40. Happy Hour Isn’t Team Building + Young Staff Gossips for Acceptance

Episode 40: Happy Hour Isn’t Team Building + Young Staff Gossips for Acceptance (Summary)

I hate to break it to you, but happy hour isn’t teambuilding. I’ll tell you why, plus, why gossip is so pervasive on young teams and what to do about it. That’s coming up now on Boss Better Now.

Links:
To learn more about Joe Mull, visit his website ​Joemull.com​.
To hear more from Joe Mull visit his YouTube channel​.
To learn how to invite Joe to speak at an event, visit ​Joemull.com/speaking​.
To check date availability or to get a quote for an event, email ​hello@joemull.com​.
To explore options for coaching from Alyssa Mullet, visit ​Joemull.com/coaching​.
For more information on the BossBetter Leadership Academy, visit Joemull.com/academy.
Email the show at bossbetternow@gmail.com.
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Transcript – Episode 40: Happy Hour Isn’t Team Building + Young Staff Gossips for Acceptance

Joe:
I hate to break it to you, but happy hour isn’t team building. I’ll tell you why plus why gossip is so pervasive on young teams and what to do about it. That’s coming up now on Boss Better Now.

Alyssa:
You’re listening to Boss Better Now. Please welcome speaker, author, and “Yacht Rock” listener, Joe Mull.

Joe:
Hello, BossHeroes! And welcome again to another episode of Boss Better Now. Whether you’re listening on Spotify, Apple, Audible, Google, Alexa, a short-wave radio – I don’t think that’s possible – or watching us on the Boss Better YouTube channel, thanks for joining us again for a weekly dose of advice, humor, and encouragement, please welcome my cohost professional coach extraordinaire, Alyssa Mullet. Hello, my friend.

Alyssa:
Hello! So, I need to understand what kind of songs can you give me an understanding of like the, truly what the Yacht Rock genre is. Cause, uh, I don’t know. I can’t even, I can’t even imagine what would be included, honestly.

Joe:
So, Yacht Rock is probably best described as like smooth mellow ’80s.

Alyssa:
Ahhhh.

Joe:
Um, and the only reason I know that it’s called a Yacht Rock is because a couple of years ago, Sirius XM created a, uh, periodic limited Yacht Rock channel, which only would play smooth mellow eighties. You’re talking like Air Supply, and I think there’s some Kris Kristofferson mixed in there. And, um, the stuff that was popular for a very short period of time, late ’70s, early ’80s, that when you listen to it now, you know the songs, you know, the melodies, but you’re like, this is so bad it’s good.

Alyssa:
That is my music taste. You just described my music taste!

Joe:
So, I am not ashamed to admit that there are times when I’m working in my office, if I’m, if I’m doing some tasky stuff and I want to have some music on, in the background, I can, through my like Sirius XM app, I can pull up these limited, limited-edition channels. And I’m like smooth mellow ’80s Yacht Rock? Oh, my goodness. Yeah. We’re, we’re knocking that out. And I feel like it’s the same nine songs over and over again. And I’m good with that.

Alyssa:
Well, after we’re through today, I’m going to look on Spotify and see if they have something that’s titled yacht rock.

Joe:
Yes! And report back.

Alyssa:
I will. We’ll see what the playlist includes.

Joe:
It’s one of those things where it’s like, if I’m listening to it in my, in my truck, which I don’t do very often in my truck, for some reason, it’s limited to my office where I’m completely alone. But if I was to it in my truck, I would not put the windows down for fear of judgment from people. Like when I pull up to the stoplight. Right? You know, I’m like, oh no, I’m listening to, I’m listening to some rock and roll, which I do. I listen to everything. But uh, like if I’m belting out the Air Supply ballad, the arena rock ballad

Alyssa:
Yes.

Joe:
…then you need to do that with the windows up. You know?

Alyssa:
I… Literally last evening, we were on our way to somewhere and my husband turned off our own radio. And it was like, I have to listen to what this guy over here is listening to. Because he…we needed to judge him accordingly. We had to silence our own, like, you know, audio so that we could then sit in judgment of the car next to us at the light.

Joe:
That’s really funny. You remind me of, uh, when my daughter was first born and I had first gotten satellite radio, I was just enamored with all of these genre-focused channels. And I love ’90s and early 2000’s hip hop and rap. Cause it was like…

Alyssa:
Ok.

