Lessons From the Sochi Olympics in Overcoming Workplace Challenges

Despite being the most expensive Olympics in history, several buildings and arenas hosting  the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia were structurally incomplete less than 72 hours before the Opening Ceremonies.

This Washington Post article chronicles the equal parts amusing and gross follies many journalists are encountering with their accommodations (I now invite you to Google ‘Sochi double toilet’ and come to your own conclusions).

The likelihood that these conditions will adversely affect the job at hand of competing to win, however, is close to zero.

Staying focused

We know about the motivation athletes require to be successful. Sometimes they need to overcome sub par working conditions, such as football in the snow or in this case, Sochi tap water. The same holds true for employees in more traditional workspaces who also have challenges to overcome.

For example:

  • A team member is behind on his portion of a project, now jeopardizing the deadline. An engaged team member will help the struggling colleague determine where his problems exist, and make the effort to bring him up to speed. Shutting him out of the project and picking up his share of the work is a detriment to everyone involved.
  • Working with older equipment or software. This can be incredibly frustrating in an age where technology and efficiency govern. Rather than making excuses, an engaged employee adapts and learns how to work smarter, reducing frustration that a disengaged complainer might experience.
  • Annoying co-workers. Diplomacy is the best play here. Engaged workers will keep interactions professional, as well as brief and direct; they have no room for negativity or poor behavior.

Doing the job despite the obstacles

Highly engaged employees are similar to this year’s Olympians in that they don’t create reasons to fail, they just see additional obstacles to success that must be navigated.

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This is why appreciating and recognizing employees always makes a distinct impression. Someone who knows that their work is impactful will always take tremendous pride in doing the best job possible, despite the occasional bump in the road.

I’ll be tuning in to the Sochi Games, and don’t expect to see many complaints about the tiny beds, no running water or inferior playing conditions. Gold is the objective, and it will be interesting to find out who has the determination to come out on top.

This was originally published on the Michael C. Fina blog.

Cord Himelstein has helped HALO Recognition become one of the leading providers of employee rewards, recognition and incentive solutions. Since 2007, he has been responsible for leading the company’s strategic marketing initiatives and communications efforts. Cord works closely with customers to help them develop measurable workforce recognition strategies and create memorable experiences for their employees.

Cord is also a recognized thought leader in the human resources community, and is a regular contributor to the company's corporate blog, where his articles have enjoyed national exposure through major HR publications including SHRM, Workspan, TLNT, Smartbrief, and Entrepreneur. Prior to joining HALO Recognition, Cord worked in the entertainment industry for more than 15 years, where he held senior positions with Elektra Entertainment and EMI Music Group.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cord-himelstein-970b375

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