How to Be Less of a Grump at Work

Photo: Berc

Lurking issues not properly handled often lead to frustration, fatigue, a vague feeling of impending doom, and the fear of missing an opportunity. Take these steps to confront common causes of grumpiness, so that you can be authentically optimistic, pleasant, and energized by your business almost all of the time.

Let People Know When You are Really Busy

If you are unusually busy, then you may become frustrated when your employees interrupt you with non-urgent matters that do not advance your progress toward a project deadline, shipment of customer orders, or response to a crisis. Certainly, you want to be available to team members so that you can coach and mentor them. But there are days when you need time dedicated to mission-critical tasks.

So, rather than scowl at employees, let them know when you are busy… and that you are not able to provide your usual upbeat and inspiring leadership. Be clear about the signs of your extreme busyness, such as a closed door, muted Blackberry, and delayed response to email. And, if possible, advise when your schedule and availability will be back to normal.

These times should be the exception to your routine. If you are nearly always overwhelmingly busy and can’t be bothered most of the time, then reconsider how the workload is assigned, how orders are prioritized, and crises are avoided. Make adjustments so that your business and its employees invigorate you rather than annoy you.

Ask Questions Rather than Make Assumptions

If you become aware of a potentially destructive situation, find out what is really happening rather than making wrong assumptions that dampen your enthusiasm. For example, what if your honest employee seems to be violating a policy, a loyal customer seems to be vetting competitors, and a long-time vendor seems to be requiring long lead times than usual?

Rather than concerning yourself with the outcomes of sketchy scenarios, ask open-ended questions and be willing to listen. Conducting your own investigation brings clarity to whatever errors or inconsistencies may exist. Being able to quickly identify and address possible predicaments, rather than allowing them to linger, can stem grumpiness or lessen its duration.

Deal with Trouble as Quickly as Possible

Minor yet unresolved predicaments can lead to grumpiness. These types of troubles (and the troublemakers who cause them) will not significantly harm your company but nevertheless require attention that you’d like to direct elsewhere.

Devise a plan to deal with problems as swiftly as possible. This process is difficult but the pay-off is satisfying. At the same time, your employees’ collective mood will brighten as they will be glad that you took care of nagging issues for your sake and for the long-term viability of the business.

Hire Innovative Thinkers who will Accept Guidance

Ideally, your employees take general direction from you and figure out ways to deliver results aligned with the business’ strategy. If you must provide detailed instructions for all assignments, then you may be grumpy because of the energy and hours required for this constant supervision. Similarly, if you are the only one who has the capacity and willingness to bring innovation to your business, then you may be frustrated with resistance from employees oblivious to new opportunities and changes in the marketplace.

People who take charge when needed but also accept guidance when appropriate can boost business results and enthusiasm. These are the folks who do what they are supposed to do and are not driven crazy by slight modifications to your annual business plan.

To hire or engage such people as full-time employees or contract workers, look for those who have:

  • initiated new projects;
  • contributed to teamwork;
  • adapted to varying organizational roles;
  • learned from failures, and;
  • experienced success in many realms.

Find Time to Conceive and Execute Fresh Ideas

If you spend most of your time managing day-to-day activities, then you may be unable to concentrate on conceiving and executing new ways to improve your business, deliver more innovative products, thrill more customers, and cut costs while keeping service levels high.

Even if you absolutely adore overseeing daily routines, there will be days when you become envious of businesses similar to yours that are successfully leveraging new technologies, pursuing new strategic relationships, and landing new accounts. Then, you will be sorry (and, yes, grumpy) that you haven’t tackled such challenges and reaped such rewards due to lack of time focused on thinking and acting strategically.

To stay upbeat, set aside time to dream up and implement new ideas.

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