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Getting Along with Coworkers - Barracuda Staffing

When we hire a new employee, we want them to be excited to be here, ready to hit the ground running, and dedicated to doing the best job possible. Many people at many companies start off at a new job feeling ready to do exactly that, and then either quickly or gradually, different feelings begin to set in; complacency, de-motivation, and even outright dissatisfaction. These feelings can lead to negativity in the workplace which can spill over onto other employees and even lead to departures.

A common excuse for both employees and employers alike is to correlate these feelings of dissatisfaction with pay rates, but in reality, there is so much more happening underneath the surface. We also tend to blame the people who leave, fooling ourselves into imagining the problems will leave with them, rather than taking an honest look inside of our own behavior or company status quo to find the root causes and then truly change the game. Several major studies explore the reason good employees leave, and the bottom line is that it all too often comes down to irreconcilable relationships between employees and/or bosses; specifically, something that is sometimes identified as “The Drama Triangle”.

Like every company, Barracuda struggled with the same cycle of turnover and dissatisfaction, until we chose to focus on leadership and empowerment at all levels of the organization. Every week, our entire team spends time together focusing on communication, conflict resolution, and personal development skills, and it has had a dramatic effect on every aspect of our business. We attend seminars, luncheons, and we even have a policy that the company will buy any book recommended on leadership or personal development to share with the rest of the team. We do this to improve our level of service to others and our relationships, both at work and at home, which translate to greater personal satisfaction in our day-to-day lives.

Whether you are an employee or a manager, there are plenty of resources at your fingertips to help you manage conflict in your life. The beauty of the principle I’m about to share with you is that it doesn’t require anyone else’s participation; this is something you can quietly learn more about on your own, without expecting participation from anyone else in your life, yet it can dramatically change the course of events in any situation.

Identifying The Drama Triangle

We were introduced to a book called The Empowerment Dynamic™, by David Emerald, at a recent luncheon: in his book he explores something called “The Drama Triangle”, a concept originally put forth by psychologist Stephen Karpman. Karpman believed that when people are involved in any conflict, they take on one of three roles; the Victim, the Rescuer, or the Persecutor. A single person can shift tactics/roles in the course of a conflict, for example, a supervisor going from angry Persecutor to hounded Victim once the anger backfires, a deadline is missed, and others start Persecuting the supervisor instead.

The first challenge is to identify when a Drama Triangle is happening between you and another member of your organization or group, then name the role(s) that you tend to adopt as well as the roles of other people involved. The next step is to learn to diffuse the behavior simply by changing your own response to the situation (as opposed to expecting others to modify their behavior), and this is the concept of “The Empowerment Dynamic™” that David Emerald presents in his book (also called “TED™”. When the Victim becomes the Creator, the Persecutor becomes the Challenger, and the Rescuer becomes the Coach, everyone becomes more empowered and your team becomes stronger.

David Emerald has provided a brief introductory video to these principles on YouTube here.

“FISBE” – Making the Shift Happen

According to Emerald, the way to make this shift is to Focus, explore your Inner State, and then examine your Behavior in a manner that creates a “Virtuous Cycle” instead of a vicious one (Emerald calls this method “FISBE”). In this manner, the Victim shifts from reacting to events to choosing a particular outcome (Creator) by asking “What do I really Want?” This shifts their perspective from focusing on what they DON’T want to focusing on the desired outcome instead. If you tend to focus on a perpetual state of not having enough money, or frustration at living paycheck to paycheck, for example, you are pouring your energy into a stressful reaction to events. If you think about the desired outcome, that you want to make $3 more per hour by December of next year (it helps to be specific whenever possible), then the next logical step is to say, “how will I get there?” instead of “I can never seem to pay my bills”. Because you shifted your focus, your inner state can shift from one of frustration to determination as you contemplate how you need to change your behavior to create a new and positive outcome. When you shift to a Creator viewpoint, you begin to look at what might be possible instead of allowing hopelessness to keep you boxed in. Even if you don’t know the answer right away, the very fact that you begin focusing on the desired outcome instead of what you don’t want causes a subtle change to happen.

