It’s March, and madness has begun. It’s that joyous time when the people you usually get along with become your arch enemies, all because of the logo on their shirt. The trash talk emails fly faster than Sean Spicer can deny just about anything. Productivity plummets.
No one can escape: the Department of Defense just shamed their staff into not wasting government resources streaming basketball games (after all, that should be focused on spying via people’s microwaves) and Warren Buffett offered some one-in-a-million prizes for the employees of Berkshire Hathaway.
March madness is all in good fun. Yet another madness is lurking in the shadows: Office Madness.
The best way to avoid Office Madness is to know how to recognize and prevent it. Watch for these meaning-mauling symptoms in your workplace and keep your team aiming for the prize.
- Madness destroys a sense of certainty
The excitement of March Madness is built upon uncertainty: Any team can be a Cinderella. Yet in the workplace, a sense of uncertainty can lead to chaos. Inconsistent decisions and follow through can lead to employees unsure of where they stand. Add in a lack of communication and poor change management, and your team might as well sign up for the NIT.
To create a sense of certainty, you need consistency. Present yourself consistently to your employees; be aware of what you say and what you do. Are your words and actions sending the same message?
Treat employees consistently. If you’re usually flexible about hours in the office, don’t blow up over a dentist appointment. If your sales team has access to the beer fridge, then your IT team should have it, too.
Prioritize. If you’re out of the office, your employees should know what you would like them to do because you’ve set clear priorities.
- Madness destroys a sense of completion
For fulfillment at work, we want a sense of accomplishment. Who wants to push papers around, even if they are getting paid? Your employees need a finish line, and they need to know that they crossed it.
Avoid transferring employees off of projects before they are finished. Let them feel the accomplishment of seeing their work to the end. And always be there to help them, but don’t jump in too soon. Take the time to affirm an employee’s leadership of a project in front of others, especially external partners. Finally, save the micromanagement for your March Madness pool. Set objectives and manage by objective–not minutia.
- Madness destroys a sense of confidence
A bit of harsh feedback delivered out of context, a dash of overly emotional reactions (I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!), and suddenly your team’s confidence might be down by two and out of timeouts. Crushing your employees ideas and work can crush their spirits, too.
To build, not bruise their self-confidence, apply these simple principles:
- Assume all of your employees care about doing good work. There is no substitute for giving people the benefit of the doubt.
- Be careful about harsh criticism. You might need to correct them, but you don’t need to wreck them.
- Plant seeds of growth, not doubt. Your words should encourage them to do better, not discourage them to take your feedback seriously.
- Check yourself. Keep your own stress in check, or you could end up with a team too anxious to produce.
- Warm it up. Save being cold for the team you’re rooting against.
- Madness destroys a sense of community
New Gallup research demonstrates the importance of a feeling of community at work. But negativity, gossip and competition can cause madness to creep in and turn team mates against each other.
Stop the negativity in its tracks. Challenge the cynicism and redirect energy back to the mission. Do employees compete against each other? Create a fair playing field, with a one-team, one-dream mindset. Redirect others’ self-doubt towards self-improvement to be on the road for a win.
This article was published by Scott Mautz and Natalie Hastings
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