human.
10. Declare War on Distracting Sites
While even normal office drones have the problem of surfing the internet while at work, it’s amplified exponentially by working from home. You’re guaranteed not to have any sort of filter to restrict your browsing, and so you might find yourself swept away by videos of cats jumping into boxes and goats yelling like humans instead of doing your actual work. And you’ve probably just clicked on those links and I’ve lost you…
Most people will have one site that’s simply the bane of their existence. Mine was reddit.com, the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet.” It’s simply an endless collection of links, but most are vaguely interesting enough to warrant an endless string of clicks. The site got so addictive, by muscle memory alone my fingers would simply flick my mouse over to the bookmark if my mind was blank for more than a few seconds. My thought process eventually became “Well, that’s enough reddit (closes tab),” and then promptly “Gee, I wonder what’s on reddit? (opens tab)” within a span of seconds. It was a problem.
This is where the zen-like discipline of working from home must propel you to take drastic action to ensure your continued productivity. I deleted my reddit bookmark from my browser bar, and suddenly, my muscle memory no longer worked. Though I still visit parts of the site for news, my usage of the site was cut by a solid 80% by deleting that bookmark alone. Whether your internet crack is Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you can do the same thing, or actually install plugins that will physically restrict your access if you lack the willpower. But if it’s Forbes? Well, just keep clicking on that bookmark.
11. Have a Side-Project to Fill the Dead Space
When I was younger, I often felt like if there were no teachers and no other students, and I was simply given the assignments I was supposed to do and left alone, I could get a lot more done in a given school day and probably be able to leave by noon. Often times, that fantasy becomes a reality when working from home. Despite the human interaction they provide, bosses, coworkers and the meetings, seminars and other group activities they require often make a workday far longer than it has any right being. Not to mention you will be judged by your superiors for leaving early, even if you’ve finished your work eons ago. Working from home cuts through all that bull, and as such, a 9-5 job might turn into a 9-2 job simply by trimming the fat from your workday.
But what to do with the extra time you might find yourself having after following my first ten steps? Again, there’s the temptation to binge watch Netflix until your eyes fall out, but I highly suggest using it to take up a hobby or a side-project that’s actually productive. It could be working out, like I said, or it could be something else you’ve always wanted to do.
Once I got my schedule down and streamlined the efficiency of my workday over the course of a few years, I found I had such free time. I sat down and decided I’d do something I always wanted, write a book. Using the freedom working at home provides, I use my early-ending workdays to write, and I’ve managed to publish two books in the last two years, and I’m working on a third. People with more traditional jobs may not be able to find the time, but you, working from home, will likely be able to streamline your own schedule so that you have time to take on another challenge. While it was book writing for me, it could be starting your own business for you. It could be learning an instrument, figuring out how to code, or any other number of things that can help bolster your personal or professional life. Use the freedom of working at home to your benefit, and don’t waste the opportunities it provides.
The “fight” or “flight” response is hard wired in our brains.
Today, few things are a matter of life and death, but our fight or flight response is still triggered in many situations. One of these can happen when we are receiving criticism. The response can very according to who is giving the criticism and how much power we perceive that person having over us. The more power we see the person having, the more likely we will feel a flight response. Yhe more we feel that the criticism is unjustified or unfair, the stronger the fight response.
Whatever the situation, the fight or flight response does not serve us well when we are criticized. Whether we feel we deserve the criticism or not, there are techniques that we can help us make the most of a situation.
Chances are we have, or will, receive negative feedback at work at some point in our lives. Like other situation, you can prepare yourself. Think of a time in the past when you received some unwanted feedback about your performance. How did you feel, and react? If you had a chance to do it over again, would you handle the situation differently?
Replay the scenario in your mind in a way that would result in the outcome you wanted. If it helps, role-play with a trusted friend or colleague. Come up with some responses that would help keep you on track that you can call up in future situations. Come up with a word, sound, phrase, or song that will remind you of the ideal situation that you had envisioned and repeat it whenever the situation comes up again.
We feel before we think. To our old reactive brain, criticism will feel like we are being attacked. This may bring out powerful emotions that can temporarily cause us to react before our thinking brain kicks in. The good news is that these strong emotions will quickly subside as our rational brains take over.
If you feel these strong emotions coming up the first thing to do is give yourself time before you react. Take a couple of deep breaths, count to ten, or do whatever you can to distract yourself. If the emotions are still highly volatile ask for a time out and tell the person you will get back to them once you’ve had a chance to collect your thoughts.Give yourself a chance to respond, rather than react. Rather than reacting in an emotional state, responding gives us a chance to use our thinking powers and increases the chances of getting the outcome that we want.