The Persecutor shifts from tearing people down to building people up (Challenger) by asking “What is my real intention?”. If you feel superior to others because you feel know how to do something better and you want to make sure someone else knows they know they messed up, you may be acting as a Persecutor, and it’s important to stop and ask yourself, what is your real intention? It is likely your real intention is to instruct someone in some way so they perform a specific task more efficiently in the future instead of doing it incorrectly/inharmoniously. That being the case, once you focus on the primary goal instead of giving in to the need to feel superior or needing to be “right” while framing someone else as being “wrong”, you may realize that if you improved your method of communicating, Focusing on the goal with a calm Inner State, your behavior can shift toward that of persecuting to that of a teacher, or one who challenges people to rise instead of expecting them to fall (and then saying “I told you so”).

Finally, the Rescuer shifts from fixing it for you to asking questions that inspire (Coach) by wondering “How am I seeing the other person?”, i.e., “Am I seeing them as a Victim and reinforcing their helplessness by my own response, or am I seeing them as a fellow Creator and helping them solve their own problems?”. The rescuer often becomes the Victim or the martyr by taking on other people’s problems to the detriment of their own lives. Taking the time to perform this introspection and believing in other people’s abilities can have a profound impact, not just on a person’s professional life, but on their personal lives as well. This tweak in perspective can be the simple difference between saying “You don’t seem to be getting this, just let me do it” to “I know you can do better than this. Have you tried…or, what if you did this instead?”.

How Can We Stay Happy On the Job?

The most important change that results from adopting TED™ is an understanding that blaming the folks around us for our own disappointments in life ultimately won’t help us achieve our goals, and reinforces the concept that we are Victims whose lives are lived at the mercy of the decisions and behaviors of others around us. It isn’t until we step forward into the role of Creator, understanding that our behaviors and decisions led us down our present path, and if we don’t like that path, the power lies within us to change it. Then as we look out into the world, we begin to recognize that everyone around us is also a Creator, whether they realize it or not, and we can stop feeding energy into the Drama Triangle by responding to people and situations in a more constructive and beneficial manner to all involved.

Using the TED™ technique can help you either stop moving from job to job (or relationship to relationship), or stop high levels of turnover at your organization, because it gives you an alternative to the “go where the grass is greener” mindset that often lands us in exactly the same situations, just with new faces and new places. While there are indeed situations that may be physically dangerous or emotionally overwhelming that require us to remove ourselves from trouble, once we begin looking at life as Creators, we begin to see hope in what used to be “hopeless” situations, and we find that sometimes, even the worst of relationships can be salvaged by a change in behavior – our own!

Help is Everywhere!

These days, we are lucky to have so much information at our fingertips. From world class podcasts, online books, informative websites, audiobooks, online videos, and much more, we can draw a wealth of inspiration from the people around us. At Barracuda, we have many mentors in our day-to-day activities, and in the coming months we will freely share what we have found in the hopes it will benefit you or your organization as well.

If you want a chuckle or two to lighten the mood (until one of the scenarios strikes a nerve), you can check out Dr. Karpman’s webpage. He provides samples of his book, “A Game Free Life”, in which he identifies several common games people play with each other when they are operating within the Drama Triangle.

For More about TED™, or The Empowerment Dynamic™.

Barracuda Staffing, Inc. cares about your success: check back next week for more tips on increasing your satisfaction in the workplace, and remember that you have the power to bring more peace into your life today, right where you are now; however, if you are looking for a new place to spread your wings and grow into a leader, we invite you to browse our current openings in Tulsa and surrounding areas, call to talk to a Recruiter, or simply submit your resume online today!