Joe:
you know, that was college for me. And you know, so I would always laugh cause I would roll up to my daughter’s daycare with the windows down. And there’s like Dr. Dre banging on the speakers. Not the most polite thing and be like, yeah, I’m going to go…I’m going to pick up my daughter. *singing* California Love.

Alyssa:
Oh goodness.

Joe:
Like I should probably not rap loudly all the lyrics to ‘Nuthin’ But a G Thang’

Alyssa:
Yes. Uh, no. Uh-uh. No

Joe:
…while I’m pulling up to the daycare. Probably shouldn’t do that. Well again, BossHeroes, we are glad that you’re here and we have a little bit of fun planned for you today. Um, I introduced at the beginning here that happy hour isn’t team building. And I thought we would talk about that a little bit today. Uh, in the aftermath of me sharing a clip, um, both on my LinkedIn page, on my LinkedIn profile a couple of weeks ago, and um, to our Boss Better email subscribers. So, I think you’ve heard me talk about this before. Twice a month, we push out an email that’s kind of like continuing education for bosses who strive to learn how to be better bosses. And it’s free! And if you want to get those in your inbox, just go to bossbetternow.com. Uh, but a few weeks ago I sent out this clip as a two-minute clip from one of my keynotes. Um, my keynote on No More Team Drama about why happy hour isn’t team building. Uh, and within a week it had gotten more views than anything else we pushed out this year. Um, and a lot of comments and, um, a lot of fun agreement comments, and in some places on LinkedIn and whatnot, it led to some additional discussion about why happy hour isn’t team builder. So, I thought it would be fun for us to do that on the podcast today. How’s that sound, Alyssa?

Alyssa:
Yeah. Yeah! No, I’m definitely here for it. Yeah.

Joe:
All right. So, this is a short two-minute clip. We’re going to start with this and then we’ll talk more about it. Here we go.

Video clip of Joe:
Do you know what the other most popular answer I hear when I ask groups, what do you do around here to build camaraderie? Happy hour. And maybe not for a while lately, but for years I would hear ‘happy hour’. We do happy hour. Now please understand something. I am not anti-jeans day and I’m not anti-happy hour. I just want to be clear that while these things are fun and they have their place, neither of them is a leadership strategy that you can point to for building camaraderie. And for happy hour, there are two reasons. What’s the first one? (Audience responds) Alcohol! Thank you! Which if you didn’t know, acts as a push-up bra for all the worst parts of your personality. (Audience laughter) It lifts and accentuates all of the worst parts of your personality. This is such a bad team-building strategy. I have an idea. Let’s take a group of overworked, under-supported, stressed out, exhausted people who spent nine hours together, put them in a small space, and give them all a disinhibiting substance. Good plan! (More audience laughter) We have to recognize that happy hour doesn’t work to build camaraderie because of the influence of alcohol, but also because not everybody goes. For some people, that’s just not their scene. Some people don’t drink. Some people are in recovery. Some people have after-work obligations. They’ve got soccer for their kids, or PTO meetings, or they’re the primary caregiver to an elderly parent, or maybe you’re like me who after nine hours with coworkers is like, ‘Bye. I love you. You’re great people. I’m going to go be with not you.’ (Even more audience laughter)

Joe:
So that’s the clip that we shared online and, uh, that…that’s fun.

Alyssa:
Oh, my goodness.

Joe:
That’s a fun one to deliver from the stage. People have a good time with that, uh, when we talk about that and, uh, it got a lot of reactions! A lot of folks who commented, ‘Oh my God!’ ‘Yes!’ ‘This!’ like ‘This times 10!’. ‘When I’m done at the end of the day, I’m done.’.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
Um, we had a couple of people come back who really wanted to defend the role of happy hour. Um, and so I just thought it would be a fun thing for us to talk about. So, what’s your first blush reaction to that clip, my friend?

Alyssa:
My first thing is, is that, you know, I would say that this is both sides of that argument are true for me at different points in my life at different stages in my life.

Joe:
Hmmm.

Alyssa:
Right? So, when I, you know, was first, um, in any kind of like true field, you know, in human resources or in, you know, the hospitality industry specifically, that was part of our responsibility was to not only attend but plan and do all of those things. Right? So, it was a part of the culture specifically around the hospitality industry, right?

Joe:
Interesting. Yeah.

