- Wise Words -
Office "ghouls" to
steer clear of at the office
by fergus mellon
Halloween is almost here. At parties, being the scariest or most outrageous character may be the goal. But when we get back to the office Monday, it is exactly the opposite: None of us should want to be the office ghoul! Office ghouls are unhealthy personalities who make an already challenging workplace something to be feared. Four grisly personalities that do not belong in the workplace:
We’ve all seen many movies or shows starring hyper-aggressive and truly scary workplace personalities who shout and intimidate their staff and members of the team to get their way. It may seem like a heroic thing to do to go all out to get exactly what you want, but it is probably the most short-sighted of behaviors and will more likely to lead to failure in the long run. If you go all out to get your own way (and do it regularly) — unless this is truly, truly a big deal — you will have caused serious damage to the relationships you have within your company and harmed your reputation. No one will want to work with you.
If you need to crush another team to meet your quarterly number, consider whether this is something really worth doing. Assuming you are halfway through your 45-year career, you will make a quarter’s worth of money, but you will damage your reputation for the next 20-plus years.
For more on how to tame your inner werewolf, try Emotional Intelligence at Work by Hendrie Weisinger. It is a great read and will help you manage your emotions and channel your passion for your work in a healthy way for both you and your teammates.
At the other end of spectrum, there are folks who seem to let the “work world” drift by. They are the passive types who see the train coming off the tracks and do nothing to prevent it, or just sigh when they see an opportunity to improve their company.
“Why bother” is what the Zombies seem to think.
This behavior is almost worse than the Wolves. They are so passive that they do not invest their energy in their work. While Zombies can seem harmless, these folks really can — through their lethargy and lack of commitment — destroy team morale and harm a company’s performance. In doing so, they don’t just put their own livelihoods at risk, but also those of everyone around them.
This one is an easier fix than the scary Werewolves. In order to wake up to your professional life, you really just need start to care. If you feel that you just do not enjoy your job, have no interest in the mission of your company or do not care about your team members, then make a change.
Do not stay in the same company to pass the time. Examine what change would make you happy: It might be as simple as a new role in another team or as radical as a career change. Regardless of what it is, then for your well-being and that of your teammates’ wake up out of your professional coma and get a purpose.
The Headless Horseman
These are the leaders who are never accountable. It’s always someone else’s fault. Someone more junior’s fault. Mercifully, I have experienced very few missing “heads” at the top of an organization, but in the instances I have, I have seen just how damaging these horsemen can be.
They are not accountable for their decisions, and instead try to put the onus on their minions to perform. This is just plain unfair, and it is going to really drive down morale. If you have the big title and the fat salary to match, then earn it. Earn it and become accountable to your team!
Having a leader who is clearly accountable is not just going to drive morale, but also performance. If individuals know their manager is going to support them, as opposed to point fingers, then these people are going to risk more for their company. Progress is only going to be made by doing something new. New stuff typically fails at the first one or two attempts, and if you are going to be blamed by your manager for failing, then why would you take a risk?
If you realize that you’ve been a headless leader, take a step back and get back on that horse with the purpose of providing true leadership. There are probably 1,000 (OK 100,000) leadership titles out there. Take a read of one or two of them, try listening to Manager Tools (a really great set of podcasts) or even shell out for a professional coach for a short period to help you correct this behavior.
Get back on the proverbial “organizational horse” and be the head of your organization!
I am taking a bit of liberty here, as this is more of a Halloween party costume than a true ghoul, but outside of Halloween parties and back in the office, the politicos are just as unhealthy as anything else.
Sure, to be effective at work, managing human relationships and collaborating across your organization is super important, but keep the office politics at bay.
By office politics, I mean the unfortunate behavior of putting others down or taking credit for their work. When put in plain print I am sure we all would feel embarrassed at the thought of undermining someone or taking credit when you shouldn’t, but this does not mean it doesn’t happen. In the challenging environment of the workplace there is the temptation to get ahead by being that political “campaigner.”
Despite the many business people who want to turn into presidents, political behavior in business is best left to the legions of lobbyists hitting Capitol Hill.
Stop the campaign, start the work!
Hope all of the above doesn’t dampen your spirits for the Halloween parties, and see you back in the office for, hopefully, a ghoul-free time!
First published in USA Today. For related columns see "Bust Ghosting @ Work"