What Kinds of Warning Labels Should Employees Come With?

by Tim Sackett | Posted | Communication

What Kinds of Warning Labels Should Employees Come With?

We’ve grown accustomed to seeing warning labels on everything.

The first warning label I can remember seeing was on a package of cigarettes. You know the one: "Smoking cigarettes can cause you to have babies with two heads”, or something like that.

Now, you see warning labels on everything. Some countries have grown so litigious that we now put warnings on stuff that should be common sense. I have a dog, and on the bottle of dog shampoo I bought, it says, “Warning: Do not feed the contents of this bottle to fish!”

Apparently common sense isn't very common anymore.

Really! I need to be warned that dog shampoo shouldn’t be fed to fish?!? Why not just also put on the warning: “Warning: This dog shampoo cannot be used as a blood transfusion replacement!” Isn’t that really about the same level of warning as fish food!?

Would working relationships improve if employees came with warning labels?

So I got to wondering… What kinds of warning labels should employees come with? Think about it. Warning labels could help improve some tricky working relationships! Can you imagine how much easier it would be to navigate your corporate culture if all of your employees came with one?

Let’s have some fun with this idea! Here are a few suggestions for employee warning labels.

Chief Operations Officer: “Warning: The world might stop rotating if this person doesn’t get exactly their way!”

Director of Finance: “Warning: This person will automatically expect you to give up 7% of your budget each year without any rationale!”

Compensation Manager: “Warning: This person believes they are under paid, no matter what the data says. Do not approach during annual review time!”

Vice President of Marketing: “Warning: This person has the propensity to spend money likes it’s water, and then believe they can create water out of air.”

Talent Acquisition Manager: “Warning: This person will tell you that you’re a rock star to your face, and then tell the hiring manager that you’re much more rock, than star.”

Customer Service Manager: “Warning: Although you won’t be able to smell it, this person is sometimes full of ‘it’!”

New Hire Employee (any position): “Warning: This person knows more than anyone else, and can’t wait to show you!”

Software Developer: “Warning: This person does not want to talk to you. If you make them talk and try to develop a working relationship with them, there's a good chance your computer won’t work right, ever again.”

Did I forget anyone? Oh, yeah, wait, my HR brothers and sisters. Let’s do one for them as well!

HR Manager: “Warning: This person has created a process that you need to follow. If you choose to not follow the process, you'll likely see a great display of passive aggressiveness!”

Moving beyond stereotypes to improve communications and working relationships

Of course I'm joking here. It can be fun to poke at hypothetical people, using common stereotypes.

But in the real world, we need to get know people and understand the motivations behind what each person is saying/ asking.

Instead of complaining, rolling our eyes about these colleagues, and stereotyping them, we need to put ourselves in their shoes for a few minutes. We need to understand their perspective and what they really want and need. We need to learn from them. We need to better communicate with them. And we need to use our common sense.

A good HR professional–any good people person for that matter—knows how to adapt and develop strong working relationships with everyone, from every group in the organization.

But that doesn’t mean we can have a little fun with them now and again.

Now it's your turn HR and talent pros. Let's blow off a little steam. In the comments hit me with your best employee warning labels (let's keep it tasteful)! 

Tailor Communication to Increase Employee Engagement

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Tailor Communication to Increase Employee Engagement

Learn how to adapt your communications to improve coaching, feedback, and employee engagement.

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