Cope with Difficult People - Barracuda Staffing

Last week, we looked at strategies on how to handle an overwhelming workload; this week, we’ll address your place within the team/department/organization and how to cope when other employees’ behavior affects your own production. It’s a common scenario: your department has a seemingly impossible production deadline and every time you look up from your work, you see other people cutting corners, avoiding responsibility, or spending a lot of time doing nothing on the clock. It can make you feel helpless and demotivated when you see others sliding by doing the bare minimum; however, there are still plenty of things you can do to enhance your job satisfaction and reputation in a positive way.

We’ve worked through many situations while Contractors were on the job and have heard things such as:

“If my co-worker, who spends about 3 hours a day socializing or going to the bathroom, is going to get paid for 8 hours just like me, why should I try to work harder?”

“If I try to work harder than everybody else, my coworkers will say I’m trying to make them look bad.”

“Quality has it in for me, they are always scrapping my parts so there’s no point trying to work harder.”

“My supervisor plays favorites; some people here can get away with anything!”

In every case above there was an issue or a perceived issue, and a subsequent personal response from you. The most important thing to remember is that while you may not have the power to change the issue, you DO have the power to change the response. But why bother? To understand why, we need to step back and look at the bigger picture of your overall career. If you want to be the type of employee that shows up for a prescribed amount of time and takes home a paycheck at the end of the week, there is a good chance you will be doing exactly that same thing 10 years from now, and not making much more for your trouble. How many people around you have jumped from job to job trying to get a raise, always complaining and giving excuses about why things didn’t work out in place after place? If those people were making good money, they probably would not keep looking for a new job; chances are good they are barely getting by. Is that the same kind of life you want for yourself and your family?

What’s in It for You?

If there are things you want to accomplish, perhaps sending your kids to college one day or owning a house, or even getting a new truck, your ability to build the kind of life you want will be directly affected by your career, and your career will be directly affected by your attitude. Many people around you are struggling and unhappy, and will keep going from job to job unsuccessfully trying to get more pay when what they really needed was to dig in and change their response.

First Rule: Do No Harm

The first step in changing your response is to put the focus squarely back on your own job. If you feel your supervisor is unfairly targeting you, make sure you are following all company policies to the letter and then politely and genuinely ask your supervisor what you could do to improve. Treat that feedback as a positive chance to grow and build a better career. If you’re a machinist and Quality seems to be targeting you, then it’s time to figure out where the real problem lies without blaming others; get process and equipment advice from your supervisors and Quality to determine what exactly is failing and why, and come up with a plan to fix it without communicating blame or anger to anyone around you.

If you are in assembly, for example, and feel others are not as productive as you are, offer your coworkers a beer if they can beat your daily production, or do something to help create a more encouraging environment; if someone you had to deal with every day at work gave you the stinkeye or was rude to you, would it make you feel like working harder or working less? The answer is usually less, so don’t be the one contributing to feelings of ill will around the shop, because you’ll inadvertently be contributing to the very de-motivation you despise – instead, encourage, challenge, and overcome! As good as it may seem to feel to blame or “serve” someone you work with, always remember: “Every time you point a finger at someone, there are three more pointing back at you!” -Anonymous

Forbes offers some excellent advice on the matter, and points out that however you deal with this issue, the most important thing is to not make yourself look bad in the process:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2012/08/02/11-tips-for-dealing-with-a-lazy-co-worker/#566e5d6b363f

If you decide you absolutely must speak to your supervisor about the matter, US News offers some good advice for how to go about it as tactfully as possible:
https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2011/12/14/how-to-handle-a-lazy-coworker

You only have so much energy in a day: find the problems you can solve and solve them instead of focusing on the things over which you have no control. In this way, you quietly become a positive example to your co-workers of someone who takes charge of their life and their career instead of complaining or making excuses. You develop a reputation as a level-headed problem-solver instead of being part of the problem. In the last blog, we talked about discussing your coworker’s inefficiency as more of a process issue rather than a personal vendetta; if one person’s lack of work ethic is affecting you, try to present your supervisor with different process options to get around the obstacle that person represents.

