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Happywork TV Episode 25: Leave Politics and Religion Out of the Workplace

 
In Episode 25 of Happywork TV, I present the next commitment in my work code of conduct called “The Happywork Agreement.”

This one is made jointly by employers and employees. It goes like this: “We commit to not get caught up in each other’s politics and religion. It has nothing to do with work (unless we work for a political campaign, a politician, or a religious organization). As individuals, we may have strong convictions, but work is not the place to be politically or religiously expressive. We are going to leave this stuff out of the office environment. And besides, people who cannot see past their own political and religious biases are like robots, and poorly programmed ones at that.”

Much of my work with the book Happywork and the work code of conduct I call The Happywork Agreement dealt with human conflict. Why don’t we like our jobs? One big reason is the people! But why don’t we like those people? One reason is they’re different than us, and they sometimes make it a point to ensure that we know that. Quite simply, a Muslim might not be welcome among Catholics.

The workplace is a funny thing – yes, we do choose our places of work. We’re not conscripted into our jobs. However, for the most part, we don’t get to choose WHO we work with. They’re already there, and we often have no idea who those people are. Besides an extra interview or two, or maybe a whirlwind stroll around the office, you’ve never met your coworkers until day one.

Where does that leave you? Basically, you’ve landed the job (maybe of your dreams), and you’ve thrust yourself into a group of strangers who are not like you. It’s a combustible mix of races, ages, talent and ambition levels, religions, and political beliefs. And I think history has shown that such differences often cause humans to come to blows.

I’ve heard that conflict is good, and necessary. I think the expert who said this meant healthy conflict surrounding the direction of the company. I don’t think she meant, for instance, Republican owners intimidating their employees to vote Republican (yes, this has happened). I don’t think it meant ostracizing the one employee who’s religion is different than yours because he was born far, far away. These seemingly small differences aren’t small at all – they tear nations apart.

All we’re trying to do at work is 1. Do our job, 2. Provide for our families, and 3. Achieve great things. The historically divisive topics of politics and religion have nothing to do with our work, and must be left out of the workplace.

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Watch Episode 24 here!

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IMPORTANT STUFF!

Download chapters 1-3 of my book for free!

Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

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Happywork TV Episode 24: Don’t Interrupt People Who Are Trying to Concentrate

 
In Episode 24 of Happywork TV, I present the next commitment in my work code of conduct called “The Happywork Agreement.”

This one is made jointly by employers and employees. It goes like this: “When a fellow employee must work in complete concentration, I will try to give that employee a chance to work uninterrupted. What can wait … will wait.”

As I say in the video, in a list of 46 commitments, some are going to be stellar, and some will be just so-so. Reflecting upon The Happywork Agreement, thinking of everything I cut out of it and what I decided to leave in there, it is possible this is one of the weaker ideas. (Although I’d love for you to vigorously disagree with me!).

Getting interrupted at work is not the cardinal work sin that’s tearing workplaces apart. However, let’s admit: it’s just bloody annoying!

I think we become disengaged at work, even grossly unhappy at work, because of big hairy problems, MIXED IN with small little daily crap that accumulates and gets on our nerves. So yes, let’s eliminate the human indecency at work: the abuse, the mind games, the discrimination – the BIG stuff. But hey, let’s take a crack at the little stuff, too. I think that’s where my head was when I put this in The Happywork Agreement.

Google famously allowed its employees to take 20% of their time for personal programming pursuits – I’d call that “thinking time.” It’s the exploration of your biggest ideas, without the pressure to perform. What a wonderful way to learn. At most jobs I’ve worked, I have not found a healthy respect for thinking time. In fact, at most companies, work flow and human communication are both rather dysfunctional. “Getting things done” a mixture of email, voicemail, text messages, memos, hallway conversations, and meetings that go on for twice as long as they needed to. All of this represents interruptions to our “flow” – the ability for us to put our heads down and crank out something beautiful.

Every time you’re interrupted, it takes you anywhere between 5-20 minutes to get back to what you were doing. In an 8-10 hour day, being interrupted 5 times steals a huge chunk out of your day (and 5 is being generous). You’d be more pleased with yourself if you were getting your work done. However, you were meeting with Sally, when all of a sudden, Larry poked his head in your office and started talking … while you and Sally were talking. Rude. Where were we again? In cases like this, I actually appreciate text messages and email for what they are – non-interruption-based communication.

