Leadership Caffeine—Navigating a Truly Bad Day at the Office

image of a coffee cupA good friend and leadership mentor once offered: “you know it’s a bad day at the office when your deodorant fails by 10:30 a.m.”

Spend enough time managing and leading and you’re bound to run into a day that resembles this:

Your right hand marketing person wants to talk with you later this morning.

Your boss wants to talk with you now.

Your competitor just announced a new product offering that your team has no response for and your sales executive wants to meet with you sooner than now.

You were suddenly invited to show up at the board meeting and you’re not sure why, but you suspect it has something to do with your competitor’s announcement.

In a fit of insanity, you picked up your ringing telephone only to find yourself connected to Attila the Customer who found little humor in the bugs in your latest release that crashed his restaurant system during the lunch rush yesterday.

The head of the support group is outside your office with sweat running down his forehead. He was the one who transferred the call from Attila the Customer.

The VP of Sales just muscled the head of support out of the way. You’re not certain, but you think he’s foaming at the mouth.

The CEO needs the slides you were preparing for him for use at the board meeting. You completed them last night at midnight, but the funny blue screen of death on your computer monitor suggests that they might not be forthcoming.

You meet with your right hand person. She resigns. She’s heading to your competitor who judging by their latest announcement has their act together.

You glance at the clock. It’s 10:30 a.m. You notice that your deodorant just failed.

Six Ideas for Keeping it Together During Really Bad Days at the Office (just slightly tongue-in-cheek):

1. Take solace in the fact that the day can’t get much worse. A little maybe, but not a lot. Getting fired would be merciful release, but don’t count on things working out that nicely. Remember, it’s a bad day.

2. Ride it out. Sometimes the universe just needs to spend a little time kicking you’re a@@. It’s your day.

3. Recognize that at least you’re getting plenty of corporate visibility and quality face-time with your firm’s senior leaders. Navigate this day and they’re bound to remember you.

4. You’re losing a star and gaining a chance to meet new people. Hey, there’s not a lot of lipstick we can put on the ugly issue of losing a great player.

5. Remember that in your role in marketing and product management, you’re an expert at managing reduced expectations with the sales team. The sales executive will vent, but he probably won’t attack. Probably.

6. Silver Lining: you’ve been looking for something to motivate the engineer in development and you may have found it. This competitor announcement will be just the right ticket.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

We all end up with our own versions of the really tough day described above. Fortunately, they pass. However, while you’re living through them, remember that these are the career days that teach and develop and help you earn your stripes as a leader. They test your fortitude and they challenge you to display grace under fire. A bit of humor and  a great attitude carry the day. And it doesn’t hurt to keep an extra stick of deodorant in the gym bag either!

More Professional Development Reads from Art Petty:book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

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For more ideas on professional development-one sound bite at a time, check out Art’s latest book: Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development.

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