Alyssa:
Um, through my, you know, later career in the corporate world in, um, health care, it was less about the, um, you know, yes, I was still responsible in some regards for making the events happen. Um, but it was truly more about, you know, seeing, seeing, and being seen.

Joe:
Uh-huh.

Alyssa:
Right? And, um, there was this onus upon you, or that I felt that it was an expectation. It wasn’t a, ‘Oh, that would be nice of you to do…

Joe:
Yes.

Alyssa:
…Kind of thing. Even then not…I didn’t have a child at that time.

Joe:
Right.

Alyssa:
But I still wanted to go the heck home. Right? And now I cannot imagine being able to prioritize any work obligation.

Joe:
yeah.

Alyssa:
Over what I want to do.

Joe:
Yup.

Alyssa:
I…it’s just not in me anymore. It is not in me anymore. We either align or we don’t because I’m not going to do anything I don’t want to do.

Joe:
You actually just brought up another great reason why we can’t use ‘happy hour’ as a team-building strategy. And that’s the power dynamic that’s at play, especially for people early in their careers. Um, if you’re in a leadership role of any kind and you’re organizing these things as a work-related gathering, um, it’s not optional, for people that you have power over. Um, if you have a new person on your team who gets invited to happy hour, they might really feel like they can’t say ‘no’ because they don’t want to lose a perceived status, uh, or not feel like they’re doing everything they can to belong. Right? There’s so much group-think and social influence around these kinds of issues that we have to be really careful about what we suggest or invite people to, because it brings a lot of baggage with it in terms of those power dynamics. And in talking about it being a part of the culture and in some of the other industries you’ve worked in. Absolutely. And that’s where we get into some trouble.

Alyssa:
Yeah. Right? Because like the incident, you said that I was kind of like, oh my God, you have, because what if I didn’t attend, then I would be the one that they talked about.

Joe:
Yeah! That’s right. That’s exactly right.

Alyssa:
If you’re not there, then you’re…you’re going to be the subject, whether you like it or not.

Joe:
Right.

Alyssa:
You’re going to be the subject. You’re there – just not in person.

Joe:
I just had this conversation with somebody else recently who said, ‘Oh my goodness. I’ve done…I’ve gone to so many happy hours. And the lesson that I learned is that nothing good happens after the first hour.’ She said the first hour is sometimes, it’s surface-level gossip. And you know, some of it is impolite, but maybe it’s not too damaging. She said, but once you get into the second hour, like nothing good happens. There’s no fun. It’s just people being like complaining or the word she used was ‘bitching and moaning’. There’s…

Alyssa:
Yup.

Joe:
There’s all kinds of like, um, darker stuff that happens when people imbibe and maybe they’re making passes at each other. And like, there’s just, there’s a lot of stuff that can happen in hour two and beyond.

Alyssa:
Absolutely!

Joe:
That make for, uh, actually harmful consequences as a result of it.

Alyssa:
Absolutely. You know, I’m thinking about like, so, uh, I used to come into the city and um, I kinda just remember too like, thinking about, ‘Okay, well then if I don’t leave by this time, then I’m going to have to stay for like three hours’.

Joe:
Yup. Yeah.

Alyssa:
Because otherwise then I’d be in, you know, the heart of the traffic. So, it was just kind of like a default mechanism then too.

Joe:
Yup.

Alyssa:
So, my, my expectation was not just in a corporate, you know, thought pattern. It was also, ‘Well, now I’m here and now I’m committed, and I have to do it because otherwise, it’s going to take four hours of my time rather than these three’.,

Joe:
Right.

Alyssa:
You know, in terms of my commute home and all of the rest of that stuff. And then I remember…and then I was just thinking like the best times I remember like truly with my team, were not after work hours.

Joe:
Right.

Alyssa:
They, it was when I took the opportunity and the chance to do something crazy. I, I used to say like, I’m over the edge so that other people will come closer to it. In terms of my personality sometimes, sometimes. Um, and so like, I remember like, I don’t know what I had bought it for, but anyway, we had this like plastic bowling set in the office.

Joe:
Ok.

Alyssa:
In my closet. And every once in a while, I’d just break out. If we didn’t have like anybody coming into the office, I would like lock the door, break out the bowling pins.

Joe:
Plastic bowling time. I love it.

Alyssa:
And ‘Rack ’em up, fellas! Come on in. Let’s go, team!’ And I just remember, uh, like laughing and having the best time more than any bar we ever went to.