“Be the Change You Wish to See in the World” – Mahatma Gandhi

If some of your coworkers think they are fooling upper management by getting paid for not working, don’t make the same mistake and gamble with your own reputation; the amount of work ethic you display every day on the job could have a direct impact on whether it’s you looking for work in the next round of layoffs, or it’s you moving up to team lead or management because of your dedication to doing your best every day. Keep that 10- or 20-year goal in mind, and don’t give up on your dreams, even if some of the people around you may have given up on theirs!

Barracuda Staffing, Inc. cares about your success: check back next week for more tips on increasing your satisfaction in the workplace, and remember that one of the best things to have on your resume is Job Stability; however, if you are looking for a new place to spread your wings and grow into a leader in your department, we invite you to browse our current openings in Tulsa and surrounding areas, call to talk to a Recruiter, or simply submit your resume online today!

Work Feels Overwhelming - Barracuda Staffing

Whether you are a shop supervisor or a dedicated machinist, chances are you think it’s important that the people around you are doing their best and that the daily workload is manageable. It directly affects you in a variety of ways when you are under pressure with tight deadlines and see other people cutting corners, avoiding responsibility, or spending a lot of time doing nothing on the clock. It can be hard to stay motivated and dedicated when you see others sliding by doing the bare minimum. If you’re a manager or team lead, you have the ability to address the issue constructively, but if you are not in management, there are still plenty of things you can do to enhance your job satisfaction and reputation in a positive way.

There are two key issues that will cause problems in the workplace: demanding situations (that make you feel overworked) and disengaged/difficult people (that create friction in some way). Let’s start with the ways we deal with demanding situations first. If a person tends to complain about situations or gossip about people on a regular basis at work, that will have several specific consequences over time. It will cause positive, upbeat people – who might be helpful, or who might give praise to upper management, or who at least might be a pleasant part of one’s day – to avoid the gossiper as much as possible. Additionally, it will encourage other people around the gossiper who also like to complain to do the same back to the gossiper. In this manner, the stress in a person’s day will be magnified by the people around them, and upper management may be less likely to approach that person with new projects or promotions that could advance their career.

Another common pitfall we all struggle with is blame. It seems tempting and even logical to blame others when their lack of production or lack of competence slows us down. Blame of a specific person rarely ever leads to the best possible outcome in a situation, but identification of a process issue is a much more reasonable place to put one’s focus, and will reinforce your reputation as a problem-solver, not a problem-creator. For example, if a co-worker is supposed to complete and deliver a certain number of modules per day for you to assemble, and they are struggling to provide the number of modules you need to meet your daily quota, simply blaming the co-worker for being slow is far less productive than explaining to your supervisor that your capacity for a certain number of units could be increased if you could receive modules from additional sources. At this point, it’s up to your supervisor to correct the situation, and you have brought a process issue to light rather than making the matter personal.

Demanding situations are going to occur at every company, no matter what the industry. Your sales team may have just won a huge new order, which is great for the organization but may mean you have to work overtime to ramp up production. Perhaps one of your coworkers walked off the job or was injured, and suddenly you find yourself doing the work of two people while your company scrambles (or stalls) to hire additional staff.

Strategies for Coping with a Heavy Workload

The most important thing to do is to calmly and clearly identify the exact nature of the situation:

Is the situation temporary or permanent? If it’s temporary, decide how long you believe you can reasonably tough it out, and communicate that to your supervisor in a positive way, for example: “It’s exciting that we just won this new account/order; I’m happy to put in X amount of overtime hours for X amount of weeks/months, but beyond that I know I’m going to get burnt out; is there a long term solution in the works?” If there is a solution, then you have light at the end of the tunnel. If there is no solution, then you have to decide what to do about it; if your choice is to remain in that position, it’s best to do so with resolve and character so that your reputation continues to grow and you don’t shut out future opportunities at the company because of your attitude on the matter.

What positive outcomes have resulted? Perhaps by working more hours you are either making or saving more money than before. Perhaps you have had to learn a new machine or process; anytime you can learn a new skill at work, this only serves to make you a more valuable and well-rounded employee; embrace any opportunity to improve your skillset! Focus on the benefits of the situation, and encourage people around you to do the same, because when you shift your focus, you literally shift your reality as well.

