Rising above today’s worst workplace habits

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It is a fact of life that even the best of us get annoyed at work at one point or another. Combine a seemingly endless list of deadlines with what is usually an already hectic office environment and the potential for flared tempers is ever present.

In the workplace, different personalities have to collaborate and communicate to get the job done and ultimately, generate results – and that isn’t easy. To get it right involves communication, tolerance, diplomacy and, above all else, setting up the team with the right blend of personality types.

According to the creator of the famous PAEI management model – Dr Ichak Adizes – the ‘ideal team’ should have at least one of each of the following personality types present: producer, administrator, entrepreneur and integrator. Whether you prescribe to this model or not, taking the time to recognise your team members’ key characteristics – and understanding as a result how each will react to a situation – can help mitigate many of the typical office tensions.

With this in mind, PageGroup has put together a list of five typical annoyances that lurk in today’s workplaces, and provided some top tips for rising above them:

Flexible working

As flexible working becomes the norm across a variety of sectors there is likely to be a small percentage of your workforce which regularly leaves early or comes in late. If you’re a stickler for the process of 9-5 (an administrator personality trait) or find yourself working overtime for some reason, this can be incredibly frustrating – particularly if context isn’t given for people operating on different hours.

Mindfulness tip

Check with your manager what working hours are expected of you and whether this changes throughout the year (i.e. in summer months). If you need flexibility, have a discussion to see what your employer offers. Try not to get frustrated if you feel you’re doing more than others – unless it is directly impacting your focus on your own work and let management deal with anyone who is taking the term ‘flexible working’ too far.

On the other side of the coin, if you are one of those lucky enough to be able to leave early, then be mindful of your colleagues who are still working. Double check before you leave that there is nothing you still owe them – and, if you are feeling especially generous, offer your assistance to help them get out of the office too.

The resident office DJ

Open plan offices have helped increase collaboration between teams and drive greater transparency between staff, but one major pitfall is that any noise generated can travel further and faster. Playing music is an issue which continually divides opinion in the workplace. For some it’s motivational (stereotypically the more creative types), for others, it’s a distraction.

Mindfulness tip

If someone’s music isn’t to your liking, suggest a system where everyone can take it in turns to control what is played. It doesn’t have to be a formal process, but make it known that people can send a song request or plug in their own music. Look to the integrator in your team to act as the referee if things appear to heat up. Employers could also consider having a quiet area of the office for those who work better in silence.

Out of office

With the pressure to be productive never higher, there’s often a huge amount to juggle in an average working day. Add to that the challenge of covering for colleagues on holiday and it can feel overwhelming. Producers and entrepreneurs may find busy holiday periods particularly frustrating – they want to get things moving quickly and be able to take ideas and run with them but without enough team resource, and the ability to make group decisions, the pace might slow.

Mindfulness tip

As a starting point, a simple spreadsheet or shared document detailing each team member’s holiday allowance and dates, can achieve much needed visibility, preventing any confusion or team clashes that leave one member manning the desk alone.

To avoid a drop in pace, try, where possible, to make team decisions in advance and to bulk individual execution rather than group planning into the most popular periods of absence.

 What handover?

The day before you go on holiday is always a mad rush to get everything finished, signed off or handed over at work. When you’re the one left behind and the handover doesn’t happen quite as it should (I’m looking at the entrepreneurs here), the next few days can be a nightmare, working out what your colleagues have left behind and how to get it all done alongside your own workload.

Mindfulness tip

Whatever your job or level, communicate with your team and manager before you are due to go away to organise a handover far enough in advance. Scheduling face-to-face handover meetings with your teams the morning of your last day (at the very latest) and following up with clear emails assigning ownership to other team members, is best practice for ensuring someone is accountable for your activity while you’re out. And if the process isn’t working or you’ve been left without a handover by someone, speak up before you get overwhelmed – and try to suggest a solution as well as highlighting the problem.

Distracting sporting events

From Test matches to Wimbledon, the Tour de France to F1…large scale sporting events litter the calendar every year and are often scheduled during working hours. Some offices put big events on TV, but with others who don’t, employees are left to follow the latest updates on smartphones or by word of mouth. Similarly to music, this potential distraction can lead to a divided office.

Mindfulness tip

Whichever scenario applies to your office, work still has to get done and the onus falls on prioritising and people management to strike a balance between meeting deadlines and enjoying the sporting latest. If you’re not interested in the results, but sport seems to dominate your office agenda, conversation or TV screen(s), try not to get annoyed. Put headphones on or move seats where possible if commentary is distracting or, failing that option, say something if it is seriously putting you off your work.

Whether you recognise these grievances, or you can think of a long list of others that are relevant to your colleagues, the best way to keep an even temper in the office is to pre-empt an issue before it flares – and the only way to do this is by learning to understand the personality types you are dealing with (including your own).

To see how you are likely to react to any of these issues, and discover top tips for working better together in your teams, take this quick-fire quiz to see which personality type you are in the workplace.

About the Author:

Steve Hallam – Managing Director, Scotland, Ireland, PP HR and PP Secretarial & Business Support

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