We've all been there. You walk into a bank, restaurant, or store and suddenly feel it, that vague sensation that all is not well. It drips from the ceilings and sits in puddles on the floor. The employees are lost in thought, unable to decide whether they'd rather be somewhere else or stay and kill each other. And you're the lucky one bathing in all the poison they can ladle up. Yeesh.
I hope you've experienced the other side, too. You walk in the door and are gob smacked by a sense of well-being. This isn't just a place where people work, it's a place that WORKS. The employees want to be there and they want YOU to be there. You feel your brow relax, and the corners of your mouth head ever-so-slightly north. You don't wanna leave.
So which of these do YOU work in?
Now, which of these environments do you think YOUR employees rather work in?
So you're wondering if that six-headed, chain-smoking, flatulent monster that's been "hiding" in the supply closet is the Beast we're talking about here.
Here Are 9 Symptoms of a Dysfunctional Workplace:
1. People say one thing and mean another
2. People give lip service to new ideas, only to undercut them in private
4. Saying you'll do something and then not doing it
6. Deflection of feedback and blame
7. People pretending they "missed the memo on that one"
8 Refusal to deal with conflict
9. Gossip and backstabbing
When you think of a dysfunctional organization, you might picture a lot of screaming and yelling. But take a close look at this list. There's very little that has to do with raised voices, and the only mention of "conflict" is the failure to deal with it directly.
You will have conflicts in the workplace. The key is to address it in a healthy and productive way. Yelling at someone isn't the best way to communicate displeasure, but it's a heck of a lot better than whispering behind that person's back, which gets us into the excruciating, crazy-making world of the passive-aggressive.
If I had to nominate just one of thing from the list above as the most destructive symptom of the dysfunctional workplace, there's no contest. It's GOSSIP. A workplace full of whispered gossip is as painful and maddening as a buzzing mosquito at bedtime. It is destructive to the soul of your workplace and the souls of your people who never feel safe and always wonder who is talking behind their backs.
When people gossip about others, you may as well have them bring baseball bats and beat each other. At least that will heal. If a happy and functional workplace is your goal, there are few more productive places to put your energy than the absolute elimination of gossip.
How to End Gossip & Create a Happy Workplace Environment Where People Actually Want to Work
Step one is to recognize that gossip is an attempt at communication—seriously screwed up communication, sure, but communication nonetheless. You can't eliminate the behavior without providing something to replace it—namely a good and healthy way of communicating.
All Jack had to do was to go to Tom and say, “Dude, when you are late with that analysis, I end up on my knees to my boss because then my report is late. Please promise me you'll get that to me on time from now on.” Reasonable. Direct. Easy.
If Jack came to you with gossip, simply say, “Gee, it sounds like you need to talk to Tom directly so you can work this out.” Lather, rinse and repeat until the person wakes up!
Once you establish a zero-tolerance policy for talking behind another person's back, give your employees permission to address conflict head-on, out loud, courageously and honestly. Create a trusting and open environment and watch the dysfunctions in your workplace ebb away.
The Next Step to Ending Workplace Dysfunctions: Build a Shared Vision
Now you've recognized the symptoms and diagnosed the disease. Time for the cure.
Most workplace dysfunctions amount to employees shooting their energy at each other because there's nothing else to aim for. What's needed is a single, shared vision.
Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Everyone wants to feel productive and be happy. Give yourself and your team members a clear and positive picture of where you want to go as a group. Most of them will jump at the chance to be a part of it. When people align around a vision of great service, pettiness and dysfunctional workplace behaviors fall away and people become who they need to be to make it happen.
Will there still be those who stubbornly hold on to their dysfunctions? I guarantee it. And for the sake of the rest of you, gently but firmly encourage those folks to find and follow their bliss elsewhere.
Are you ready to do what it takes to end the dysfunctions and create a can-do culture in your workplace?
About the author:
Roxanne Emmerich is renowned for her ability to transform the "ho-hum" attitudes of leaders, executives, business owners and entrepreneurs just like you into massive results-oriented "bring-it-on" attitudes. To discover how you can get motivated and love your job again, check out her new book – Thank God it's Monday.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
*image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net
We’ve all been there. You walk into a bank, restaurant, or store and suddenly feel it, that vague sensation that all is not well. It drips from the ceilings and sits in puddles on the floor. The employees are lost in thought, unable to decide whether they’d rather be somewhere else or stay and kill each other. And you’re the lucky one bathing in all the poison they can ladle up. Yeesh. Read More >Roxanne Emmerich Articles
If you employ workers whose first language isn’t English, you may have come to regard these individuals as your organization’s greatest resource. They are hard working, appreciative, and utterly reliable. Unfortunately, these same workers may also be your organization’s greatest vulnerability. Employees whose English isn’t proficient may be unintentionally straining relationships with your customers. Simply put, if customers can’t easily understand your employees, they will take their business elsewhere; to a place where they won’t have to work so hard to spend their money.
That’s why when organizations bring me in to do customer service training seminars for their team members, we occasionally need to address some of the language issues. Feel free to pass these tips to your team members …
If English is your Second Language
The locals are friendly
As a foreign-born person now working in Canada or the USA, you may have experienced some local customers being impatient or rude. You might possibly interpret this as bigotry or racism, when in most cases it isn’t. More likely, if your English skills (or in Quebec, your French language skills) aren’t proficient, then chances are, that’s the main reason customer are being less than friendly. So, let’s talk about English language skills.
Don’t stop improving
The fact that your employer hired you indicates that you already have a basic understanding of the English language. However, a basic understanding is only the beginning. You need to know the language well enough to clearly understand requests from customers, coworkers, and supervisors. And you need to speak English fluently enough to be easily understood by others.
When it comes to improving your English, you’ll get the fastest results by enrolling in courses on English as a second language (ESL). These programs are widely available through community colleges and other providers. As for the cost, it is money well spent. By improving your English as quickly as possible, you make yourself available for jobs that involve greater interactions with customers. These are the kinds of jobs that typically bring-in more income. In other words, you are not saving yourself or your family any money whatsoever by choosing not to invest in language lessons. To get the greatest return on that investment you’ll also need to practice.
