Being a leader is much more than organizing resources, executing on plans or knowing where to squeeze out the latest profit. A person responsible for positional leadership has the arduous task of managing their team’s contribution to overall profits and sustainability while supporting the roles and individual needs of their employees. If you’re doing it well, it shouldn’t be easy. In fact for most of us it will be a role that we never quite master, we will always be a student on some level. Along the way though, we can observe other leaders, learn from personal experiences and discover our own genuine way of navigating the work days of the teams that have been entrusted to us. Hopefully in turn, we will pass on what we know, like being part of a sharing community. As you think about your leadership role, here are some concepts worth contemplation:
Don’t Let Profits Be Your Sole Driver
Doing anything solely for profit is an empty pursuit. It leads to compromised business decisions and a bad case of burnout for both yourself and your employees. Going into business exclusively on a profit based agenda isn’t sustainable. It will cause you and your employees to eventually wonder what you’re really working for. Instead, let purpose and meaning drive you. These elements will give you the required endurance and camaraderie you need when times are tough.
Keep Your Promises
If your employees can’t rely on you to be true to your word, their natural default is to question all of your actions and motives. Just think about it, when was the last time you felt immense respect for someone you couldn’t rely on? Don’t make promises to your employees or partners that you can’t keep, and when you do make promises, do everything in your power to be true to your word. Not doing so kills your credibility, making it harder for people to respect you. As a leader you can’t operate business effectively without trust and respect.
Be Competent, Be Committed
The job of today’s leader isn’t to place oneself in a distant, hierarchy based position. People want to believe in the person they report to and we know that one can only truly believe in what they know or understand. As a leader, we owe our employees three main things:
1) Competency in our role
2) Commitment to relationships with our folks
3) A communicated vision for what our teams are working toward
Remember, your job is to protect and serve your employees so they can be as productive as possible. Keep a “people first” mentality and your employees will remain hard working for you and for themselves.
Focus on Development
Everyone is capable of continuous growth – even leaders. Hopefully for all of us, the day we slow down learning about our profession or business is the day we retire. There is nothing that will benefit you, your employees, and your company more than a focus on development. The key consideration here is to provide a variety of options and opportunities for learning. The more varied the offerings, the more likely your success rate will be. Some folks would love a lunch and learn on one of your new product offerings, others would prefer a book study and still others would like seminars or certification courses. Point being, you want to do everything you can to get your employees revved up about their professional and personal development. It’s another way to show you care, and that you are truly invested in them as an employee and an individual.
Of equal importance is your own development. Don’t ask folks to stretch and grow if you are unwilling to do so yourself. When you show that you are committed to your personal betterment, your employees will be likely to do the same.
Do Not Wait For Feedback
Don’t wait until one angry employee finally shows up at your desk with a list of complaints. By the time your employee has reached your desk, you can bet that the poison of poor morale has been permeating your office for weeks or months. Instead of being reactive, choose to be out ahead of it. Ask your employees what they think of you, the direction of the company, office politics, etc.
Keep the doorway to communication open. Expect respect while allowing for dissenting views and opinions. Sometimes that’s where the healthiest outcomes and decisions derive from. You want your team to understand that their input isn’t an effort in futility, but rather a respected opportunity for them to express their creativity and problem solving abilities. You are not bound by a contract to implement every suggestion or solution, but you can show you are committed to listening with an open mind. Granted, this kind of cross-status communication takes a lot more effort on the part of the leader. But, your willingness to explain your business rationale, to listen to others perspectives and deal effectively with differences allows you to reap the benefits of having a more genuine work life and relationships. And after all none of us, leaders included, wants to park their personality or opinions at the door. We all want to be heard.
Continually learning as you lead can mean the difference between mediocrity and excellence. Leaders of substance propel their businesses and engage their employees. They realize that they are meant to serve their folks, not lord over them, and because of that mindset they can rally an entire workforce around their purpose and brand. Leaders of substance aren’t just born; they are taught and actively work to train themselves. If you want to lead a company, and do so as effectively as possible take the time to help build your employees up. Perhaps Lao Tzu sums it up most eloquently, “A leader is best when people barely know she exists, when her work is done, her aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” If you ask me, that’s something really worth striving for!
About the Author: Amanda Andrade is the Chief People Officer for Veterans United Home Loans — Fortune magazine’s 21st best medium workplace and one the fastest growing companies in the United States according to INC magazine. Amanda has led human resource organizations in both public and private sectors, serving employees in diverse work settings, focusing on environment and behavior in the workplace. Connect with Amanda on Google+.
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In a competitive business climate, retaining key employees is vital for the health of the company. But when these key employees are women, many corporations and industries continue to be befuddled as to how to retain this valuable cohort.
