10 Tips for Surviving the Office
Good to Great Silence Is Golden Like a Book Train in VainThe DepartedA Workplace Whodunit 8 Work-From-Home Rules The Three-Corner Office Fine Whines Isn’t it Romantic?
Great bosses get the small picture. They take account of each employee’s perspective and make them feel smart by listening carefully and finding the tiniest germ of potential. A great boss knows when they're not wanted and when to give their employees space. They also know who does what and remember who wants to do what. In return, employees remember them.
Speaking is not mandatory. Employees fear that if they say nothing, everyone will assume they have nothing to say. So, desperate to contribute, they search their mental pockets for two cents to put in. After all, there are no stupid questions (only stupid rules about there being no stupid questions). So, at your next staff meeting, try saying this: Shhh. Let them know that silence doesn't equal the death of a career.
Chances are, your staff can read you better than you read yourself. Every inflection and eyelash bat becomes fodder for interpretation. So conduct a personal inventory--maybe ask your second in command--to see whether you have habits or coping mechanisms that reveal more than you mean to. It's a fine thing to have employees who are smarter than you are. But you still want to know you can beat them at cards.
When training doesn't take, it wastes time--both during the sessions themselves and later, as workers at their desks pore in frustration over thick, impenetrable manuals. Two alternatives: 1. Create kindergarten-basic directions for each process, or 2. Create a process sherpa position, someone who would walk employees through the processes, repeatedly if necessary. Another alternative, of course, is to avoid hiring problem employees...
Make employees' resignations as hard for them as they are for you. How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a resigning employee. There's usually a twinge of regret when someone resigns and the thought that maybe you can do better. When it's a valued employee leaving, resentment naturally mixes with regret. Company leaders want to be bigger and better things, not mere stepping-stones for them.
Pretend your office is the setting of a murder mystery. Now consider your employees. Which among them would you cast as detectives? Which murderers? And which murder victims? Very little disagreement over how employees within a single business classify their colleagues. There's no mystery to the lessons of this game. Use your murderers. Lose your victims.
You can work from home and thrive away from the mother ship if you abide by these 8 simple rules. Language is important. Dress for work even when you don’t have to. Talk to someone from the office at least once a day. Establish some useful, non-fun things to do during work breaks that don’t induce guilt. Explain to your children that when the door is closed they should not disturb. Schedule yourself based on how the world requires you to work. Decide on a phone system so you know whether to answer professionally or personally. And above all else stay caffeinated.
Discourage employees from interrupting conversations, even for "a quick question," and set the example with your own behavior. Thinking about popping into an office where two of your staff members are talking? Stop first and recall the advice of Dionne Warwick. Then walk on by. Walk on by.
Encouraging your employees to voice their complaints--and doing something about them--might effectively boost your company's morale. If employees are too uncomfortable to complain individually and too disorganized for a group gripe, the best bet may be office intelligence. Hire managers emotionally intelligent enough to recognize slumping morale and honest and discreet enough to win employees' trust. The CEO calls a meeting, apologizes if appropriate, and explains how she will fix the problem. Do that consistently and your unhappy employees will become lifelong fans.
Love blooms in the office like flowers in the cracks of an urban parking lot: unexpected, beautiful, and probably doomed. Everyone reacts predictably. It is distracting, and not just for those in eros' thrall. Breakups leave relations strained between the parties. No matter how convivial a company's culture, no matter how considerate and generous the management, it is still at the end of the day a producer of goods, a maker of money. Out of caution and tact, most bosses distance themselves from the day-to-day progression of such courtships, which is a wise decision.