When to speak English
No matter how many courses you take, your English will not improve unless you actually practice speaking-it. The perfect place to do this is at work. Even if your workplace has lots of people who speak the same language other than English, take the opportunity to practice speaking English.
What’s not appropriate is speaking your first language with a co-worker, then suddenly becoming silent when a customer approaches. That can be perceived to be rude. It makes customers feel like they are not welcome; as though they are invading a private party. As LL Bean said, “Customers are not interruptions to your work; they are the purpose of your work.” To avoid creating these ill feelings, make it a habit to speak English: a) during your working hours and b) in any location where customers have access. If you are on a break and in a location that’s designated for “employees only”, then you might choose to speak your first language with a coworker. Keep in mind though, that the more you practice speaking English – even during breaks - the easier it becomes. Plus, you and your coworkers can help each other to improve.
Your golden opportunity
Bottom line - your job is more than a just wage; it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to help yourself and your family. It’s an opportunity to build community. And, it’s an opportunity to master a new set of skills. One way to make the most of this opportunity is to focus on practicing and improving your English. Good luck!
About the author:
This article is based on the bestselling book, Influence with Ease by customer service strategist and certified professional speaker Jeff Mowatt. To obtain your own copy of his book or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.jeffmowatt.com
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
If you employ workers whose first language isn’t English, you may have come to regard these individuals as your organization’s greatest resource. They are hard working, appreciative, and utterly reliable. Unfortunately, these same workers may also be your organization’s greatest vulnerability. Employees whose English isn’t proficient may be unintentionally straining relationships with your customers. Simply put, if customers can’t easily understand your employees, they will take their business elsewhere; to a place where they won’t have to work so hard to spend their money. Read More >Jeff Mowatt Articles
Most professionals know they must network in order to achieve long-term business success. I remember as far back as high school being told by my guidance counselor that I needed to "meet a lot of people and build a network." That was great advice back then and even better advice today.
It's critically important to participate in the public arena and interact with the people who could become your clients, provide you with valuable information or help you further your causes and beliefs.
While they understand the importance of networking, many professionals do a lousy job of it. It's easy to show up at an event, grab a drink, eat some free hors d'oeuvres, say "hi" to a couple people, then go home and pat yourself on the back for being involved in the community.
Unfortunately, that's not networking. It's merely socializing.
There's nothing wrong with socializing. In fact, it's generally a good thing, but it's not efficient. In order to convert socializing into networking, you need to have a three-tiered goal planted in your mind before you even enter the venue where networking will take place.
I call it "goal-based networking," and here's how it works:
"I will get a direct opportunity"
This could be a new client, an invitation to join a prestigious organization, a job offer, a promise to donate money to your pet cause. While Goal #1 is ideal, it unfortunately doesn't happen at most networking events.
"I will get a solid lead on a direct opportunity"
This is almost as good as the first goal, because it moves you closer to what you really want. Goal #2 should happen at the vast majority of networking events you attend. If it doesn't, you're not meeting enough people or not asking the right questions.
"I will meet new people and learn valuable information"
This is the bare-bones minimum goal that you should achieve at every single networking event you attend.
Make a commitment to network more and remember to think about these three goals before walking into your next networking event. Setting these goals consistently over a long period of time will maximize the return from your investments in networking. That means you increase your public profile, connect with the right people and become that person who always seems to know about business happenings long before your colleagues do.
About the author:
Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques.You can learn more and follow his "Business Motivation Blog" at www.JeffBeals.com
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
*image courtesy of posterize/freedigitalphotos.net
Most professionals know they must network in order to achieve long-term business success. I remember as far back as high school being told by my guidance counselor that I needed to “meet a lot of people and build a network.” That was great advice back then and even better advice today. Read More >Jeff Beals Articles
There is no doubt that for the past couple of years the economy has been a major source of concern, not only for individuals like you and me but also for business owners, broad industries and entire governments around the world. Suddenly banks were failing; real estate values were plummeting, housing foreclosures skyrocketed and unemployment rates nearly tripled. Job security was suddenly a thing of the past. For many, this instability came out of nowhere, on the heels of decades of growth and expansion. The effects of this collapse are still very much in evidence. Fear and anxiety are tangible realities.
Would it surprise you to learn that rates of tardiness and absenteeism across the country are way down from where they were five years ago, or that productivity is way up? This isn’t so much the result of great new business practices as it is both management and workers abnormally working to be more efficient and reliable, though from very different perspectives. Fearful of losing their jobs, workers are proving their worth by arriving early, working hard and productively during the work day and being very willing to stay late if asked. Businesses are trimming expenses, including payroll and finding ways to be as productive and efficient as is possible. These combined efforts leave us well positioned going forward, with a lean staff that is there, motivated and productive.
As leaders we are often challenged by what our environment throws at us, our job being to deliver results no matter what the market condition, nor the current challenge or obstacle. Not fair but that is what being the leader is all about and if this type of pressure is uncomfortable for you, if you have trouble standing up to these types of demands toward success, maybe this is a case where you really can’t take the heat in that kitchen and for everyone’s sake, you should get out.
During the course of my many years of employment, I worked with someone who was knowledgeable, but beyond that was an extraordinarily gifted instructor, having an uncanny ability to connect and relate to the small business owners and managers he served as operations director every day. Unfortunately where he was very mission driven and caring of the company and customers, his care and concern was less obvious in dealing with his managers and professional staff. In making decisions and in working with corporate executives, he was very willing to take on any and all tasks, which can be a great thing, but too often he did this with little or no consideration for how it would impact his staff members. It is such a simple thing to involve our people in the broad mission and to get their feedback and input (even if we ultimately chose to ignore it and go our own way) but many among us would rather run with our positional authority and bully our staff members into submission. In this particular case it was complicated further by job insecurity which prevented this department head from questioning decisions that were being made or actions being taken by those above him. More than once I heard him declare “I’m not willing to commit professional suicide” and as a direct result, his hard working and loyal staff members fell victim to his moral weakness and actions that impeded and undermined the ability of his people to do their jobs.
