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Since Americans Love Meetings

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP,, Tuesday, August 09, 2016
At 6:45 PM on a Thursday evening, when I was feeling quite tired from my week, I received a text from the clinical lead of our therapists at my job, asking me to see if there were any outstanding billing issues with any of my patients in June. She is not my direct supervisor and being more a friend, I didn’t hesitate to fire back to her that she should use caution when making demands of her team after hours. “After all, the healthy ones need time and space.” She is new in this position in this location although she has experience as a clinical director. And much to her credit, she has a high degree of likability and is good at making people laugh. Unfortunately, she is showing signs of micromanagement and I have already witnessed the eye rolling despite her amicability. I want my friend to succeed in her position, but supervisors sometimes don’t realize how much pressure they exert, even if it’s done in a friendly manner. She responded that she was hesitant to send out the emails and she promised it wouldn’t happen again. I don’t see this as her problem at all and so I responded, “I think we can problem solve this issue so you won’t have to (make a habit of it!) She’s between a rock and a hard place. To offset such situations, why not approach the person above her and ask what can be done to eliminate the last minute struggle of getting documents signed (or any other time sensitive matter)? If asked in a respectful manner, you poise yourself as a solutions oriented employee, dedicated to eliminating problems!!

The unfortunate truth is that situations that are not fully and easily dealt with at the top of the hierarchy are then passed down the line. Those people in management who cannot fulfill their job requirements then pass the problem down steam. And most of the time, the request has some sort of urgency to it, whether the deadline is in an hour or by tomorrow at 3pm. Such situations have nothing to do with fair treatment of employees; they are about financial compensation for the company.

Of course we want our employers to succeed, but not at the expense of our mental wellbeing. Later, she admitted she was working 60 or so hours per week. It’s not that that amount of time is required of her; it’s just that in a crunch, that’s what middle managers do, play catch up. I suppose my concern is that if employees have to work that much overtime and not get paid for it when they are on a salary, someone is not doing their job above them. Most employees are in need of their income and are hesitant to do anything that might result in a loss of their job, so they often rise to the occasion, keep a stiff upper lip and endure the loss of their down time. That’s fine for the interim, but such a continued stress load will have consequences.

Whenever you have a complaint as an employee, the best remedy is coming up with possible solutions. This takes your mind off your emotions and centers it on executive actions. But in order to be creative, we need a safe forum in which to express ourselves without fear of retribution. What better way to make employees feel valued than to offer them an opportunity to gather with their peers to gain and offer support, come up with new ideas and have a few laughs. Call it an employee support group, call it a brainstorming group, call it a solutions group, but make it happen and see how it can transform peoples’ attitudes towards their work duties. And while you’re at it, bring in a bounty from your garden if you have one. Most folks don’t have gardens and fresh vegetables at their reach, so they are particularly appreciative of the effort. If you don’t have a garden, bring in a platter of veges from the grocery store, but make sure the dip is healthy. My favorite is Simply Organic, a powdered dip packet that makes about 16 servings mixed with two cups of sour cream. I would recommend substituting nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead. I love the Creamy Dill and the French onion dip! If you don’t have time to prepare anything, just bring in a big bag of your fresh veges and watch people eagerly take some. Right now, the star in the garden is the squash, green and yellow, long and round. This is the first time I have grown squash that produces different shapes from the same plant: fun! Remember, when we eat healthy, our minds and emotions function at their peak performance.

We spend so much of our time at our work place, we might as well have fun with it and make it as enjoyable as we can. In my work place, it is sometimes very challenging to have conversations with peers; there’s just not much time for it and so last summer I decided to have a PARTY!! We have been doing it for some years now and rotate ourselves as hosts. It brings us all closer as a team. I work with an amazing group of individuals and consider myself to be very fortunate.

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