Sometimes at the office, you may find yourself wishing things lived up better to the idea of adults acting professionally, and think, "I wish this didn't feel a lot like high school."

Here are seven ways in which your workplace may feel like high school, and how to combat the trend:

1. The daily grind.

The day in, day out feeling of high school can be played out in running a business, showing up at work, leading a team. If you find yourself doing the same thing in the same way every day, it's time to bring some new innovation, creativity, and vision into the picture.

2. Cliques and exclusion.

Maybe in your workplace there are cliques getting in the way of communication and inclusiveness. Maybe what's missing is leadership and interconnectedness. Break the mold, and find new ways to work with others outside your usual sphere.

3. Climbing the social ladder.

If it feels that whom you know is more important than what you do, remember that this isn't adolescent social life. Form alliances with people (in and outside the workplace) because you admire them or because they can help you, support you, and guide you, not because it gives their stature.

4. Drama club.

Few experiences compare in intensity to the storms of the high school years. But there's no place at work for the drama of that era. Cultivate a mature attitude, and keep the workplace even-keeled. If something isn't working, have a conversation about it, look to resolve it, look to make amends.

5. Rampant gossip.

People love to talk about people. That's timeless, but what made gossip fun in high school can get you into trouble at work--and create an environment that's toxic for everyone. Make the workplace a place to say nice things to and about others, and keep gossip out of the conversation.

6. Authority rules.

Just as high school had teachers and principals, work has managers and bosses. But the interactions should be different, less top-down. Ideally, you can think of it as a partnership with respect, based on a shared vision and common goals.

7. Competition forever.

Like the competitive closeness of sports teams, competition in the workplace brings groups together in shared hard work. It's a huge force in productivity and progress, so it's definitely work holding on to the spirit of collective competitiveness. Pompoms are optional.

These little echoes of high school may bring up some not-so-great memories. But let them instead remind you to do everything you can to create a space where grownups can bring their best and bring out the best in one another.

Published on: Apr 6, 2015
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