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It's Not about You

A disturbing trend that has seemed to manifest itself much more often these days is the focus of some folks on personalizing everything. Whether in business or personal life, we see people who always make the topic of discussion about them and usually in a sense that they either feel wronged or superior to others. In the workplace, this may appear where an employee feels aggrieved about a new rule and tells a supervisor or fellow employee that the change is aimed at the employee and intended to make things more difficult for him or her. This could be as simple as a business mandating that the phones must be covered so everyone cannot go to lunch at the same time or limiting personal use of phones or computers at work.

Understandably, everyone wants to relate things to their own situation not only because that is what they are most familiar with but also because that is where they see the impact of the change. In most cases it will not even occur to these folks that the reason for a particular change is about something bigger than they are – for example, the employer’s business which provides them with a job and a paycheck. Worse, it won’t occur to them to ask about the reasons or to accept them when they are communicated.

You might say, well that is just too bad, life goes on and folks will need to adjust to the new rule. That is true, but it does not mean that is how people will react, particularly at first. There will be lost work time due to complaining to others, sulking, attempts to get around the rule – anything, in fact, but simply finding a way to get the job done with consideration for that change.

What might an employer do? Engage the employees before there is a change, explain the needs of the company and ask what approaches the employees might suggest. They may come up with a better idea and by participation in the discussion, they will be taking some level of ownership in the change. That will make the transition a bit smoother and help to remove personality from decisions that should not be based on individual perceptions but on the company’s actual needs and goals.

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