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The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psyumorist (tm)

November 1998, No. 1

Dear Readers,

Here is your free Stress Doc Newsletter. Twice a month I include original or favorite essays and articles from my various online and offline writings, including my weekly Humor From the Edge  and AOL/Online Psych <A HREF="aol://4344:972.doc.1264535.556723207">The Stress Doc @ Online Psych</A> columns.

Please forward this letter to interested friends, colleagues and family members, or send along their email addresses. (Also, if you don't wish to receive the newsletter, email me - stressdoc@aol.com .)

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: The Stress Doc and Digital City- Washington Go National: Shrink Rap and Group Chat, the Stress Doc's popular dynamic chat group, moves to a weekly format -- Tuesdays, from 9-10:30pm EDT. Here are links & announcements: <A HREF="aol://4344:1097.tuechat.25384394.563747919"> Tuesday Chats</A> and <A HREF="aol://4344:363.gorkin.5732839.568857121">Dig City Promo - Stress Doc</A> . Hope to see you on Tuesdays.

Maybe it's a final cry to the end of Fall colors, but I sure had fun writing these two wicked satires on how to develop "Lean-and-MEAN" managers. (It's my innoculation against burnout when, as a consultant, grappling in the belly of the organizational beast.) Not that many corporations and government managers need a lot of help in this matter. So please, pass these fighting words along.

Also, scroll past the essays to find information on my speaking and training schedule, the library of articles on my award-winning website -- www.stressdoc.com <A HREF="www.stressdoc.com">STRESSDOC HOMEPAGE</A> - and any fastbreaking developments. And here's my AOL/Online Psych Page <A HREF="aol://4344:972.doc.1264535.556723207">The Stress Doc @ Online Psych </A> and special AOL/Workplace Series <A HREF="aol://4344:972.docwork.1255066.562088752">The Stress Doc Interview @ Online Psych</A>.

Click on these links if you'd like free subscriptions to Humor From the Edge <A HREF="http://members.aol.com/hfte/">HUMOR FROM THE EDGE HomePage</A> (for which i write a twice/weekly column) and/or to The Death and Dying Newsletter <A HREF="http://www.death-dying.com/">Welcome To Death & Dying...Where Life Surroun...</A> (See, this newsletter will make you die laughing ;-)

This Is a Satire

Returning from a series of near-toxic consulting and training missions in the belly of the government and corporate beast, the Stress Doc has forged his strategic list for cultivating hard-edged, if not cutting edge, millenium managers.

Top Ten Commandments for Lean-and-MEAN Management

Warning: This essay may be hazardous for the ironically-impaired!

From my years as a corporate and government consultant, it's clear there are some specific skills, procedures and strategies for best motivating individuals while building productivity and team morale. Especially in these "do more with less" times, we need organizational units that can be time- focused and task-driven. High touch is the luxury of liberals in a technocratic society. So how do we cultivate more inspiring Rambo and Rambette corporate leadership? With the Stress Doc's "Top Ten" tips for developing a "lean-and-MEAN" management style, of course. Now go for it!

1) Flaunt a Superiority Complex. First and foremost, assume your superiors can't or won't understand the complexities of your mission and objectives or your obstacles and reduced resources. So consider these guerilla tactics: a) Don't broach the issue more than once; beyond that upper management will simply assume you don't have what it takes to get the mission accomplished. Of course, this assumption may well be a fearful cover: you may know more than the person to whom you report. Goals come and go but ego and "egoals" are forever! And anyway, "God helps those who help themselves." Remember, only wimps avoid burnout. b) Go behind your manager and cultivate a relationship with a higher up for plotting strategy and covertly obtaining resources. c) Don't do anything; allow systems operations to collapse. This will eventually get upper management's attention and will show them!

2) Beware Managing or Micromanaging. With subordinates, one must be able to demonstrate a capacity for detached invasiveness. Practice "The Triple 'A' of Individual/Organizational Responsibility": Don't allow your employees too much "Authority" and "Autonomy," as this invariably is perceived as a lack of command and control. Remember, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of individuality. CYA: Cover Your "Accountability."

