I am not a big fan of statistics, having realized, long ago, that most people use them to bend people to their will or sell things that others don't need. Mark Twain understood this years ago when he said, "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics."
But recently, a few statistics have gotten my attention.
• 62% of American workers are dissatisfied with their jobs
• 88% of all Americans are unhappy with Congress
• 40-50% of all marriages are likely to end in divorce
• 23% of all middle-aged American women are on anti-depressants
Taken individually, any of the above statistics can easily be ignored or ridiculed. But taken together, they begin to paint quite a troubling picture - one I daresay indicates that in America, at least, there is an emerging pattern of negativity and dissatisfaction.
As a management consultant to a wide range of leading organizations, I've noticed this phenomenon for years. Bottom line? People who work in corporations seem to be crankier than ever. Harried. Hassled. And in many ways, behaving more like human doings than human beings.
I'm not surprised. With the economic downturn, everyone is being asked to do more with less -- and faster than ever before. Head count is down. Expectations are up. And managers, no matter how many MBA degrees or stock options they have, still don't seem to understand how to establish a workplace environment that brings out the very best in people.
Intellectually, they may know, but the translation of intellect into action doesn't always happen.
Of course, worker dissatisfaction is not all management's fault. There are lots of contributing factors that muddy the water. Still, there is a lot that management (and all the rest of us) can do to significantly improve the quality of the workplace experience -- or what I like to call "humanizing the workplace."
Here's your starter kit:
1. Take responsibility for your own state of mind. Come to work in the best possible head space. Stop blaming others for your problems.
2. Listen to others non-judgmentally. Establish the kind of safety people need to speak their truth.
3. Share your best practices, lessons learned, and personal insights. Good news travels fast and it inspires.
4. Assume the best intent of others. Consider that the people you work with actually do want to make a difference.
5. Encourage others to share their new and untested ideas. Remove fear from the equation.
6. Freely acknowledge and appreciate others for the efforts they are making and the successes they're having, no matter how small.
7. Respect the people you work with. Treat them with kindness. The Golden Rule applies.
8. Give and receive feedback in ways that are timely, authentic, and benevolent. Lose the expression "Mind if I share some feedback with you?" the next time all you want to do is criticize someone.
9. Encourage more face to face interaction. Rely less on email and technology. There's a big difference between communicating with people and sending them an email.
10. Create a collaborative environment, not a competitive environment. Silos, territoriality, and turf wars are cro-magon -- a huge time and energy suck.
The good news? There's a growing movement afoot to spark a whole lot more positivity at work and at life.
Like the Positivity Project, for instance, co-founded by Alan Cohen and Kathy Poehnert. Most recently, these two high-minded business consultants have launched an inspired series of free, bi-weekly, TeleSummits towards this end -- each session featuring one of 20 thought leaders on the subject.
If you want to listen in, click here to register. No charge. No waiting. No BS.
And if you have a special interest in what you can do to humanize the workplace, be sure to register for my April 4th TeleSummit - 7:00 - 8:15 pm EST.
It's absolutely free and will spark the kind of insights, inspiration, and ideas you will need to infuse your work environment with a healthy dose of mojo, good vibes, and positivity.
Mitch Ditkoff is the co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, a management consulting and training company specializing in innovation and creative thinking. His forthcoming book, HUMANIZING THE WORKPLACE: How to Bring Out the Best in People will be published in 2014.