If you see a comrade at the office, and they appear to be working hard, in deep concentration, ask yourself if your needs could be communicated to them in an email.

What do you think?

p.s. Here’s a link to the blog post I referenced in the video.

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Watch Episode 23 here!

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IMPORTANT STUFF!

Download chapters 1-3 of my book for free!

Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

Please SUBSCRIBE to my email newsletter! Pretty please – you’ll get these blog posts delivered to you automatically. Merci!

And subscribe on YouTube!

Happywork TV Episode 23: Don’t Be a Chief Problem Identification Officer

In Episode 23 of Happywork TV, I present the next commitment in my work code of conduct called “The Happywork Agreement.”

This one is made jointly by employers and employees. It goes like this: “We won’t publicly present a problem without offering at least one viable solution. Chief Problem Identification Officer is not a staffed role at this organization.”

Here’s a question for you: “Who’s good at identifying problems?” The answer is EVERYBODY! That makes problem identification not so special. Every job applicant in the world could take that job and rock it. Children are experts at identifying problems, which should tell you what you need to know about problem identification’s value to an organization. When my kids tell me, “I’m HUNGRY!” I just politely thank them for letting me know, and I wait for a solution-based request. I’m not trying to be a jerk dad, although I’m sure that’s how I come across. I want to them to think critically starting NOW – I want them to think about solving problems, and not just pointing them out.

Nothing is gained by people sitting around a conference room table bitching about all the problems an organization has. Besides, when everyone is complaining, everyone is also being negative, and negativity accumulates like plaque on teeth. It’s an ugly, insidious force, and it will drag you down!

You start making the big bucks when you can solve problems. You might not even need to identify a single problem in your career. That’s so easy to do, you could leave it to others. Find and implement solutions to those problems, and you’re the leader we need.

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Watch Episode 22 here!

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IMPORTANT!

Download chapters 1-3 of my book for free!

Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

Please SUBSCRIBE to my email newsletter! Pretty please – you’ll get these blog posts delivered to you automatically. Merci!

And subscribe on YouTube!

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I hope you’ll join my effort to change the workplace forever.┬áThank you kindly for your interest.


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Happywork TV Episode 22: Praise Publicly, Criticize Privately

In Episode 22 of Happywork TV, I present the next commitment in my work code of conduct called “The Happywork Agreement.”

This one is made jointly by employers and employees. It goes like this: “Praise will be public; complaining and criticism (whether constructive or not) will be private.”

This goes back to the simple notion that negativity, all things being equal, can be way more powerful than positivity. Ten compliments and one snarky jab, and which of the 11 interactions do you remember? You know the answer.

You can increase the power of negativity by heaping it on people while in the presence of others. If you tear someone a new YNW, and you do it in front of the whole company, yes that is WAY worse for that poor soul. Criticism should remain as private as possible. If you have a problem with me, come talk to me about it. We can discuss it in private.

What about praise? Some people don’t like to be praised publicly – so embarrassing. In my experience, even the people who claim to not like public praise really do like it. Everyone loves praise. Repeat: everyone loves praise. Some people are just a little more shy than others.

Praising publicly is a powerful motivational tool, and it’s part and parcel of just being a nice human being. On the flip side, criticism (even completely justified criticism) falls into the negativity family, and that needs to be handled more delicately.

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Watch Episode 21 here!

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IMPORTANT!

Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

Please SUBSCRIBE to my email newsletter! Pretty please – you’ll get these blog posts delivered to you automatically. Merci!

And subscribe on YouTube!

Happywork TV Episode 21: Employees Should Challenge Each Other to Be Their Very Best

In Episode 21 of Happywork TV, I present the next commitment in my work code of conduct called “The Happywork Agreement.”

This one is made jointly by employers and employees. It goes like this: “As employees, we will challenge each other to be our very best. Doing great work gives human beings the sense of significance they need and desire.”

In my work travels, I have found myself working with a melange of differently-talented people. Companies are full of superstars and clock watchers. Happy people and acerbic people. Glass-is-half-full people and glass-is-half-empty people (and some glass-is-totally-empty people, too). We all have different family lives, different goals, different backgrounds, and different motivations. We’re all REALLY different (one of the main points of my book).

