By Dan Gephart, January 14, 2020
Chip is a hard-working and successful comedian. A few years ago, he was named the funniest stand-up comic in Philadelphia. He moved to Los Angeles and wrote for television shows. He returned to the East Coast and grew his reputation for hilarious headline sets, working an impressive array of comedy clubs.
On this recent January evening, however, he was telling jokes on a tiny stage in the back room of a South Jersey Pizzeria Uno.
A camera light flashed in Chip’s eyes. He saw the culprit, and reminded her of his pre-set warning against taking pictures, politely explaining how the flashes are distracting. The slightly annoyed audience member coldly told Chip she wasn’t even paying attention to his set. She was taking a picture of her dessert.
Sometimes you’re writing jokes for television stars. And then suddenly you find yourself competing for attention with a subpar pizza chain’s deep-dish sundae.
So how are things going in your job so far this year?
If you’re like most, you started the new year with resolutions, goals, and promises to improve your professional life. However, while we control whether we’re going to get our butt off the couch and our legs onto that treadmill, there are certain factors in the workplace that keep us from becoming our best professional selves.
As supervisors and HR professionals, you have some control over whether your workplace environment is one in which you, your colleagues, and your employees can thrive. Here are three specific actions you can take that will help your employees reach their professional goals and resolutions in 2020:
- Don’t ignore toxic employees
We discuss the 10-80-10 rule in some of our training classes. It’s a generality, sure, but attendees tell us it’s right on target. Here’s the rule: Approximately 10 percent of employees are rock stars – the people who get their work done really well before it’s due. They make your job easier and fun.
About 80 percent of employees are just fine, maybe not spectacular, but they get the job done and they don’t give you too many problems.
And then there’s the final 10 percent.
Some are just poor performers. But many of them are toxic employees. Their bad habits and de-energizing destruction take up the majority of your time and energy. And they generate noxious stress, which weaves its way into your life outside of work. If you ever had a toxic employee under your charge, you likely brought that stress home with you. Toxic employees do not wash off easily. And it’s not only you being served that daily dose of trauma. Toxic employees impact everybody in the workplace.
If you want to keep your rock stars and get the most from the 80 percenters, you must hold toxic employees accountable. They must meet the acceptable level on their performance standards. Their misconduct must be addressed immediately. Unfortunately, according to OPM’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey of every year since I’ve been reading them, that’s not happening much.
FELTG is there for you: Join us next month in Puerto Rico or April in Seattle for our flagship course Developing & Defending Discipline: Holding Federal Employees Accountable. Or contact me about bringing this class or another FELTG favorite, UnCivil Servant: Holding Employees Accountable for Performance and Conduct, to your agency.
- Set the tone on EEO issues.
Few can thrive in a workplace where employees feel unsafe, disrespected, or ignored based on their color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability status, or other EEO category.
As we’ve learned from the #MeToo movement, it’s not enough to simply state that you won’t tolerate harassment or discrimination. You need to take clear and distinct actions to prevent harassment and discrimination. One of those actions needs to be giving supervisors and employees the skills and knowledge to respond quickly, effectively, and appropriately when they see any inappropriate behavior, even if it doesn’t rise to the legal level of harassment or discrimination.
For years, many people in EEO-protected categories have done incredible work despite workplaces that failed to recognize their worth and dignity. Taking down those barriers requires more than lip service. It requires action. And it requires strong leadership.
Join us for EEOC Law Week in April. Or contact me to learn more about the many onsite EEO training programs we offer, including Preventing and Correcting Sexual Harassment in the Federal Workplace or Defending Against Discrimination Complaints: The Supervisor’s Role in EEO.
- And, finally, get some darn sleep.
More than a decade ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called insufficient sleep “a national health epidemic.” With the ubiquity of smart phones and the distraction of TV binge-watching, this epidemic has gotten worse.
I find it odd how so many people revere those who can function on little sleep. A few years ago, Forbes Magazine profiled 19 tech giants and celebrities who thrive on much fewer than 8 hours of slumber, dubbing them the “sleep elite.” At the time of his presidency, much was made of Bill Clinton’s ability to lead the free world while snoozing just a few hours each night. That’s cool, but it’s not something to emulate. Very few of us fall into the sleep elite category.
When is the last time you had a rough night of sleep? If it wasn’t yesterday, it was likely in the last week or month. I’m guessing you didn’t thrive the next day. Recent studies suggest you probably had trouble concentrating at work, and that lack of focus resulted in more errors than usual. Whether you recognized it or not, your emotional processing was severely hampered, too. And that’s if you even got to work. Other studies claim that insufficient sleep leads to a 20-percent higher chance of getting in a car accident.
So put that phone down at least an hour before you decide to close your eyes for the evening. Make that afternoon drink a decaf. And try to fall asleep and wake the same time every day – even on days off.
It’s time you took the lead in creating a workplace environment in which your employees thrive. Otherwise, we might as well all be working the back room at a South Jersey Pizzeria Uno. Gephart@FELTG.com