Commentary: 12 Common Workplace Behaviors That Drain Everyone�s Energy
It�s been a long, exhausting year at work. You�re tired, depleted, and quite frankly just done with �business as usual.� You�re laying the blame for your fatigue squarely at the feet of the increased responsibilities and long hours you�ve been facing.
But according to author Jon Gordon, you might be wrong. He insists that working hard—when done with a good attitude in the right environment—can actually be invigorating.
In other words, what’s wearing you out at work might not be the work.
“Most people wrongly assume that their tasks and responsibilities are what’s grinding them down,” says Gordon, author of the newly released book, “Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture.”
“However, while work is a convenient scapegoat, the real culprit is often the negativity of the people you work with and for, their constant complaining, and the pessimistic culture that is now the norm in a lot of workplaces.”
The fact is, many of us work in a world of drainers. What, exactly, is a drainer? Gordon says the term can describe anyone in the workplace—a boss, co-worker, employee or client—who sucks the life and energy right out of you.
Don’t fret, though. Gordon says that if managers are able to identify the offending behaviors and fix them, they can spend more time nourishing their companies’ cultures—which will, in turn, make employees happier and more productive, thus increasing the bottom line.
Here are Gordon’s top 12 “draining behaviors,” as well as tips for how you can make a change for the better in each of these situations in the New Year.
1. The Energy Vampire
Don’t: Let negativity become your go-to response. There's nothing more draining than “energy vampires,” a boss or co-worker who is constantly negative. They are never happy, rarely supportive and constantly nay saying about any and all ideas and suggestions that aren’t their own. According to them, you might as well give up before you start.
Do: Respond constructively when someone offers an idea. Even if you know more about a particular project, have more experience than the rest of your team, or are positive that the suggestions others are making are off the mark, hear them out. Let employees and co-workers know that when they come to you with their ideas, they’ll be heard with an open mind and received with respect. Insist that everyone else practice positive energy as well. While negativity squelches creativity and initiative, an encouraging attitude will keep creative juices flowing and encourage constructive dialogue.
2. The Complaint Train
Don’t: Give in to the temptation to whine. It’s a well-known phenomenon that can have catastrophic consequences: One person’s complaint resonates with someone else, who then adds grievances to the pile, which prompts yet another individual to throw in his/her two (negative) cents, and so on. Before you know it, everyone is complaining, and work is marred by a bad attitude.
Do: Push for solutions. The next time a water-cooler conversation threatens to barrel out of control into Complaint Central, step in and ask the complainees how they would make things better. Or, just ban complaints altogether. It’s tough love for sure—but it will also create and sustain a positive culture.
3. The Vicious Voicemail or E-mail
Don’t: Leave harsh messages on voicemails or e-mails. Nine times out of ten, these critiques feel to the receiver much more condemning than you actually meant them to be. Plus, any communication you send via electronic methods can potentially last forever (and possibly end up in HR or court). Not only could your words come back to haunt you, they’ll also be a constant reminder to your co-worker or employee of his or her supposed shortcomings.
Do: Suck it up and conduct the tough talks in person. If you need to have a stern talk with someone, or if you need to work through a conflict or problem, do it in person if at all possible. You can ensure that your words and tone aren’t misinterpreted and have a constructive dialogue. Focus on improvements and solutions to end on a positive and encouraging note.
4. The Loaded Monday-Morning Inbox
Don’t: Overwhelm your team with a mountain of e-mails before the week is under way. If you’re finishing up your own to-do list late on a Friday night, or if you're simply trying to get a jumpstart on the week ahead, it can be tempting to dish out the details and to-do’s as you think of them. After all, if you wait until Monday morning, you might forget to tell those who need to know! However, arriving at work to an inbox of 57 new messages is draining and makes folks feel like they’re fighting an uphill battle from the start.
Do: Boil down and bundle your communications as considerately as possible. Inevitably, people are going to be working late and even sending e-mails over the weekend—in today’s business culture, that’s unavoidable. However, you can do a few things to make Mondays less stressful and more efficient for the recipients. Be sure to flag urgent e-mails so that your teammates know which tasks to tackle first—and include as many details as possible. If you can, combine tasks and questions into one document.
5. The Busy-Bee Bamboozle
Don’t: Confuse activity with progress. You know the person. He or she is always so-ooo busy but doesn’t seem to meet deadlines or get anything done. When teams are being formed, people secretly hope the “busy bees” aren’t assigned to theirs. Busy bees prove that just because your day is full of things to do doesn’t mean you’re getting them done.
Do: Set goals and hold yourself and your employees accountable for results. These results should be ones that matter and that are visible and valuable to your team. It can be helpful to transition over to a day-to-day plan that will help everyone stay on the right track. Most importantly, don’t put your team in situations where the lines are blurred. If the goals are crystal clear, they’ll be easier to accomplish.
6. The Low-Performer Look-Away
Don’t: Let sub-par work slide. Simply put, low performers drag the rest of the team down. They are like a cancer inside your organization, creating resentment and generating more work for everyone else. And if you allow them to linger and thrive for too long, your best employees will move on to a more productive environment.
Do: Institute a zero-tolerance policy for low performers. Hold your entire team accountable for meeting their goals and adhering to the same performance standards. If one person consistently misses the bar, then you need to take swift action. Let your employees know that you value their hard work and that you will not allow others to do less and get away with it.