And don't forget these related managing strategems: a) Dynamic Denial. Of course, we don't want you inappropriately meddling into your employee's business. So just because some of your staff haven't been talking to each other for years and they want to film the next Freddie Krueger movie at your worksite…butt out. Lack of fraternizing certainly cuts down on rumors and shortens coffee breaks. In addition, a little pressure helps fuel the performance edge.

b) Have a Heart. Still, there are times when you must rescue the problematic employee, for example, the person who manages to pass along or dump his work upon others, especially if he's a personal friend. (We've already emphasized the importance of loyalty in your shop.) If you don't come across as having a sympathetic heart, then at least you'll be viewed as a leader who fosters a spirit of delegation and team enabling.

Of course, when the office "stress carrier" (you know, the employee who never gets ulcers…just gives them) is a talented high producer, then there's only one thing to do: don't look for trouble. Colleagues must simply make allowances for tantrum throwing or sulking hotshots. (This is common place at the highest levels.) Remember, being a prima donna means never having to say you are sorry. It's individual winning over group whining every time. Modify the Vince Lombardi mythical message: "Productivity isn't everything…It's the only thing!"

3. Encourage Affiliation and Group Bonding. To counterbalance the angry silence and avoidance, sometimes the office needs folks whose primary task is to spread cutting edge information (not rumor, please) and to talk excessively about their personal family problems (which brings a little humanity into the workplace). Distracting, incessant and unsolicited banter also helps break up the work monotony. While the office butterfly may prove aggravating, this pest provides a higher purpose. He or she will make a convenient scapegoat and will siphon off office enmity that really belongs to you.

4. Exploit the Generation Gaps. It's nice to see another '60s slogan making the rounds again in our high tech environments: "Don't trust anyone over thirty!" Hey, if your employees don't eat, sleep and breathe Windows '98, Excel and Power Point, as well as do a little code, they are virtually vestigial.

Conversely, in fields where twenty-something employees are just learning their trade or profession, allow senior people to withhold key performance information and skills from these Generation Xers. Seniors as mentors for juniors is just apprentice babysitting. Young folks need to get off their butts and spend years wandering in the workplace desert like you did. That's the only way to achieve divine job transformation, enlightenment and empowerment. Anyway, who wants to enhance the skillset of someone moving into your career path. This is a no-brainer.

5. Blow Up When Frustrated. Of course, we give lip service to admiring the strong, silent managerial type. But sometimes, you just have to unlock your inner Rambo or Rambette. Screaming, cursing, throwing things, etc., definitely gets people's attention. Employees, especially the one's most dysfunctionally dependent upon you, need to feel your power and authoritarian, if not irrational, side. They feel comfortable with this aggressive aura. They no longer are just waiting for the explosion. Sometimes, anticipation can be worse than actual intimidation. You are creating a family atmosphere. As Dorothy learned: "There's no place like home!" Hey a talented manager should be both blustering wizard and wicked witch.

Then, post-eruption, you can be contrite and apologize. Explain the method of your madness: you are training staff to handle with humility abuse from their customers. There's also another benefit from this power-based, one up/one down dynamic. The targets of intimidation often blame themselves and are reluctant to leave a battering situation. And in a tight job market, this may get you a commendation from the highest levels of management.

We will round out the Stress Doc's "Top Ten" Commandments for "Lean-and-MEAN Management" in an upcoming edition. Until then, of course…Practice Safe Stress!

This Is a Satire

The Stress Doc completes his 'Top Ten" list on how to become a "Lean-and-Mean" Manager. The second half strategies will help you master the subtleties of intimidation and denial.

Top Ten Commandments for Lean-and-MEAN Management

Warning: This essay may be hazardous to the ironically-impaired.

6. Control the Communication Climate. A key responsibility for a "do more with less" manager is the direction and flow of communication. With today's critical slogan, "It's the time clock, stupid," interaction must be swift, sharp and incisive. There's no room for protracted negotiation, coddling or psychobabble. Encourage and model dismissive or incredulous facial gestures and "who gives a damn" body language. In particular, promote that most decisive word in the managerial lexicon accompanied, of course, by rolling eyes and a sneering lip: "WHATEVER." This is a sure-fire discussion killer. Clearly, you will be praised for your decisive, no "bs" leadership. And if you are not praised, it's only because people are jealous or intimidated; a sure sign of your superior position.