In most companies managers are expected to voice concerns and where warranted, to raise objections but rather than rock the boat, this department head abandoned his people in favor of his career insecurities. I have always been of the opinion that staff members well supported and set up for success are the best job security you could ever need. Certainly you will always want to set high standards and continually challenge your people for their very best effort, but fidelity to their plight and being willing to risk it all in their defense will go a long way toward assuring their very best. Conversely, selling your people out and abandoning them to protect your own career is certainly a great way to communicate your lack of care and concern and take away all of the reasons they would have to do anything beyond what they need to do to retain their jobs. Actions such as these are much closer to tyranny than they are to leadership and this behavior underscores what happens when you put your needs above the needs of your people. The very sad case here is that this individual had the very visible respect of his staff. They would willingly have followed him anywhere he would have chosen to lead them. Leadership was something that was obviously beyond him and he chose a course that served his needs, not the mission and certainly not the welfare of his people.
Mutiny in the work place is an incredibly rare thing and the truth is that people as a whole will put up with almost anything you throw at them, even more so in an environment such as we have seen over the past couple of years, with people being laid off all across the country and job insecurity running very high. There is no doubt that at a time like this you could push your people much further than you could have four or five years ago, using that job loss fear to drive your people beyond what is reasonable, the threat of being fired stifling any objections. Most among us are of the herd, sheep, followers and not likely to voice our dissatisfaction, especially in an environment such as this. The down side of this is our creating a workplace that discourages initiative and frowns upon anything approaching an open constructive dialogue with our staffs. The very sad fact is that as an expedience, many leaders among us have taken this path and are using fear as a tool to move their people and fear, more than any other emotion, will certainly inspire most of us to move but move exactly where they are directed, with no inclination or interest toward a better path.
Change in most organizations and businesses is a fact of life, doubly so in recent years with all the innovation coming at us in technology and in how we communicate and interact with our customers and vendors. In an environment such as this I would be concerned with a workforce mired in fear and hobbled by a reluctance to raise objections or to suggest a better path. If Americans are anything, we are innovators and great ideas are what drive this. I can promise that if your people live in an environment of fear, their thoughts are more toward survival and keeping their job than innovation. Successful change and in this, our viability and survival, is a function of leadership. Fear will certainly get them there but effective leadership will get them there happy at the journey and motivated toward a better result.
In ‘Leading Change’ John Kotter says “Better for most of us, despite the risks, to leap into the future. And to do so sooner rather than later….As an observer of life in organizations, I think I can say with some authority that people who are making an effort to embrace the future are a happier lot than those who are clinging to the past….But people who are attempting to grow, to become more comfortable with change, to develop leadership skills-these men and women are typically driven by a sense that they are doing what is right for themselves, their families, and their organizations…”
People want to have a voice, want to know where they are going, want to contribute and want business owners and managers to know and appreciate that contribution. Our job as leaders is to give our people all of that as we move our business or organization where we need it to go. Fear would seem a very poor choice as we ask our people to go out there and take on the world.
You are the leader. As you charge up that hill are your people going to follow you in confidence or abandon you in fear? If you are unsure of that answer I am guessing that this is something you will want to dig into. People will amaze you with what they can accomplish under the most difficult of circumstance but only when they are confident in taking those first difficult steps. Great leadership inspires that confidence.
‘Illegitimi non carborundum’! ("Don't let the bastards grind you down!")
About the author:
Brian Canning is a regular contributor to weLEAD and a business analyst working in the federal sector. For the past thirty years he has worked in the automotive repair industry, most recently as a leadership and management coach with the Automotive Training Institute in Savage, Maryland. After serving as a tank commander with the 1st Armored Division in Europe, he started his career as a Goodyear service manager in suburban Washington D.C., moving on to oversee several stores and later a sales region. He also has been a retail sales manager for a large auto parts distributor, run a large fleet operation and headed a large multi-state sales territory for an independent manufacturer of auto parts. His passions are history, leadership and writing.
There is no doubt that for the past couple of years the economy has been a major source of concern, not only for individuals like you and me but also for business owners, broad industries and entire governments around the world. Suddenly banks were failing; real estate values were plummeting, housing foreclosures skyrocketed and unemployment rates nearly tripled. Job security was suddenly a thing of the past. For many, this instability came out of nowhere, on the heels of decades of growth and expansion. The effects of this collapse are still very much in evidence. Fear and anxiety are tangible realities. Read More >Brian Canning Articles
The other day I was talking with someone about a start up idea. He is a very successful sales person and wanted my view on the concept. As we moved on with the discussion I realized that there were some strategic holes in his plan which I wanted to point out. What I had not realized, however, is that he had bought into the idea lock, stock, and barrel and only wanted to hear me echo his feelings. The same day my daughter was unsuccessfully trying to explain to her friend that unlike what she thought, their common friend's behavior was not an affront. A few days earlier, I was telling my wife to give up the idea of trying to go to India in November when the chances of getting certain things done on time was practically impossible, but it was a completely futile exercise.
You know what I am driving at – situations where you try hard to make someone see reason but feel as if you are banging your head against a wall. Intensely frustrating as they can be, they are very, very common. I have no doubt that many of you could recall having been through a similar situation or two in the recent past. I mentioned a few incidents where I was the one banging my head against a wall, but I am sure people who know me can point out situations where I have played the wall instead.
Now these “not uncommon” interactions are not limited to friends and family members, they are an integral part of how the human mind works. Maybe it’s something to do with our natural instinct for self-preservation. Or maybe our egos, fears, and greed gets the better part of our intellect. I am not sure about that, but what I do know is that we all get caught up in our own ideas so deeply that we do not see, or want to see what is obvious to others. The numbers driven corporate world has also had to bear the brunt of executives forging ahead bullheadedly with their convictions to the detriment of their organizational goals, ignoring the logic of well prepared advisers.
