Tag Archive for teambuilding

10 Coworkers You Want to Kick in the Keister

keisterkickThere is no such thing as a perfect workplace. No. Such. Thing. Every organization’s got its own quirks and oddities. Just for kicks, here are some of the folks you’ll see around just about any organization. Please resist the urge to shout out your colleagues’ names as you read.

1. The Smooth Operators

These folks, they know exactly what to say and how to say it. They’re often fantastic with customers and act just the way they’re supposed to around certain people. But around others, they’re cynical, arrogant jackasses. But smooth cynical, arrogant jackasses.

2. The Beggars

Like they’re begging you to fire them. They do just enough not to get canned, but are so subversive and are such an awful influence on others. Often though, beggars put on a friendly air, but with just enough sarcasm that you know they’re being sarcastic.

jersey-shore-season-313. The No-Talent Ass Clowns

Somehow these jokers have survived in your organization for years on nothing but their ability to make folks chuckle from time to time. They put out just enough barely-mediocre work to keep their boss at bay, but they’re such a burden to any team they’re on because they’re not really interested in performing at a high level, improving their own performance, and so on.

4. The Ultracrepidarians

You know the type. They’re the ones who love to give advice and criticism about anything and everything, which isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself; but these guys do it from a position of acting like they know everything about everything. (And yes, Ultracrepidarian is a real word. Hat tip to those kids who made fun of me when I was but a wee lad. It sent me to the dictionary and thesaurus so I’d never be unarmed in a battle of wits ever again.)

5. The Curmudgeons

These cranky crabs are always having bad days and believe the only way to make theirs better is to make yours worse. So they do.

6. The Slangwhangers

My seven British readers will enjoy this one. These are those loud, obnoxious people who you just want to kick in the shin so at least they will have adequate reason for sounding as loud and annoying as a donkey in heat. (Don’t ask.)

7. The Popinjays

The pretentious ones. They’re so vain they probably think this post is about them.

8. The Malfeasants

They’re always breaking rules and doing things they’re not supposed to be doing. No matter how tight or loose your guidelines are, these guys are always pushing it anyway. Got a five-minute grace period before you officially count someone as late for work? Yeah, they’re coming in at six after.

9. The Wikipediots

Everything. They know everything. Well, they know everything about three and a half minutes into a conversation they’re sitting in on. In those three minutes they’ve looked up the topic on Wikipedia and memorized what they perceive to be the main points, as well as some more obscure facts to give the impression that they understand the finer nuances of whatever you’re discussing. Just for kicks sometime, start talking about a word that isn’t a word and ask them what they think about it. Watch them squirm, check their phone, then squirm some more.

complaining10. The Fuss-Buckets

They find something to complain about with everything, and I mean everything. It may sound something like this:

Relaxed dress code? Great. But I still can’t wear my tankini? How lame.

Or this:

I think you can have fun at work too, but there’s a time for work and a time for fun.

Or this:

With all that laughing it’s a wonder they get anything done…

So look, if you’re one of these, don’t be too hard on yourself; you’re certainly not alone. We’re all human and we’ve all got our “stuff.” As teammates and leaders, it’s on us to help everyone from the Smooth Operators to the Fuss-Buckets grow and mature and develop, remembering that we’re far from perfect ourselves.


Humanness: The Antidote to Leadership Dysfunction

opAs I’ve read and considered the various ideas contained within any number of leadership-related books, the idea of dysfunction being related to our humanness, or lack thereof, becomes increasingly clear. Whether it be the concept of dehumanization in some ways leading to, and in some ways being an effect of, oppression; or whether it be the idea of dysfunction stemming from a lack of being loved and being able to love; there is an emerging theme. quote-love-and-work-are-the-cornerstones-of-our-humanness-sigmund-freud-65999

It seems that the more we, within the context of organizations and relationships, can be more appropriately human, the more healthy and functional those organizations and relationships will be. It seems overly simplistic, but perhaps that’s the beauty of it. As we learn to better love and serve, dysfunction begins to diminish.