A great way to start your response is to repeat back, in your own words what the other person said or what you heard them say. Most likely the person is expecting some push back from you, perhaps anger or denial and has prepared him or herself for this.By simply giving them back what you thought they said, you will diffuse their defensiveness and make them more open to your feedback.
Momentarily relieved that you are not responding in the way that they were afraid you would, the person is likely to relax a little and be more open to your feedback. When you give feedback you are not taking blame, or apologizing, you are simply making sure that you understand what the person is saying.
When we feel like we are being attacked, our natural inclination is to fight back, tell our side of the story and defend ourselves. However, if we can overcome this urge and simply listen, we have mastered a powerful tool that will help us make the most of the situation. Listening will allow the other party to feel less defensive and more open, willing to share information that they would otherwise withhold. It also makes them more open to hearing your side of the story.
Even though you may disagree with the feedback you are receiving you can still make it a win/win situation for both of you. You can acknowledge that the person who is confronting you may feel that way, even though you disagree. This moves the scenario away from someone having to be proven right or wrong.
By agreeing that you have differing viewpoints it moves the conversation to a place where real progress is possible. If you agree with the other person, you acknowledge their information and even thank them for bringing it to your attention. Let them know how their sharing this with you will help you in the future. If you don’t agree, suggest other ways you think would work better or ask for help if you feel you need it.
Habit 1: Be Proactive. People are responsible for their own choices and have the freedom to choose based on principles and values rather than on moods or conditions. They are able to develop and use their four unique human gifts–self-awareness, conscience, imagination and independent will–and take an inside-out approach to creating change. They choose not to be victims, to be reactive or to blame others.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. Highly effective people shape their own future by creating a mental vision and purpose for their life, their week or day and for any project, large or small. They don’t just live day to day without a clear purpose in mind.
Habit 3: Put First Things First. Highly effective people live and make decisions with a clear sense of what is most important. They organize and execute around their most important priorities as may be expressed in their personal, family and organizational mission statements. They are driven primarily by purpose, not by the agendas and forces surrounding them.
Habit 4: Think Win-Win. Highly effective people think in terms of mutual benefit. They foster support and mutual respect. They think interdependently–“we,” not “me”–and develop win-win agreements. They don’t think selfishly (win-lose) or like a martyr (lose-win).
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. Seek first to listen with the intent to understand the thoughts and feelings of others, then seek to effectively communicate your own thoughts and feelings. Through understanding, highly effective people build deep relationships of trust and love. They give helpful feedback. They don’t withhold feedback, nor do they seek first to be understood.
Habit 6: Synergize. Highly effective people focus on their strengths and celebrate and thrive on the strengths of others so that by respecting and valuing others’ differences, the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. They develop with others third-alternative solutions to problems that are better than what any one person would on their own. They don’t go for compromise (1 + 1 = 11/2) or merely cooperation (1 + 1 = 2) but creative cooperation (1 + 1 = 3 or more).
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw. Highly effective people increase their effectiveness by renewing themselves regularly in the four areas of life: body (physical), mind (mental), heart (social/emotional), and spirit (spiritual–service, meaning and contribution).
Stephen Covey said, “As you commence reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I promise you an exciting learning adventure. Share with your loved ones and those with whom you work what you are learning. And, most important, start applying what you are learning. Remember, to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.”
About the author
Recognized as one of TIME magazine’s twenty-five most influential Americans, Stephen Covey was an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant and author. His books have sold more than 25 million copies in 40 languages and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century. After receiving an MBA from Harvard and a doctorate degree from Brigham Young University, he became the cofounder and vice chairman of Franklin Covey Co., a global performance improvement company. Stephen Covey passed away on July 16, 2012. His legacy to the world is Principle-Centered Leadership and his many contributions will live on through the principles he loved, taught and espoused.
By Matt Collins – 22 / 01 /14
Add personal touches.
If your workspace stresses you out, it might help to add personal items to your desk, cubicle or office that have some special meaning to you, Burton Ways says. “These could be photographs, inspiring artwork, books, a special lamp or a decorative accessory in your favorite color.”
Keep your workspace clean and organized.
“A supervisor of mine from several years ago recently sent me a photo of me in my cubicle,” Foss says. “I was horrified by how messy and disorganized it looked. And I recall vividly how challenged I was by the mess. Mess equals stress.