Joe:
That’s right.

Alyssa:
Or any cocktail we ever consumed at some hoity-toity country club or…

Joe:
And that’s the case that really was, I was trying to make in the clip too, which was if we want to build camaraderie, we have to create opportunities for people to have fun together and find things in common with each other. That’s how they access each other’s humanity.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
If you’ve been listening to our podcast for any amount of time, that’s how we tee up the Camaraderie Question of the Week, every single episode. And when we talk about ‘happy hour’, we’re talking about something that not everybody can go to, that that, um, doesn’t necessarily give people a chance to, um, access each other’s humanity in a really healthy kind of way.

Alyssa:
Yeah.

Joe:
And so, you know, doing those kinds of things, that you just described, at work is a much better leadership strategy. And I think one of the interesting things that has come out of the pandemic, is that a lot more teams are doing what they call virtual happy hour.

Joe:
And I actually find this to be a little bit more of an okay version, right. Especially if, um, you’re not asking people to go to a bar, right? Your people are still staying in their homes. They’re joining a Zoom. Um, if especially if this is happening, maybe right after a meeting, if it’s happening during work hours, that’s amazing because you’re not again asking people to sit at the computer even longer than they were before. I just sometimes think that the idea of happy hour is loaded. Maybe it’s just… call it a team meeting. Like if you want to have some fun and have everybody be silly and play a game or something like that, you don’t need to call it ‘happy hour’. You don’t need to reach for these kinds of alcohol-affiliated, um, constructs, just to denote that it’s going to be fun. Just make it fun. Just have a meeting and make it fun. Right. And let me say one more time. As a disclaimer, I am not anti-happy hour. I like happy hour. I’ve gone to happy hours. Happy hour can be a really powerful tool for building your social network for, for social connections, for professional networking. The point of the clip is that it doesn’t create camaraderie across an entire team. And it’s actually not smart strategy for leaders to reach for ‘happy hour’ as a team-building strategy.

Alyssa:
That is yes, yes, yes, yes. To your point about it, alcohol being The Wonderbra of bad personality and characteristics that you don’t wish to illuminate. I absolutely “exclamation point”.

Joe:
Well, maybe we can save one of our StoryTime segments for you to come back in a future episode and tell us about some of that. No, not a good idea…

Alyssa:
No, no, no, no, no.

Joe:
That’s a hard pass, Joe. Well, we’d love to hear from you friends, uh, and your reactions to what you just heard. Are you super pro- happy hour or are you like, listen, man, this is my only source of joy in my life. And I need you to back off then, you know, you can send us that feedback at bossbetternow@gmail.com. Uh, if you agree, if you have a different perspective, we’d love to hear it. Just drop us a line. If you’re watching the videos on the internet, then just pop a comment in the box below. We now arrive at our Camaraderie Question of the Week. And you may have heard that bosses build camaraderie on teams by making it easier for people to find things in common with each other. That’s why every week we give you a question you can use at meetings, but not at happy hour to facilitate connection and build camaraderie. This should be done during the day during the workday so that everybody has the opportunity to participate. And it shouldn’t be super high-risk stuff because we don’t necessarily want to push people so far out of their comfort zone that they withdraw. So, we’re looking for a sweet spot. That’s why a lot of these questions sort of move back and forth in the middle of that continuum between silly and vulnerable. And so, our question this week, Alyssa: What is a product or business that’s no longer around that you miss?

Alyssa:
Oh gosh, this is so great. You know, there’s this, um, guy on TikTok, every story I say from now on, it’s going to start with there’s this person on TikTok. He does a whole schpeel on. “They took it away from us.” Um, and he’s his whole, uh, his actual real job is like, his last name is Johnson, and he does voiceovers. So, is Johnson voiceovers in case anybody wants to search it? Um, he does this whole thing on, they took it away from us and it’s almost always about food and food-related things, which is that’s where my heart goes. Instantaneously is food. So, number one would be Chi Chi’s. They took away from us.

Joe:
It was on my list. We both landed on Chi Chi’s. Amazing. Okay. Keep going.

