Diseases of the Workplace

What Kills a Business Culture?

Out of the top things that stress out people the most, work and finances are in the top three. The other is anxiety about the future, but I think most of that anxiety, if really investigated, could be traced back to unhappiness with work or finances. As a business owner and former employee of various industries, I have seen firsthand how stressful the workplace can be. In my experience, very few people are actually satisfied with their workplace and much of their dissatisfaction comes from the culture of the business itself. A business is really only made up of two things—people and a culture. Both affect each other. People create the culture, but the culture can change if people’s attitudes change or new people are brought into the culture. With that in mind, here are the biggest diseases that will destroy a business culture and lead to a decline in sales and happiness amongst staff.

Habituation—Do you remember what it was like to drive a car for the first time? Were you nervous? Did you check your mirrors multiple times and turn down the stereo so you could focus? When you first undertake something, a good amount of attention and action is required to perform the task. However, after we get used to doing an activity over and over, less effort is required. This is called habituation. Now, you may drive with one hand on the wheel, another on a cup of coffee while the stereo is blasting. What used to be hard and required intense focus is now somewhat easy and less focus is given. The problem is that over time, habituation can lead to a degradation of the quality of the business systems and culture.

Consider this—a new hire is likely to perform to his or her best ability and take an active interest in learning the job. After a while, however, as the employee becomes used to the job the attention to detail and willingness to learn and grow often decline. Whereas a new hire may go the extra mile to impress others, the employee who has been on the job a while will likely not be looking for an opportunity to go the extra mile. The new hire will pick up the dust ball in the corner because they see it does not belong. After time, the old employee will not even notice the dust ball. They have become habituated to the job.

“Not my job” disease—This may be the worst and most common of them all. I would venture to say every workplace I’ve ever been a part of has a fair share of employees who do not even try to help our their coworkers or employers because they consider a certain task to not be in their job description. Not only are these people not willing to go the extra mile to help out, they won’t even go the first mile. The person who only does the bare minimum to keep their job destroys the culture because the attitude is infectious. Soon, others will say the same thing. What these people do not realize is that a business is like a ship—if things are going well, the ship can hold extra personnel and cargo for a time. But, if things begin to turn downward, only the people who are absolutely necessary to the survival of the ship will be a part of the crew. Those who consistently refuse to go the extra mile to help out the crew will be among the first to be let go.

Staff doesn’t know the mission—Why does the business exist and what is the mission of the business? These two questions must be answered very clearly by the ownership and every single associate of the business must understand the answers so clearly that they can repeat the answers with confidence. If the staff does not understand why the business exists or what the mission is, they cannot be in alignment with it and that will lead to dysfunction in the systems and operations of the enterprise. You would be surprised how many employees do not know what their place of employment actually does or why it is important. Every single staff member must understand and believe in the mission of the company to create unity, harmony and a positive working culture. Without alignment on the mission, the business is doomed and the workplace culture will reflect that.

Lack of communication from all levels—Communication is key to any enterprise, relationship or any other undertaking. It’s vitally important that every person in an organization is able to properly communicate with other coworkers, management and ownership. So many organizations have staff that don’t speak to each other or even resent other individuals in the business. If there is a lack of communication in the workplace, basic functions of the organization will not be able to be carried out properly. Moreover, mistakes will not be caught or voiced to ensure that systems are put in place to keep the problems from occurring again.

Perhaps the most important reason for great communication is that people thrive when they feel they are a part of something special. They need to be reminded what the mission is, what needs to be done, how it should be done, who needs to do it and why it is important that tasks are accomplished. Much like a relationship, all parties need to feel like there is an open line of communication so that growth can occur, both for the individuals and the company as a while. Without it, employees will begin to resent the business and other staff and the business will suffer.