“For many people, it’s difficult to focus when their desk is filled with papers, phone messages, business cards, magazines and newsletters, especially when the layers are inches high, Kousek says. “It’s the same with e-mail inboxes with thousands of messages. There’s always that thought, What’s buried in there that will come back to haunt me? What have I forgotten to do?”
Burton Ways suggests you get an organization system in place for your office. “A complete filing system and storage space can help you to organize your office in such a way where everything is in place and in reach for work.”
Learn to handle or ignore interruptions.
Maybe you have a colleague who constantly stops by your desk to chat. Or you sit near the noisy elevator. Or your office has large windows. If you make an effort to learn how to properly handle these interruptions or ignore distractions in the workplace, you could significantly decrease your level of stress, Kousek says.
Adapt to changes.
Does change make you anxious? If your workplace sees a lot of turnover, physical changes (office layout), or new software or technology (printers, computers, etc.), you’ll have to learn to adapt quickly.
Add plants to your desk, office or cubicle.
“Integrating plants in the work environment not only beautifies the environment but has been proven to reduce absenteeism, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase positive feelings, lower noise levels, decrease room temperature and lower humidity,” says Burton Ways.
Be a good communicator.
Poor communication often causes confusion (and therefore, stress) in the office. If those around you aren’t communicating well, ask questions, make suggestions and do whatever else you can to improve the situation.
If you’re stressed out by a co-worker who talks on the phone too loudly or a boss who’s always looking over your shoulder, figure out a way to effectively communicate your frustration or concerns. If they know their actions are causing you stress, they might be willing to make changes.
Incorporate relaxation exercises into your work day.
If you’re allowed and it doesn’t distract anyone around you, play soft music, stretch occasionally or go for a walk. You won’t be able to get rid of everything that contributes to your stress in the workplace—but youcan implement relaxation exercises when you’re feeling tense.
Change the layout of your office.
“Using the ancient Chinese art of placement, place your desk area in the command position so that you can see all who enter,” says Burton Ways. “If you cannot do that and you are in a cubicle position, place a small mirror where you can see the entrance to your space behind you. If you perform a number of tasks, an L-shaped desk or table works best, as well as swivel chair.”
You might not realize that things like lighting, colors and décor are causing you stress—but it’s very possible. Try changing the wall color in your office, if possible. “Neutral tones tend to be calming,” says Burton Ways. “Yellows promote intellectual activity while blues and greens are more restful. Earth tone colors encourage warmth.”
Kill the fluorescent lighting in favor of softer, more ambient lighting, Foss adds. And invest in a decent chair, an ergonomically correct desk, and glare screens. “Protect your best asset, which is you, while you work.”
By Matt Collins – 21 Jan 2014
The movie Office Space is a cult classic because so many workers can sympathize with these demotivators. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Can you say that you truly love your job? Not very likely, according to the research. Among other things, recent studies reveal that 48% of employees worldwide don’t even like their jobs, more than 80% of UK workers feel stressed at the office, and only 30% feel “engaged and inspired” by their careers. Especially troubling for leaders and business owners, 18% are actively disengaged – that is, present at work but hating every minute of it.
The facts are sobering and expensive. Beyond the frustration of having checked-out paper pushers or haters in our organizations, this lack of satisfaction and motivation costs us billions in lost productivity.
But what actually causes the disengagement? If you’re trying to understand your own job dissatisfaction, or root out a morale problem at your company, consider these common reasons people hate their jobs.
Micromanagers may have good intentions – trying to get work done well – but they drive us crazy. Micromanagement saps the life out of us, causing apathy at work.
In an eye-opening article on the dangers of micromanagement, HBR blog contributor Christina Bielaszka-DuVernay writes, “because a consistent pattern of micromanagement tells an employee you don’t trust his work or his judgment, it is a major factor in triggering disengagement.”
Those disengaged employees might stay at their company and muddle through, or decide to leave for more autonomy. Recruiter.com’s Shala Marks warns, “people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.”
2. Lack of progress
As it turns out, money for nothing doesn’t feel so great. While it might seem that we work for our salary, studies like this one show we want to feel that our work matters.
When a company can’t get its act together, or when any change or new idea a worker tries to implement has to go through endless layers of red tape, employees lose any motivation or passion that they might have had. People like enough process to be effective, but not to create busy work.
