So today is Halloween. A day when it’s acceptable — even encouraged — to scare the bejesus out of others. Or for those who aren’t into the ghoulish side of the scene, massive amounts of Snickers bars and candy corn make the day oh so sweet. It’s interesting that one occasion offers such opposing rituals!
Sometimes we find those same disparities in the workforce, too. What is considered a treat for one person could likely be torture for another.
I admit to enjoying many of the traditional festivities (who doesn’t want a reason to sneak in some candy?), though I mainly stick to goofy pranks, playing around with devilish decorations (like putting plastic bats and spiders in places that my husband might not expect them). Grace, as you know, hates any unexpected noises, costumes, or guests, so we’re fortunate that our house is positioned on a quiet street that is not frequented by the small creatures dressed in weird-looking outfits. Otherwise, we’d have a long and stressful night as we help her deal with the unknown. Some dogs might cherish all the festive activity, but certainly not Grace.
Managers need to be mindful of the kinds of situations that employees face throughout their day, and help them work through the tricks as well as enjoy the treats.
Just like you wouldn’t take a toddler to an intense Haunted House filled with jump-out-of-your-skin-creepiness, a manager should never put an employee into a situation that introduces an undue level of fright and terror. How one defines that fear varies. Grace can get out of kilter if a familiar person has a big hat on, never mind someone approaching her dressed like a witch. When looking at an employee’s work assignments, environment, and expectations, you need to take in the individual needs of that person and ensure there is a fit.
And while you’re at it, be sure to understand what effectively motivates a person. For some, a treat may be a quiet thank-you, for others, public recognition and a big award presentation matters.
Don’t make your workplace a horror show. Remember that tricks and treats are all a matter of perspective. Your job as a manager is to understand what that means to each person on your team (including yourself!).