Dealing with a bad day in the office

What is a bad day?

Did you have a system fail? Made a mistake? The boss chewed you out, in your opinion, unfairly? Your staff chew you out, with no basis for their position? A customer made your life so much more difficult for something you don’t believe to be wrong?

As Daniel Powter reminds us “Sometimes the system goes on the blink, and the whole thing it turns out wrong”  So what can you do about it?

Whilst you can’t fix everything there is a lot you can do to get yourself back on track.

    • Numbers don’t lie
    • People are people
    • Attitude

Unless you’re a surgeon, wrist deep in a patient, the business has time for you to breath in a deep breath.  More importantly as a very wise woman woman once told me, “It’s not the breath in, it’s the breath out that matters” (my Mother).  A few more of those deep breaths and read on.


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Numbers don’t lie

What numbers?

You don’t drive a car without a petrol gauge.  Guessing how much fuel is in the tank would not be a smart way to manage your car.  Why would you do it with your business?  It’s as much a machine as your car is.

A number is a number.  Cold, unemotional, factual, unambiguous.  They also allow a person to see clearly when emotions cloud judgement.

You’re human.  If you’re having a bad day your blood might be boiling or you might be king of the world.  Whichever end of the spectrum you are, emotions can lead to bad decisions.

Whether this is a once off or an on going issue numbers are essential to scope the challenge.  If you don’t have any numbers you’re relying on emotion and that’s a very difficult place to be.  As Peter Drucker wisely stated “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

It is at this point most managers will hit one of two realisations.  I have or don’t have numbers. If you’re asking what numbers should I have? the answer is 3 sets.

  • Your numbers (is what I deal with in this article)
  • Their numbers (your team or staffs numbers, which is dealt with in another article)
  • Your customer’s numbers (again dealt with in another article)

Your numbers

You’re an employee as much as you’re a manager, director, consultant or contractor.  Managing yourself is your first port of call.  How are you doing?  Well your level of care of you has to be first cause if you’re not there to help, situations can get a whole lot worse.

So what numbers should you have about yourself?

  1. Working hours. ( A time sheet )
  2. Health Stats.
  3. Money.
  4. Key Progress Indicators (KPIs)

Working Hours

How is your time spent of a week and where is it going?  If you can’t see where you spent the time, you have to guess.  Your guess will very rarely be right.  If you’re busy you don’t track time.


Time sheets can be the most surprising tool you will ever use.  There are tools available to help like bxp which allows you fill out a timesheet and associate with projects, work type and billing.


If you don’t have time to be filling out time sheets and are desk bound why not install Rescue Time which is free and records the applications which are in focus.

If you’ve worked hours… you can’t have a bad day.  You got something done, now have a look at what it was you did.


Health Stats

There are plenty of tools which can help.  As of now, for me, get a FitBit Charge 2 with the Heart Rate monitor.  Your sleep, your heart rate, your exercise and various activity stats are amazing to review and analyse and can go a long way to explaining how you might be feeling.

You’re alive and able to work.  There are many who can’t.  Sometimes comparing your bad day down to people who have it worse, lessens the impact of your bad day.




How much money did your hours bring in vs. your cost to the business?  So many people don’t know how to put a value on themselves.  Being able to demonstrate to yourself your value is a key strategic positioning for yourself.

The simplest process is to take your gross salary, include any benefits and divide it by your worked hours.  That’s your cost per hour.  It’s amazing to see how much for an hour you cost.

If you’re already logging your hours in the Time Tracker element of bxp then it is possible to have the system calculate for you automatically.  This feature is in bxp Release 10 SER 3.


The next is to take the hours you’ve put in and see how they’ve been billed to a client or customer.  If you don’t directly bill your client or customer it may be a time to consider the concept of internal wooden dollars.  Wooden dollars will be explained later in this blog.

You getting paid is not a bad day.  Making money for the company is not a bad day.  When you realise you’re contributing to the business is not a bad day.


Key Progress Indicators

This is a list in a spreadsheet you agree with management.  What are you going to accomplish within the (year / quarter)? These are usually custom to the business you work in and tend to be not easy to quantify progress.  Usually a more (done / not done) checking system.

Having a check sheet where you can see the things you’ve accomplished is always uplifting.  Driven people always want to do more.  There is a bad day reduction in seeing what you’ve already accomplished.


Putting your bad day together

So now you have some numbers to look at.  A bad day generally isn’t a bad day when you look at your numbers as you will succeed in some areas and fail in others.

When you look at ALL the numbers where are you succeeding and where could you do better?

The bad day suddenly isn’t as bad as not all your stats are failing.

Where your numbers are less than what you want, it’s possible to put a plan together to address them.  This removes the emotion.  You’re a manager dealing with a challenge.  You’re managing.  That is already a successful act in itself.


Their numbers

So when you have put all the time in to look at yourself, have you done the same for your team? Whilst health stats are not probable to achieve or record with your team giving them the ability to rest, nights out and the social and mental health of your team often lead to poorer numbers.

I’ll deal with team management in a future blog and update the link here when the article is complete.  The process is broadly the same but doing it for a team and adding in some new tools and approaches.


Customer numbers

Whether the customers are internal or external to the business it is important to ask for feedback. Customer surveys, sampling and catch up chats all will provide you vital information on how other’s see your business.

QBRs or Quarterly Business Reviews are very effective ways of gauging the temperature of your delivery.  Converting them to numbers and trending those numbers over time is important to do.

Dealing with customer management and surveying will be dealt with in a future blog and integrated here when written.


People are people

People have good days and bad days.  When they have a bad day the easiest thing to do is take it out on someone else.  As a manager, you are often in the firing line.  If you are a public speaker or take up a role of leadership (lecturing, speaker, trainer) you invite criticism, disagreement and condemnation.

You can’t be a prophet in your own country. People who know you, grow up with you or know you for many years will form perceptions of you.  Once those initial perceptions are formed it is very difficult to change them.

Don’t expect the aggressor to back down or off or go away.  Be the manager, the bigger one and see if there’s a way for you to manage them.

No matter how difficult it becomes.  Go to numbers.  They’re not emotive for either party.  In a business, a professional work setting, objectivity is key.  Numbers provide the basis for discussions.  They will validate your position or highlight an area that needs to be addressed.



Life is a complicated tapestry.  There is no right or wrong answer.  Never be afraid to be upset or feel down.  You need to have a down day as without dark there is no light.

I am happy to talk to you, your team, your partners and help in any way I can.  If I can keep a positive attitude in the midst of a bad day, so can you.  Please let me help.





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