You’ve seen the sign, or some variation of it: “Clean up your mess. Your mom doesn’t work here.” It’s an obvious reminder to the slobs among us that they’re a real problem. But there’s a flip side to this problem: the office “mom” – male or female – who cleans up after the slobs. That may sound like a good thing, but office moms create their own set of problems.
Office moms come in two flavors; those who clean up the physical debris left by others and “e-moms” who try to clean up other people’s emotional garbage.
To read the rest of this article from the Cincinnati Business Journal, see: Office moms, slobs, princesses stir up distracting soap opera http://www.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/stories/2007/06/25/smallb5.html
There are people who leave physical messes and people who leave emotional messes like hot-tempered, hostile staff no one wants to tangle with and bosses who want go-fers to take care of their personal, menial chores.
The fact is some people are lazy, uncaring and irresponsible. They act like overgrown children or arrogant princes/princesses expecting to be waited on. You have to decide which values matter most. Is it leaving people alone, because of politeness or fear, or setting and enforcing communal standards of behavior, despite resistance?
Volunteer office moms clean up other people’s physical messes. Acting out of courtesy or martyrdom, office moms appear to be benevolent. But even if they’re happy cleaning up after others, there’s an insidious side effect that can cost more than the immediate benefits.
When someone caters to grown “children,” the latter tend to remain children. Lack of responsibility about break rooms usually leads to lack of responsibility about team effort. It spreads to messy, worthless paperwork and incomplete projects.
The most insidious and destructive side of the slob-mom equation are people who dump emotional garbage around the office (e-slobs) and their partners, e-moms, who listen sympathetically and try to clean up the messes. E-slobs continually vent their hurt, frustration, complaining and criticism. They want support for personal agendas.
One variant of e-slobs are bosses who want emotional voids filled by endless praise and unconditional love. They often create loyalty tests for you to prove your love. For example, they’ll demand that you miss important family events in order to wait on them over trivial matters.
E-moms encourage melodrama and make feelings more important than productivity.
Of course, you want your staff to care about one another, but e-moms and e-slobs take a tremendous toll on overall productivity. You need to intervene quickly if you have a slob team.
E-moms, e-slobs and princesses create the same symptoms. Performance decreases. Behavior sinks to the lowest level tolerated. Narcissists, incompetent, lazy, gossip, back-stabbing, manipulation, hostility, crankiness, meeting sabotage, negativity, relentless criticism, whining, complaining, cliques, turf control, toxic feuds, harassment, bullying and abuse thrive. Power hungry bullies take power.
Don’t be a slob or dependent boss who needs an office mom. Don’t look for a warm, soft, friendly shoulder on which to cry at work. And don’t waste work time on melodrama. Handle your feelings on your own time.
On the flip side; don’t be an office mom. You won’t make things better being a peacemaker. Begging, bribery, endless praise, appeasement, endless ‘second chances,’ unconditional love and the Golden Rule usually encourage more harassment, bullying and abuse. Stop emotional bullies and stop bullying.
Work is about work, not soap opera. Stick to that agenda and you’ll be better off.
High standards protect everyone from unprofessional behavior. You can learn to eliminate the high cost of low attitudes, behavior and performance.