I got this question in an email from Michael, a reader of my blog:
I’m a wheelchair user due to a neurological condition called dysautonomia. I first fell ill following a viral infection. I started a new job in September and was very excited and very motivated. However my condition means that if I get a viral infection I basically end up seriously ill needing 24 hour care. So I am devastated to have missed 3 weeks since starting. My line manager sees this as a big failure on my part ie. results will suffer if I keep being off. So now I am dreading going back and wish I’d stayed in my old job where they did at least seem to be more accepting that I averaged 3-4 weeks absence a year for reasons related to disability.
I also know of lots of other people who are disabled who have the same problem- employers just don’t like absence and don’t see that you are actually very dedicated to the organisation and want to do a great job.
So I suppose the broader question is how to tackle this “don’t be sick or there will be hell” culture. For myself and other disabled friends it seems to be the major cause of unhappiness at work.
This is not a question we have dealt with a lot in our consulting work, so I would very much like to hear your thoughts.
I got this question from a business owner, who has a problem with some of his employees:
I love what I do and I started this company to become the best employer in this industry.
We now have 22 talents (=other companies say staff or employees), and we prefer to keep a very open, relaxed, warm and nice atmosphere. I strongly believe in the pull rather than push leadership style, but it seems I reached a dead-end.
We have 3-4 guys who are very important to the team. Those guys come late to work almost every single day. If a client is in, they tend to come in just a few minutes before hand, which is also annoying. I tried so many different things, but I am seriously tired with it.
When I ask them, all they are saying is that they were stuck in traffic, got up to late, blabla. In their last evaluation meetings, they said they are 8 out of 10 happy, so not too bad! Only a higher salary would make them more happy. But I I think their late coming is just disrespectful to their colleagues & clients.
So the question is: How to deal with talents who have a unbeatable problem with coming on-time?
Hmmmm… interesting question. What do you think he should do? Have you ever had an employee/a co-worker who was permanently late? Ever been that person yourself? What would you do?
I need to find some studies that show what happens to people after they quit a job.
I’m thinking partly about their emotional well-being but especially in terms of life situation. How many people who quit have a new job lined up already? How many end up unemployed for longer periods of time? How many go on to something better? That kind of thing :o)
Do you know any?
Today I heard this claim:
“Business leaders who want to succeed, must be prepared to make major sacrifices in their private lives.”
What do you think?
A couple of months ago I was giving a presentation to a new customer and during the Q&A session someone asked me a short simple question that stumped me completely. I’ve been thinking about it ever since and I still don’t have the answer, so now I’m passing the question on to you.
Here it is:
What is the opposite of work?
Please write a comment, I’d really like to know what you think about this.
Later this month I’m speaking at an HR conference in Guatemala (and possibly also in Nicaragua – details are still being worked out).
The conference web site is here and there’s an article on it here (in Spanish).
Which gets me thinking: I know too little about work culture in Latin America. What’s it like. Do you know?
Are people generally happy at work? What’s the mood like in a typical workplace? Are managers very authoritarian or more laid back? Do workplaces take their cues from North America or do they look to other parts of the world? Who are the business heroes in Latin America?
I got this question from Mark in a comment and I would love to hear your take:
My job has been literally killing my soul for the past 3 years. I have known this entire time I needed to leave. But I didn’t realize how seriously I was burning out, and now I feel like I am being pushed over the edge. I have drank every night for the past three months. I am acerbic, aggressive and emotionally closed off. I hate the people I serve so much I cuss and spit when I have to see them. I have secondary trauma and can no longer sleep without medication. It is not possible to hate your job more than I do.
I have applied to seemingly countless jobs, but as I want nothing to do with this career field any longer it has been impossible to actually land anything in this economy. I have begged for other work at the company, but there is none. Most places are laying off. I am lucky to have a job. But am really not, because it is poisoning me.
It is nice and pat to say “Hey, it’s your life, just quit!”, but the problem is that I make an utter pittance, have essentially no savings (not very possible on my salary), and have thousands of dollars in credit card debt due to a combination of bad choices when young and bad luck/unexpected crisis expenses. Life has been tearing me down and I have not gotten a break.
I cannot afford to leave. I have no money to do so. I will go broke. I will lose everything. I have school loans and a car loan in addition to my aforementioned expenses. I have applied for so many jobs I no longer really believe in some level that I *can* get another job, despite being very highly educated. I can’t afford to work part time. If Ii don’t work for a day I will go under.
I have less and less energy every night to look for other work. It’s quicksand and I am not getting a break to get out. I feel completely trapped, despite knowing I have a choice… though the alternative is to lose everything. I never thought I would be this guy. Does anyone have any suggestions? I really need them. Thanks.
What do you think about Marks’ situation? What would you advice him to do?
I’m currently writing an op-ed piece for a Danish newspaper about how to treat new hires. A lot of companies get this wrong and more or less toss in new recruits at the deep end to let them sink or swim for themselves.
Others, like for instance Disneyworld or Zappos.com spend a lot of time and money on their new people to make sure that they “get” the company culture and are given all the tools, instructions and knowledge they need to succeed.
For all of us, starting a new job can be a stressful time. You don’t know anyone there, you don’t know the written and unwritten rules of the workplace and you suddenly have a lot of new things to learn.
What has been your experience in starting a new job? How were you received on your first day? How did it make you feel? What did the workplace get right and where did they fail you in your first few weeks? Please write a comment, I’d love to hear your take.
I got an email with a very deep, but very interesting, question which I will pass on to you:
Which of these two are more important: happiness or meaningful work?
Perhaps I’m asking myself these questions because I’m working in the advertising industry and many people have a rather negative approach to advertising in general.
I would like to believe that there may be some positive approach to advertising and that we can make the difference but sometimes I have doubts when I think its all about money and about making people to buy more.
I am just opening new company with my friend and I believe it would be good to have a clear positive approach and image of the company.
That is a great question. What do you think? Is happiness or meaning more important at work? Are there industries (eg. advertising) where work tends to lack meaning? What can you do to be happy at work in those industries?
I have a simple question for you:
What’s the one thing you wish your manager understood about you, which still hasn’t sunk in with him/her?
I ask because I’m giving a ton of presentations to groups of managers about happiness at work these days and I’d like to give them an even better idea of where managers and employees often don’t connect or misunderstand each other.
So what do you think? What doesn’t your manager seem to get about you? Please write a comment, I’d be very happy to know your take on this!
Great comment: Marks says “I wish my boss understood that people are not motivated by awarding them with tawdry ‘Employee of the Month’ certificates or covering the office walls with ‘Motivational’ posters but by respecting their knowledge of the job and trusting their judgement on a day to day basis.”