7. Create a Locker Room Atmosphere. While yours must be a "T n T" (Time- and Task-driven) workplace, sometimes you need to break up the numbing repetition or blast away the all too serious or self-important atmosphere. Try encouraging office or assembly line bantering. You'll keep worker frustration away from you or the organization by having employees rag on one another. Especially during a downsizing or major reorganization, scapegoating enables people to work out their frustrations on a sacrificial lamb. Give this lambchop a few hours comp time (for a doctor's visit) for sacrificing his or her health for the functional good of the unit. Some of the humor may skirt the edge of sexual or racial harassment. But don't overreact if people are just having some triple lettered "www" fun - pulling up and passing around XXX or KKK sites. This stuffy political correctness has just gone too far. Hey, boys will be boyz will be boys.

Fortunately, almost always there's a built in safety mechanism. When the relentless razzing leads to an employee making death threats, be decisive. Step in and warn the threatening aggressor that if it happens again he gets a warning letter in his or her file. And with the target employee, put your arm around his or her shoulder and, in a most solicitous manner, say, "Hey, can't you take a joke!"

8. Protect Employee Secrecy and Innuendo. An inevitable byproduct of a chronic "Lean-and-MEAN" department or organizational environment is smoldering resentment and chronic interpersonal conflict. A key management skill is learning to harness this negative energy while retaining control of your employees. Become the hub off the office conflict wheel. Encourage employees to share their frustration with other colleagues and their supervisors with you. And, of course, don't put any pressure on the complainant to face their antagonist. You want people to trust you.

Even more intriguing is when Employee A tells you what Employee B said about Employee C's behavior. And, of course, Employee A won't say who Employee B is. But Employee A only has the good of the department or company at heart, of course. Some strategic steps: a) be a generous listener; allow unlimited venting, b) praise Employee A for both respecting the privacy of his colleagues and for reporting on them, c) reassure this employee that you will keep his information strictly confidential.

Of course, the next step is to start a secret file on this problematic individual, Employee C. (And hell, start one on Employee A as well. You don't want to be accused of unfair labor practices.) Once you have enough documented rumor and innuendo (and, obviously, in this system, there will be files on nearly all) you can nail whomever you wish. And if anyone inquires, you are just getting personal information on your employees so you can understand them better. Every manager in a "Lean-and-MEAN" system, male or female, should be a "Big Brother."

9. Abolish Democratic Game Playing. Do you still believe in focus groups, "constructive criticism" or two-way evaluation? If so, listen up! When employees express their concerns and frustrations at staff or team meetings, it invariably becomes a gripe session. (This team building stuff has gone too far. For example, I have had it with insipidly inspiring motivational posters, like the one with all these people rowing in a shell. I mean, how often do you and your crew scull together on the nearby river? Please, get a work life. Tear them down and put up such reality slogan posters as: "Thank you for not whining" and "Beware the effects of second-hand whining!") This feel good, everybody has something to contribute, everybody can provide leadership depending on the problem or the needed skills and resources is just more of this lowest-common denominator crap. When a company's doing more with less you don't have time for all this participatory decision-making and open discussion. Being "Lean-and-MEAN" means never having to say "matrix" or "consensus." Only in a wimpy world or socialistic society does everyone give up a little for the common good. Darwin Still Rules!

Finally, forcefully let folks know there's no more pulling on your chain of command. When you want feedback, especially people's negative energy that just spoils your good mood, you'll ask for it. There's too many who think they have this constitutional right to share their ideas and perspectives. When you are on your management pedestal, way above the worker drones, sequestered in your corporate fortress, knowing you have the one right way, it's true…nobody can see the big picture like you can.