Indeed, it’s surprising how many supposedly modern institutions are caught in a time-warp. Unfair compensation, gender imbalance in senior management positions, inflexible schedules and even active discouragement of female employees continue to plague companies large and small.
The good news is, a few simple steps can vastly improve conditions for female employees. And the benefits of maintaining a women-friendly environment far outweigh the costs. Retaining employees – male or female – is just good business sense when you consider both the obvious and hidden costs of a high rate of employee turnover.
One of the more obvious steps is fair compensation. It should go without saying that, after years of being treated as second-class employees, women first and foremost want to feel as equally valued as their male counterparts. Fair wages are just a start.
Fair compensation should also include bonuses and benefits. And women don’t want to feel like they will be punished for wanting a work/life balance. The lack of a flexible schedule is cited as the number one reason employees leave for other jobs, so companies should ensure they are able to accommodate their workers’ need to spend time with family or on other projects. Telecommuting, a compressed work week, collaborative scheduling and self-scheduling can all factor into employee happiness and job satisfaction. Maternity benefits, childcare, and maternity leave should be included in employment packages.
Greater gender balance in the workplace, especially in leadership positions, can pave the way for women to feel that they too can succeed. When women see other women rising within a company, they realize that it is possible for them to rise to senior positions as well.
To this end, the smart employer will consider introducing mentorship programs to encourage high-potential female employees to aspire to senior leadership roles. Women’s networks can be critical retention tools as well, particularly for employees at their mid-career level. Retraining and re-entry training for women who have temporarily left the workforce are also valuable tools in your retention box.
Professional development, career coaching, and grooming for bigger projects and promotions, as well as guidance regarding each woman’s career trajectory, are invaluable in retaining female employees.
Executive presence training is one option to consider. A 2012 Forbes article cited a study by the non-profit New York organization Center for Talent Innovation that said being perceived as leadership material is essential to being promoted into leadership positions. The article went on to say that “the 268 senior executives surveyed said ‘executive presence’ counts for 26% of what it takes to get promoted.”
Women who are trained to develop an executive-type persona in terms of gravitas – that is, confidence, poise under pressure and decisiveness – as well as communication and appearance become more confident and are better able to command a room, thereby clearing a path to high-stakes and high-visibility positions.
By utilizing some or all of these ideas, companies can benefit from a healthier and more balanced work environment. It just makes sense.
As VP of Marketing, Bimal Parmar manages the global marketing strategy and execution at Celayix. With over 20 years industry experience, Bimal is responsible for making sure the world learns about the benefits of Celayix’s solutions that include: advanced employee scheduling, time and attendance, employee communication as well as integration modules for payroll and billing. Before joining Celayix, Bimal was Vice President of Marketing at Faronics, a leading provider of IT solutions for the Education vertical where he helped grow revenue over 50% and launched exciting new solutions. Prior to that Bimal held senior marketing and product roles at technology companies such as Business Objects and McAfee Security where he gained significant international experience working with global companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Sony, HP, Orange, Telefonica and Ricoh.
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Corporate culture is the heartbeat of every good company, helping it to run smoothly and bringing the organization to life. It is essential for all employees in a corporate environment to not only understand the workload expectations, but the company culture as well. Here are some “how to” tips on corporate culture training to better communicate company values, visions, and strategic priorities.
- Schedule corporate culture training as a required professional development program for all different teams and positions throughout the company. This will allow individuals to be on the same page and help instill the culture throughout all teams.
- Rather than having the Human Resources department present the culture training, have professionals from Operations and Senior Executives who do not report directly to the CEO present the material. This will help to keep the focus on work-based cultural scenarios Also, do not discriminate when selecting individuals to lead the cultural training. Rather than prioritizing minorities or women to be engaged or act as group leaders, have a good blend of all different individuals that represent your company.
- Stress the importance of culture training, yet recognize that it is a piece to the larger whole in driving the organization’s values and mission to eventually lead to success.
- When talking about improvements that need to be made, start from the top of the company and work down. Following this path will help to engage even the lowest employee and not make them feel as though all the responsibility is on them.
- Do not think that culture training will correct discriminatory behaviors or discouraged practices in the work place. See this environment as a place to help prevent future unprofessional behaviors and teach employees what is expected of them before problems arise.
- Finally, do not solely evaluate how impactful the training is through responses provided by participants or facilitators. Wait to see if there is improvement or change in the workplace by monitoring the environment and look for key distinguishing factors that were discussed at the training. Also, make sure that follow-up is provided to reinforce the content, and hold individuals accountable for the new policies and practices taught.
