7 Things to do When Work Sucks
This post is based on my conversation with Bruce Daisley, the former European VP of Twitter and author of the great book, “Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat: 30 Hacks for Bringing Joy to Your Job.”
Why work sucks?
Over the last 15 years, the workday has expanded from 7.5 hours to 9.5 hours a day. (Up to 70 hours of connectivity.)
One reason your coworkers are so irritating is you’re burned out.
#2. Bad managers.
“If someone’s got a bad manager, they generally think they’ve got a bad job.” Daisley
70% of the variance in workgroup engagement is caused by managers. (Gallup)
Bruce in his own words: Why work sucks.
7 things to do when work sucks:
“We’ve all got a stake in it (joy) and we all can create it.” Daisley
#1. Don’t count on perks.
The pursuit of happiness often doesn’t result in happiness.
“Your boss…giving you lots of things doesn’t seem to correlate with us being happier in our jobs.” Daisley
#2. Make progress.
The worst managers aren’t negative, they just don’t notice. Negative noticing is better than being ignored.
“An indifferent boss is the worst.” Daisley
Bruce in his own words: Who is responsible for joy at work?
#4. Do something meaningful.
#5. Help someone.
“40% don’t have a friend at work.” Daisley
#7. Laugh – the joy of affiliation. (Bruce’s favorite.)
Joy tip #1: Have meetings like the mafia (Walking meetings).
Schedule walking meetings.
“We seem to get a whole heap of extra energy when we’re outdoors.” Daisley
Bruce in his own words: How to energize teams.
Joy tip #2: Create psychological safety.
Feeling safe is the context for joy at work. And we do better work, too.
Amy Edmondson noticed the best teams in the medical sector made the most mistakes. But she discovered that they REPORTED the most mistakes because they felt safe.
What makes work suck?
How might mangers create psychological safety?
How might we bring greater joy to work?
Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat: 30 Hacks for Bringing Joy to our Job (Amazon)
Bruce Daisley’s (Podcast)
How might mangers create psychological safety? Check-in with tour team consistently. Additionally, I find managers that share (in a balanced manner) some of their emotional side are much more approachable – think about how elected officials can sometimes appear disconnected.
One of the most impressive examples I can think of is when the senior military officer, at that time, of the special warfare community (e.g. Navy SEALs, Army Rangers) admitted getting counseling during a congressional hearing which created an atmosphere for his community to seek help routinely. For these military service members to experience the various levels of trauma and not check-in routinely would be concerning. Although that is an extreme example, it demonstrates the level of leadership that molded a community and made it safe to seek counseling without negative impacts on one’s career.
Thanks Kishla. Brilliant suggestion… just checkin consistently.
Your illustration of the SEAL leader reminds me of the power of example. We can’t expect people to do what we are unwilling to do. That means being vulnerable and trusting others is important. Thanks again.
Thanks for posting. Great conversation. I love the idea that walking meeting can increase divergent thinking.
Thanks Eamon. I’ve seen the light come on for people while we were on a walk.
Meetings like the Mafia? Does that mean you all walk in and somebody doesn’t walk out? Never discussing “your thing” with anybody who isn’t “a friend of ours”?
A thing that makes work suck is the never-changing nature of what you do. The same thing, over and over and over and over again, day in, day out, for ever. These organisations (or parts of organisations) are not interested in joy, friendship or psychological safety. Twitter is about modernity, connection and innovation, most organisations just care about getting product out of the door and money in through the till.
Thanks Mitch. The Mafia meeting is a walking meeting. He explains the idea in the video.
Yes, the monotony of work can suck the life out of us. I wonder how organizations can make monotonous work less monotonous?
When you’ve spent vast amounts of time, money and effort on doing all the process improvement, six sigma, Lean, Kaizen optimisation-fu to make your process as efficient as possible, every time you do it – you don’t.
I’m LOL w/ Mitch, here,
“Gonna make ya Proposal ya can’t resist …”
Gotta find joy whenever.
“Have meetings like the Mafia” … definitely made my laugh!
Excellent reminder points and a few new intriguing thoughts.
Thanks Bob. Yes, fun illustration.
Environments where passive-agressives thrive make work suck/toxic; safe environments are where passive-aggressive behaviour and speech are not tolerated – no one is allowed to be a victim.