Obviously, when decision makers and stakeholders have precarious view-points they need to be made aware of the risks. But bluntly stating your position will not only make it likely that you would fail to get your point across, it might also land you into trouble. How one handles such situations makes the difference between success and failure of projects, goals, and relationships.
So, what are we to do?
There is more than one way to skin this cat, so to speak. Nobody has a definite set of answers. But here is one strategy that works really well for me. I call it the PAQ (Pause-Answer-Question) Method. The central idea behind this approach is to lead the listeners to see the consequences of their current approach or thinking. Let them arrive at your conclusions on their own.
PAUSE: When you realize that you have to say something which goes against the grain for the listener, pause to understand how the listener sees the situation and plan your communication beginning from his or her point of view and leading to yours before you state your position. Develop this attitude of restrained communication. It takes time but you will become more effective with continued practice.
ANSWER: While you frame your thoughts based upon the position of the listener make a conscious assessment of his or her emotional stance. People don’t see reason when they are emotionally attached to certain ideas. So emotion is where you have to do the real work. Answer the question: What is the degree of awareness and willingness of the listener? Plan the effect you wish to seek from the interaction based on what is possible in the given situation. Clearly define what you seek from the interaction. Remember, you can’t give them the solution until they see the real problem and are ready to listen to you. You would be wasting your breath otherwise. Remember, the real problem is that they have not thought through the idea in question completely as they are bonded emotionally to their position.
QUESTION: Frame your desired effect as a set of questions the answers to which should lead to the point you want to make. Lead your listeners to discovering the consequences of their line of thinking on their own. For example avoid saying directly why business A will not succeed like Business B because A and B are fundamentally different, which is unlike what the person believed so far. Instead you could ask one or more of the following questions -
a. How important is it to succeed?
b. What do you think are the consequences of failure?
c. Is the opportunity cost high enough to demand careful thinking before moving ahead?
d. What do you think can be done to minimize the risk of failure?
e. Are there any holes in the analogy being banked upon?
f. How is this business different from the one managed before?
g. How can we prepare for the differences between the two business models?
As you talk about the issue remove the word ‘but’, ’should’ and the like from your conversation. Substitute them with “and”. Essentially you are not going to tell them what they should be doing or how they are wrong, you are only going to provide them with various other options or perspectives, thus helping them really think through the idea. When you take this approach you will notice a remarkable difference in your communication. Try, experiment, and internalize this process, practice it in imaginary conversations until it becomes your second nature. As you use this method regularly you will have a lot more buy-in for your idea and the change you expect will be practically guaranteed in most situations, unless of course if you were wrong to begin with. This process of communication takes longer but it gets the job done and also saves you from putting your foot in your mouth.
About the author:
Nick is the Managing Partner of The 8020Strategy Group, the President of the Global Alliance of CEO's, and the Managing Editor of The CEO Entrepreneur Magazine (www.8020ceo.com). The magazine has been created and designed to promote collaboration among CEOs, and to inform and inspire the community towards making businesses more efficient. For keynote addresses, workshops, and consulting engagements, Nick can be reached at email@example.com
*image courtesy of Ventrilock/freedigitalphotos.net
The other day I was talking with someone about a start up idea. He is a very successful sales person and wanted my view on the concept. As we moved on with the discussion I realized that there were some strategic holes in his plan which I wanted to point out. What I had not realized, however, is that he had bought into the idea lock, stock, and barrel and only wanted to hear me echo his feelings. The same day my daughter was unsuccessfully trying to explain to her friend that unlike what she thought, their common friend’s behavior was not an affront. A few days earlier, I was telling my wife to give up the idea of trying to go to India in November when the chances of getting certain things done on time was practically impossible, but it was a completely futile exercise. Read More >Nick Vaidya Articles
If buyers could get by without salespeople, do you think they would? It is an interesting question if you stop and consider the role of the salesperson. Of course, considering the role in an abstract way is one thing, but what about when you consider it from a personal perspective? What happens as a salesperson when you put your emotions aside for a moment, relax, take a deep breath and honestly ask yourself, "What role do I play with my buyers?"
When I ask salespeople what value they bring to their buyers, I usually get a typical answer that is full of a lot of smoke puffery. When I ask this question of buyers, and in particular professional buyers, I get an entirely different answer. For professional buyers who see a wide variety of salespeople, the value they place on them is usually very minimal. Are you wondering why?
There's one simple reason that can sum it all up: Most salespeople bring to their buyers only information. Interestingly, information is something any buyer can gather from other sources. At the end of the day, you as a salesperson must ask yourself, "Am I merely a conduit of information?" If you are, then you're wasting your time, your company's time, and your customer's time. You might as well just email your buyer the information and then go play golf.
If you can't as a salesperson honestly lay claim to problems you've helped your customers overcome, then you really have to begin questioning the role you play. Yes, I'm being quite harsh, but with the advent of technology and communication, the role of the salesperson has changed. If you as a salesperson have not recognized and embraced this change, then you are nothing more than the walking dead.
Buyers don't want people who bring them nothing more than information. They want solutions. Unfortunately, because buyers often have far too much to do, they don't even know what their problems are or what challenges their company is facing. This is the role the salesperson needs to play -- the role of helping identify the problems, whether blatant or obscure, and turning them into opportunities you can solve for the customer.
So how do you go about identifying problems? You as the salesperson must become an investigator – someone who is determined to find out what really is happening in an organization, industry and global marketplace. Then, you need to show your customer how what you found is impacting them now or will be impacting them in the future.
Start this process by shifting your focus. Instead of just delivering information to your customer, begin to ask more questions. A very simple rule I tell salespeople is for every minute you spend gathering information to share with a customer, you need to spend an equal amount of time developing questions to ask that customer. Don't develop questions for which you already have the answers or could easily find the answers. In fact, those are the wrong type of questions.
