Why Was Everyone So Miserable Today?

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I recall reading Dr. Deming talking about how people should be able to enjoy their work. I know for certain I've heard Norman Bodek talk about it in speeches and my podcasts.

Norman loves to ask why people never say, “Thank God It's Monday!!!!”?

At the end of my first workday of 2009, I checked out the status updates of my friends on Facebook.

The status updates included (names replaced by “___”).

  • ___ is a little grumpy, but will bounce back!
  • ___ is struggling to focus and ready for another vacation.
  • ___ is looking for a new gig.
  • ___ is back at work. yay?
  • ___ is back to work… but guess I can't complain since many friends don't have jobs anymore.
  • ___ is wow, Monday after a holiday. Ouch…
  • ___ is back to reality.
  • ___ is up. Can't believe it's Monday.

This status got 9 replies that agreed with her (or sympathized):

  • ___ wonders if anyone else is struggling today…

There weren't many comments on the other side of the work/happiness equation, just one, actually.

  • ___ had a great first day back to work.

So either my friends are a bunch of whiners and pessimists, or this is pretty representative of people in different industries. Or, it's just “not cool” to say, “I love my job!!!”

What do you think? What does this say about the current state of management and organizations? Were you lucky enough to be thrilled to get back to work today? Should we aim for that, or do you fall into the “that's why they call it work” camp?


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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I enjoyed getting back to work today! I like what I do and I like routine. I enjoyed the break, but am energized to get back at it.

    You didn’t say if you liked being back?

    Also, I like the “retweet” you set up for yourself for Twitterfeed. I’ve never seen anyone RT themselves before!

  2. Scott – it was an attempt at inviting people to RT my “Tweet” (I’m already losing the non-Twitter readers). It was an audience-building tip, maybe it’s irritating, I’m sure people will tell me.

    I was happy to get back to work today. I enjoy what I do. We hit some obstacles today that make me less excited about tomorrow, but I’ll recover and start strong tomorrow.

  3. I suppose that I (without surprise) am solidly in the ranks of the uncool by looking forward to my return to work. Then again, my job is to drink coffee in Hawaii, but I’m still glad to be done with the whole holiday thing for another year.

  4. I am sure that there some of the “don’t like work” comments have to do with the “coolness” factor as well as the “joining the herd” phenomena. However I think that there is a large number (not sure if it would be the majority) of us who simply do not enjoy what they are doing in their current jobs. I for one would certainly like to be in another position. However in these uncertain economic times a job is better than no job. Obviously some people are less prone to risk than others and may venture out to something new, even in the current circumstances. The key is to balance risk with security, especially for those of us that have families to support.

  5. I don’t think it necessarily means people are miserable with their current jobs… it is probably more of a case of routine vs. non-routine. On a break you typically fall out of your routine, which can be hard to regain instantly upon going back to work. Just like most things in life, there’s a warm up (and potentially a cool down) period required before you start to feel like yourself again.

  6. I noticed the same thing w/ my friends on Facebook. Lots of folks are down these days. I think a lot of it just getting back in the groove like Meggipi stated above. For my friends in DFW, a lot of it is the 50 degree drop in temperature in 2 days combined with rain!

    There's also a lot of doom & gloom right now in the workplace. Friends are looking for new jobs, rumors of layoffs abound, and nobody feels particularly optimistic about their financial situation.

  7. Great post, Mark.

    To answer your question I know Deming loves(ed) to blame management for everything… and in many cases he’s probably right. But to say the reason your friends were/are gloomy about their jobs is because of management probably isn’t fair.

    If I were to guess… and I don’t know your friends and don’t want to sound like I am judging them… I would say that most of them – and most Americans, sadly – don’t seem to appreciate the blessings in their life, such as a paycheck, until they are gone.

    As for me, I am excited about 2009 for many reasons – including my job, blog, and other activities soon to be announced!

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