Take an exact measurement of the situation. How many units were you producing before things changed, and how many units are you producing now? If your job deals with construction, how much square footage were you working through in a day (i.e. painting, flooring, mowing, etc.) and how much square footage are you working through now? Knowing this specific information about exactly how much you stepped up your game in response to a new challenge can make you stand out as a top performer; top performers are far more likely to succeed than people who complain but remain at essentially the same level of output as before. Once you have the exact measurement of how you have improved your own production, you can potentially take that to your supervisor and ask for a pay increase or some other added benefit that will keep you motivated and successful in the “new normal”.

Next week, we’ll look at the second common issue that causes trouble in the workplace, dealing with coworkers who are disengaged or difficult, and we will investigate some strategies to help you continue to move your career forward in spite of the typical disagreements that may arise.

Barracuda Staffing, Inc. cares about your success: check back next week for more tips on increasing your satisfaction in the workplace, and remember that one of the best things to have on your resume is Job Stability; however, if you are looking for a new place to spread your wings and grow into a leader in your department, we invite you to browse our current openings in Tulsa and surrounding areas, call to talk to a Recruiter, or simply submit your resume online today!

 

This is a Tale of Two Employees; Jim and Bob both just graduated from high school and were looking for work. Both men needed a paycheck coming in as soon as possible.

Jim said that he would “take anything”, and was immediately hired to the night shift as a forklift operator/material handler making $10 per hour. He quickly found that having a night schedule caused problems with his family, and the daily heavy lifting negatively affected his health: he had been in a car accident as a teenager which injured his neck and upper back. He quit the job after 3 months, and immediately found a job as a farm hand. Once again, he discovered he had to do too much heavy lifting, and he left this job after 6 months.

After one month of being unemployed, he was desperate for money, so he went to work as a dishwasher for a local restaurant. He was frustrated at how little he made and wanted a better job, so he continued looking for work. This process continues repeating itself over the next three years, at the end of which, Jim made $9.75 per hour and continued to be unhappy and looking for work.

Bob knew he wanted to be a CNC Machinist eventually, but he didn’t have any experience. He researched local companies in the area to see which one seemed to be the best company to work for in terms of overall work environment, employee turnover/layoffs, benefits, and opportunity for advancement. He did this by looking up company websites, reading reviews, and asking friends and their relatives where they worked and how they liked it. He chose XYZ Manufacturing and applied for an entry level Shipping and Receiving position, even though it wasn’t the pay he was looking for or what he ultimately wanted to do. He made it clear to the manager during his interview that he was willing to learn anything he could to become more valuable to the company, and that eventually, he wanted to be a machinist. He was hired at $9.50 per hour, though he had been hoping to start out at $12 per hour.

In his spare time, he watched online videos and tutorials about machining, types of machinery, G-Code, and anything pertinent to his career he could find. He went to his local library and checked out instructional books. He found an affordable night class in machine operations that provided a completion certificate, and after he had been working at the company for 6 months, he approached his supervisor and indicated that he was finishing his work early and would be grateful to shadow a machinist in his spare time, as long as his shipments were in order each day. The supervisor agreed, and after one full year of working at XYZ, he was moved to his own manual machine and his pay was bumped to $12.50 per hour. He continued to learn in his spare time at home, as well as at work and earned a reputation for always going the extra mile, being willing to learn, and being cooperative. Two years later, he was promoted to CNC operator for his department because of the knowledge he had acquired, and his pay was moved up to $16.00 per hour.

Here is a real-world example about how skills training, and an attitude of continuous improvement, changes lives:

Greater Tulsa offers several skills training programs: a more complete list is on our Job Seeker Resources page, but this is a good place to start:

Why It’s Time to Get Serious About Your Employment History:

After three years, Jim had developed a reputation as a job-hopper, never satisfied with his current situation, and this made him look unreliable on his resume. That caused potential employers to continually pass his resume over, so his earning potential never improved.