Instead, you need to develop questions to which you don't have answers. More than likely, these will be questions to which your buyer doesn't have answers either. By asking these questions, you're helping move the buyer to viewing you differently. Your role is to be seen as the one salesperson who is genuinely committed to helping them move themselves and their company to a higher level. This may be by growing their sales or helping them reduce their costs.
When you can clearly identify ways you've helped your buyer achieve either of these outcomes, then you will know you're no longer the type of salesperson that buyers love to hate. Plus, you'll be growing your bottom line at the same time. And that's a lot better than simply doling out information!
About the author:
Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter," helps individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales and profitably build more long-term customer relationships. You can follow his Sales Motivation Blog at www.TheSalesHunter.com.
If buyers could get by without salespeople, do you think they would? It is an interesting question if you stop and consider the role of the salesperson. Of course, considering the role in an abstract way is one thing, but what about when you consider it from a personal perspective? What happens as a salesperson when you put your emotions aside for a moment, relax, take a deep breath and honestly ask yourself, “What role do I play with my buyers?” Read More >Mark Hunter Articles
Do you ever feel lethargic and lost at work? Do you ever feel vulnerable and powerless, like a tiny cog in a huge machine? Do you wish that you could be truly happy at work?
“Happiness at work is elusive,” says psychiatrist Dr. Kerry J. Sulkowicz. Sulkowicz teaches that a better goal is to enjoy your work and strive for high performance. That is more realistic. Why? Happiness is complex. It is difficult to sustain for long periods of time. It often ebbs and flows with the people around you and ultimately, happiness must be generated from within.
In your quest for happiness at work, it is important to understand root causes. When identified, root causes give you clues to why you feel vulnerable and powerless. I learned this when I worked in a corporation where I was expected to be merely a puppet, doing exactly what the manager said and acting precisely when he pulled my strings.
The behavior of my manager was my root cause for unhappiness as he drained essential life force from me but I displaced my anger on my family and work associates. Seeing my relationships suffer, I had to step back and analyze why I was so unhappy. As I consciously looked at my feelings and emotions, I realized that the root cause of my anger was a manager who did not allow me to collaborate, have input, think through and solve problems related to my work.
Once I identified, admitted to myself, and accepted this root cause of my unhappiness, my annoyance and irritation subsided. I was no longer a victim, but had a sense of power coming from my ability to cope with negative feelings. By insulating myself mentally and emotionally from the behaviors of my manager, I returned to a pleasant person. I restored my good relationships with friends and family, regained my mental energy, and climbed on top of my workload.
The ups and downs of work life are inevitable. Work is work! Only in Cinderella fairy tales is work free from pressure, demands, and anxiety. Believing you are entitled to happiness at work every hour of the day makes you neurotic and causes your mental state to go up and down like a yo-yo.
Next time you feel unhappy and lethargic at work, look for the root cause which may not be your manager but an overdue project or an assignment just out of your skill set. Stabilize your identity as a valuable cog in organizational progress, believe in your inner power to manage your mental and emotional energy, and then focus on consistent and excellent results.
It is possible to find happiness at work when you understand the subtle nuances of creating a mental and emotional environment where happiness can thrive within.
About the author:
Karla Brandau is CEO of Workplace Power Institute. She offers keynotes, workshops, and retreats to move your organization forward in the chaotic environment of the 21st Century. You can contact Karla at firstname.lastname@example.org visit her blog at www.FromTheDeskofKarlaBrandau.com
Do you ever feel lethargic and lost at work? Do you ever feel vulnerable and powerless, like a tiny cog in a huge machine? Do you wish that you could be truly happy at work? Read More >Karla Brandau Articles
Managing conflict in the work place can be tricky. We have all seen various levels of conflict in our offices. Sometimes the conflicts are resolved quite quickly, while in other circumstances, the conflict between employees can linger for years. As managers and coworkers, how we approach and deal with the conflict between employees can have a significant impact on the office’s productivity. This article will contain steps and ideas that can be used to identify and resolve conflict between employees. This includes training and strategies related to the causes of conflict, the stages, and the appropriate ways to manage the situations. This information is appropriate for anyone who has dealt with work place conflict whether as a manager, supervisor or coworker.
Types of Conflict
There are several types of conflicts that people commonly encounter at work and with each type of conflict come multiple reasons for it. Generally, work place conflicts will fall into one of three categories; these are disputes over task responsibility, over how something should be done, and issues that are related to personality and work styles. The causes of the conflict can usually be attributed to these reasons: stress, lack of communication, jealousy, complacency, poor management, personality clashes, and/or poor work ethic. With all of these reasons one can see why conflict in the work place is so common. Working through the reasons as to why people get into conflict can help people work towards better understanding of why conflict develops in the work place. Being able to identify the type of conflict and reason for it will be important to helping resolve the conflict quickly and effectively.
Need for Conflict Management
It is important to understand the need for quick and effective management of conflicts in the work place. Persistent conflict at work can have a tremendous effect on the productivity of both the individuals engaged in the conflict as well as the coworkers that interact with them on a daily basis. When an inter-office conflict begins to affect the relationships of the office coworkers many of the following symptoms can occur: decreased trust, teamwork, quality of work, morale, loyalty, self-esteem, and loss of respect for the supervisor in the work place. Once we understand the impact inner-office conflict has on the day-to-day operations of the work place it is easy to become motivated to address this issue rather than allowing it to persist.
Stages of Conflict
Before we can resolve work place conflict we need to understand the emotional state of each employee that is engaged with the conflict. We can do this by identifying which of the stages of conflict the employees are experiencing. Once the stage of conflict is identified, it will be easier to manage the conflict and find a resolution. There are nine stages that each person engaged in the conflict will progress through.
1) The first stage is known as hardening and is where feelings of frustration or irritation first begin to develop.
2) Second is the debates and polemics stage where discussions begin to evolve into arguments.
3) The third stage is known as actions rather than words and is usually where each party will stop talking to each other.