10. Keep Away from Personal Stuff. Despite the effectiveness of the above management power boosters, there will be a couple of employees who just won't get with the program. Maybe they'll have family issues, alcohol problems or explosive personality tendencies. Perhaps such a problematic employee makes peers edgy by periodically interrupting his own outloud monologues (not verbal hallucinations, please) with shouting outbursts. (However, with a hard worker one overlooks such flaws). Or maybe this challenging individual just engages in harassing communications and behaviors, etc. Now those Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselors and Human Resource folks always make a pitch for head shrinking these pariahs. Frankly, such do-gooders are just invading your turf and power base. Anyway, you just don't poke around into people's personal business. Hey, if the employee can't cut it, and you've given him enough rope…public hangings in the Middle Ages used to bring communities together.

Still I do feel obligated to close with a caveat. Be a little diplomatic. Don't totally alienate those EAP professionals. For if you follow these ten tips for "Lean-and-MEAN" management, believe me, more than anyone else, you'll need having an inflated ego and head shrunk down to size. So don't forget now…Practice Safe Stress!

Mark Gorkin, LICSW, the Stress Doc, a psychotherapist and nationally recognized speaker, trainer, consultant and author, is also known as AOL's and the internet's "Online Psychohumrist" ™. Check out his USA Today Online "Hot Site" website - www.stressdoc.com or <A HREF="www.stressdoc.com">STRESSDOC HOMEPAGE</A> and his page on AOL/Online Psych, Keyword: Stress Doc or <A HREF="aol://4344:972.doc.1264535.556723207">The Stress Doc @ Online Psych </A>.

** Catch the Doc's "Shrink Rap and Group Chat" on AOL/Digital City, Tuesdays, 9-10:30pm EDT -- <A HREF="aol://4344:1097.tuechat.25384394.563747919">Tuesday Chats</A> and <A HREF="aol://4344:363.gorkin.5732839.568857121">Dig City Promo - Stress Doc</A> .

** For his free newsletter, Notes from the Online Psychohumorist ™ or for info on the Stress Doc's Online Coaching program, email stressdoc@aol.com .

(c) Mark Gorkin 1998 Shrink Rap Productions

"The Stress Doc Letter" features and functions:

1. Psychohumor Writings. To provide you the best of my past and current online and offline writngs, including Humor From the Edge columns and America On Line/Online Psych special topical essays, e.g, <A HREF="aol://4344:972.docwork.1255066.562088752">The Stress Doc Interview @ Online Psych</A> and <A HREF="aol://4344:972.olpny3.1264502.565460680">Make Your Resolution A Habit With Help From Online Psych!</A>. For those not on AOL, if you'd like a copy of these popular series, just email - stressdoc@aol.com. Or check out my website - www.stressdoc.com - or my AOL/Online Psych Page - Keyword: Stress Doc, <A HREF="aol://4344:972.doc.1264535.556723207">The Stress Doc @ Online Psych </A>.

My writings now appear twice/month in Perspectives, the electronic magazine of Mental Health Net. MHN is a not-for-profit organization devoted to mental health information and education resources online. They are located at: www.cmhc.com/

2. Online/Special Projects. Online groups, conferences and new or special projects that are flying around or about to be (or have been) launched:

a) Come on by for my weekly"Shrink Rap and Group Chat" on AOL/Digital City - Washington, Tuesdays, from 9-10:30pm EDT. It's an online stress support group. It's a free wheeling discussion, with some Stress Doc direction about your personal concerns on stress and wellness, relationship and family issues, loss and grief, career transition, creativity and psychological growth, etc. Here's the link: <A HREF="aol://4344:363.gorkin.5732839.568857121">D</A>i <A HREF="aol://4344:363.gorkin.5732839.568857121">g City Promo - Stress Doc </A>

This group replaces the Frequent Sighers Club which never quite got off the ground. (I still like the name.)

b) To promote my Coaching for Consultants and Entrepreneurs Program:

Special Announcement: I am starting a Multi-Media Coaching for Consultants Program:

** developing, delivering, marketing workshop programs online & offline ** humor/speech writing services and website design with the Cyber Doc ** online consultation and participation in chat group

For information on the products and instructional services, email me at Stress Doc@aol.com. With questions, call (202) 232-8662 or mail me at:

Mark Gorkin Stress Doc Enterprises 1616 18th Street, NW #312 Washington, DC 20009-2530

3. Upcoming Speaking/Training Events.

a) Practicing Safe Stress - presentation for Forty Plus (Career Transition Club) on November 2nd and 9th, 10-11:00am. For more info, call Mary Neznek, (202) 526-9244.

b) Stress/Conflict Management and Team Building - workshop for Child & Adolescent Protection Unit of Children's Hospital, Wshington, DC, November 6th, 9-12:00. For more info, call Russell Brown, MSW, at (202) 884-6821. We had a great day. Lot of laughs. As the Social Work Administrator noted: "This workshop shows we need to have more fun."

