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team dynamics

Dear Employee,

I just got off the phone with Kate at bigcompany.com and she asked for our specs for the upcoming event – can you email them to me ASAP so I can get them to her? I just tried calling you but couldn’t reach you. We’re competing against other vendors so time is of the essence.

[Thirty minutes later…]

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Dear Boss,

I can get them to you in an hour?

[Translation: I’m not at home because I met an old friend for lunch; after we reminisced about the old days I ran some errands and then bought a shirt I saw in a window that I think may be the beginning of my “new look.”]

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Why Your Torture Plan Will Surely Backfire

It’s a privilege to work remotely. Thus, any perceived abuse of the situation hits home hard. The remote working arrangement is predicated on trust that you’ll be available and ready when something is needed, that you have whatever you need for work on your person during work hours – whether it is a computer or a phone. Also, it is so easy to respond and be in touch these days that any delayed response – without a reason like you were giving birth, in a high speed car chase, or inadvertently saving the world Jack Bauer style – is hard to explain and/or tolerate.

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Maybe Try this Instead?

If you haven’t taken an official vacation day and you are unreachable you have essentially taken a vacation day. So if you know you are going to be unavailable on a given day be honest and mention it to see if there are any potential conflicts. If you have a solid track record for working remotely a good boss will grant the personal time. You should also have your computer and phone on you in case of an emergency. Wi-fi and hotspotting are so easy that both will undermine any excuse for disappearing.

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Dear Employee(s),

 

Letting everyone know that I’ve made Bob the point person for all issues coming to and from me so that I can focus my time more effectively. If you need something from me please first email Bob who will serve as the liaison from you to me. Likewise I’ll be sending Bob things to delegate to everyone. I think this will really help with workflow in the office. Just a heads up so that you know why Bob will be emailing you things like progress update requests. OK that’s all for now!

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Dear Boss,

Excellent choice! This will save Bob time as well, allowing him to collectively insult us in one email rather than doing it individually, which was his previous method and honestly a real time waster for everyone! Two birds, one terrible person, I mean stone. We’re excited for the new procedure. After all, we’ve always hated Bob, and we always will. OK that’s all for now for us too!

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Why your plan will surely backfire

Your employees will not blindly follow any leader. A recent Gallup survey found that only one person in ten can cut it in management. Oftentimes an employee is hired due to skills while attitude is ignored. Power is a sensitive topic and promoting the wrong person can create a domino effect of inefficiency in the office.

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Maybe Try this instead

Listen to your employees. Make it a point to read the dynamics in your office. When they drop comments casually about their coworkers. Is one coworker mentioned a lot? Are the comments about the person tinged with negativity or positivity? Hear the underlying message – what F.I.T. President Joyce F. Brown calls the “third ear.”

Place value on the people skills/soft skills and not just the technical skills of a potential manager prospect. If “Bob” isn’t someone people feel safe and comfortable around, thereby negatively affecting group cohesion, then he may not be the best candidate. Trust and respect need to be present in order to build cohesion. If your employees don’t respect your appointee you might find yourself the victim of a passive-aggressive coup d’etat.

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Dear Boss,

 

We, the employees of your company, hope you will reconsider the tracking spyware you’ve installed on every computer to ensure that you can see every email we write and every website we visit. We’re curious why you started a company if you weren’t going to trust anyone to do the job you hired them to do. Ironically you taking the time to spy on us is just as work-avoidant as what you’re trying to catch us at! The Cold war is over. It’s 2016 not 1984. This isn’t wiki leaks, we’re not Edward Snowden, and you’re not in The Manchurian Candidate. The Hunt for Red October is over.

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Dear Employee,

I saw you writing that letter on your computer. You’re not supposed to be writing letters at work, unless it’s on letterhead to one of our clients. I also saw you click the like button on Facebook for a video showing dogs who are scared of staircases. Watch your step.

