Merge's Blog

The Piss-Off Factor (POF)

Sometimes, it’s the smallest sources of irritation that cause the greatest rash!  I’m talking metaphorically of course, because I’m referring to the workplace.  In fact, I even have a phrase to describe it – I call it the Piss-Off Factor, or POF for short.  It’s not necessarily a polite expression, but I hope you will excuse me using it, since it IS descriptive.  A POF is usually a small annoyance that left unchecked, expands and spreads, until it becomes a source of great frustration.  Let me give you a quick example – a new company rule says that employees are no longer permitted to park in the lot next to the warehouse; they must now park in the lot across the street.  No big deal — it’s just an extra 300 yards, right?  Wrong!  For some reason, it’s something as small as this that can get blown out of proportion if it’s not properly addressed, and the reasoning behind it explained.  And most times, it CAN be addressed and explained, if only you’d thought about it!

Leaders, here are two questions to ponder.

  1. What do you think your people grumble about the most when they are standing around the water cooler (of course, this is when you are not within listening distance)?
  2. What could you do now, today, to remove or reduce the source of their discontent?

What are the POFs in your workplace?  And what are you doing to reduce or remove them?  Alternatively, what’s getting in the way of removing the POFs.   Talk to me, I’m very interested!


  • Hi Merge,

    Fortunately, where I work there is no negative water cooler conversation. I would like to think that is because when something (generally change) comes up it is quickly, clearly and kindly communicated to staff. Kudos to the C Suite here that I meet regularly with them and we discuss strategy, buy-in, partnering, implementation, potential consequences and implications. It wasn’t like that where I worked before where everything was treated as a matter of “national security” but always ended up leaking all over and of course, incorrectly. Damage control is so much more difficult than being proactive and treating your employees as internal customers.

    Great topic and great post!

  • Karla, it’s good to hear that there are workplaces that are getting it right! Which just begs the question why some organizations haven’t been able to figure out that open and honest communication (even if it’s incomplete) trumps no information EVERY time. Good on you for doing it well!


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