It is essential to know that all employees are fully aware of the corporate culture and what is expected of them. Providing a training session that goes over this topic is a great way to engage employees and present the materials and expectations before problems arise.
This post was contributed by Kelsey Grabarek on behalf of Dale Carnegie Training, the training company founded on the principles of the famous speaker and author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Visit Dale Carnegie Training online to learn more about leadership training.
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I got a tad worked up recently when I received some information about a local event that is being advertised as a “Job Fair for Women.” The employers participating are primarily in the retail and hospitality industry although there are other industries represented. The communication included the line “If you know any women seeking employment please refer them to our Job Fair. Bring copies of your resume and bring a friend.”
I pondered what would happen were I to show up, as a female job seeker, and bring a male friend? Would he be turned away at the door or would he be allowed to enter? Is the organizer (who shall remain nameless) implying, by lack of invite, that men neither want nor need jobs? Or is this an indication of a belief that men, for some reason, are neither equipped to perform these particular jobs nor will they deign them worthy of their efforts? And why, I wondered, are these high profile employers participating in an event that is excluding an entire gender?
Now I’m in a region of the country that has a very heavy petrochemical, gas and oil industry presence where, obviously, many jobs have traditionally been held by men. I worked in that industry for several years and had numerous conversations with Joe the Foreman and Bob the Unit Supervisor about providing the same opportunity for everyone – male or female – to apply for jobs and receive equal consideration. They went along…albeit grudgingly. So what, I wondered, would happen if Joe and Bob were to attend a “Job Fair for Men?” I’m convinced they would like that option…even as we sit here in 2013.
And then, as my mind went off on a tangent, I got to ruminating how we (the collective ‘we of society’ that is) determine that it’s okay to continue putting working women in one silo and working men in a separate silo.
Have you, as I have, ever received notices from certain training providers that offer courses designed exclusively for women? There are session topics like “Communication Skills for Women” and “Assertiveness Skills for Women” and “Conflict Management Skills for Women.” So this tells us what exactly? That men have the market cornered on these skill sets and won’t be interested? That women will be able to attend these sessions and not be ashamed when they get emotional or share their weaknesses or admit to, as one provider puts it, “… deal<ing> with trembling hands, “butterflies,” and other nervous symptoms?” What the hell is that? A 1931 pamphlet explaining menstruation?
I despise exclusion – based on gender, race, age, religion, etc. – in any form. Some will say that the gals want to hang with the gals and the guys want to hang with the guys. Fine – get your groove on and segregate yourself at the corner pub with the dudes or at the nail salon with the ladies after a long week of toil and labor. But please don’t bring that mindset to the workplace or professional environs.
Every time you do it makes me die just a little.
With 25 years of HR Management experience, Robin Schooling, SPHR, has worked in a variety of industries. In 2013, after serving as VPHR with a Louisiana based organization, she left corporate HR to open up Silver Zebras, LLC, an HR Consulting firm. She blogs at HRSchoolhouse and you can follow her on twitter at @RobinSchooling where, on football weekends, you can read all her #whodat tweets.
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Who doesn’t feel under-appreciated at some point or other? You’ve done some good work, you’ve made a hard call on an important issue. But sometimes doing this, in itself, is not enough. You want recognition and appreciation of your contribution. And it is not coming your way. Waves of sadness, regret or perhaps anger or disappointment may engulf you.
Feeling under-appreciated happens and the best thing you can do is realize that while you can’t control how people react or respond to you or your efforts, you certainly can have a say in how you deal with that. So, here’s how you can help yourself feel better if you ever feel under-appreciated.
Recognize the situation
Spend a little time evaluating the situation. Recognize what you are feeling and consider why you feel this way. It takes effort to move beyond the rawness of the emotion into an analysis of why this is happening and what the primary cause of your emotion is. The aim here is to get past just being purely led by emotion – when you start thinking it through, it’s only natural that there is less focus on emotion.
Don’t take on more
If you are doing the work because you are craving recognition, come to terms that it is not happening. If you find a reason for carrying on for yourself, then do that. But if there is no reason to do it for yourself, then decide that you will take on no more. It could be for a time or permanently – the decision on the timeframe need not necessarily be made right now.
Promote your brand and your work
Successful people do not get anywhere simply doing good work and letting it shine through or waiting for it to be discovered. You have to adopt a brazen attitude, deftly balancing between arrogance and a quiet confidence as you articulate your brand proposition and speak for your work. Your life’s presentation must take on a balance of both good work and effective presentation.