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Why your torture plan will surely backfire

Using spyware on your employees is actually a form of mental torture. It’s a modification on the panopticon, a structure developed in the 18th century by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham to replace physical torture in prisons. The panopticon is a structure that allows inmates (employees) of an institution to be observed by a single watchman (boss) without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. The mere threat that someone could be watching you is what keeps you in your place. Benthem described the panopticon as “a mill for grinding rogues honest.”

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Maybe Try This Instead?

There’s another concept called “trust” that has shown to be useful when creating successful work atmospheres. Rather than create a prisoner mentality in your employees, foster a self-leadership mentality so they feel they have the space to get their work done. If you need proof of concept look to Netflix, one of the fastest growing companies in the last ten years, who nurture an autonomous atmosphere where quality over quantity is rewarded. If that doesn’t do it for you, research has shown that little breaks in the workday actually promote productivity. At the 90-minute mark on a single task our brains tend to lose focus. Little breaks spent checking Facebook or watching a funny YouTube video – as well as anything else that doesn’t have to do with work – serves as a mental reboot.

Side note: It is understandable, for the security of your company, if you need to use blocking software and block certain websites. That’s different than spying. If you feel like you need to spy on someone, you probably made a bad hiring decision.

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Dear Employee,

I’m just checking in to see if you finished that project I asked you to finish by this Friday. It’s now Monday afternoon and I still haven’t heard anything from you but didn’t want to breathe down your neck because I figured you would let me know when it was done. As you know, this project is pretty important.

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Dear Boss,

Oh yeah. I finished that last week.

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Why Your Torture Plan Will Surely Backfire

Your boss probably has 3x what you have on your plate. They may seem like they are picking their noses and watching youtube on a daily basis, but in addition to their own nose picking, they are responsible for everyone else’s nose picking who they manage or oversee. When your boss has to follow up with you it gives the impression that you aren’t on top of your workload, which in turn triggers micromanaging behavior.

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Maybe Try this Instead?

Throw your boss a bone here and there and type a simple sentence that says, “project completed!” It’s a nice thing to do in this world of overwhelm and ultimately reduces unnecessary contempt.

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the_books

Nicole Lipkin, Psy.D., MBA is a business psychologist and the CEO of Equilibria Leadership Consulting. She is a speaker, consultant, and coach and has shared her expertise on NPR, NBC, Forbes, Entrepreneur, CBS, Fox Business News, and other media outlets. She is the author of “What Keeps Leaders Up At Night” and the co-author of “Y in the Workplace: Managing the “Me First” Generation.” Check out the award winning book trailer for What Keeps Leaders Up At Night.

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Dear Boss,

We’re all excited for the upcoming mixer with our potential new clients. We know this is a sensitive topic but we request the option of wearing our own clothing rather than the company logo shirts. We thus kindly request that it not be mandatory to wear the company logo shirts as we think it’ll hamper our confidence.

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Dear Employee(s),

I am excited to show you the new and improved company logo shirts I have ready to go. They are a fashion-forward marine blue I was able to purchase at a terrific bulk discount rate from USAACS & Co, or as they’re known in the fashion industry: USA Affordable Company Shirts. We’re going to look like a cohesive team and that’s what’s going to impress everyone. Appreciate the feedback!

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Why your plan will surely backfire

There’s a time and place for the company logo to shine (e.g., conventions where you have a booth). A company logoed shirt at a professional networking event can erase individuality and make someone feel like a dork, especially if everyone else is wearing their own, normal clothing.

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Maybe try this instead:

Save the company logoed shirts for when you need to especially stand out as a company representative, like behind a convention booth, or in the store, or if you are in door-to-door sales so the homeowner doesn’t think you are there to murder them.

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Nicole Lipkin, Psy.D., MBA is a business psychologist and the CEO of Equilibria Leadership Consulting. She is a speaker, consultant, and coach and has shared her expertise on NPR, NBC, Forbes, Entrepreneur, CBS, Fox Business News, and other media outlets. She is the author of “What Keeps Leaders Up At Night” and the co-author of “Y in the Workplace: Managing the “Me First” Generation.” Check out the award winning book trailer for What Keeps Leaders Up At Night.

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