Here’s an idea: it is US – the employees of an organization, from top to bottom – who should set the standard to live by. All of us – NOT just management. I will work hard, because I don’t want to let you, my coworker, down. It’s just how we live at Vunorri Inc. (the name of my fictitious company). We’re in this together. How does that sound to you? To me, it sounds like a powerful mindset. In most cases, losers (for lack of a better term) would self-select out of such a work environment. And winners would stay. We’d cooperate with each other more often, reaching company goals that much more quickly.

Instead of being forced by big bad management to perform at 150% capacity by using draconian management tactics, wouldn’t it be great if everyone came to work with a strong sense of purpose? Maybe expecting 100% attendance on this is far fetched, but there is nothing wrong with working toward perfection. It’s the journey toward greatness and the processes put in place during that journey, the camaraderie developed during the long haul, that really shape us and the companies we work at, and provide us a chance to feel fulfilled and happy.

What standard will you set for yourself? What standard will your organization set for itself?

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Watch Episode 20 here!

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IMPORTANT!

Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

Please SUBSCRIBE to my email newsletter! Pretty please – you’ll get these blog posts delivered to you automatically. Merci!

And subscribe on YouTube!

Happywork TV Episode 20: Do Not Be Jealous Of or Compete With Coworkers

In Episode 20 of Happywork TV, I present the next commitment in my work code of conduct called “The Happywork Agreement.”

This one is made by employees to their managers/employers. It goes like this: “There is no need for me to be jealous of or compete with fellow employees. A work culture with employees helping each other benefits everyone. I will work in concert with my coworkers. I will compete only with yesterday’s self. My barometer is yesterday; I must be better today than I was the day before.”

I am not trying to scare away the conservatives in the room by bashing competition. Of course competition can be a wonderful thing. Target makes Wal-Mart work harder. Wal-Mart makes everyone work harder. Competing with other companies is awesome. You might compete so hard with an industry competitor that you wish harm on them; it would be great if you gained market share and they lost market share. You might even want to force them out of business! I can’t tell you to feel otherwise.

But what about employees within an organization? Yes, there might be two qualified employees and only one promotion available. Is that a competitive situation? I guess so. Should these two employees be competing so hard with each other that they’re undermining the other, not cooperating with them, and praying for their demise? No. In my book, that is not healthy for that company, or the human race.

It’s hard to suppress feelings of jealousy when a coworkers gets praise and you don’t. It’s difficult (and ill-advised) to not work your ass off for that promotion you want. Go ahead – work hard! I am asking you to work with all your heart, and to cooperate with your coworkers. Company success should be your number one priority.

Besides, jealousy is such an ugly emotion.

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Watch Episode 19 here!

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IMPORTANT!

Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

Please SUBSCRIBE to my email newsletter! Pretty please – you’ll get these blog posts delivered to you automatically. Merci!

And subscribe on YouTube!

Happywork TV Episode 19: Give Two Weeks Notice, But Don’t Quit!

In Episode 19 of Happywork TV, I present the next commitment in my work code of conduct called “The Happywork Agreement.”

This one is made by employees to their employers. It goes like this: “If I quit and give two weeks notice, I won’t quit on my employer. Keep in mind that I’m leaving for a reason, and may be eagerly anticipating my last day. So it’s possible my effort won’t be 100%. But I will try.”

I like this part of The Happywork Agreement because it doesn’t suck up to one side or the other with the simple answer. An employee will typically say, “F it, I quit, why should I care how my final two weeks go?” A hard-nosed, traditional-sounding employer might say, “Hey, if I’m paying you, put your nose down in it and do your job. Oh, and those projects you had committed to finish? Are they gonna get done?” And so on.

Notice there how BOTH SIDES ARE BEING UNREASONABLE. And that’s one of the main reasons human beings disagree and bicker and fight and argue!

