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Lowering the Bar

Stress in the workplace is becoming as common as obligatory applause after the boss makes a relatively good point in a staff meeting. People are looking at the HR stress leave definitions more often than they check the number of likes for their most recent Facebook post. Stress rhymes with mess. It also rhymes with less, which is what employees are getting these days with support and coaching to ensure clarity of work expectations are being understood. This is a result of the new phenomenon of people manager’s not knowing what the their company’s expectations are of them. The trickle down effect to the staff would make Ronald Reagan spin in his grave.  Grave spinning is not as pretty as it sounds. Stress also rhymes with guess, and that approach with work expectations, seems to be another cause of people’s fluctuating blood pressure.

This proliferation of anxiety and uneasiness with people’s internal well-being cannot be entirely blamed on big office buildings. People’s family duties, which often include, daycare drop offs and pickups, rigid schedules for children extracurricular actvities and the occasional date night are piling on the unrealistic standards of today’s norms.

Unwritten rules of what is the new standard of individual responsibility of daily tasks, might be the strongest cause of horn honking on the daily commute to our cubicles.

One year at a very large multi national company, where I was employee number 125936740, we embraced a theme of “Raising the Bar” as year long mantra. Posters and daily company emails with this phrase were everywhere to remind everyone, that whatever their definition of the bar was, you were wrong.  Ubiquitous sticky notes proclaimed you were required to elevate your imaginary bar.

To help understand this metaphor, allow me to use the Olympics to illustrate my point. Imagine each employee was participating in the high jump, and they had set the bar at five feet and four inches. The organization, lets call them the Olympic judging committee, had secretly placed that bar at eight feet and eleven inches. For an entire year, managers scowled as each participant failed miserably, forgetting to employ the Fosbury flop, in every goal highlighted in their performance review.  For those not familiar with the high jumping event, pole vaulting analogies will also work here, though that bar will be raised a little higher.  Pole dancing could also work, though I can’t seem to determine the optimal height for that one.

In another selfless attempt to make the world a better place, I am addressing the unwritten rules of the performance expectations, by taking a pencil and a paper and writing unwritten rules down. Realizing that nobody understands cursive writing anymore, I painfully transferred this beautiful scribble to the computer, knowing all would be lost in translation.These are now the written (typed) rules to relieve the stress in your life, or more accurately titled…

Lowering the Bar.

Rule 1

Show up to work, as close to your expected starting time as your busy life will allow.

Rule 2

Deadlines are merely suggestions.

Rule 3

When working from home, give you organization at least 45 minutes of solid effort.

Rule 4

Arrive to meetings within three hours of the flashing reminder that constantly interrupts your YouTube watching at your desk.

Rule 5

If you are a millennial, shaving and tucking in your shirt are optional.

Rule 6

At All Employee Meetings, usually located in grand ballrooms of a hotel, try to be the last one back after the coffee break after stuffing your pockets with a few raspberry danishes.

Rule 7

Anticipate a hefty raise regardless of your organization’s profitability.

Rule 8

Always look surprised when your manager points out the irrelevance of your desire to build a time machine during your performance review.

Rule 9

Never go to work on the day after the breathtaking, Dancing with the Stars finale.

Rule 10

Be sure to submit your vacation requests the same year you take that vacation.

Rule 11

When your boss leaves work early, allow at least two minutes before departing.

Rule 12

If you are a manager, keep your door closed most of the time.

Rule 13

There is no rule 13.

Rule 14

When the legal department sends you a message about your minor violations with company property, reply back reminding them that policies and procedures, is really not your thing.

Rule 15

Early in the year, review all the upcoming long weekends to remind yourself to plan a lot of sick days for those Fridays. Tuesday’s after long weekends are also optional workdays.

Rule 16

When attending Parent \ Teacher interviews, inquire about the lack of manners your child is learning from the teaching staff.

Rule 17

A picture’s worth a thousand words.  A thousand Instagram photos are practically priceless.

Rule 18

Don’t let your passions get in the way of house cleaning.

Tule 19

Embrace the neighbour induced peer pressure, when shopping for your new definition of “must have” items.

Rule 20

If you get up early enough, you will get 20% of the things you have to do done. (“have to do done” doesn’t seem like the right grammar here, please correct in your mind as your stress is slowly washing away.)

Rule 21

When attempting to act on a priority list, always go alphabetically.

Rule 22

Credit card balances will ruin your day, that is why minimum payments are highlighted on your bill.

Rule 23

Never move into a property that doesn’t include a convenient monthly maintenance fee.

Rule 24

There is no rule 24. (see Rule 13)

Rule 25

When you finally lower the bar, remember if you dig yourself a much deeper hole, the bar can go lower.

Twenty-five seems like a workable stress free number to help with your stress relieving strategy.

Coincidently it is the exact age of the computer I currently use to download images through my phone that make a lovely noise that only twenty-five year old phone lines can emit.  I refuse to let untested new technologies like wireless and fiber-optic stress me out.

Cue the blong:  Writing this song allowed me to lower my own bar of melody and lyrics.  I like to model the themes of my message when I can, to elevate my own credibility or is that incredibility?  No I just relistened to this song and the proper word is questionable at best.

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3 thoughts on “Lowering the Bar

  1. Well done, Dennis! I might have added one about drinking at company meetings…
    1 through 11 were strategies I used myself while lowering the bar… On a positive note, It made me aware of what my employees were doing when I opened my own companies! Have a great New Year Dennis, all the best to you and your family!

    • Thanks Rory, how did I miss the drinking at party bar? Well said and let me offer to you the same best wishes in the New Year to you and your family. As always I appreciate your comments and taking the time to read my rants.

  2. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Relax | Breaking Well

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