Tip of the Day: 29 Jan 2014

Mac Tip: If you have ever been on a call through your Mac, or if you’ve been listening to music, or if you simply need to modify your volume level then you are aware that your Mac will happily make little popping sounds as you increase or decrease your volume. Not always the best thing. But perhaps you don’t want to completely disable the sound. Here’s your tip of the day:

Hold the Shift key down while increasing or decreasing your volume and the sound will be suppressed. 

It’s small and possibly most people already know it, but for those that aren’t familiar with it or have forgotten it, this is a handy little tip.

Do the Hard Things

We all have a good laugh at watching Donald Trump and his now famous line, ‘You’re fired!’ when he decrees someone on his reality show unworthy of continuing. But I think part of the appeal is the simple fact that confrontation like this is difficult. The stress and anxiety which accompanies it is hard to handle and most people (I’m sure there are some that would disagree) do not enjoy being the ‘bad guy’.

The Outsider
It’s a relief to watch someone else do what we don’t enjoy doing. It’s fun to see it happen. It can also be a learning experience. Watch the outcome of what happens. Sure, there are hurt feelings and frustrations and perhaps even some anger. But what is the overall end result? Improvement. A better solution for both the company AND the fired individual. Obviously things were not working out and neither the company nor the employee were happy. 

The Employee
Do we like to be told when we’re not fitting somewhere? No. But we know deep down inside we’re not happy with the situation. It is very difficult to admit personal shortcomings and failures. It goes against human nature and our desire to succeed and be perceived as successful. So we suck it up and try to ‘suffer through’ a situation that is not healthy. But this does not lead to better productivity or better work. Things continue and more than likely grow worse. It’s unhealthy. 

The Boss
It’s not fun to have to be the one to tell someone they do not fit in. It’s difficult to look someone in the eye and tell them they are not doing what is necessary. We see a person standing there, an individual with feelings and stresses and concerns and the last thing that we want is to be the one that has to let them know they are not meeting expectations. It’s not fun. So we suck it up sometimes. We ‘suffer through’ and except mediocre work and poor performance. We hope that it’s going to ‘get better in time’. The truth is, it hardly ever does. 

The Winner
Who’s the true winner in this situation? To be honest, those in leadership who are willing to make the hard decisions, who are willing to look someone in the eye and do what needs to be done. But they are not the only winner. The employee who acknowledges the situation accepts the outcome. They win too. Because their quality of life will increase. So it might be hard, but it might be necessary. Do the hard things.

The Voice

No, I’m not talking about the popular NBC hit show rather I refer to the ever growing dilemma of social media and personal vs. professional opinions. Where does a work or volunteer commitment truly end and personal feelings start? 

There have been many public cases where employees were fired for expressing their views regarding a situation. Is that legitimate? Does working for a company automatically grant that business full control and access over a person’s freedom of speech? Or (speaking outside the United States) does it give full control over every public comment to your place of work?

Option 1: Public Disclosure
It’s a tough call and puts both businesses and employees in a difficult position. Everyone wants to believe it’s easy to separate the two and just make a statement that they are expressing a personal opinion. But does the reader truly make that distinction and separation? I doubt it.

Option 2: Multiple Personas
The next step is to create duplicate profiles. Is this effective? Probably not. Most people know only one face, and it’s likely to be the one associated with a company. Even if it’s not, the odds are high they know where you work and your relationship. So again, you lack separation.

Option 3: Passive Aggressive
Often this is the path taken by people. Don’t specifically state anything instead speak in vague generalities and hope the right people infer what you intend. I think this is one of the worst ways to handle it. This too often backfires with everyone knowing exactly what you intend to say and serves to only make matters worse. Again only my opinion, but I’ve seen this happen firsthand. Nobody is fooled by a thinly veiled generality.

Option 4: Use Discretion Always*
I believe the best (and only) approach is to be thoughtful and exercise discretion in ALL public communication. Note: I said public communication. Among your friends, in closed rooms, and in the appropriate setting I believe it’s good to air your concerns and your questions. In public, your conduct should always be considered a reflection of your place of business. This means breathing more and writing less. Being careful of your word choice and your tone is important. 

Bottom Line: Be Polite
Don’t respond in anger or frustration. Try to evaluate the outcome of your post and what your desired goal is. Then filter again. Be respectful, be polite, and be good. It sounds simple, but in the heat of a moment, so very easy to forget.