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5 Steps to Building Great Workplaces, Employee Engagement, and Passion on the Job

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We have to do something about the grumpy people at work. Grumpy people are like zombies, infecting normal people with their apathy, negativity, and lack of energy. Grumpy people get to work, find out there are no more blueberry muffins, and then stay bitter the whole day. Then they spread their grumpiness around the office like a zombie virus.

As HR professionals, we can fight the grumpy zombies. We must help our employees and managers learn to take responsibility for their passion, energy, and happiness. Too many times, employees let other people's actions or words determine their happiness. Happiness is a choice. Unfortunately, when we give control to other employees, managers, customers, partners, or vendors, we are never very happy. We have to take back that ownership.

Would you, as a normal, sane person, really make the choice to wake up in the morning, comb your hair, brush your teeth, and say, "Man, I am bitter, frustrated, and angry. I can't wait to get to work." No, you wouldn't. Yet, people do that every day. We have to help each other understand it is a choice. We have no control over many issues in the workplace. We always have control of our attitudes and how we react to those issues. We do have a choice to wake up every morning happier and more energized. And happy people get to work early, when there are still blueberry muffins.

When we are happy and having fun at work, we are more creative, productive, and effective. We are better leaders, teammates, and communicators. The choice to take ownership of your attitude is an important key to everyone's success. As we start the New Year, here are a few thoughts to help you and your employees make the necessary choices to create a happier work life.
  1. Tell someone what you need to be happy. For some reason, we think everyone can read minds. Until we each have small microchips implanted into our skulls that send instant messages to cell phones explaining our emotions, we might have to speak up. The next time you have a great day at work, take a moment to write down what made that day special. Now, you have a list of what you need to achieve success and happiness. Work toward achieving that list each day.

  2. Beware managers who wear black mock turtlenecks. Sometimes you can really understand a manager by what they wear. Managers who wear black mock turtlenecks still think it is 1992. Odds are they are also wearing loafers without socks. Black mock turtleneck managers are not mean or evil; they just don't listen or care what you think. And they certainly will not give you the opportunity and positive support you need to be successful. They tend to think, "How can my employees and customers make me successful?" A good manager should ask, "How can I make the people around me more successful?" If you answer that question and act, you will have successful teams. The hard part is asking that question. And if the person sitting across from you is wearing a black mock turtleneck, please run. Run fast.

  3. Stay in the game and be Batman. Have you ever seen a child dressed as Batman walking in a store with his mother? Believe me, there was an argument. The child wanted to go to the grocery store dressed as Batman. The mother, not wanting to risk embarrassment, wanted the child to wear normal clothes. Do you know why my 4-year-old dresses like a ballerina or a princess every day of the week? A 4-year-old does not give up. If my daughter's goal today is to dress as a princess, wear a crown, and walk around the store with a wand, then that is what she is going to do. She will not quit. That sounds pretty easy, huh? The only way you are going to fail is if you quit, and anyone can quit. If you stay in the game, you might have to stay late, work harder, learn something new, or get out of your comfort zone. If you stay in the game, the only thing you have to look forward to is success. And if that fails, just dress as Batman.

  4. Always be open and flexible to change. People don't like change. Change involves moving stuff. Here's an example: Ask someone to help you move to a new house. Watch their face crinkle up and their eyes dart upward, as they try to figure out an excuse to get out of helping you move. You will see the same reaction at your job at International GlobalCom InfoDataVerse Solutions. Every change involves moving stuff. New product? Move out the old products. New management? Everyone has to move offices. New computer system? Move out the old system. Change is going to happen. It is going to happen every single day. You are going to have to move stuff, literally and figuratively. How you deal with change determines your success, productivity, creativity, passion, and stress. Be open. Be flexible. Live healthier. And always have a good excuse handy when someone asks you to help them move to a new house.

  5. Figure out what work you would do for free. Once you do that, figure out how to get someone to pay you. If you don't do this, you will wake up one day as a "Bye-Bye" person. They are everywhere. Their minds are gone, they are "Bye-Bye." They tend to hang out with the grumpy zombies, infecting young, energetic employees with their negativity and constant whining. You can easily spot them at work. They tend to hang around vending machines, break rooms, and smoking areas. If they work on a computer, they play solitaire. At least once a week they will have a dentist appointment, sick dog, out-patient elective surgery or "jury duty." They play a lot of sudoku during the day.
The truth is, you don't want a job, you want a passion. How do you get a passion? First, you need opportunity and positive support. When you put those two things together, it will be amazing what you can accomplish. Ask, beg, or demand ownership and opportunity. When that happens, you start to care. You will never care about anything if you don't have opportunity, positive support, and ownership. Guess what happens when you start to care? You have passion. See, it is pretty easy. Now, go take ownership of another blueberry muffin.

About the Author

Joel Zeff is a national workplace expert, speaker, and humorist. His spontaneous humor and vital messages have thrilled audiences for years. Corporations and organizations nationwide seek him out to motivate and energize their employees on such topics as work/life balance, passion at work, creativity, communication, teamwork, and leadership. His first book, Make the Right Choice: Creating a Positive, Innovative, and Productive Work Life was just published by John Wiley & Sons. For more information on his book, please visit

Joel Zeff and Joel Zeff Creative retain the ownership and rights to this article. This article cannot be reprinted or published without the written consent of the author.

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