"Working Wounded" columnist Bob Rosner, former Workforce editor Allan Halcrow and cartoonist John Lavin have a new book out — Gray Matters: The Workplace Survival Guide — where they detail "the seven deadly workplace sins" and practical ways to overcome them. Here's their list:
- Exhaustion. Everyone has too much to do and is handling what used to be the workload of several people. What to do? "One invaluable tool today is a 'not-to-do list,'" writes Rosner on his workingwounded.com web site. "Start with reports that no one reads and standing meetings that can be skipped."
- Anger. Rosner says that "a stomachache is a sign that I'm starting to get angry. Take the time to learn your triggers." But what if you've got a right to be angry? Ask yourself if other people in the workplace have any right to be angry at you. Chances are the reality is more complicated than you may like to admit.
- Surrender. "Sometimes you can't even hear your own voice over all the whining," writes Rosner. He suggests "admitting your own powerlessness" over whining — but not over the workplace. There are always things you can change; they deserve your attention.
- Obsolescence. "We all invest in our 401(k) plans these days, (but) we don't tend to make a similar investment in our own skills," Rosner notes. Commit to learning and growing on the job and staying ahead of the curve.
- Incompetence. The ever-increasing pace of workplace change, the authors say, makes it even more important that we not only give, but get, frequent feedback on our performance. Seek out regular input both from your peers and your team members, and pay heed to the results as you keep your skills in shape.
- Withdrawal. "Can't remember the last time you networked at work?" Rosner asks. "You're not alone." The authors suggest a "keeping connected" calendar to remind yourself to make opportunities for contact with colleagues.
- Dysfunction. The authors suggest looking for ways that other people's bad habits can become helpful to you. "For example, the compulsive person who drives you crazy can be a great help at proofing your reports," Rosner writes. "Change your attitude and you might be surprised at how all that dysfunction can actually be put to productive use."