Any demanding employer in the employee’s shoes – truly in their shoes, quitting a job – would act in much the same way as the employee. In fact, when they quit their VP and EVP jobs, they’re not always giving 100%. Sometimes they’re leaving without two weeks notice, and they’re taking company secrets with them. But knowing this (or maybe conveniently ignoring it), they still can’t forgive their employees for quitting. They take it personally, like it’s a girlfriend breaking up with them, and they hate how you can’t give 150% effort up until the last day. On the other side, how many times have you heard this from an employee who’s submitted her two weeks notice: “What are they gonna do? Fire me?” Ha! How lazy can you possibly be! Your employer doesn’t deserve your half-ass, slovenly effort. Get in there and show them how you carry yourself as a human being. Try!

The gulf between employer and employee frustrated me so much that I wrote a book about it! And this episode was about one of those intractable differences that keep human beings at odds. I hope we can change that.

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Watch Episode 18 here!

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IMPORTANT!

Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

Please SUBSCRIBE to my email newsletter! Pretty please – you’ll get these blog posts delivered to you automatically. Merci!

And subscribe on YouTube!

Your Words Matter

Brian Urlacher

One morning, I was watching Mike & Mike on ESPN 2, and they had former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher on set. He retired a few years ago, and his exit from the Bears was a bit messy. Urlacher and the Bears couldn’t agree on a new contract, but to hear him talk about it now, he was ready to take less money.

However, he didn’t like the Bears’ approach. Paraphrasing, Urlacher said the Bears presented their offer as:

“This is what we can pay you. Take it or leave it.”

But Urlacher would have rather heard something to the effect of:

“This is what we can pay you. We need you. Come back.”

Note that it would have been the same dollar amount, no matter what language Bears management used – strong-arm language, or more persuasive language designed to appeal to Urlacher’s heart. Perhaps the Bears didn’t really want him back, and that’s why they chose the former. But are we to understand that Urlacher would have taken the low-ball contract offer if the Bears had just been nicer? Yup.

Some will say, “Bro, it was the same amount of money! Who cares? Take it!” Nope, that’s not how human interactions really work.

When faced with a challenge, the most important question you can ask yourself is not, “How am I gonna do this?” Rather, it’s “What am I trying to accomplish?” Once you frame your challenge in that manner, you’re ready to answer the “how” question. In this case, if the Bears didn’t want Urlacher back, they won. If they were ready for him to take the offer and would have welcomed him back with open arms, they screwed up.

Your words matter.

Happywork TV Episode 18: “That’s The Way It’s Always Been Done” is a Clown Answer!

In Episode 18 of Happywork TV, I present the next commitment in my work code of conduct called “The Happywork Agreement.”

This one is made by employees to their employers. It goes like this: “I will never answer a question with ‘Because that’s the way it’s always been done.’ That is a lazy, clown answer.”

This one takes me back to my auditing days. I spent over 15 years as a CPA, and started out in the auditing department of a public accounting firm. As such, I was sent to our clients on annual audits, and auditors have lots of questions. It’s our job. It’s not just about verifying the numbers, but understanding how the business works. The auditor wants to add value to a client’s business processes. For those of you who don’t know, being this kind of auditor is NOT like being an IRS auditor (with the fangs and the garnishments and the jail time), even though our clients sometimes viewed us that way.

So I’d roll into a client and ask lots of questions. I thoroughly disliked asking a question like, “Can you explain the reasoning behind XYZ procedure” or whatever, and getting an answer, “Because that’s the way it’s always been done.” Sorry, my stale friend, you’re going to have to try harder!

Do you know what that answer means? Those employees have never questioned WHY they do what they do, have probably never tried to improve things around the office, OR (and this is a huge OR) management has set the tone and you’re not to rock the boat. (sneak preview – my book has both such problems).

“Because that’s the way it’s always been done” is not the proper answer to ANY QUESTION ever asked. But, it’s almost certainly an explanation of why things are so sucky around the office. And every time someone cops this attitude, it sucks a little life out of everyone who heard it.

Here’s an idea – if a coworker (or outside consultant) asks you why something is done a certain way, and you really don’t have a good answer, you can say, “You know, to my fault, I’ve honestly never thought about it.” Then go get a good answer.

There’s nothing more unattractive or stinkier than workplace laziness. Don’t be that guy!

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Watch Episode 17 here!

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IMPORTANT!

Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

Please SUBSCRIBE to my email newsletter! Pretty please – you’ll get these blog posts delivered to you automatically. Merci!

And subscribe on YouTube!