Tagged: Management

Dealing With Frustration

I used to get really frustrated at work. I did a number of things wrong when frustrated, like complaining to the wrong people, griping, and whining. After 14 months of a startup, work rarely frustrates me any more, but dammit my kids sure can.  Let me set the stage.DSC_0021

My family consists of my super-champion wife, a 5.5 year old, and 3.5 year old boy/girl twins.  All you families with single kids, I’m ready to acknowledge your life ain’t easy.

Keeping 1 child alive is no simple task, though once you get the hang of it is kinda like having a dog. You can get back to a semi-normal routine, just don’t leave them home alone overnight. Add 2, 3, 4 kids and your life spins out-of-control.  This is where a Chinese water-torture type of frustration can settle in due to incessant repeating, screaming loudly, constant demands that can never be fulfilled [Daddy, can we have a Chic-Fil-A in our house?].

From sunup to sundown, three small voices are shouting as loudly as they can into our ears about their “needs”: Breakfast, snacks, playing, fighting, crapping.  They’re not going to change anytime soon, so we’re forced to find coping mechanisms.

  1. Asking questions about what the heck they’re shouting about. People, including small children, love talking about their concerns. 
  2. Pulling my hair up and out.  Around the office it’s known as the rooster.
  3. Exercising.
  4. Renaming Happy Hour and Cocktail Hour to the Punching Hour, because it’s the hour I most feel like punching my kids [haven’t yet].
  5. Moving up the Punching Hour from 5pm to 3pm on weekends. Nothing calms the nerves like hiding somewhere and sipping a cold beer.
  6. Waking up earlier.  That is, trying to arise before the children climb in bed and jump on my nuts.
  7. Dedicated alone time or dates with the kids.
  8. Dedicated date nights with the spouse.
  9. Deep breathing.

Maybe there’s a lesson in here somewhere…and I do love my children.

Symptoms Vs. Cause

Driving in this morning I thought about a recent conversation with a former co-worker.  The topic: how to handle co-workers that are gossiping, griping, and complaining.  Yes – this is what adulthood looks like.  Thinking about mundane managerial topics. What happened to me?  I used to be cool…see below.


Dave Ramsey offers a unique perspective on this.  Gossip once = warning. Gossip twice = you’re fired.  Not sure I’m ready for that yet.

Looking back on that conversation, I think most of the bad advice I was spouting was an attempt to treat the symptoms, not the cause.  Possible “causes” of this behavior might be:

* Frustration with rapid change and lack of formalized structure
* Feeling like they don’t have a stake in process
* Different expectations of how they want to be managed vs. are being managed
* Bad management
* Different character traits – they value/see the world differently
* Professional immaturity

Possible treatments for each requires a different approach.  1 – 3 requires listening; asking lots of questions to learn where they’re coming from, instead of preaching here’s what you need to do.  Number 4 is your own fault. Number 5 – getting the entire company to take one of the StrengthsFinder tests or something similar could help here.  #6 is when you’ve ruled everything else out and it’s time to move on.