Don’t Jinx Me

Tomorrow your Facebook news feed may be filled with videos, photos, and status updates warning of bad luck. Yes, Friday the 13th strikes a chord with so many people, for absolutely no rational reason. It just does.

Superstitions abound in the world; athletes are well known for following certain rituals to ensure a great performance. We see them in the creative world, too; you never tell an actor “good luck!,” but instead, “break a leg.” Many of us, even if we don’t suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, have things we do that may not have a logical reason behind them – they are just what we do.

For whatever reason, many of your employees may rely heavily on rituals and practices that help spark their muse or otherwise give them the freedom or flexibility to create. Maybe it’s the way they organize their cubicle. Perhaps it’s the order in which they do things. It could be something as simple as heading straight for the coffee machine as soon as they get to work. Many of these don’t affect you; some of them might. Should you indulge them?

If you can, then yeah.

Your job as a leader is to provide an environment in which your employees can do their best work. Part of what you do is get them the enablers they need; whether it’s a desk, or a computer, or training. But those tend to be the common things; you may also need some individual things, some indirect enablers that may not seem to relate directly to the task at hand, but which put your team into the right frame of mind to do great work. Maybe it’s as simple as having healthy snacks in the coffee room, or it may involve giving them time to go to the gym so they can clear their minds and come back fresh. Maybe they need to work odd hours (odd to you, that is, but normal for them). It could be having a network policy that allows access to Twitter and Facebook, or streaming from Spotify, the sorts of sites that some offices — especially in highly regulated fields like banking or government — tend to block. You need to consider what your employees need to put them into their most creative, hardworking frame of mind, and do what you can to help them out.

The idea here isn’t that you should be coddling your employees. Instead, it’s that you need to provide them what they need to work at their best, as long as it’s within your power (and your resource constraints) to do so.

And let’s be honest: you probably have some things that you do, too, that you think will help you get through the day successfully.

Knock on wood.