Cubicle Envy has a ring of being slightly negative about this life of ours in the office. Traffic, food snatching, printer malfunction, etc. are small encumbrances to trade for what we want to do (until that lotto ticket has us taking space shuttle rides with Richard Branson). If we were trained musicians we’d complain about cell phones. Complaining is actually a form of showing affection. If you really did not like the daily hokey pokey in the office you’d probably leave and become a violinist or something.
How do you show affection to your co-workers? Well, hugging your boss every time you see him might not be healthy unless you are constantly wearing one of those fake sumo wrestler suits, in which case sorry for bringing it up. For the rest of us we commiserate by talking about experiences. It’s pretty much the same as what we did on the playground in the old days except more confusing. You’re thinking, how can seven year olds with sticks be less confused than thirty-seven year olds with smartphones? I think you’ve just answered your own question.
I took a Dale Carnegie course a number of years ago. Their suggestion for relieving stress within a situation was to calculate what the worst case scenario was and confirm to yourself that you could live with that outcome. On the playground the worst that was going to happen to you was that you’d be tackled and the others would stick dirt down your pants. “I am going to use this dirt, suckers!” you’d yell to prove to everyone that, yes indeed, boys are dumb, but their stress levels are often low. In the office it’s harder to clean off dirt. Instead of dirt mongers you’ve got CC Deville cc’ing the world to let them know that it’s not his fault an account reconciliation isn’t completed. He/She, of course, doesn’t actually invoke your name because that would be over the line. CC just uses the power of the org chart to help deduce who is at fault. Usually your boss is wise to CC’s antics, but his bosses’ boss only reads the juicy emails. Hopefully the MegaBoss is not the kind that starts congressional investigations over small things like a late account rec, but probably by the time you realize CC has gotten you in trouble others have been implicated in much worse stuff. So it’s dirt. It washes off, but if you throw it back be careful.
Commenting on your office CC could be dangerous so we’ll talk about a subject that’s a bit brighter – motivation. Everybody’s got stories about how their company has tried to motivate its employees. When I worked in public accounting we’d have grueling tax seasons lasting from the middle of January through April. One firm I worked at liked to take one night in February and bring us all to a casino down in Connecticut. It was nice to collectively get a break from work and just hang out – motivating. One year I lost all my money and feared for my life driving back up in the middle of the morning through a snowstorm only to be expected in a suit and tie at the client’s office at 9:00 AM – demotivating. Luncheons, ice cream socials, Beer Fridays, trust falls, and quarterly meetings can all be positive, but their motivational powers are suspect. Well, Herzberg had a thing for beer so potentially he would subscribe to beer events as being motivational, but it’s all potential motivation. You’ve got to find a meaningful factor within the employees to flick the switch.
My friend Jen, told me a story once that is so silly I vowed to take it on the road with me. She was working for an organization that, at the time, was being run by new people who didn’t quite get the culture of the organization. Anyway, long story short there winds up a group of grown adults sitting in a cardboard box being implored to pretend to row a boat to show that collectively they all will be rowing in the same direction to reach the organization’s goals. I hope for her sake that moment is not captured on video anywhere.
My goals as a professional have been to learn individually and share my knowledge and skills with my team to make everyone’s life easier. The most motivating event that I can recall happened recently and it was simple. You can do it at home! Somebody from a different team that I helped thanked me and praised my knowledge over email. Wouldn’t you know it, he CC’d my boss and the MegaBoss. It felt damn good. I think I like email again.
Have you been part of supreme motivation? Have you been part of motivation gone horribly wrong? Are you concerned that a decrease in the world’s chocolate supply could have an impact on your motivation? Tell us about it!