After three years, Bob had developed a reputation as a hard worker, always looking to learn and improve, always willing to go the extra mile, and a leader among his peers and his earning potential continued to increase as he patiently worked his way toward his goal.

Jim did not have a plan or path laid out for his career: he wanted “anything he could get”, and that’s precisely what he got; not surprisingly, he was often unhappy with “anything he could get” because he was not realistic about the kind of jobs/situations where he could excel. Bob had a plan and worked toward that plan, and even though his pay was not where he wanted it in the beginning, after three years he had established himself as a valuable, dependable employee. Even though his resume only had one job on it, his job history showed his continuous record of advancement within that company, which made him appear to be a valuable addition to any company to which he chose to apply.

What Lessons did Jim and Bob Teach Us?

  • Having a plan or a goal in mind can mean the difference between developing a career and having a string of unpleasant jobs.
  • Understand your limitations, both physically and mentally. A challenge that will further your career is a worthwhile reason to push yourself, but a constant, unwelcome physical or mental challenge made only for money will only increase the likelihood that you will wind up leaving the position in the future, which ruins your job stability.
  • Employees who make the extra effort to learn and improve, especially on their own time, increase their earning potential over time.
  • Understand the difference between a dead-end job and a wise career move: if you find a company or industry about which you are passionate, then starting on the ground floor and initially doing something you don’t intend to do for the rest of your career can be a smart decision. If from there, you don’t apply yourself, learn, improve, and always look for extra ways to help, you may wind up in a dead-end job, but this is often a direct correlation between the amount of effort you put into the job.

Barracuda Staffing, Inc. cares about your success: check back next week for more tips on increasing your satisfaction in the workplace, and remember that one of the best things to have on your resume is job stability; however, if you are looking for a new place to spread your wings and grow into a leader in your department, we invite you to browse our current openings in Tulsa and surrounding areas, call to talk to a Recruiter, or simply submit your resume online today!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, business output in the United States declined by a whopping $753 billion during the period between 2007 and 2009 known as the Great Recession, and our economy is still struggling to recover. While your company’s productivity can be influenced by outside factors, efficiency and high-quality output also depend heavily on the talent you have on your team.

Finding qualified candidates may be the most important thing you can do as a business owner. Here’s how top-notch employees can make a huge difference.

High Turnover Leads to Higher Costs

A study by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) found that replacing a worker costs an average of $4,000. Other sources estimate the cost to be between six to nine months of the position’s salary. When you lose an employee, you’re faced with lower productivity, advertising expenses, redirection of the resources needed for interviewing and assessing job seekers, training costs, on-the-job errors made by new employees, and the overall impact on company culture. Minimize those costs by hiring quality, dedicated employees from the outset and working with a staffing company to fill any unexpected vacancies.

Morale is Important

Most people don’t want to be the hardest-working employee in the office. While a stellar work ethic is always something to be proud of, feeling like you’re pulling the weight of underperforming colleagues is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Rushing through the hiring process just to fill a seat may feel like the easiest decision at the time, but the consequences could be dire – and fixing the error may well be exponentially more expensive than it would’ve been to hire staffing assistance from the beginning. Hire right the first time and everyone on your team will reap the rewards.

Letting People Go is Awful

No decent boss enjoys firing an employee, but sometimes performance and attitude issues make it necessary to take action. Terminating someone’s employment feels even worse when you realize that they were never a good fit in the first place. There are lots of ways to define a qualified employee – knowledge, experience, ability to get along with others, willingness to take direction – and evaluating all of those characteristics thoroughly before offering a job seeker a place within your company can save everyone involved a lot of heartache.

To find qualified candidates to fill your job vacancies, contact our team at Barracuda Staffing today. Not only do we have the resources and talent pool to find excellent employees quickly, we also make it our mission to place applicants in situations in which they’re most likely to succeed. That’s the kind of win-win scenario everyone can get behind.