Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Get Off the Plane!

People who spend a lot of time on airplanes in the course of their jobs have my admiration. I've spent the last two weekends on planes and it's just about killed me. I'll drive all day, but put me on one of those airborne buses with a bunch of folks who look and act like the Culhanes from Andy Griffith and you might as well slip me the purple pill.

The experience reminded me of the crazy people we run into in the workplace. Again, my definition of "crazy" is the stuff people do at work that leads you to say, "Why, on Earth, would you do that?"

My only explanation is this...many adults, in stressful situations, are going to act like spoiled children or grown-up bullies.

Now, here's how I have started handling situations like this. First, I try to ignore it. I know, I know, the sluggoes can get on your last nerve. But, if you let them see that big vein pumpin' on your forehead they think they have some power and they often get worse. So hum a tune, put on some headphones, dig deeper into that paperback or your work and try to focus on something other than the distraction.

Second, if the distraction is in the workplace ask yourself these three questions: Is the distraction affecting my work (by virtue of the fact that it is a distraction it is, but you have to make the call)? Is it affecting the work of others? Is it negatively affecting the image or reputation of the organization?

If the answer is "yes" to any of the three questions then you don't just have a distraction or an annoyance, you have a problem. And if you are the distractor's manager it is your job to confront the distractor and deal with the problem. If you are coworker you have the right to go to your manager and mention the problem. Your manager should handle the situation with the distractor's manager. If this doesn't happen you have the right to go directly to the distractor's manager. And yes, things may get a little sticky here because of workplace politics, so you have to make the call.

I'm bringing this up because the one thing I keep reminding myself when I'm on a flight with Larry, Moe, and Curlina is that the flight will be over sooner or later. Unfortunately, a lot of folks in the workplace don't believe they have that option. You shouldn't have to work in a circus unless it really is a circus.

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