Don’t Suck at Work

Learn from the volleyball team


Successful teams.

My oldest daughter started playing club volleyball this year. I certainly didn’t expect the lessons that would play out in front of me on, and off, the court. Here’s what a competitive twelve-year-old club volleyball team has in common with your team at work.

1 – Play your position.

It’s nice to have friends – and twelve-year-old girls desperately need them. The cold hard truth is this: if you suck at serving or the ball lands at your feet every time, no one is going to want you on the team for long. No matter how cute or fun you are. Choose to be excellent at what you do.

2 – Show support.

Everyone messes up. Strong teams know this and they support you even when you fail. Like when the ball, or your face, goes sailing into the net.

3 – Call the ball.

Strong teams communicate. When three players lunge for the same ball, someone is going to get a concussion. Who knows where the ball will go. Call it.

4 – Let them play it.

When someone calls it, trust them to deliver. When they don’t, see #2.

5 – Learn everyone’s position.

You need to understand everyone’s position well enough to play it. Just because you can, though, doesn’t mean you will.

6 – No excuses.

No matter what happens, it’s never someone else’s fault. Take responsibility. Winners brush it off and move on.

7 – Cheer.

Every play has a cheer, whether it’s an ace or a jungle ball. Everyone cheers. Spirit. Get some.

8 – Sometimes you get screwed.

Today the ref made a bad call. The ball was in. Game point. We lost. Shit happens. Get over it. Focus on next time.

9 – Teams lose.

Strong teams regroup and win.

10 – They eat.

A lot. Of yummy stuff. Volleyball crunch (recipe below) is the best part of the game. It also eases the pain of #8 and #9.

11 – SWAG.

The uniform is only the beginning. There’s also the backpack. The ball. Practice uniforms. Special socks. Hair ties. Build your brand.

12 – Keep your eye on the ball.

Enough said.

P.S. Volleyball Crunch. You are welcome.



This amorphous, high-fructose-corn-syrup-laden treat makes every team pain go away. Try it at your next management meeting and watch the bitching subside. All teams need substitutions. In this case, we sometimes add pretzels instead of nuts, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch instead of Golden Grahams, or just about anything in the correct proportions. And I always increase the gooey syrup by 1.5 times. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone if a little bit pools in the bottom of the pan. No matter how much you make, there will be no leftovers to put in the office kitchen.

About Stephanie Surratt…

I know what you go through every day at work because I’ve been there.

Just like you, I worked countless hours, traveling up to 42 weeks a year and earning every promotion, raise and bonus with blood, sweat, tears and dramaI was surprised daily by the amount of drama and politics at the office. Here’s a little about me… I began my career in public accounting as an auditor at Arthur Andersen LLP in 1997, moving soon to Ernst & Young LLP, where I transitioned into a role in human resources (this is a great story that you’ll learn when you get to know me!)  My experience in recruiting, on-boarding, and training, as well as feedback, assessment, strategy, succession planning and employee relations exposed me to the grittiest side of the corporate world. My big firm audit experience blessed me with court side seats to C-suite players and today I enjoy an integral role in the day-to-day decision making of many executives. I am that person that says, “Wait! Is this the right answer? What if this makes sense too, and makes more money? Let’s talk.” Just like you, I juggle my personal and professional lives. No one gets a second chance to raise their children or follow their passions.

See my profile on LinkedIn and connect with me @

Somewhere along the way, professionals started calling, emailing and texting me to solicit perspective on workplace challenges. This sometimes happens years after I work with a team! I have the ability to quickly refocus professionals on what matters, both for them personally and for the team. I immediately identify the core issues in workplace dramas. My high ethical standards and no-BS demeanor creates immediate trust with clients and allows me to cut through long-standing excuses that create barriers, all delivered with a sweet smile and the occasional eye roll.

I’ve had more than one client smile and say, ‘Get out of my head!’

Today, I work with senior executives experiencing leadership challenges, as well as the newly promoted. I am frequently the lifeline for professionals who find themselves in situations that threaten to Deep 6 their career (code for: employee relations issues that ended up in the HR office). I especially enjoy assisting high performing professionals and entrepreneurs who want to take their game to the next level.

Don’t let people challenges take your eye off the prize.

Individuals and teams can get ‘unstuck’ by connecting their words and actions to key business objectives. If you aren’t getting the results you want, let me show you why and also help you reverse the downward spiral. I’ve coached thousands of people away from the cliff of resignation, discouragement and frustration at the office and helped them manage their own personal PR campaign in the process. I’d love to help you too.

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