Thursday, October 30, 2008

Office Politics & Halloween

Seems like I alternate between this site and my Collective Wisdom site as to where I post the latest from Harvey MacKay.

This week, it's here:

Harvey Mackay's Column This Week

Unmasking your office Halloween costume

Halloween costumes bring out the real character hiding behind the grey flannel suits—male and female. We don't sponsor a costume competition at our company, but I know it's a popular employee activity at many companies.

Wouldn't it be helpful if folks would just wear their costumes all year long, so that you could figure out how best to work with them? Let me give you some examples of common disguises. First, the shady characters:

The pirate loves to take your ideas, your lunch, your stapler—anything of value that can save him time and effort. In the meantime, you've been cheated of your possessions and occasionally the credit you are due for your work. Yo-ho-ho—protect your treasure chest from this co-worker.

The clown makes a joke of everything. A sense of humor is one thing, but the pranks and pratfalls get old after a while, especially when the boss doesn't think they're funny. Make sure this goof-off knows you take your job seriously and stay out of tiny cars.

The ghost is always present and never there. She hovers in the background and makes others nervous. What is she doing? Is she spying on you? Are you in trouble? The creepy presence hinders productivity, spooks workers into second-guessing their abilities, and leaves an aura of uncertainty. Don't let this spirit possess you.

The vampire sucks the life out of any project he's involved in. No matter how well researched, how thoroughly considered, or how obvious, Dracula can sneak up and destroy your project, deflate morale and generally be a pain in the neck. Keep garlic handy to fend off the vampire in your office.

The wicked witch may not wear a pointy hat, but you can be sure there's something brewing as she cackles at your ideas. Her broom sweeps away all good.

The caveman refuses to try anything new. He won't update his skills, thinks technology is a passing fad, and carries a big club to deal with those who disagree with him. Don't worry about this guy reinventing the wheel—he's still trying to figure out what a wheel is for.

The French maid/Chippendale dancer, also known as the office flirt, has been the cause of many involuntary resignations, outright firings and some very messy divorces. If your company has a policy on fraternizing, pay attention. If not, and if your job outlasts your fling, your reputation has probably taken a beating.

On another rack of the costume shop, you'll find where the positive people in your office hang out.

The police/firefighter comes in to save all kinds of difficult situations. He isn't afraid to put himself on the line to right a wrong. He can put out a fire or make sure the bad guys don't get away. Don't be afraid to ask him for help if you need to be rescued.

The angel just knows when to offer help, without looking for any credit. This creature brings special skills when miracles seem necessary. She provides moral support when you're ready to give up, stays by your side until you can move forward, and then gets out of your way. Angels earn their wings but don't expect any payback.

The nurse/doctor is a lifesaver who can take an ailing project and restart the heartbeat. She can diagnose a problem and recommend appropriate remedies. Whether the fix is a bandage or major surgery, you want this person on your care team.

The superhero seems to appear out of nowhere and only uses his powers to do good things. It doesn't take a searchlight in the sky to call for help—this guy can sniff out trouble. Don't look in a phone booth for your superhero—he's doing his job quietly and will show up when he sees a bad situation.

The cowboy may seem to defy all the rules, but he is actually an independent thinker who is willing to take some calculated risks. The cowboy is not reckless, but has good instincts and can depend on old fashioned horse sense to iron out a mess. Round up a few cowboys when you need to get pulled out of a rut.

The cheerleader encourages you when you have lost all your enthusiasm. She is as excited about winning as you are, and supports your team through thick and thin. She's a good sport.

Office Halloween costumes: They're not just for October 31!

Mackay's Moral: The trick is to treat co-workers well.

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