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Workplace Wisdom Blog

When the Going Gets Tough…

There is no “business as usual” any more. Do you know anyone who isn’t a little more urgent and intense than they were three years ago?

Senior people who relied on secretaries and minions now get their hands dirty in aspects of administration and infrastructure that they never had to think about before; technical specialists without interpersonal skills have to manage staff; the boxes that used to sit in the middle of organizational charts have vanished entirely.

In such tough times, it helps to look for models of undaunted optimism and can-do spirit, with the emphasis on undaunted. Teddy Roosevelt incorporated goals, location, and resources with “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” Winston Churchill spoke under duress, and shortened his pitch to “Never, never, never give up.” And Barack Obama made it a collective effort with “Yes, we can!”

Great slogans, all. But we need practical ways to improve performance, increase effectiveness, and think boldly about the future. Moreover, we need to do all this while enhancing team cohesion and collaboration, because the challenges of the current environment are too great to confront single-handedly.

I suspect it’s going to take a much longer time for people to recover than it will for the economy to do so, but there are ways we can accelerate the process. I’ve been thinking about how to support smart and strategic thinking in the workplace, with focused attention on sound employee relations and exemplary customer care.

For businesses to grow and thrive again, we need to be both pragmatic and sensitive about working with the people in them. We need to foster mutual accomplishment based on clear and actionable goals. And when the achievement comes, we need  to model recognition and celebration to mark the success and demonstrate gratitude for the effort.

So I’m shifting the way I approach the world of work, just a little. Take a look at my new slant at Seems to me that if we encourage good behavior, and ensure that more people get to have a decent day at work, we’ll all benefit from their best efforts as well as their patience and good will. Doesn’t that sound optimistic?

Onward and upward,


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