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psychological contract

Dear Boss,

The reason I gave our client the wrong info is because I was trying to wrap up all of these other assignments that you wanted by the end of the week, all of which were very tedious and draining. It’s no wonder I sent the wrong proposal, given my workload.

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Dear Employee,

Thank you for pointing out I am at fault. It helps me. I’ll try not to give you any more work. I’d hate for you to make mistakes because of work. In fact I’d hate for there to be any work at all for anyone. Let’s just dissolve the company. That way, no one will ever feel forced by me to make mistakes.

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Why Your Torture Plan Will Surely Backfire

Your excuse better be irrefutably great if you intend to deflect responsibility, otherwise you come off as unreliable. You won’t have to worry about not making the same mistake twice because you will probably be given less to do, for fear that it won’t be done. Sure, that may be a motivator for some but for those of you that want to get somewhere in your career, consider it one of the career snafus that can damage your reputation. Most importantly, it reveals a lack of interest in doing better, which is unattractive.

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Maybe Try this Instead?

It’s simple: take ownership. Even if you don’t fully believe you are to blame it’s going to be a hard sell otherwise. Taking ownership at least proves your sanity, your humility, and your ability to admit fault, which – with the right leader – actually garners more respect than deflection, which leaves everyone feeling cheated.

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Dear Boss,

I just realized today was the deadline for me to get you the final piece for the new campaign that you asked me to make a priority. I unfortunately don’t have the work done, but if it’s any consolation I did finish this other project that won’t create any sales, because I don’t know why exactly.

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Dear Employee,

For some reason, I’m not feeling consoled. I think it’s primarily because the project you did finish doesn’t have any effect on us making money and the project you didn’t finish does. I guess I never specifically said out loud to concentrate first on the projects that have a direct impact on our sales, but let’s make that the policy going forward, whadda ya say?

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Why Your Torture Plan Will Surely Backfire

You prioritized your work at your own expense. Companies are only in business when they make money and tasks that don’t further the company’s sales are typically not the most important. More importantly though, when there’s a deadline you have to meet, alert the powers that be that you need more time. Nothing worse than finding out the day something’s due you won’t be getting it.

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Maybe Try this Instead?

Make sure you know what is a priority and what isn’t. Though one project might be more attractive because you can easily see how to complete it, make sure you finish the high priority items first. Typically we avoid that which is taxing our brain and giving us trouble. Definitely ask for an extension if you don’t see yourself completing the work by the deadline. And if you do find yourself having not met a deadline without having given any advanced warning, it’s best to simply apologize, give an ETA, and get it done asap.

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Dear Employee,

Every night at 6PM I like to kick my heels up and take a breather from the day’s work. You might have seen me with my legs on my desk, hands behind my head, gazing out the window. As a boss it’s important for me to enjoy a moment of zen. It recharges me. At about 6:30 I resume work and then go home at about 7.

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Dear Boss,

I’ve noticed. Right about the time as you kick up your heels I am usually about to leave for the day, that is until I see your reclining silhouette basking in a state of nirvana. I then re-open my computer to make it look like I’m still working and text my spouse that I’m not sure when I’ll be coming home. The next hour or so is one of excruciating boredom as we all wait for you to head out the door and give us the thumbs up for working so hard.

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Why Your Torture Plan Will Surely Backfire

It’s a mental lock down. As the employee’s response above indicates, you’re not breeding harder workers per se but rather an environment that keeps bodies in chairs for an extra hour each day. The fact that this pattern occurs at the end of the workday means your employees leave the office with “Get me out of here!” reverberating through their brain, tires screeching out of the parking lot.

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Maybe Try this Instead?

It’s easily fixable and not one of life’s major work struggles. Simply let your employees know that if their work is done and/or they need to cut out for some personal reason they’re free to go. This policy instills trust and engagement. Like most things in life communication is key. If on the other hand you’re relishing the mental lock down, completely aware that no one is leaving because you’re still in the office, you might find a career as a pig farmer more enriching.

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