4) The fourth stage is images and coalitions. This stage can be identified as the time when each person reaches out to find other individuals that will support their side by describing the issue to them.
5) Stage five is known as loss of face. Here employees will try to embarrass or discredit the other person to their coworkers in hopes that they will support their actions in the conflict.
6) The sixth stage is strategies of threats where each person in the conflict will attempt to threaten the other person.
7) The seventh stage that follows is known as limited destructive blows. In this stage each party will begin to identify how they will bring down the other coworker involved with the conflict.
8) Stage eight is known as fragmentation.
9) The last stage is known as together into the abyss.
In these final stages the conflict has escalated so far that one’s own personal well being is no longer a concern and their desire to bring down the other person is so great that they give no regard to the pain that they may cause themselves. These steps illustrate how a conflict can escalate out of control if it is not addressed early in the stages of conflict. Understanding the stage of the conflict will allow for better management of the situation.
Once a conflict has initiated and the reasons and stage have been identified, it is time to address the issue and help resolve the conflict. The follow steps will help any manager or coworker mediate the conflict between the employees:
-Air all viewpoints from both sides of the conflict
-Clarify the problem and the interests involved
-Brainstorm solutions with both parties
-Help both sides reach agreements
-Be aware of your own bias and do not let it affect your ability to remain impartial
The most important point to remember with these steps is to be an active listener. Active listening can serve two points. First it is a great way to make sure you understand what is being said from both parties. Second it projects to the employees that you are both interested and concerned about their issue. Both of these points to being an active listener will be helpful to resolve the issues from both sides of the conflict.
Conflicts can have a significant impact in the work place and should not be ignored. It is imperative for managers, supervisors, and even coworkers to engage individuals that are causing inner-office conflicts. A few points to keep in mind are to be aware of conflict stages and then respond to them when they are noticed, put in place a process for resolving conflicts and get agreement on it, and encourage everyone to learn conflict-resolution skills. Additionally training on conflict management and mitigation are recommended for anyone that would like to decrease conflict in their place of work. However, I have found that to be a good mediator and manger of conflict takes both practice and a desire to help employees resolve problems.
Gahr, Richard & Mosca, Joseph. (1995). Conflict resolution and mediation. Leadership and Organization Development Journal. v16n8, p. 37-39
California, U. o. (n.d.). www.hrweb.berkeley.edu/guide/conflict.htm.
Male, B. (1995). Managing Human Behavior in Public and Non Profit Organizations. US Department of Energy.
*image courtesy of Ambro/freedigitalphotos.net
Managing conflict in the work place can be tricky. We have all seen various levels of conflict in our offices. Sometimes the conflicts are resolved quite quickly, while in other circumstances, the conflict between employees can linger for years. As managers and coworkers, how we approach and deal with the conflict between employees can have a significant impact on the office’s productivity. This article will contain steps and ideas that can be used to identify and resolve conflict between employees. This includes training and strategies related to the causes of conflict, the stages, and the appropriate ways to manage the situations. This information is appropriate for anyone who has dealt with work place conflict whether as a manager, supervisor or coworker. Read More >Ben Rabon Articles
Most people are reluctant to address problems they are having with an employee, co-worker or even their boss. Yet, pretending everything is fine certainly won't improve the situation. Here is just one example of why this isn't in the best interest of the employee or yourself.
Just today, I spoke with a client who was describing an employee who wasn't quite working out like he had hoped. He shared with me how this employee was refusing to take on projects that were well within the scope of her job description and how unpleasant she was making life for everyone. Yet, instead of confronting this employee, he is going to wait for her to find another position within the company so he can be rid of her.
I suggested a different approach. Why not simply tell this employee that she has gone as far as she is going to go in his workgroup and that it is time for her to move on? This is certainly in her best interest as well as his, and more than likely will take less time than waiting for her to bid adieu. He thought my idea was brilliant!
Whenever we think about conflict, we tend to think of it in a negative connotation. Yet conflict can be good. Here's why. Conflict fuels innovation. It helps take good ideas and make them great. Here is an example of what I mean by this. Have you ever noticed that the best ideas seem to come from other ideas? Think about what would happen if everyone went along with whatever was suggested and stopped there? Do you think such innovative products like smart phones would exist if no one in the room challenged the idea that a phone could be used for more than just making and receiving calls? You can close your eyes and imagine the sparks flying in the room as each participant defended his position.
I got to experience this first hand in the early days of mobile phones when I worked closely with an executive at NYNEX, which is now owned by Verizon. I could see this executive's counterparts didn't quite know what to make of her. She was bold and forward thinking, uncommon in companies like that back in the early nineties. She had a way of confronting the naysayers, and turning them into her advocates. I noticed that when she was in situations that appeared to be contentious, she would win the other people over by telling them what was in it for them. Worked like a charm.
The executive that I spoke with today could have learned a lot from this woman. He knows his problem employee is very interested in being promoted. He also knows this certainly isn't going to happen on his dime. He needs to be honest with her and let her know that she has gone as far as she is going to go within his workgroup. Most likely this conversation will not come as a shock to this employee. In fact, more than likely she will be relieved, as deep down inside she knows this as well.
This is a conversation that may feel uncomfortable to him, but in the end if he plays his cards right, she'll walk out the door thanking him for giving her permission to seek a workplace where she will be an asset. And he will be a much stronger manager as a result of this experience. Now that's what I call a win-win situation.
About the author:
Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions (www.yourhrexperts.com) and author of the highly acclaimed book, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around (Nicholas Brealey, January 2011). Her firm helps organizations create exceptional workplaces that deliver extraordinary results. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta's monthly newsletter, HR Matters.
