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Office Culture: Your Job Isn’t to Make Everyone Happy

disapproval is part of the job

The inspiration for this week’s blog came from the most unlikely source, time with my son. I want each of his days to be exciting and fun. On the days we do nothing but hang out and play at home, I feel like I’ve failed just a little bit. It’s a lot of pressure. Not unlike work and creating an office culture.

I want each of my employees to be happy and to enjoy their jobs and enjoy working for me, every day. That can’t and won’t happen. Some days are hard. Some are dull. Sometimes I’m fun and easy to work for. Lots of days I’m not.

I had a manager years ago who told me that my need to be liked by my employees would take me down. He was right. Unfortunately, I’m not the only manager with this challenge.

Lots of managers tell me they’re hesitant to give feedback because they’re afraid employees will quit. Other managers do work they know they shouldn’t be doing, because they don’t want to burden their employees.

Not every day will be great. And that’s ok. Work is a roller coaster. Some days are awesome. Others are the pits. Your job isn’t to make people happy at every moment, it’s to create a supportive environment and ensure people have the tools to be successful.

My son has a clean and safe home full of fun toys. I’ve created a positive environment for him. My employees have all the tools they need to be successful. I work hard to set clear expectations and give timely positive and upgrade feedback. The rest is up to them. Some days I’m sure they’re happy. Most days, hopefully. And then I’m sure there are days that a job at Taco Bell sounds appealing.

Here are five actions to create a positive culture at work:

Office culture tip #1: Set clear expectations at the beginning of every new project and task. The root of frustration and unhappiness is thwarted expectations.

Office culture tip #2: Ask for and be open to feedback from your employees and coworkers. Ask for feedback regularly and work to respond with, “Thank you for telling me that.”

Office culture tip #3: Respond to feedback by changing what it makes sense to change. Giving feedback that is never acted upon creates cynicism and distrust.

Office culture tip #4: Provide rationale for your decisions. It’s fine to do things the way you want to do them, even if others disagree. Explain your rationale. You’ll get more buy in.

Office culture tip #5: Don’t be afraid to make decisions that are unpopular. There is a reason that you want to do what you want to do, the way you want to do it. Vet your plans, when appropriate. Be open to others’ input. And then do what you think is right (within the scope of your role).

Your job isn’t to please everyone and trying to do so will likely produce lesser results and be exhausting.

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About 

Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at www.candidculture.com.

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5 Responses to “Office Culture: Your Job Isn’t to Make Everyone Happy”

  1. Great blog, straight forward and good basic sense but some how is forgotten so the reminder is very helpful. Thanks!

  2. Kim says:

    Thank you for the reminder. Some days it’s tough doing the right thing, and knowing that what you are doing is making it difficult for others. Its more difficult if you do not have support from fellow workers working on the same project, and/or your superiors. In my role I see that frequently, and it’s the self-questioning of my answers to the superiors and affected areas that “did I do this right, or say the right thing”, that makes their questioning of “why” even more difficult. I printed this and put it at my desk as a reminder that I am doing what is the “best” that I can do at this time.

  3. Mary says:

    I actually said this to an employee once and she was very offended! As managers we walk a tightrope daily. Employees look to us not only for the tools to work with but sometimes we set the mood of the department! I guess we need to manage with consideration, and this is not always easy. Love everything I read on your blogs! Very encouraging to hear you say what others only dare to think!

  4. Christine says:

    I have two employees who are going to be very unhappy with me because I’m not going to approve their schedule change requests. I thought long and hard before making the decision. Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to make decisions that aren’t popular. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to please everyone and that just isn’t possible.

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