Alyssa:
I mean, and do not judge, people. We know, we know that is not authentic. It is disgusting. Commercialized, grotesque, Mexican food. We won’t even call it Mexican, just some kind of different food. Okay. Food… Franken-food, we get it. #2, um, would be, uh, something that they took away, but they, they just have recently brought back Oreo Cakesters. Hmm. Do you remember those? They’re like Whoopie Pies. They’re like the commercialized Whoopie Pie of Oreo. Okay. The third thing that I have is an actual product that is not food. Um, and it too, they have brought it back. Trapper Keepers.

Joe:
Ooh. Yes. But did they really disappear or are we just, we grew up and weren’t needing them.

Alyssa:
No, they disappeared. They were not made, they were made in the same, like, you know, Velcro, open flap, the whole thing. They were not made that way. Now they’re… now they’re coming back there.

Joe:
Trapper Keeper is a great flipping example. My friend that’s beautiful. I just got this like little swell of happiness inside when remembering, when you go get your Trapper Keeper for the beginning of the school year and like you and I both have some similar MBTI letters involved, right. We’re both J’s. We’re both all about like the organization systems. Trapper Keeper is like kiddie crack for those of us who are addicted to that sort of thing. I loved me some Trapper Keeper. Great list. Awesome. 

Alyssa:
What’s on your list. I gotta hear.

Joe:
Well, the first thing that I thought of is actually an experience that I had this summer. Um, my, my answer is roller skating rinks. So, I grew up going to a roller-skating rink. Um, like every Saturday when I was, probably began at like six or seven years old and all the way up through like 12, 13, we would go to this roller-skating rink every Saturday. And we’d see friends. It’s where I first played Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. And, um, you know, we, we played the games in the middle of the, of the rink, like, um, musical chairs and four corners. And, um, it was just the thing to do. And it seemed like such good, wholesome, fun. Like it, it can be hard to think about things to do on the weekend with your family, that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

Joe:
And so, I’ve always sort of lamented that, that my kids don’t get to go to roller skating rinks. Well then sure enough, over the summer, we did a week of vacation at a lake in Virginia. And for two days in the middle of the trip, it poured rain. So, there was no swimming and kayaking and cooking out and all that thing. It was okay. We’re all trapped in this little vacation house and I was like what’s around? And so, we started Google searching and sure enough, I found a roller skating rink. I wasn’t looking for it. I was just like “fun things for kids to do in this lake in Virginia”. And it was about 40 minutes away and we all went, we all went to this roller-skating rink, and what a blast. It was great. So, my answer is roller skating rinks. But my other answer, it’s really funny. You brought up is Chi Chi’s because I’m like, nobody else is delivering nachos in a sombrero to me. Nobody else is delivered me fried ice cream. Yeah.

Alyssa:
Yes. Oh, the fried ice cream. Oh, oh, the fried ice cream. Can I just say, you said roller-skating? Right. And, and you know, that’s big-city for me. Like they didn’t have that where I came from, but there was one about like 45 minutes away in Cumberland. So, I did get to occasionally have that. The… what welled up for me, like you, you got the little heartwarming, I got shin splints… instant… I got shin splints. When you ever, you said roller skating. I’m like, oh, the feet. Oh, the, oh those wheels. And it’s going right up my shins. That’s what I can feel.

Joe:

And it’s funny how we have those associations. I, I still think of a roller-skating rink. Every time I hear the Queen song, “Another One Bites the Dust” because that’s the song that they used to play this Four Corners game when we were kids. And you like, they would randomly pick these corners. And if you went to this number corner you were out. And so, the, the song that they played was “Another One Bites the Dust” to this day. When I hear that song, I’m playing Four Corners in the roller-skating rink. And then, awesome. That’s funny.

Alyssa:
So awesome. This folk, this is camaraderie. This is team building. This right here. This is what you’re trying to do.

Joe:
And that’s the Camaraderie Question of the Week.

Joe:
All right, Alyssa, we got a question from one of our BossHeroes that, um, it is, I think really astute in its observation. And I thought it teed us up to talk about something at a different level than we’ve been talking about it. And that’s gossip. Um, so this is an email from, um, it’s either Cassia or Cassia. I think it’s Cassia – C A S S I A, um, Cassia. If I pronounced your name incorrectly, I’m sincerely, sorry. Um, there’s a couple of sentences that she sent us. I’m going to read you the whole thing and then we’ll talk about it. Hi, Joe and Alyssa, I run a children’s nursery and many of my staff are of a young age, 18 to 25. I’ve had a problem with workplace gossip for a long time now and have had a couple of staff whose well-being has been severely affected by this.

