Top Posts of 2012: 5 Things Employees Aren’t Thinking

Over the next week, we’re going to take a quick trip down memory lane and check out the posts you guys read and shared the most. So sit back, grab some coffee, and enjoy the year’s best Mojo according to you, my esteemed readers.

Very few people enjoy going to work every day in an environment filled with distrust, negativity, gossip, complaining, lack of commitment, political maneuvering, and so many of the other ugly things that characterize too many groups and organizations. And most folks, if you ask them, would say they wish things were different where they work. In fact, a recent Gallup poll suggests that up to 71% of individuals said they were less than thrilled with their work environments.

But they need to work. Or they like to stay busy. Or they’re holding out hope that maybe, just maybe, someday the organization will change. So people keep clocking in, doing their thing, keeping their head down, dying a little bit on the inside, and then clocking out. And it’s not just a few folks here and there. It’s a lot of people in a lot of organizations.

And yet those same people, unless they’re gluttons for punishment, wish it were different. There are some things I can almost guarantee your employees aren’t thinking. It’s not like they’re sitting around thinking:

1. Gosh, I love that my workplace sucks the life out of me everyday.

2. You know, if I had to choose between enjoying coming to work and dreading coming to work, I believe I’d prefer to dread coming to work every day.

3. I hate fun. I generally try to avoid fun at all costs. I hate mirth. I detest tomfoolery of any sort. If I were able to avoid smiling altogether somehow, I’d like to never smile again. Like ever. If I could choose between having fun and not having fun, I’d definitely choose not having fun.

4. Boy, I sure hope someone says something awful about me behind my back today, and further, I really hope no one sticks up for me when that happens.

5. I think I’m really starting to trust my teammates, and that sucks.

(Do you see the opportunity yet?)

They need leaders. They need people to lead them where they already want to go. It’s not like you’d be leading them toward some undesirable state of affairs. On the contrary, you’d be leading them toward a trusting, honest, healthy, passionate, and maybe even—gasp—fun culture, which is exactly what most people want anyway. So if so many people want this, why do many people find themselves in environments that are none of the things they actually want? What’s missing?

Easy. You are.

Organizations need leaders. Real leaders.

They don’t necessarily need more people with titles. They need more people who develop a certain angst when they see their workplace dynamic going sideways on them, coupled with the desire and drive to do something to make a difference.

They need people with the guts to be vulnerable with their teammates. They need people with the courage to stand up and take their workplaces back from the negative folks lurking in the cubicle shadows.

They need people who might be a little crazy, but are passionate about being human, and fun, and creative, and helpful, and kind, and decent to other humans.

They need people with enough vision and passion to decide they’re going to make a difference in their workplace. They need people who are committed to being a force for good in the organization.

They need you.

7 thoughts on “Top Posts of 2012: 5 Things Employees Aren’t Thinking

  • Matt,

    Funny and spot-on post! Here is another item I’d add to your list of things your employees are NOT saying: “I see a direct correlation between my job and the company’s brand.” Most employees don’t understand that they must live your brand. It’s up to the organization’s leaders to build that bridge and connection.


  • I get where you’re coming from and agree with most of it. However, as to item #5:

    I hate _enforced_ fun. Most “team-building events”, required-attendance “beer bashes”, middle-of-the-day birthday parties, “team lunches”, and games, are enforced fun. Yes, I enjoy laughing, but I don’t need or want to be told when and where to laugh. Work shouldn’t be hell but it shouldn’t be a party either. Too many times, _your_ idea of fun only gets in _our_ way.

    Be very very careful what you ask for.

    • Thanks, Vicki. I understand what you’re saying, and I guess I’d respond with a couple thoughts. First, I think it’s good to understand that having fun can take different forms for different folks. I think we have to give each other room to be the humans we are.

      So just like others’ idea of fun “gets in [your] way,” so too might your ideas on fun (or enforced fun) get in others’ way. Everyone’s going to have to be a bit flexible, at least to some degree. Unless there’s one particular theory on workplace fun that is THE correct one, it would be difficult to say that everyone ought to conform to “my” way or “your” way or someone else’s way all the time.

      Perhaps on the flip-side of the “I-hate-enforced-fun” mindset would be someone who doesn’t really like a “you-can-have-fun-but-only-in-the-ways-I-think-you-should” mindset. I think it’d be tough to argue that others shouldn’t be able to dictate the terms of our fun while at the same time we try to dictate the terms of theirs. That’s why it’s so critical that organizations know who they are and what they’re about.

      Second, it’s in some ways up to each individual organization to cultivate environments conducive to the sort of culture they want to build. So if they’ve made a conscious decision to make work fun (a party, even :)), then more power to them. If that’s your group’s culture, own it. And if it’s not, own that too.

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