Q: I run a fairly decent-size PR agency. I employ a lot of very
young, talented PR execs. To keep the office atmosphere enjoyable, I've
equipped the office with gadgets and things that make the work
environment as fun as possible. In fact, there's a small recreation room
where they can get away for a while to clear their heads and relax.
While I have found this to produce some excellent work, some of the
execs take advantage of this to the point where I'm considering going
back to a more straightforward, corporate type of office. I want this to
be a fun place to work, but I don't want this to turn into Romper Room.
What can I do?
Ms. C, San Jose, CA
A: I'm sure that your efforts to enliven your work space are not
unappreciated by your staff. Play in the work space can stimulate
creative thinking in boom times, as Elliot and Michael from
Thirtysomething would no doubt confirm.
However, let's face it, during the dot-com acceleration, we needed this
respite to keep employees in the office for long hours, instead of allow
them to retreat to the gym or the bar or, God help us, to the bosom of
their loving families. Now, we all have to fight for accounts and our
time is not exactly at a premium. So, while your toys might have been a
great idea during the high octane dot-com era, today they may just be a
distraction from the harsh reality of the tech decline.
It's time to have an honest discussion with your staff about the proper
balance between work and play. Remind them that no one can afford to run
to the pool table for comfort.
Q: Everyone knows the economy is bad and business is suffering. However,
I think that my boss is exacerbating the problem when it comes to
finding new business. He suddenly has new business quotas, and requires
multiple, redundant progress reports that are impeding our ability to do
our jobs. I know, he has done this to make sure that we are doing all we
can to get new accounts. But it seems we are buried under paperwork when
our time would be better spent drumming up new business. Does he not
Ms. P, New York
A: The first line of defense of any panicked executive, whose bottom
line depends on your bottom line, is to mandate more paperwork, i.e.
evidence of voracious effort towards generating the moola. Simply put,
you have to toe the line right now, because your boss is feeling
pressure from his boss, and so on.
This may sound like passing the buck, and maybe it is, but you'll have
more leverage once you start showing better results. Find opportunities
to inject your own opinions about the type of work environment that will
produce the best results. But be sure that when you present these ideas,
you come from a position of strength and effectiveness in meeting
Q: I can't seem to get up on time in the morning, and I'm always late
for work. I get all my work done, and my office is laid back, but I
still think my boss and co-workers are annoyed. How do I handle
Mr. D, Dallas
A: How old are you? Can you dress yourself yet? If so, you can get up on
time. I hear Dallas actually has Starbucks now - they do a mean triple
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