August 24th, 2014
Ah, the joys of the corporate workplace. Increasingly tight project deadlines, mistakes and oversights (our own as well others’), and sometimes-baffling changes requested by management can really add up. It’s no wonder we get defensive sometimes. We push back against a new policy, we react to someone’s criticism of our work, and we shut down in response to yet another item added to our to-do list.
When things seem to be going wrong, it’s natural to want to protect yourself. But, not surprisingly, defensiveness rarely makes things better. But what else can you do? How do you stop yourself from taking things personally?
Deal with the situation, not with the emotion.
Take a moment to breathe and step back, consciously disengaging from the emotional impact of what’s happening. If someone is giving you feedback that is less than positive, give her the benefit of the doubt and do not assume she is questioning your competence or attacking you personally. This way, you can deal with the situation rather than with the personality involved – which is always a more productive approach. (If it turns out there are issues between you and the other person beyond the situation at hand…set aside time to address them later when emotions have settled.) If someone presents an idea that means more work for you, or that challenges the way you’ve been doing something, take your ego out of the equation by telling yourself “this idea is being presented as a way to help the organization, not to hurt me personally.” Read the rest of this entry »
August 21st, 2014
Organizations won’t be successful with a cross-functional team approach if departments within the organization have been overly isolated or are mired in an “us versus them” mindset.
What can a leader do to build synergy in these types of dysfunctional cross-functional team situations?
1. Start by making first-hand observations. Walk around the organization and ask people how things are going; seek their input on the issue at hand. Visible leadership (when employees can SEE leaders walking around and talking to folks) builds morale and lets people know that someone cares about what they’re doing and thinking.
2. Build bridges between roles and job functions. Encourage everyone to look beyond their immediate surroundings and give them opportunities to form productive working relationships with people in other departments. A beyond-the-barriers mindset ensures useful information is shared and not kept in “silos”. Read the rest of this entry »
August 16th, 2014
Whether you’re trying to sell someone a new product or a new idea, there’s always a chance you will encounter some resistance. When this happens, don’t panic! Here are 3 steps to handling objections.
1. First, react with empathy. Demonstrate that you understand the objection’s importance to the other person and let them know you are listening and want to hear more.
2. Clarify through questioning. Ask clearly phrased questions to find out what the real problems are, then confirm your understanding of the person’s objection before you respond.
3. Respond. The appropriate response focuses on finding a satisfactory solution to the objection. Here are typical objections and ways to respond to each:
•Skepticism – Provide evidence, facts, figures, or references to prove your point. Read the rest of this entry »
August 13th, 2014
What’s in a Name?
A recent article on The Atlantic’s website describes a study showing how someone’s name impacts their chances of success.
For instance, women with gender-neutral names (like “Cameron” or “Chris”) tend to be more successful, especially in traditionally male-dominated fields … and people with names that seem white/caucasion in origin have a statistically significant advantage in the workplace.
Why does this happen? We think we’re being fair. We mean well. We think we’re smart and open-minded – too smart and open-minded to fall prey to cultural stereotypes that we don’t consciously believe in. But just as we don’t intend to catch a cold or the flu, we may not intend to be biased, but we still end up absorbing the cultural stereotypes surrounding us.
No matter how well-meaning we may be, no matter how much we may want to be fair, these deep-seated unconscious biases are present in all of us. And they cause us to dismiss opinions, leave people out of conversations, and even ignore someone altogether.
It’s distressing to realize. Fortunately, with awareness comes opportunity – opportunity to pay attention to what we’re doing, to listen to those around us more deeply, to include everyone intentionally, to value different perspectives, and to engage freely and openly with all the people we encounter. Read the rest of this entry »
August 10th, 2014
Writing in the 1600s, Thomas Fuller said, “Good is not good where better is required.”
How do we know when “better is required”?
In a work world filled with urgency and the mandate to do more with less, “good enough” can feel like the only way to get through a never-ending, always-expanding task list.
But unfortunately, that can be a direct path to mediocrity.
What’s the impact of good enough in your organization?
What problems do errors cause for your customers, clients, and corporate bottom line?
There are times when good enough really is enough, and trying to achieve more slips over into perfectionism. Read the rest of this entry »
August 4th, 2014
No, we’re not talking about the TV show, and we don’t suspect you of secretly stockpiling paper clips – or even of having too many cats.
But you – or others in your organization – might be hoarding knowledge.
The phrase “knowledge is power” is sometimes interpreted as, “If I keep all the knowledge to myself, I will have power.” This is the hoarder model. It’s based on the flawed assumption that knowledge is in short supply, and that if we “give it away” by sharing what we know, we lose something.
The statement “knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied” is a more helpful approach, recognizing the reality that knowledge isn’t a “thing” that, when we give it away, we no longer have. Instead, shared knowledge increases understanding and insight.
When knowledge flows within an organization, that sends a message of trust and confidence to all employees. This alone tends to motivate and energize everyone involved. Read the rest of this entry »
August 1st, 2014
Conflict is a part of life and not something that we can avoid, especially in the workplace. When large groups of people have to work together, emotions and opposing ideas can cause friction. In highly stressful work environments — such as healthcare settings— tension arising from conflict can make a taxing job even more difficult.
Like most people, healthcare workers want to be able to resolve conflicts with co-workers in a way that solves the problem at hand without undermining the working relationship. This, however, can prove to be difficult. Conflicts often turn into more of a competition than a collaboration and things “go south” quickly.
Taking a collaborative approach to conflict resolution is a key interpersonal skill. When developing this skill, employees must be willing to look at how they typically behave when faced with conflict and consider if this behavior is conducive to finding win-win solutions.
The video training program Dealing with Conflict, Healthcare Version teaches how to take responsibility for, and resolve, conflict in the workplace. Read the rest of this entry »
July 27th, 2014
Harassment in the workplace is a problem that many people face. The line between proper behavior and harassment is one that is often crossed.
If and when any harassment is found, proper actions and consequences need to follow in order to enable other employees to feel safe. But in order for that to happen, it must be understood what proper behavior in a working environment is and what it is not.
Sexual harassment is one of the better-known forms of workplace harassment. It is one of what used to be just a handful of types of harassment dealt with by law. But as societal norms have evolved and new forms of interaction (like social media, for example) have been introduced, more behaviors are being recognized as harassment.
The video It’s Not Just About Sex Anymore is a training tool for learning about many forms of harassment and how to deal with them. Topics illustrated in this video include: Read the rest of this entry »
July 21st, 2014
“So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work.”
– Peter Drucker
A successful entrepreneur recently shared his management philosophy with me.
• Create a place where work is fun
• Hire management that has a positive attitude and people skills
• Build a team that works together to simplify and streamline processes
• Provide the best customer service possible
Four simple ideas that can make the difference between success or failure for any organization.
First of all, work should be fun. We ought to get up every day with the enthusiastic expectation of seeing our colleagues and taking satisfaction in making a difference for the organization. We spend more than a third of our lives at work. If it isn’t enjoyable we should look elsewhere. It is management’s job to instill a sense of joy in work by showing appreciation for what employees do. Read the rest of this entry »