No focus on harmony—I’ve written previously about the importance of harmony in a relationship and a workplace. I’m a strong believer that harmony among all associates in a business is necessary for a happy workplace. If discord or animosity exists even among a few employees, it will quickly sweep through the entire organization like a virus. Soon, the happiest, most productive people will find themselves subject to the unhappy that comes with a lack of harmony. It should be that we all strive to work together with each other to achieve a common goal or mission. To do this, harmony is required. Watch out for people with negative mental attitudes. They will destroy a culture and kill a business. My advice would be to look closely at your own actions and beliefs to make sure that you are not the one guilty of a negative mental attitude. Hint: if you believe that everyone else at the job sucks except you, you’re probably the one guilty of spreading negativity and ruining the harmony in the workplace.

Not enough focus on growth—Nature requires growth from every living thing. If you are not growing, you are vulnerable. If a relationship is not growing, it’s declining. The same is true with business. If a business is not growing, it may as well be dying. Inflation and competition will eat away as a stagnant business until there is nothing left. Growth is required to thrive, and every associate in a business must understand this concept. Considerable attention must be given to acquiring new customers, not just keeping the ones you have. All growth comes from new customer acquisition and the future referrals from them. Growth focus looks like this: New Customer Acquisition—> Deliver Incredible Service—> Referrals. The cycle then repeats. If every associate is not focusing on this cycle there will be stagnation in the business and that will lead to dissatisfaction and disappointment in the workplace. People need to feel like the future is going to be better than the past. Progress equals happiness. Growth equals excitement and energy. Stagnation leads to boredom and a lack of care. The culture of a company must have a focus on growth in order to succeed.

“I’m the only good worker” disease—This belief is so common and so deadly in a workplace culture. In life, it’s easy to believe that we are all the stars of our own movie and every else in our life is just a supporting role. Although it may certainly feel like you are the “good guy” and everyone else isn’t the real star, this type of thinking can quickly lead to the belief that no one else cares, or that you are the only one who does a good job. If you think poorly of your co-workers, not only does this suggest a lack of harmony is present in your workplace, it also suggests that you have a negative attitude towards others. If you are truly the best worker in your business, your efforts should be to help everyone else where you are able, not speak poorly of them or their work ethic.   If you are a leader or an influencer in an organization, this is especially important. People should look to you for leadership and guidance on how to improve and be better. This will not happen, however, if you bash others as being inadequate or poor performers. Instead, they will come to resent you and that will lead to more discord in the workplace.

There you have it. There are, of course, other attitudes and behaviors that will destroy a workplace culture, but these are the most important to recognize and correct. At the end of the day, a workplace culture can be as great or as poor as the people who comprise it want it to be. If you want to be a part of an incredible workplace, make sure it does not suffer from the above listed problems. Moreover, make sure that you are not guilty of the attitudes listed.

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Words Of Encouragement

Words of Encouragement

I’m a huge believer in self-talk to amp yourself up and power through obstacles. That said, I think most of the self-talk people have is negative and doesn’t serve our lives in a positive way. Therefore, here is a list of 50 (yes 50!) phrases that you can tell yourself so that you may achieve the necessary state of mind and body to achieve tranquility, success or whatever you may desire.

  1. I can do this.
  2. I am not rushed.
  3. I am strong.
  4. I am capable.
  5. Keep going.
  6. Discipline equals freedom.
  7. Progress equals happiness.
  8. People love me.
  9. I matter.
  10. I care about others.
  11. I’m a good person.
  12. I can figure this out.
  13. I have all the resources I need.
  14. I lack nothing.
  15. Nothing disturbs or distracts me.
  16. I understand others.
  17. There are good people in the world.
  18. I am blessed.
  19. Every day above ground is success.
  20. I’m proud of myself.
  21. I can learn anything.
  22. There’s nothing I cannot do.
  23. I am grateful.
  24. I know there is an answer.
  25. I see things as they are, but not worse.
  26. I can see how to make things better.
  27. I enjoy my life.
  28. My happiness depends on me alone.
  29. I am not my thoughts.
  30. I can do anything I set my mind to.
  31. I have faith in others.
  32. I have faith in myself.
  33. I respect other and they respect me.
  34. I feel goodness.
  35. I feel loved.
  36. I see beauty all around.
  37. I am present in this moment.
  38. If I can think it, I can do it.
  39. I have courage.
  40. I use fear as a tool to grow.
  41. I dance with fear; it doesn’t control me.
  42. I know what I have to do.
  43. I know what I am capable of.
  44. I don’t negotiate with my mind.
  45. I control my life.
  46. I take responsibility for everything in my world.
  47. I take MASSIVE action.
  48. I create energy, it’s not something I lack.
  49. The only limitations are the ones in my mind.
  50. I am unstoppable!