4. Ongoing Training and Consultation Programs.

a) Overcoming Stress, Loss and Change; Managing Anger and Conflict - continuing series for Fairfax County Government, VA, Metro-Area Re-employment Project: for Displaced Federal Employees. For more info, call: Marilyn Manno, (703) 324-7390.

b) Stress, Communication and Team Building Skills Training - series of programs for Food and Drug Administration, Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). For more info., call Michelle Hudson, Deputy Director, (301) 594-4585.

c) Work Environment Intervention and Team Building - ongoing consultation and training for a department in Naval Sea Systems Command, HQ. For more info, call Sally Johnston, Program Manager, Civilian EAP, (703) 413-0755.

5. Testimonials.

a) On Becoming a Netrepreneur (an Internet Entrepreneur) - presentation for DC Metro Chapter of the National Assn. of Social Workers and The National Network of Social Work Managers on October 15, 9-3:00pm.

On behalf of the National Network for Social Work Managers and the Virginia, Metro Washington and Maryland Chapters of NASW, many thnaks for a job well done at our Oct 15 "Envisioning Electronic Social Work" conference. It was critical that the participants...learned about your work with AOL as the Stress Doc and your speaking engagements, as the netrepreneur you've become. They needed to know that what you have done, adapted to their interests, might be an option for them. Clearly, the audience was hungry for the information you shared and were impressed with what you told them. The feedback was very positive.

6. Award-Winning Website. To remind you that there is a lot more material on my award winning, USA Today Online "Hot Site" website. It's also just been acclaimed a 4 Star, top-rated site, by Mental Health Net, the largest review guide of mental health, psychology and psychiatry resources online today. Go to www.stressdoc.com or <A HREF="http://www.stressdoc.com/">STRESS DOC HOMEPAGE</A> . Also, check out my AOL/Online Psych Page, <A HREF="aol://4344:972.doc.1264535.556723207">The Stress Doc @ Online Psych </A> or Keyword: Stress Doc. Over 100 articles are arranged in 15 different categories:

Stress Doc Bio and Philosophy Stress and Burnout Managing Anger with Authority Power Struggles: Dyads-Systems Depression/Teens, Parents... Cyberaddicts Anonymous Good Grief Searching for Love Career Transition Humor: Art and Science Creativity Unbound Achieving Peak Performance Spiritual Exploration Readers' Submissions

6. Readers' Platform. Please submit questions, comments, criticisms, cutting edge information as well as stories about how you've used humor to help relieve a client's, family member's or your own stress. I will gladly print your offering and credit you completely. (And thank you for using your spellchecker.)

Mark Gorkin, "The Stress Doc," Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is a nationally recognized speaker, workshop leader and author on stress, reorganizational change, anger, team building, creativity and humor. He is also the internet's and the nation's leading "Psychohumorist." The Stress Doc is a columnist for the popular cyber-newsletter, Humor From The Edge . Mark is also the "Online Psychohumorist" for the major AOL mental health resource network, Online Psych and Financial Services Journal Online -- http://fsc.fsonline.com/fsj . And he is an offline writer for two mental health/substance abuse publications -- Treatment Today and Paradigm Magazine. His motto: Have Stress? Will Travel: A Smart Mouth for Hire! Reach "The Doc" at (202) 232-8662, email: Stress Doc@aol.com, or check out his "Hot Site" website: http://www.stressdoc.com . (The site was selected as a USA Today Online "Hot Site" and designated a four-star, top-rated site by Mental Health Net.)

(c) Mark Gorkin 1998 Shrink Rap Productions