Workplace Suggestions to Live By

In my (cough) thirty years in the workforce, there seems to be a difference in how coworkers interact with each other, bosses guide their employees, and the communication with internal and external 'customers' has changed, there are some common guidelines that seem to have fallen into disuse. Today, I'm going to address some of them.

As I really enjoy with this type of post, please feel free to contribute in the comments. Comments are lovely gifts any time received, but the sharing of insights is especially good on these types of musings.

Okay, so in no particular order, here is my incomplete and random list of things that make the work experience much better.

1. Exchange pleasantries.

When you come into the workplace, say hello to your coworkers. If you're a grump until you get to the coffee pot, try to smile, grunt or otherwise acknowledge the people you spend 20, 40 (or more) hours per week with. Along the same lines, maybe let your peers know if you're leaving for a meeting, for lunch, end of the day. Say goodbye or good night, whichever is appropriate.

It generates good feelings for your peers when you do, and gives a good impression of you. If you're the boss, it is especially important to spend that minute greeting the rank and file to let them know you value them.

2. Have regular team/store/department meetings.

In retail, most of my employers scheduled weekly management meetings and quarterly store meetings. At the school I taught at, we had two weekly meetings that included everyone and a team meeting that was just my peer group. Most offices, I've had weekly or at the very least, monthly meetings.

They don't have to be elaborate affairs. Just a way for the group to know what's on tap, what's been done and to share best practices. Even if it's a ten minute affair to hear what each person has on their desk, it goes a long way towards employee morale.

3. Praise in public, criticize in private.

If you want to tell a coworker something good about their work, make sure others know it. It's a good ego boost. On the other hand, if something isn't up to snuff, take that person in private, because it is embarrassing to have others hear about those failings-for EVERYONE in earshot.

4. If you have something difficult to say, please say it tactfully and as diplomatically to the person as is possible.

If you can't do that, either involve a higher up or don't say it. I had a colleague years ago really press me on why she wasn't getting promoted. (I was her boss.) It was an opening to a conversation about what skills she brought to the table and whether they matched the needs for the job.

5. Respect isn't freely given, it is earned.

Treat others the way you'd want them to treat you. The janitor is there to perform a needed role and your office would smell if he/she wasn't there to empty the trash and clean your toilets. That person deserves just as much kindness as the CEO, maybe even more because he cleans your crap!

6. Don't lie.

If you tell a person that you're letting them go for one thing, then the others in the office are told another story, it DOES get back to them.

If you have a pattern of doing this, others DO notice it, and while they may not be saying something to you about it, they are taking note of it and avoiding interactions with you unless absolutely necessary.

7. Put Yourself in the Other Person's Shoes.

Live with integrity. If you don't know that that means, find out. Know it and live it.

8. Don't talk smack.

If you wouldn't say it in a crowded room, or put it in writing, don't say it to anyone else. It undermines and creates a toxic work environment. And if that's what you contribute to an environment, don't be surprised if the people you are talking smack to aren't talking smack about YOU.

9. Don't Burn Bridges

I had a very difficult relationship with a boss that ultimately leaving an employer I loved. I left with my head held high (after pointing something out to LP that ultimately found a thief in our midst.) Once I was gone, it slowly became obvious how much grunt work I did without saying a word, because it needed to be done. We became friends a few years later and there is a good back and forth about workplace dynamics.

I don't know much about her POV, but I do value her opinions and it feels pretty good when she seeks out my opinion.

There are many more things that I could say, but that's my start. To paraphrase Wil Wheaton, 'Don't be a jerk.' It goes a long way for making a decent work environment when you live with that mindset.

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