Helping each other in the workplace – Hint: It starts with you

Last month I spoke to you all about Speaking up about Workplace Unfairness… It’s a super important topic for employee wellbeing, and I thought a good follow-up would be to share some tips.

We’ve all experienced unfairness, whether it be in the workplace, or in our personal lives. Let’s first look at the impact of unfairness, and then look at how to help navigate it.

Unfairness and how to deal with it

Everyone wants a place where people help each other. Unfairness can really impact people in the workplace. It all starts with how you approach things; some people are better than others at dealing with unfair situations.

Let’s assume one of these common scenarios:

  • New great project – someone is assigned to it… someone is unhappy
  • New promotion – someone gets it, someone else is unhappy

These might seem like unfair situations. People don’t want to be unfair… friends don’t… bosses don’t, so how do we manage it?

10 tips to manage unfairness

Here’s 10 tips I’ve given my team at SSW to help manage unfairness.

Video: Fairness and Help Each Other – 10 tips –
  1. Gotta speak up – See: Do you know to speak up?
  2. Happiness is relative – Unhappiness can come from comparisons with others. Instead compare yourself with yourself, and aim to improve each day.
  3. Get one thing in life, lose another – Can’t have everything. When you are saying ‘Yes’ to one thing, you are saying ‘No’ to another.
  4. The ‘Happiness Equation’ – Happiness = Expectations – Reality
    If you want to be happier, then:
    – Reduce your expectations
    – Increase your reality
  5. Consider luck – Everyone wants to succeed in life. But what causes some of us to be more successful than others? Is it really down to skill and strategy – or something altogether more unpredictable? Sometimes peoples success is simply luck. Read the book “Fooled by Randomness
  6. Compete with yourself by embracing Scrum – Competing with yourself is the best approach. The same with teams. In software, Scrum is the best way of working as you only compare yourself… or your team with what you did before. Using empirical data is the way to go.
  7. Understand intentions – Try to see yourself in others shoes. Understand that people don’t want to be unfair. It is common to be assuming the wrong stuff. Ask questions, and you will understand even better the logic your friend or boss is using.
  8. Be the ‘squeaky wheel’ – “A squeaky wheel gets the most oil.”

    Bonus – there is is bonus to asking questions, the person now knows that this is a topic you have interest in… so when this issues arises in the future, it is more likely that they will reach out to you and therefore you’ll continue to get more information. It’s like you’ve “subscribed” to the topic.
  9. Have attainable ambition – Having goals and being ambitious is great, but you’ve got to be careful. You need your expectations to be realistic enough to push you… but not so much that it makes you unhappy.

    Overly ambitious people are often unhappy, because they never get there! Sometimes people find they are never rich or never successful enough…
  10. Celebrate other people’s wins – This is my favourite. If you can be at peace, and in a place where you can celebrate others’ wins, you will be pushing each other up, rather than climbing over each other. I believe everybody gets their days of sunshine, so when others achieve something, be happy for them, send a nice message, ‘like’ their posts, etc.

    “Always clap for your friends, even if their dreams come true before yours.”Eleni Sophia

Hopefully these tips will help you have a culture of helping yourself and helping others.

SSW’s Favourite Tip

I asked my team which one of these tips did they like best. Overwhelmingly it was tip #1 on speaking up. Communication is so important to all of us. At SSW I’d say it’s almost more important than how well you code, so that wasn’t a surprise for me.

Figure: The top 2 tips were: #1 speaking up (blue), followed by #10 celebrate other’s wins (aqua).

The least favourite was luck – I think it’s because people don’t like hearing it, as it is something they can’t do anything about!

Figure: The most unpopular by a huge margin, was luck! Developers don’t like things they can’t control! 😂

I like to learn too – how do you deal with unfairness, or have you got a favourite tip? Let me know in the comments!