Most people are reluctant to address problems they are having with an employee, co-worker or even their boss. Yet, pretending everything is fine certainly won’t improve the situation. Here is just one example of why this isn’t in the best interest of the employee or yourself. Read More >Roberta Chinsky Matuson Articles
Leaders from around all types of fields are facing a new kind of challenge: coping with the various waves of disruptive, revolutionary change. One wave has to do with the rise of the Internet-based “new” business and its driving force, the process of digitization (Castells, 1998; Kelly 1998). A second has to do with the rise of new relational patterns and their underlying driving forces: the processes of globalization (of markets, institutions, products), individualization (of products, people, and their careers), and increasingly networked structures and web shaped relationship patterns (Castells, 1996). A third and more subtle dimension of change has to do with the increasing relevance of experience, awareness and consciousness and their underlying driving force, the process of spiritualization (Conlin 1999) or, to use a less distracting term, the process of becoming aware of one’s more subtle experiences (Depraz, Varela and Vermersch, 1999). An example is the recent growth in interest in topics like “flow” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) or personal mastery (Senge, 1990) both inside and outside the world of business.
There are two different sources or processes of leadership: one that is based on reflecting the experiences of the past (Type I) and a second source, one that is grounded in sensing and enacting emerging futures (Type II). Each of these processes is based on a different temporal source of learning and requires individuals to work with fundamentally different learning cycles.
The temporal source of Type I learning is the past, or, to be more precise, the coming into presence of the past—learning revolves around reflecting on experiences of the past. All Kolb-type learning cycles are variations of this type of learning (Kolb 1984). Their basic sequence is action, concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and action again.
The temporal source of Type II learning is the future, or to be more precise, the coming into presence of the future. Type II learning is based on sensing and embodying emerging futures rather than re-enacting the patterns of the past. The sequence of activites in this learning process is seeing, sensing, presencing, and enacting.
Yet, Type I learning is no longer effective as the single source of learning, because the previous experiences embodied in the leadership team are no longer relevant to the challenges at hand. And the experiences that would be of relevance are not yet embodied in the experience base of the leadership team. The issue for leaders is how to learn from experience when the experience that matters most is the not-yet-embodied experience of the future.
Moreover, large-scale change, particularly transformational change, always plays out on multiple levels. The action (at level 0) is “above the waterline” and is embedded in four underlying or contextual levels of reorganization and change. The four underlying levels of reorganizing are restructuring (level 1), redesigning core processes (level 2), reframing mental models (level 3), and regenerating common will (level 4).
When leaders face a challenge, they must choose whether (1) to react directly to the issue (level 0) or (2) to step back, reflect, and reorganize the underlying contextual levels that gave rise to the challenge in the first place. Accordingly, we can distinguish among five different responses to change: reaction (the response on level 0), restructuring (the response on level 1), redesigning (the response on level 2), reframing (the response on level 3), and regenerating (the response on level 4).
The Invisible Territory of Leadership Practice
The invisible territory of a leadership practice (aka. blind spot) concerns the inner place from which an action—what leaders do—originates. Leaders are usually well aware of what they do and what others do; they also have some understanding of the process: how they do things, the processes they and others use when they act. And yet, there is a blind spot: usually they are unable to answer the question “Where does our action come from?” The blind spot concerns the (inner) source from which they operate when they do what they do—the quality of attention that they use to relate to the world (Scharmer, 2001).
I first began thinking about this blind spot when talking with the former a Senior Manager from IBM due to my research study about organisational learning. She told me that her greatest insight after years of conducting organizational learning projects was that “the success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervenor.” That sentence struck a chord. What counts is as Scharmer (2001) stated not only what leaders do and how they do it, but the inner place from which they operate (Scharmer, 2001).
I also realized that not only individuals but also organizations, institutions, and societies as a whole have this blind spot. What might really set successful organizations and societies apart has to do with that dimension that Senior Manager was talking about: the inner place from which a person, an organization, or a system operates.
The issue that most of today’s leaders face is that they haven’t yet learned how to see below the surface, how to decipher the subtle structures and principles of the territory underneath. They haven’t got the proper methods and tools yet that would allow them to dig beneath the surface to learn what otherwise would remain invisible. And yet, it is this invisible territory that is the most important when it comes to creating the conditions for good learning to occur. Maybe, leaders can learn to see what so far has largely remained invisible: the full process of coming-into-being of social action, the creation of a social reality (Scharmer, 2001). This invisible territory beneath the surface (aka. the territory of the blind spot) is what leaders should explore and describe.
Scharmer (2001) claims that the attention of the actor, group, or organization is exactly the blind spot that corresponds to the invisible quality of the field underneath the surface. He believes that the term ‘field structure of attention’ allows researchers to get their arms around a surface layer of social fields that is still somewhat accessible to scientific observation (Scharmer, 2001). In social fields the corresponding area is where the light of consciousness—our attention—meets and is permeated by that which normally is in the background of our awareness—the structure based upon which we pay attention to the world (Scharmer, 2001). Each field structure of attention embodies a particular type of relationship between the self and the world. Scharmer (2001) identifies seven archetypal field structures of attention that map the territory of the blind spot. They are:
1. Downloading: projecting habits of thought (seeing 0)
2. Seeing: precise observation from outside (seeing 1)
3. Sensing: perception from within the field/whole (seeing 2)
4. Presencing: perception from the source/highest future possibility (seeing 3)
5. Crystallizing vision and intent (seeing/acting from the future field)
6. Prototyping living examples and microcosms (in dialogue with emerging environments)
7. Embodying the new in practices, routines, and infrastructures.
These seven field structures of attention describe seven different ways of relating the self to the world. The one probably least familiar is that of presencing, a term that blends the two words “pre-sensing” and “presence.”According to Scharmer (2001), it means to pre-sense and bring into presence one’s highest future potential. Presencing liberating one’s perception from the “prison” of the past and then letting it operate from the field of the future. This means that we literally shift the place from which our perception operates to another vantage point. In practical terms, presencing means that we link ourselves in a very real way with our “highest future possibility” and that we let it come into the present. Presencing is always relevant when past-driven reality no longer brings us forward, and when we have the feeling that we have to begin again on a completely new footing in order to progress.
