Making Your Team Work

Practical advice on how you can change your team for the better.

Letter to Those Who Don't Put Their Mug in the Dishwasher

An open letter to employees who leave their mess for others to clean up

Dirty coffee mug
Is this your dirty mug?

We spend a lot of time in our office. We spend the majority of our waking hours for the majority of our adult lives together.  You are just as much my community as the neighbors I share my street with.  That means we need to follow a few simple guidelines to live harmoniously together.  Seems simple, right?

Why are you exempt from the basic etiquette of common spaces?  Why do you think it’s OK leave your mess for me to clean up?  You finish that cup, stroll into the kitchen and leave your grimy, germy vessel sitting in the sink.

All I ask is that you open the dishwasher door and stick your mug in.  But NOOOOooo! I guess you’re too important, too in-demand, too busy to put your mug in the dishwasher.  Surely there is some peon, some minion of the corporate world with nothing better to do who should be placing your mug in the dishwasher. That’s what you assume when you leave your mug in the sink.

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Sure, the mug isn’t that big a deal, but the problem is your attitude. Because if you’re too important to put your mug in the dishwasher, you’re probably too important to photocopy too.  If you’re too important to photocopy, you’re probably dependent on someone to photocopy for you.  If you’re SO busy, you probably only get your work done right at the last minute.  If you get your work done at the last minute, you probably need someone to stay late to photocopy it. And if you make someone stay late to photocopy you have told that person that you’re more important than her spouse, her kids, her softball team…or whomever she would MUCH prefer to be with than you—the person hasn’t bothered to learn how to photocopy at any point during the 54 years since the invention of the photocopier!!!

YOU—yes you, mug-in-sink, too-good-to-photocopy person.  You are sucking the life out of me. Work is hard these days.  It’s complicated, it’s demanding, it’s changing so fast I’ve got whiplash.  I am treading madly to keep my sanity.  And I do, most of the time.  But that one day when I’m running between meetings, fighting to make a deadline, struggling with heated arguments on really important stuff…on THAT day, when I have to walk into the kitchenette and see your grubby coffee-stained “Don’t Worry Be Happy” mug sitting in the sink—you’re going to put me over the edge!

Grow up. Be a civilized member of the team. Learn how to make a photocopy so one night someone won’t have to stay late. Do some of the crappy work that is just a part of life. Show us you can be a team player. And please, PLEASE put your mug in the dishwasher.

[If your bad habit is the result of skill gaps rather than a bad attitude, please see the following YouTube videos: How To Load a Dishwasher. Fast forward to 1:28 for the 2 second tutorial on how to place a mug in a dishwasher. You can also find YouTube videos on How To Make a Copy.]

 

Liane Davey, Ph.D., researches team effectiveness. She is the author of You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, and Get Stuff Done.

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