Joe:
I’ve watched your video, Joe, on the Drama Triangle. And I’ve also shared this with my employees. The problem I find is that a lot of them, unfortunately, seem to have a huge lack of self-esteem. This is obviously a growing problem in young people with social media sites playing a part. I think I also think the reason the staff finds it so hard to stop gossiping is the validation and feeling of being accepted among peers their age is just too important for them. I’m not sure how to get rid of the gossip when for them, it seems to be such a key part of managing their self-worth. Any advice?

Alyssa:
Dang. Right. Is she like testifying in front of like the Senate right now? Because like, that’s like the, one of the things that I am like, you know, hearing about is these messages, what it actually is doing to us.

Joe:
Yeah. So, so credit, uh, Cassia. Cassia, so sorry with thinking about some of the root causes of this, the underlying things that may be going on. And I love that that your approach to this is one of understanding and curiosity, right? At a surface level. Sometimes when we get frustrated with things in the workplace, we kind of go, what’s wrong with these people. These are crappy people who do this, and you’re not doing that. You’re kind of saying, hey, this is clearly meeting some kind of need that… that may or may not be healthy. Uh, let me understand that. And let me think of solutions through the lens of that. So, like I said, I think this is a really astute observation. It might not be true. There may be other things going on, but it might be, I mean, she might’ve hit the nail on the head here with this.

Joe:
We don’t know that. Um, the other reason I liked this question, Alyssa is because if we’re going to try to problem-solve for her, um, her environment is a really unique one in which to try to offer her solutions. So oftentimes when I’m talking to leaders who have problems like this, it would be like, well, where can we carve out an hour here and there? Can we grab an hour a week for a couple of weeks in a row to do some skill development? Because there’s some skill development here that needs to happen with this team and some, um, relationship building that needs to happen with this team. And the answer here is “No”. There’s not. They’re running a daycare center. All right. So, it’s managed chaos from the minute they arrive to the minute they leave. So, our challenge, I think, is what kind of tactics and strategy and advice can we give her that she can implement while working — while moving through caring for other people’s children and doing such challenging work.

Alyssa:
Yeah. Wow. That is, that is a huge challenge. Um, I, my initial thought pattern is, and maybe then you can help me figure out a way that we might be able to package this in a way that is truly attainable within like the work, her specific workplace. But my, my go-to is… I’m going to go back to values. Right? Um, number one, the fact that, uh, she has, has an obvious level of self-awareness right, for her own self, to be able to notice what’s going on and then articulated in a way that is a lot less judgmental than a lot of people are capable of. Right. So that is number one, working for her. And I think communicating that just in the way that she did, right. It’s not an accusation. It is a statement — an observation of what she sees. Right? And then being able to say, let’s cultivate some of your values.

Alyssa:
I think if someone would have given me some tools early on in my life, that would have been able to build my values of who I was and what I meant to me foundationally, rather than having the external dictate, what the internal was supposed to feel and mean. It would have transformed who I was at a lot earlier age. The… the, uh, theory that um, this lack of self-esteem and the validation that is coming for, um, social media that has been true for forever. And I know this because not, not because of social media, because that wasn’t around when I was growing up, I know that I sought that validation in ways that were absolutely external to myself. And so, if someone would have been able to present me with a way in which I could fundamentally understand and become more self-aware that… that the values need to come from within and go out, it would have transformed my self-worth. It would have absolutely changed the trajectory and my focus of what I sought in terms of validation in my life. Yeah.

Joe:
And you’re teeing up this idea that, in addition to, there’s some things that we can do reactively. There’s a lot of work we can do proactively that prevents gossip from happening later. Um, it’s no coincidence that I chose to address this question during an episode in which we are talking about building camaraderie, right? We talked about it with the ‘happy hour’ clip, and we do the Camaraderie Question of the Week. This is one of the reasons why ongoing efforts to help people find things in common with each other and access each other’s humanity is so important because –  put quite simply –  the more you know about somebody, the less you make up. And if I really get to know and connect with the people on my team, in a way that goes beyond just the tasks and duties of our job role, then the next time something happens or I get frustrated, or I hear somebody say something about that person, my brain will dismiss it, or my brain will reach for the assumption of good intent, right?

