“We always get the short end of the stick.” Or, “We’re getting shafted … again!” Or, “Why do we draw the short straw?” For decades I have heard people make statements like this when they feel their department or entity is not being treated like other parts of the organization.
This sentiment that other parts of the organization are getting better things and better treatment can happen in a variety of situations. Why did they just get new carpet? Why are they fixing up that store when we need fixing up, too? They seem to get all the recognition. We don’t feel appreciated. They get everything.
Statements like these exude self-pity, victim-thinking and negativity. When you come across this way, rather than wanting to help, people avoid you. Plus, you erode the positive workplace culture that good leaders try to create. In positive environments, people are more productive and creative, trust levels are higher and workplace relationships are stronger. Not only do positive cultures attract the best talent and enjoy less turnover, they’re just more fun to work in.
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All that said, leaders and employees need to avoid what I call the “three Cs” — comparing, complaining and criticizing. These forms of negativity make life worse for everyone.
First, don’t compare. I have found that people who compare are usually feeling slighted. They are so busy comparing themselves short that they miss the positives. A group of employees met with me years ago to let me know another hospital provided more term life insurance than we did. I told them I would look into it. I did, and then met with them and explained that they were right: The other hospital did offer more term life insurance than we did. I then shared that we offered a benefit the other hospital did not.
I asked, “Should we stop that benefit and take the money saved and put it into raising the term life insurance to the same amount? In fact, we can go a bit higher than the other hospital based on the cost savings if we stop offering the benefit.” They quickly said, “No, we like what we have better.” Some may call this type of comparing cherry picking. (I am not just pointing the finger at these employees; I realized that I also needed to take ownership for not explaining our benefits better.)
Comparing oneself to others will often just cause frustration and lead to feeling like a victim. We all have positives in our lives. Better to focus on those instead.
Another C is complaining. Like comparing, it creates only negative energy. What does it really accomplish? It just wears other people out and makes them not want to deal with the complainer. Yes, it’s fine to point out issues, problems, and so forth. However, if you stop there, it adds little to no value. If you bring a problem, always carry with it a solution.
For example, a store in a location far from corporate felt left out in terms of recognition. Managers would even discuss this. Staff picked up on it. Conversations would take place where people said things like, Why are we being ignored? We are getting fewer compliments. Don’t they know how hard we are working? I am tired of hearing about other stores instead of us! They packed criticism (the third C) onto complaining.
What is the solution? My suggestion is to take ownership. Let others know all the good things taking place at the store. People are busy. Corporate has lots on their plate. If you don’t take ownership of managing up your own store, who will?
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