… I’m a GenXer, so I’m not even sure if “that’s so cringe” is something people are still saying. But you know what people are still saying? Things like, “let me get the worker bees to finish this.”
They’re also still referring to their colleagues and employees as cats. As in, “just another day of herding cats.”
Once, during Take Your Child to Work Day, I heard a manager refer to his team as his “minions” to his daughter.
We Aren’t Bees, Cats or Minions.
We are people. People with families and friends. We have hopes and aspirations. We’re complicated, flawed, interesting people who come to work with all that makes us human.
The next time you’re tempted to refer to your job as “herding cats” or want to task something to your “worker bees,” could you please take a beat? Could you please rewind yourself in your position five or 10 years and think about how you might feel being referred to as someone’s minion? And could you think about how dehumanizing these words and phrases are?
The folks you’re thinking of so disrespectfully probably go home at night and worry about their work project while making dinner for their family. They may wake up in the middle of the night with an idea they want to share with you. And, yeah, maybe they’re difficult or challenging, but you know what? So are you sometimes. I’m positive about that.
Please remember that you are in the position you’re in because you can delegate work and tasks to the people on your team. Their challenges are your challenges, and their successes are your successes. You can’t do your job without them. Reducing people to cats, bees, minions, or anything else is detrimental not only to your success as a leader but to the success of your projects and most likely the culture and the wellness and engagement of your teams.
Being a leader is hard, and sometimes it is difficult to move people in the direction you want them to go. And sometimes it feels impossible to bring everyone together for the same purpose and goal. But you know what? That’s literally your job.
So, this is my plea to stop the cringe language at work. Remember that people are complex and flawed and need to feel loved and respected.
We’re all in this together. It’s much easier to move people toward a goal, unite people together, and get your job done if you focus on building up people and not reducing them.
… or so I believe.
Sarah C. Moffat is a mom, civil servant, community volunteer, and leadership coach. She’s also a dynamic speaker, published author, and business storyteller. Applying her real-life experiences, she conveys how individuals and organizations can create opportunities for success and growth through impactful communication and leadership. Moffat is host of the Empowered podcast and has been a featured keynote speaker and panelist across the US and beyond. She also serves as the Vice President for Communications on AFFIRM’s Board of Directors. Moffat is Prosci® certified and holds a B.S. in Psychology and an M.S. in Management and Leadership.
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