If on both sides of the leader-follower relationship there is a willingness to be more “human,” for lack of a better term, the relationships, as well as the group or organization, will begin to function more appropriately. As teams and groups embrace their humanness, they will be more willing to serve others (since they’re our fellow humans), admit faults (since to err is very much human), listen to input (since different minds bring different and possibly better perspectives to a given situation), and so on.

So my question, then, is this: Within our organizations, how can we encourage others to be more appropriately human and functional, and as a result serve others well, admit faults, solicit feedback, and the like? How can we encourage both leaders and followers within our respective organizations to embrace their humanness, and as a result become more functional?

6 Signs Your Team Needs to Fight More

fightingAs you look around the room, you see lots of heads nodding up and down, toothy smiles pasted onto each face. Your boss has just pitched an idea, and you and some of the rest of your team thinks it’s not the most wonderful one he’s ever come up with, so naturally you indicate that by nodding and smiling in affirmation.

In truth, it ought to be a red flag if a team can sit in meetings together discussing important things without engaging in robust and passionate discussion about those things sometimes. If teams can discuss things without any dissent or diverging opinions being aired, they can be almost certain things are being left unsaid or unexplored. It’s tough to imagine a bunch of adult professionals sitting in a room agreeing about everything all the time.

It’s not only OK to engage in healthy conflict around ideas, it’s important to do it. We’ve got to pick more fights. We’ve got to push on each other’s ideas because that’s how ideas get vetted and get better.

What are some signs your team needs to fight more?

1. No one questions anything. Conflict essentially is considered off-limits.

2. There is an environment in place where politics and gossip thrive. More conversation about ideas and strategy happens away from the team than with it. Think of it this way: Your team will discuss the vision and strategy of the team; it’s just a matter of where it’s  going to happen. Encourage healthy conflict, and you’ll be able to manage and push those conversations in a positive and helpful direction.

3. Everyone has well-defined calf muscles.This happens as a result of tiptoeing too much. Team members spend more time and effort trying to avoid conflict than they do trying to come up with proactive, innovative ideas.

4. Not everyone has ideas. It’s not that everyone has to have a strong opinion about every single topic that’s discussed, but at the same time if someone sits silently meeting after meeting, you’ve got to wonder why.

5. Tapdancing is considered teambuilding. Everyone ignores controversial topics precisely because they could be controversial. So they dance around them and rationalize it as preserving the peace. Or something.

6. There are more disclaimers than an anti-depression drug commercial. No one feels like they can say anything without prefacing it with some sort of disclaimer. Now, I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, and I don’t want to sound like I have any issues with So-and-So’s idea, because I don’t and I think So-and-So is just fabulous and always has such terrific thoughts; but…

Leaders, It’s on Us

This is an especially important point to grasp if you are in any sort of leadership role within your group, whether that’s a team, department, small business, or large corporation. We have to understand that we need our teams to work and think through our ideas. As humans, we’re nowhere near perfect, so we need to be aware (sometimes painfully aware) of the fact that not all of the ideas we have or will come up with are good ones. We must depend on our teams to think through ideas, critique them, and offer alternatives. It’s only after that sort of exercise that we can move forward together, confident we’ve explored the options we could think of and selected the best one, even if it’s not the one that we, as their leaders, were advocating.

This sort of healthy, productive conflict doesn’t happen automatically. It must be worked at and practiced. You may even want to consider calling someone in from the outside to sit in on a couple strategic meetings and help you identify when and where these discussions should be taking place, as well as what those discussions might sound like. If your team currently doesn’t engage in ideological conflict, it’s going to be a lot like learning how to ride a bike all over again at first. It likely will feel uncomfortable and slightly awkward, but your team needs to persevere through that stage so you can begin to really reap the benefits of cultivating that type of engaged and creative culture.