Presencing is both an individual and a collective phenomenon. For a social system to be transformed and for a profound innovation to come into being, the process must cross a threshold at the bottom of the ‘U’ (Scharmer, 2001). That threshold can be referred to as the eye of the needle. It is the location of the Self—one’s highest future possibility, both individually and collectively. At the moment we face that deep threshold, as economist Brian Arthur once put it, “everything that is not essential has to go away.” Having crossed this threshold, we experience a subtle and yet fundamental shift of the social field. So, instead of operating from a small localized self at the center of our own boundaries, we change our focus to operate from a larger presence that emerges from a sphere around us. The seven field qualities listed above represent archetypal patterns that apply to the evolution of systems at all levels (individuals, groups, institutions, ecosystems, and so forth) (Scharmer, 2001). They capture an evolutionary grammar of emerging systems from the viewpoint of the actors who actually bring about this process.
Every human being has the potential to activate this deeper capacity. Yet, although most people have had small pockets of this experience in their lives, they are quick to assert that this level of operating is not only very difficult to sustain but also seems almost impossible to perform on a collective level. In most institutions, people spend the most time in the mode of downloading, not in the mode of sensing or presencing the best future potential. What is missing, though, is the social leadership technology that would allow them to shift from learning from the past to learning from presencing emerging futures.
Defining the Social Technology of Leadership
The core of the social technology of leadership revolves around illuminating the blind spot by learning to use one’s self as the vehicle for the coming-into-being of one’s future potential (Scharmer, 2001). Scharmer (2001) defines leadership as the capacity to shift the inner place from which a system operates. And the most important tool in this leadership work is the leader him- or herself, and his or her capacity to make that shift first.
The seven field structures of attention and their underlying principles apply to the evolution of all systems (individuals, groups, institutions, ecosystems, and so forth). They provide a method for producing a common capacity to act from full presence in the “now” (Scharmer, 2001). They also introduce a language to articulate a universal social grammar for bringing forth new worlds (Scharmer, 2001). Presencing is both an individual and a collective phenomenon. The point of the presencing theory is that, for a social system to go through a profound process of transformation, the process must cross a subtle threshold, a threshold that Scharmer (2001) refers to as the eye of the needle. The eye of the needle is the Self—our highest future possibility, both individually and collectively.
Changing one’s method of leadership, when defined as shifting the place from which a system operates, involves a deep cultivation and inversion of one’s quality of attention.
- the inversion of thinking: from being bound by judgmental reactions to opening up one’s thoughts as a gateway to perception and apprehension (“access your ignorance”)
- the inversion of feeling: from being bound by emotional reactions to opening up one’s heart as a gateway to sensing—to enhanced perception and apprehension (“access your emotional intelligence”)
- the inversion of will: from being bound by old intentions and identities to letting go of them and opening up to one’s higher self as gateway to presencing the new that wants to emerge (“access your Self”).
The blind spot can be described in terms of experience (the self), leadership (source of action), organizational learning (learning from the future rather than the past), systems theory (deep field conditions from which social systems arise), as well as capitalism and democracy. For each aspect the same point could be made: that there is a blind spot in the current theory and practice of leading, learning, and change—and that the blind spot concerns the deeper source, the inner place from which an individual or a system operates.
The following five practices appear paramount:
- observing: seeing reality with fresh eyes
- sensing: tuning in to emerging patterns that inform future possibilities
- presencing: accessing one’s inner sources of creativity and will
- envisioning: crystallizing vision and intent
- executing: acting in an instant to capitalize on new opportunities
These five practices embody a single movement of co-sensing, co-presencing, and cocreating the reality that wants to emerge.
Figure 1: Sensing and Actualizing Emerging Futures: Five Core Practices (Adapted from Scharmer, 2001)
The cultivation of this leadership capacity involves an inversion of one’s field quality of attention. Crossing the thresholds requires one to transform old patterns of thought, emotion, and intention by (Scharmer, 2001):
1. opening the mind: through appreciative inquiry rather than judgmental reaction;
2. opening the heart: by providing a gateway to sensing rather than reacting emotionally;
3. opening the will: by opening up to one’s higher self and letting go of old intentions and identities.
Performing this new art of leadership effectively requires developing and refining a new leadership technology—a social technology of leadership. In contrast to a social technology of manipulation or control, a social leadership technology focuses on methods and tools that help diverse groups of stakeholders to see, sense, and create together in a way that transforms past patterns and actualizes future possibilities. The most important tool of this technology is the leader’s self, his or her capacity to shift the inner place from which he or she operates.
Arthur, W. B. (2000), Sense Making in the New Economy. Conversation with W. Brian Arthur,
Xerox Parc, Palo Alto, April 16, 1999, in: Scharmer, C.O. et al (eds.), Accessing Experience, Awareness and Will. 25 Dialogue-Interviews on the foundation of knowledge, awareness and leadership. Unpublished project report, Cambridge, MA, August 2000, Vol. IV: 541-576.
Castells, M. (1996-98), The information age: economy, society, and structure. vol.s 1-3. London: Blackwell.
Conlin, M. (1999) Religion in the Workplace, The growing presence of spirituality in Corporate America, in: Business Week, New York, November 1, 1999. Issue: 3653
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990), Flow. The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York, N.Y.: Harper Perennial.
Depraz, N., F. Varela and P Vermersch (1999), The Gesture of Awareness. An account of its structural dynamics, in: M.Velmans (Ed.), Investigating Phenomenal Consciousness, Benjamin Publishers, Amsterdam.
Kelly, K. (1998), New Rules for the New Economy. 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World. New York, NY: Viking.
About the author:
Ayse is a graduate student in the field of organizational learning and now an adjunct lecturer and consultant in this field. You can find more info about Ayse at http://www.aysekok.info/
Leaders from around all types of fields are facing a new kind of challenge: coping with the various waves of disruptive, revolutionary change. One wave has to do with the rise of the Internet-based “new” business and its driving force, the process of digitization (Castells, 1998; Kelly 1998). Read More >Ayse Kok Articles