Thanks Rurbane. Powerful!! Makes me think of kind candor, courageous vulnerability, and forward-facing curiosity.
Secrets allow passive aggressive situations to grow.
Secrets – a lack of honest transparency – oh, my; I do believe you drove that nail true!
Love the topic, I believe it is much needed today in the work place. Putting people before profit.
How might mangers create psychological safety? Train and equip managers about psychological safety. Most managers are placed in areas of management without any training. The manager also needs to feel psychological safety with his superiors.
Why does it seem like these blog entries follow the exact daily tone of my workplace?? It’s almost like reading a very accurate horoscope every day. What’s even more ironic is that my supervisor’s name is Bruce. We made the difficult decision to eliminate 2 of the bad influences and as a result, the remaining employees have done a complete about-face. People are working as a team, laughing, helping each other like never before and we can all feel a tremendous difference within 24 hours. To me, that says that they were capable of having a laid-back workplace all along but chose not to until they felt like their jobs might be on the line as well. I really hate that the 2 guys had to lose their jobs but if “scared straight” is the method that management had to use to create this enjoyable atmosphere, then so be it.
Work although it allows us to pursue our passions, hobbies and endeavors that we may otherwise not be able to do, can at times be less than ideal. I find that taking long weekends and getting away when work is proving to be difficult is always helpful. When that may not be possible, I agree with the viewpoint of bringing laughter into work, it truly is the best medicine. I’ve worked for managers where I walked on eggshells in the fear of what would happen if I made a mistake. Knowing that mistakes can be problematic, creating a hostile environment where mistakes are drastically punished are a breeding ground more mistakes to occur. Mistakes can be teachable moments that can be extremely beneficial to employees and helpful for not making the same mistake twice in the future. I’ve learned some of the most important components of my job unfortunately through mistakes, but having went through them know exactly to prevent them from happening in the future. The component of having “walking meetings” could be a good idea especially with the current situation we may find ourselves in – something that we could see a lot of in the coming months. Turning negative situations, and often boring ones, and formatting them in new exciting ways is what transforms the workplace into what someone may dread to into an exciting atmosphere!
Thank you Dan for the insight!
Building relationships is key to bringing and having greater joy at work.
I have held a variety of jobs including an elementary school paraprofessional, camp coordinator, soccer coach and field marshal as well as a research assistant. As I continue on my career discovery trajectory, I realized that none of those jobs were the perfect fit for me. But I thoroughly enjoyed each one of them. The key was people. I loved and looked forward to going to work every day because of the people that I was surrounded by. Of course, there will always be people that we clash with, don’t agree with or simply don’t get along with. However, it is important to build relationships at work and to find individuals with some mutual interests. Other times, all it takes is being curious and open to learning to appreciate new things and accept differences.
It is a great feeling to arrive at the place where you spend most of your time and be genuinely greeted, appreciated and checked on. It makes the long hours go faster, work more enduring and it gives you an outlet of support for when things get stressed or overwhelming. Having relationships are key to having an enjoyable day at work.
One of the biggest things I have experienced that made work suck based on how I was treated by my manager was a lack of communication. As a subordinate, not knowing what was going on in the company was very distressing. Depending on what information I felt I was lacking, I would either be worried for my job specifically or even the future of the company. Especially if I was the new guy in the company, the possibility of the company down sizing typically leads to the lay offs of the new hires.
As a manager these days, I try to be as open and communicating to the employees below me. As well as communicating company issues that low level employees should know, being open and honest with issues throughout the company that apply to their position need to be communicated as well.
As a health and safety professional I typically find safety issues found at one mine not being communicated to the employees of the other mines. This typically includes issues by clients, truck drivers, and with equipment. Safety information should be passed out to the company. A lesson learned is not learned if there is a possibility another location or person who has not been informed can have the same incident.
Communication of information is paramount. Employees should have trust in their managers and in their jobs. They should be informed of information that directly affects not only their work but their jobs in general.When employees are kept in the dark they feel like they are not trusted. Distrust sows inappropriate behavior. Whether its taking home pens from the supply closet or shirking work to delay production, employees will do what they think they have to do to even the score. The worst part is if an employee feels their job sucks because of mistrust or other issues, they can hide it for a long time. They no longer work to please their boss or create something, they work just hard enough not to cross a line and not get fired. This attitude, once established, is almost impossible to get rid of.