Dealing with disappointment

Inevitably, however much we try to avoid it, we all occassionally have to deal with disappointment in the workplace. Although people all have their own individual way of dealing with disappointment, the strategies they use to do so must comply with their organisation’s values and codes of conduct.

An example to the contrary came to my attention over the past few weeks, with reports that cricket allrounder Daniel Christian damaged change rooms on three separate occasions after being dismissed from the pitch. He’s now been instructed to spend some time away from South Australian state cricket.

After the first incident, which occurred at the Adelaide Oval, he was given a verbal warning. After the second incident, this time in Tasmania, he was given a written warning and fined his match fee. Christian apologised after both outbursts and paid for the repairs.

A third incident occurred, this time in Perth, which led to Christian’s suspension from the next match.

Discussion questions

How do you deal with pressure and disappointment at work? How do you help your team deal with pressure and disappointment? How should employees who fail to uphold the values and standards of the organisation and/or their profession be dealt with?

How to make the best use of your mornings

SMH ran an interesting article by Eli Greenblat the other day, advising us to spend a few moments to take some deep breaths, ‘be in the present’ and think about our top priorities for the day; and for the next 30 to 90 minutes, to work on those priorities. Unaware that this is part of a Buddhist mindfulness tradition, I’ve done that for years and I concur–it helps get the important tasks done. Only after you’ve kicked a few goals should you check those time-consuming and often unimportant emails!

And here are my other favourite strategies for improving your productivity:

  • Prioritise important tasks, not easy ones.
  • Don’t go for short-term gains at the expense of long-term goals.
  • Get enough sleep and your share of play, too.
  • If you feel overwhelmed, ditch unimportant tasks, at least temporarily by delegating them or dumping them.

Discussion questions

What can you do to make your days more productive? (To find out how to determine your priorities, check out pages 204 to 212. You’ll find other good ideas for improving your productivity on pages 216 to 225 of the text.)

The benefits of negative feedback

Do you rub your hands with glee when someone criticises you? Not if you’re like most of us.

But according to research reported in the US business magazine Fast Company, people who seek and accept negative feedback are not only more successful at work, they also make better leaders.

So the next time someone gives you their ‘full and frank opinion’, think of it as useful information to help you lift your game and improve your performance. Everyone makes mistakes and everyone can stand to improve—apart from narcissists, of course. (Find out more about narcissists on pages 253 – 254.) Here’s how to make the most of feedback:

  • Don’t take it personally. Instead, think of it as information.
  • Analyse the feedback and filter out the junk: consider whether the feedback is factual, someone’s interpretation or reactions and the person’s motives for saying it.
  • Consider how best to use the information.
  • Be confident in your abilities to improve.
  • Put the feedback to good use; nothing changes if nothing changes.

Questions for discussion

When was the last time someone offered you negative feedback? How did you react? What could you do to seek more feedback and to make better use of it?

Can work really happen at work?

Intrigued by the clever title, “Why work doesn’t happen at work”, I recently watched this Ted Talk by Jason Fried. He points out that when people really need to get some work done, they don’t go to work. They go to a place (a kitchen, the coffee shop), a moving object (a train, a bus) or they work at a special time (early in the morning, late at night). This is because work days, “shredded” by interruptions, are really a series of what Fried calls, “work moments”.

Work is the same as sleep: just as when you’re constantly interrupted when you’re trying to sleep, you can’t get a good night’s sleep. When you’re constantly interrupted at work, you can’t do any real work.

Fried blames “M & M’s” (Managers and Meetings) for the bulk of interruptions and suggests three remedies:

  1. No Talk Thursdays: Begin with the first Thursday of every month and ban talking all afternoon.
  2. Switch from active to passive collaboration. In other words, don’t get up and talk to someone or phone them but send them an email or an instant message.
  3. Cancel meetings, especially the regular ones.

I’m not sure that Fried’s three suggestions would work, but they certainly got me thinking about ways to increase workplace productivity in an office environment.

Can work really happen at work?

Questions for discussion

Fried’s first idea has been suggested by many others, tried (and failed) in many offices. Why do you think this is? Could it work at your workplace?

His second suggestion is counter to advice about humanising offices. What do you think of it?

How would canceling meetings go down at your workplace? Are all the meetings you hold really necessary?

Are you guilty of shredding your team members’ work days by constantly interrupting them?

Sexual harassment as widespread as ever

Being safe at work is a basic human right. Yet the latest telephone survey of Australian workers by the Australian Human Rights Commission, undertaken every four years, shows that sexual harassment continues to be widespread in Australian workplaces.

More than 1 in 5, or 20% of people aged 15 years and older, were sexually harassed in the workplace in the past five years. Here’s a snapshot of the report:

  • Women under 40 are most likely to be sexually harassed.
  • Harassers are usually their male co-workers.
  • Women are at least five times more likely than men to have been harassed by a boss or employer.
  • Men harassing women accounts for more than half of all sexual harassment.
  • Men harassing men accounts for nearly a quarter of all sexual harassment.

Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick says that as well as ensuring employees understand sexual harassment and their rights and obligations, supporting employees who make complaints and dealing with complaints effectively and efficiently, innovative approaches are also needed. Organisations also need to change their culture and leaders need to be genuinely committed to stamping out sexual harassment.

Questions for discussion

What support does your organisation offer people who complain about sexual harassment? What additional measures could your organisation take to eliminate sexual harassment from your workplace?