Joe:
My brain will say, oh, well, yeah. So-and-so is not late today cause they don’t care. Tell them so-and-so’s late today because obviously, they had something going on. And that happens to all of us, right? When we constantly work to build camaraderie and build relationships, we help people access each other’s humanity. We become a room full of more forgiving people when it comes to those things and gossip spreads less often in those kinds of environments. And so, I want to go back to something that she shared in her email, which was that she shared our Drama Triangle video with her team. If you’re not familiar with the drama triangle there’s person one, doesn’t go to person two when they’re frustrated with them. They go to another and they say, hey, this person really frustrates me, or this is happening. And that other person too often feeds into that conflict by going, I know, and kind of participating in the gossip and it creates a drama triangle.

Joe:
And if you haven’t seen that video, it’s on our BossBetter YouTube channel. So, you should check that out. Um, at the end of that video is me advising folks that the only way to disrupt drama triangles is to encourage people to go to the source and to assume good intent. Um, that’s how we get into better, more healthy patterns of conflict. And so, my, I guess, question and suggestion for Cassia would be, what did we do after we shared the video? Did we talk about when we find ourselves in these patterns, how to handle it, the scripts we’re going to use? The… the… the ways in which we can redirect somebody, if they come to us and say, have you, you know, so-and-so’s doing this, this, have you heard about that? Or, you know, I saw her husband at the bar for so long, you know? Whether it’s social gossip or work gossip, giving people tools and scripts to say, Hey, that’s drama. And I don’t want any part of that, you know? And that — that’s uncomfortable. That is hard to do, which is why we have to be proactive in giving our folks some skills and tools to get better at that and more comfortable with it. And that is an offshoot of creating belonging.

Alyssa:
Ooh. Yes. Okay. So that’s an excellent point to tieing it back to, these are the actual tools right now, um, that you’re talking about and, and that can work in her specific workplace. You know, if she’s able to share that video, then she’s able to have a follow-up dialogue about it. Um, I think then the other point that I would, I would try to say is one of those proactive ways in which, um, you can try to manage this beast of gossip, right. Is to try to focus it. Um, like you said, get some scripts in front of them too, so that you can be reactive whenever they need to, in order to try to push that kind of, um, gossip away, right. To reduce the drama. But also, if you can, then as I was mentioning to proactively being able to build them up and then motivating it for themselves, right.

Alyssa:
To go into the values work. So, uh, you know, I don’t have a, I don’t know, a whole lot of tools out there. Um, I’m sure I could come up with some, you can Google it. Um, I have my own coaching pathway that I do for, for how, um, I go about our kid articulating values. Um, but that would be something, another tool that I would really encourage you to be able to give them is starting to help them motivate themselves out of that kind of behavior. Um, because you can shine a light on it. You can help them try to shy away from it. Um, but also let’s give them something to strive for that makes all of that way less interesting motivating in any way.

Joe:
And you can turn that value into a script. So, one of the things that I think is, could be really helpful for her to do is to just quickly pull the team together and tell them the truth about what she’s seeing saying to the team. So, remember when I shared that video about the drama triangle, listen, I care about you all enough to tell you the truth, which is that this is still happening and it’s really doing some harm and it’s costing us. It’s taking a toll on us in a way that I can see, because I work with all of you in this way, but that maybe you can’t see. And so, I want us to put our heads together and figure out how we can shut down this gossipy behavior, especially if she goes through and takes just a few minutes to really name some of the consequences that other people would be experiencing.

Joe:
You know, sometimes I’ve even said to teams, have you ever gone home at the end of the day? And you’re just tired, but it’s not good, tired. Like I did good work today. It’s, I’m exhausted because of the drama. And maybe she can help everybody put their heads together and have a conversation about that. And then she can create a mantra that isn’t in itself, a value, which then becomes a script. You know, maybe what she gets everybody to agree to is, hey, you know, our mantra from here on out needs to be “one team, no drama”. Like we are “one team, no drama”. And if somebody comes to you and complains about somebody else, you could say, hey, listen, I love you. But like “one team, no drama”. I don’t want to be a part of that. Go talk to that person. And if we can then champion that, and this is something that, that is not going to require her to do separate meetings or take a lot of time, just championing these messages over and over again.