I sincerely hope one of these sayings, or mantras if you will, will be of use to you. Remember, you cannot always control your thoughts, but you get to decide which ones you listen to. Put some of these thoughts in your head and eliminate the stories that have held you back!

In health

Sean

What Does Freedom Mean To You?

I’m now confident as I proceed through the third decade of my life, that everything in the universe has a different meaning for you depending on your point of view. I find that interesting, given that we have a dictionary, which spells out clearly what the definition of certain things are. That said, our lexicon is made up by man as a means in which we can communicate the physical world to others. So, it makes sense that if language, the most common way to express meaning is fabricated by man, then the meaning of those words are also different depending on the person hearing or reading the words. Here’s an example: take the words strong, rich, happy, stressful, and beautiful. My bet is that if you asked 10 people to write down something or someone that meets the definition of the words, very different answers would be given. This phenomenon is one of the reasons it becomes so difficult to run your life, a business or a government—people will interpret what you say and do very differently. However, how can we function as a society without some common understandings? Therein lies the answer to the question why people tend to associate with people they perceive to share their values and beliefs. These groups of people have similar ways of making meaning in the world.

So what about freedom or liberty? Clearly those words have very different meanings to people. From Dictionary.com, freedom means:

-The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.

-Exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.

Sounds fairly easy to understand. But given this definition, we are not free at all. We are not free to move about without a passport. We are not free to earn and spend without taxation. We are not free to consume what we please without the consequence of physical restraint. We cannot engage in mutual exchange without the penalty of taxation or regulation. But, if you were to ask most Americans or others from a similar cultural or governmental region whether or not they had freedom, I suspect the answer would be yes. I guess my definition of freedom is very different.

I suppose it really depends on what freedom means to you. For millions, government health care is freedom. For many of the same people freedom means paid sick leave and a mandated living wage. For others, freedom means exactly what the definition is in the dictionary—exemption from external control, interference and regulation. Does this mean no government or total anarchy? Not necessarily. To believe anarchy would endure with less government certainly shows a dismal view of humanity. However, if the institutions created by man repeatedly infringe on the freedom of its citizens, one can no longer claim to be free under those conditions. Freedom does not come from external sources. It comes from the desire to be free from control and engage with others without restricting their freedoms. I believe while all humans crave freedom, the definitions we have for what freedom is keeps us from achieving it. I also believe many of us keep ourselves from being free by allowing ourselves to be slaves to internal forces.

Freedom, then, must be created internally before one can claim to be free. Stated differently, just because you are not a slave to someone else physically, does not mean you are free. Do you have good health? If not, you are not really free. You are constrained. Do you have a positive mental attitude? If not, you may achieve certain levels of success, but your mind will keep you a slave. Many are slaves to their fears and habits. Visit any mental hospital or check the CDC website to see how many people are addicted to psychiatric medication if you need proof of this. If freedom must be created internally first, before one can truly be free, how does one do it?

I believe the first thing that must happen is the decision to be free. You must decide that you will not be constrained by yourself or external forces (that you can control). Like most things, freedom happens with a choice. Today, I’m asking you to make the choice to be free, truly free. While you not may be truly free from government taxation and regulations in your lifetime, you can make the choice to no longer be constrained by your own behavior and thoughts. Ask yourself “What has to happen for me to feel free?” Write down your answers and then begin immediately taking massive action to attain freedom. Is it more income? Less stress? Less pain? A great outlook on life and humanity? Incredible strength and endurance? Less debt? Whatever you need to feel free, identify it and work tirelessly to be free.

In Liberty

Sean