Do You Work in a Zoo?

By Sue Voyles / March 18, 2019 /

“Sometimes I feel like I work in a zoo.” That was the comment shared with me by an employee of a business I was visiting. No, she wasn’t referring to her coworkers. She was talking about the plethora of animals in the office – people’s pets (dogs of all sizes and shapes from what I saw).

That led me to think: do your employees sometimes feel like they’re working in a “zoo” because of conflict, miscommunication and just overall difficulties in getting things done? The phrase “it’s been a zoo today” is usually used to depict difficult, hectic or overwhelming circumstances.

As a kid, most of us probably thought visiting the zoo was fun. As leaders, what can we do to help ourselves and our team members deal with the “zoo” aspects of work? Here are some ideas:

  • Learn healthy coping mechanisms for stress (emphasis on the word “healthy;” eating a whole bag of potato chips may make you feel better initially, but you’re probably not going to feel great about it later).
  • Don’t overcommit yourself – and don’t let your team members do it either. Their time and yours is valuable.
  • Know what triggers stress for you, and how to deal with it.
  • Time-outs don’t have to be just for children—if you or your team members are overwhelmed, allow yourself and them to take a time-out.
  • No one can be at their best all the time. Don’t expect this of yourself or your employees.
  • Know how to spot when an employee is stressed, and be prepared to deal with it.

-Sue Voyles