Organizations should also be mindful of unnecessary rules that don’t actually benefit the company. (i.e. restrictive office hours, Internet usage, or vacation policies) When they start to feel controlling rather than efficient, employees bristle.
3. Job insecurity
When we’re on a sinking ship, we start preparing for the jump. Employees who work for unstable companies or in jobs deemed expendable will only invest enough to keep getting their paycheck while they look elsewhere. The rest of their energy will be spent sharing rumors with co-workers, updating their resumes and planning their next move.
As a leader, it’s extremely difficult to keep your best talent in place during uncertain times. The best you can do is to communicate frequently, and give your team a sense of loyalty and trust. You can’t make people stay, but you can encourage transparency on both sides so you’re not surprised.
4. No confidence in company leadership
We don’t have to love our leaders to be happy, but we can’t believe they’re incompetent. Once we lose faith in where our company is heading, then our loyalties fray and we cease to wholeheartedly follow. We can even get subversive.
Fellow Forbes contributor George Anders cites a recent study that confirms the importance of excellent workplace leadership, saying, “bosses who inspire confidence, who show faith in their employees, and who communicate an inspiring vision…are rewarded with a workforce that is ready to get things done.”
5. Lack of recourse for poor performance
When we go to work, we like to be rewarded and recognized for our contributions. If this isn’t happening, or worse, people doing mediocre work are getting the same treatment as strong performers, it’s natural to just turn off and do your job on autopilot. Companies that don’t deal with performance issues bring down the average for everyone.
6. Poor communication
A seasoned journalist I worked with years ago said this about workplace dynamics: “Never attribute to conspiracy what incompetence can explain.” In the absence of information, rumors thrive. Employees end up guessing, confused, and frustrated. If there’s not an avenue to communicate back to leadership for clarification, it gets even worse. Having to spend large amounts of time getting the information we need to do our jobs is exhausting.
Not only does clear communications throughout the organization make for an efficient workplace, as this article points out, it has a major impact on employee morale and confidence.
7. Unpleasant coworkers
In my 20s, I had a job that didn’t pay much nor provide exciting work, but I loved going to work every day because of my co-workers. We were a tight-knit team that worked together all day then went to happy hour after work. The importance of working with people we like can’t be overstated. Friendships make up for a lot of ills, and the reverse is also true. A well-paying, career-enhancing job with a group of back-stabbers is a recipe for stress and misery.
As Gallup research has shown for years, and professor Christine M. Riordanreports, “close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.”
You don’t have to have best friends at work, but you do need to be able to relax around your colleagues and enjoy their company.
Gen Y workers are known for seeking jobs that are personally satisfying and inspiring to them, but they’re not alone. As this statistics-packed Huffington Post article reveals, 55% of Gen X and Gen Y workers believe that finding a job that’s personally fulfilling is worth sacrifices in salary. A recent LinkedIn pollalso shows this increasing desire for fulfillment among various age groups and geographies. The research found that those over 65 were the most excited about their work, showing that we all want to be inspired no matter where we are in our careers.
By Dan Rockwell author of “The Leadership Freak”
Passion to change things – to make a difference – eats away at you. Show me a leader who’s always content and I’ll show you a lousy leader.
Finding happiness as a leader means learning to navigate tensions between:
- Dissatisfaction and satisfaction.
- Discontentment and contentment.
- Unhappiness and happiness.
Early in my career dissatisfaction and discontent dominated my personal landscape. I was constantly unhappy with progress, my performance, and the path we were on.
Finding your leadership happiness:
First, Kouzes and Posner said a mouthful when they said, “Leaders inspire shared vision.” Leadership happiness depends on “shared” vision. Without that, you’re sad and alone. The more people who share the vision the happier leaders become.
Second, know their way works too. People seldom do things the way you would. They’re too slow, too fast, too cautious, too detailed. The real question is, will their way get you there?
Leaders who engage others release rather than control.
Third, know your performance is about improving theirs. I thought too little about the performance of others when I was younger. Leadership happiness is found when others step up and step in. Spend your time improving the team.
Helping others find happiness:
Call for commit to projects, mission, and vision. Bystanders and fence-sitters grow unhappy and uncomfortable. Align their values with organizational values and invite them to go all in.
Those who aren’t committed find fault; those who are find a way.Think about relationships that fall apart. Once commitment fails, relationships go dark.
You have a bias to validate your decisions. Once someone commits to something, they naturally find ways to validate the wisdom of their decision. Commitment helps organizational followers find happiness in their organization.