If you haven’t followed my story from the start, you may be wondering, why am I writing this blog post? Or, maybe, why I’ve started a blog altogether?
One of my biggest motivators was seeing with my own eyes how the same person can change completely in different work environments.
And I mean go from chalk to cheese. Really.
I’ve witnessed a person go out of their way to make sticky date pudding for a staff party in one work environment. To not even wanting to take part in a photoshoot as an extra, in order to help out the marketing team, in another work environment.
And she didn’t make the sticky date pudding because she had to. Nor was she reimbursed for it in anyway. I mean we could’ve easily bought dessert. We bought everything else. She did it because she wanted to. That’s the thing. She loved her job and at the time loved the people she worked with.
However, after the company changed, I went up to this same person and asked for a small favour regarding the photoshoot. Her response, “Nope.” Shaking her head and with a facial expression as if to say “I don’t even want to know.” She did say “Sorry” to me, but at the same time continued to shake her head.
Who does that?
Someone whose morale and motivation at work is that low that they’ll do only what they need to do and nothing else.
Was I surprised by this answer?
That’s just how it was at this particular company. If it was out of their job description people didn’t want to know.
But what’s worse was that this type of culture became a norm within the company, business as usual if you like.
Managers accepted it and some were even convinced that it wasn’t that bad.
5 things bad managers have in common
No. 1 – They’re disengaged with the people and the environment
I believe the sticky date pudding example says it all.
In other words, when most of the people in the company are hating their jobs, are unhappy with things and are simply doing the bare minimum to get by, their managers are walking around thinking one of two things:
1. Things are going well, or;
2. Things aren’t going that well, but they can’t be done differently. It is how it is.
No. 2 – Their comments demotivate and frustrate their employees
It was an event at the Zoo that the marketing team, I was working for at the time, organised. The lead up to the event was catastrophic. People got yelled at and sworn at. Breakdowns happened and about half the team left after the event. Although, the event itself went OK, the lead up to it was a mess.
And then came the debriefing meeting.
Morale was at an all-time low, systems were failing, people were instructed to not speak to each other. And out of all these things that needed addressing, the only thing our senior manager was capable of saying was “We need to get our shit together.”
That was it.
The team manager at the time backed her up by saying “Yep, you can say that.”
These are the managers we had to follow.
Other than making me feel like I wanted to throw up, it offended me and the people in the team.
A person that left the team for another department specifically said, “Mimoza, I had to leave. I had no respect left for my manager.”
No. 3 – They’re unwilling to step outside their comfort zone.
In order to improve work culture what I’ve found is that you really have to put yourself out there.
What do I mean?
Doing things that may feel weird or strange at first and that most people would never consider doing.
How else do we change things if we never try something new?
So, when I took on the task of coming up with some culture building activities to help out the team, I researched companies that were recognised for their work culture. And, yes, most were start-ups.
And for many of the activities a lot of money really wasn’t needed.
I mentioned things like lunch roulette and gratitude sessions.
What did they involve?
Well, lunch roulette was about organising two people in the team to have lunch together once or twice a week to get to know each other, developing closer, stronger relationships. At the time, I thought this was a good way to ensure that people also had their lunch, as many were skipping lunch due to rediculous workloads.
And the gratitude sessions, well, I specifically got this idea from a Business Insider article that featured the start-up Stylerunner. Their founders, Julie Stevanja and Sali Stevanja, specifically mentioned how this was part of their weekly routine. It involved the team getting together twice a week to share with each other things they were grateful for. The aim was to increase positivity, creating a positive vibe in the business.
Trust me. We needed something like this.
And it made sense to me. All you needed to do is more research and you’d find other examples like it proven to improve your mood like Shawn Achor’s TED Talk about “The happy secret to better work”. He talks about how the simply act of writing down every night three things that made you happy during your day, can improve your mood in general.
How did my manager react?
Well, the first thing she said was, “Mimoza, we aren’t a start-up, so let’s not act like we are.”
But if start-ups are getting mentioned in Business Insider for the work culture they’re producing, why not mimic them?
Do we need to be a start-up to put in place lunch roulettes and gratitude sessions?
Of course not.
They’re simple actions. But what is needed is the courage of stepping outside your comfort zone and giving it a go.
What’s the worst that could happen?
No. 4 – They believe that trust and respect are instructions and don’t realise that it’s something developed over time.
How many times have you heard your manager say we need to respect each other?
I know it gets mentioned a lot. But whether it happens or not is a different issue.
And I’m sure you’ve also heard your manager say something along the lines of how “Trust among work colleagues is important.”
But there are rarely any actions put in place to develop these feelings, which is why they don’t exist in certain work places.
This is precisely where culture building activities are needed and if you ask me should be a must and not a “nice-to-have”.
No. 5 – They underestimate what their employees are capable of doing.
And this happens when internal people get overlooked for promotions or when work is outsourced believing that no one in the team has the right skills.
Way too often have I been witness to someone new coming into the team that apparently has unbelievable skills unlike anyone else. And I don’t have one example where this actually proved to be the case. In almost all cases that I’ve seen, their skills were about the same as everyone else’s in the team and there were many cases where I was far from impressed.
The only difference was that the manager had already made their mind up about the people in the team and weren’t willing to give them a go.
What are your thoughts? How many of these traits have you been witness to?
Which one has affected you the most? Tell me about it.
See you next week.