Joe:
Hey, we’re “one team, no drama”. Remember what does that mean for you? And can anybody give us an example of a time when, you know, in the past week they just could have gotten caught up in something that wasn’t healthy, but they went, you know what “one team, no drama”. I don’t want any part of that. And then you start to shine a light on the good behavior and the benefits that we’re getting by embracing this “one team, no drama” approach. I got one more piece here for her though, Alyssa, that I think is really important to message to, to, to mention in most places you’ve heard me talk about this before. There is often one person or maybe two who if they left today and never came back, many of these problems would resolve themselves. And so that’s my question for our listener. Is there one person who really drives this? Do you have a weed in your garden? And my advice typically is if you have weed in your garden, if this is somebody who has shown you over and over and over again, that this is how they show up and you’ve given them feedback and you’ve asked them to change multiple times and they haven’t, well, then they gotta go. We got to pull the weed. And so, if Cassia, you have, I’m just using both versions of her name at this point. So sorry.

Alyssa:
It’s pretty, whatever it is, it’s a pretty name.

Joe:
If, if you, your brain immediately pictured someone’s face in your mind’s eye. When I asked that question, then you know who this person is. And so, my question is, have you given this person direct feedback, have you asked them to change? If you’ve done that over and over again, then you may need to pull a weed. Now I also recognize how hard it is to find people right now in any job, especially the jobs of working in childcare, which don’t pay enough. They don’t pay enough and are so hard in many ways that you may not have the luxury of pulling a weed. And so, a more direct feedback conversation might be really the only other thing that’s in your toolkit, which is where you sit across from somebody. And you say, we’ve talked about this a couple of times, but I’m not seeing any improvement. And so, we’ve got to come up with a plan to figure out how to minimize the harm that you’re doing. And I think you can pivot on that a little bit. I think you can actually turn that from a negative to a positive where you say to somebody, something like, do you realize how much influence you have around here? Do you realize how much these, these, uh, women look up to you?

Joe:
Do you realize that you are this close to being the total package? And there’s just one thing that if we could fix it would really turn you into a superhero around here. Do you want to know what it is? And then there’s just the direct appeal. I need your help. I just, I need your help. I need you to partner with me. We got to do this together. It’s costing us. Can I count on you? And even if you don’t agree, even if you don’t agree that it’s a problem, can we pick one kind of circumstance or a situation where you’re going to change, how you would react, or you’re going to use a specific script that we come up with together in these very specific kinds of moments. Can we try it for a week? Will you do that for me? We may have to give some direct feedback and go to that weed in our garden to try to diffuse some of this happening there.

Alyssa:
I’m also thinking about like, okay, worst-case scenario that, you know, they just can’t help themselves. And then you, you say, I’m going to have to help. I’m going to have to make sure that your weed doesn’t keep spreading. And because the rest of my flowers, they don’t want the weed either. And so, every time I’ve asked the rest of the team that any time, they’re brought gossip or what have you, this one team, no drama is going to be their response to you because we all know, they all know you’re the weed. You are the problem. And we are not going to continue to allow you to flourish.

Joe:
And anybody listening to this who has been on a team that is committed to no drama knows how powerful that is because it’s no longer the boss driving it. It’s no longer the supervisor’s responsibility. It’s the people, their work in a place where once drama is non-existent or minimal. As soon as they see it coming, they go, whoa, time out. We don’t want that here. If you hire a new person who starts kind of the gossipy thing, or they will step up your, some of your legacy employees will step up and say, that’s not how we operate here. We’re “one team, no drama”. And I’m sorry if nobody’s told you that when you started, but we’re big believers around here in, like, if you’re honked off about something that somebody did, you go talk to them or you don’t do anything else about it, you let it go. You’re Elsa, “Let It Go!”

Alyssa:
There’s so many gems in here today. Man, Joe!

Joe:
Well, I, I hope, uh, Cassia that you got something out of that. Thank you for the really smart question and the observations it contained, and thank you for the, um, yeoman’s work that you’re doing out there in the world to care for other people’s children. A lot of crap rolls downhill to you and your team. Um, I know that cause I have three kids under the age of 12, all of whom have been in daycare. Uh, and so, um, hang in there and thank you again for the wonderful question. And please keep in touch, let us know how it’s going there.

Joe:
And that’s our show for this week friends. Hey, if you liked what you heard, please click that subscribe button to make sure that new episodes are automatically teed up on your device as soon as they are available. Thanks for being with us. And thanks for all that you do to care for so many.

Alyssa:
This show is sponsored by Joe Mull & Associates. Remember commitment comes from better bosses. Visit joemull.com today.

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