I’m on sick leave and I’m feeling an unreasonable sense of guilt because we absolutely should use sick leave when we’re sick, but the feeling persists. We’re trained from the first grade that we have to be at our desks five days a week from dawn to dusk. The training sticks for most of us, sometimes to extreme, and here I am.
Since I’m thinking about work when I should be resting, I pulled together some truisms that I’ve learned after 40-ish years in the workforce, most of it in public service. The below and $5 will get you bitter coffee at Starbucks.
Computers are tools, not solutions. How many meetings have we been in where managers speak as if new software applications and cutting edge technology will solve all of our problems? And has that ever actually happened?
Employees are not your enemies. That one is for the bosses who believe an adversarial relationship between employees and managers produces the best results. Outside of families and friends, supervisors rent the most space in our brains. A patient and kind boss who can professionally hold us accountable for our work products in a positive manner goes far in promoting our good mental health.
Ethics matter. Well, duh. Always take the high road. And if something even faintly smells like an ethics problem, it already is one.
Mondays don’t suck. Your job sucks. Like I said, we’re trained to work five days a week, and that first day is a reminder that we are not totally free to make choices, except that you totally are free to make choices about your reaction. If you can’t change your job, change your attitude about your job. Lifting yourself up will lift up others around you, and you’ll be amazed at the improvement in team morale.
Incompetent employees are worse than no employees. Oh, man. I learned a hard lesson about this one. The outcome was i was doing two jobs (mine and theirs) while they were collecting a salary. Let these people go. You’re not happy and they’re not happy, and they can probably find a better fit somewhere else.
Strategic plans ain’t. How many strategic plans committees have you served on and did they ever help? And when completed, were employees held accountable to the goals through their annual evaluations? Did management enact programs in line with the strategic plan? And did you ever see one wall poster with the strategic plan for everyone to see? Or was the entire strategic plan project just a checkbox from the secret supervisor workbook named “How to Pretend to be an Effective Supervisor While Wasting Everyone’s Time.”
Don’t get me started on Dress Code Policies. Also known as the policy where low-wage earners are forced to go to Walmart every three months to buy clothes they can’t afford in the first place and that will wear out in three months.
Got there early and left late, but nobody cared because the job doesn’t love you back. Sounds like a country song, don’t it? Yeah, this was my personal policy for years. At some point I realized I had nothing to prove. But I still feel guilty when I take sick leave. Go figure.
Leaders with little or no inner awareness of themselves kill morale and creativity. I’ll just leave this one there. Besides, the people who should read that sentence will be like Warren Beatty in Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain: they won’t think it’s about them.
Everyone’s just winging it. I used to think grownups had all the answers. I was young and naive, okay? I cannot begin to count the number of times we’ve had to develop a policy on the fly because of the complexity of the job. We did our best with precedent and current policy, but you’d think we’d have a better way forward.
There’s dozens more, and maybe I’ll put them in a book sometime. Until then, take care of you. And use your earned leave without guilt. I wish I could.