Yes, that’s right. We don’t always have to say yes to every project, every email, every offer and in the time frame dictated to us. We simply cannot live our life at the demands and whims of those around us – we too need to know our own priorities and deadlines and work to make that central to what we do and who we are.
Find a way to renew and regenerate
Balance is key to achieving what we set out to do, and balance means different things to different people. What is important is that it works for you, regardless of whether it works for others. Stop, pause, reflect. Do what you need to, to renew yourself. In the process, it will be less relevant that you are not appreciated as you find solace and a centeredness in self-reliance.
Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters Magazine, a quarterly print publication aimed at Human Resource professionals. She is also the co-founder and Programme Director at Flipside, a business services company with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, providing professional certification training. Here, she provides strategic direction as well as oversight on client training and corporate functional areas. Rowena blogs about developing habits, execution, growth and personal development. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband, two young kids and now, a newborn. Connect with Rowena at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I’ve been watching the TV series Mad Men lately and it’s gotten me thinking about how many of our work habits have changed over time. We laugh when we see the characters taking a drink in their office, or smoking a cigarette while working. These sorts of behaviors are just not acceptable in any way, anymore. Drinking alcohol at work would probably get you fired and smoking in the office is illegal!! But in that TV show, you might also see them taking a nap during the day on their beautiful office couch, or just sitting down on a comfortable chair beside their desk doing nothing. These behaviors would also probably be unacceptable in most work places today.
But why not? I know the majority of us probably don’t have a couch in our office, but what about just sitting down without looking at our computer for a few minutes…just relaxing and thinking? Do you agree with me that this would look bizarre? But why do we consider it a bad thing to stop working for a few minutes to reflect on some things we need to deal with?
Today, with our computers, our many email accounts, our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, etc. we are always always looking at our computer or working on something, and we never stop. It’s action after action after action. And to convince you of that, let’s do a test: take 5 minutes and go take a walk around the office and try to find someone not looking at a computer, talking with someone, or looking down at something they’re working on.
Do you ever see a colleagues at their desks, not looking at their computers or documents they’re working on, and just sitting to pause and think? Imagine what you’d think if you saw one of your colleagues looking at the wall and thinking for a few minutes.
Wow, that would be surprising!!
I find it so amazing how half a century goes by and brings so many changes in our working behaviors! And honestly, with all the amazing things technology brought to us, I think we’ve lost something really important…the act of doing nothing and taking the time to think. Taking a step back to reflect on what we did today and what we need to do in the future. Thinking more strategically, and having a better understanding of what is going on around us and what is the best way to go about a situation.
I think that we would live in a better world if we all took some time to step back and think more… and stop just reacting at all the emails and messages we are receiving on our computers and telephones.
We are now totally connected thanks to technology, but are we still connected with ourselves?
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Sophie holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from HEC and specialized in HR. As an HR professional, Sophie has more than 15 years of experience working in the field of technology and places great importance in investing time in the advancement of her profession. She has been a member of the ORHRI (Quebec’s HR professional association) since 1996. You can connect with Sophie on Twitter as @HRSophie and on LinkedIn.
Moving on to new opportunities can be an exciting time, especially if you have a fabulous new job to go to. But when it comes to telling your current employer that you’re moving on, there are a few things that you should bear in mind. Here are a few things to bear in mind:
You’ll probably have to work a notice period
Check your employment contract to find out the details of your terms and conditions. In some cases, you’ll have to provide up to a month’s notice before you leave. It’s important that you consider this before making arrangements with a new employer. This period often applies to trainee jobs as well as higher-level positions.
You may still be entitled to some holidays
Your current company may be required to give you any holidays that you’ve accumulated during your time working for the business. Sometimes, they may offer you extra payment in lieu of this. Know what you’re entitled to and be prepared to negotiate the terms depending on what’s right for you. If you can make a case that demonstrates that you’ve considered what’s best for the business, you’re much more likely to be heard.
You should organise your finances
Even if you’re leaving your job to go to another, there can be a crossover period where you’ll have to wait longer than usual before you receive your first pay check. When you have bills to pay and rent to cover, this can be problematic. Sit down with a pen and paper and carefully map out what you’ll have to pay for and how switching jobs could temporarily impact upon your finances. There may be some solutions such as taking out a short loan, but this should be done with caution and only as the very last resort.
Once you’ve accepted a new job, your new employer may ask for a reference
Some employers will wait until you’ve accepted the job before they ask your current place of work for a reference. Of course, it could make things awkward if your boss receives the request before you’ve announced that you’re leaving! Try to time things sensitively to avoid any unnecessary problems.
Handing in your resignation is final
In most organisations, there’s no going back once you hand in your resignation! As soon as it’s accepted by your employer, there’s no requirement for them to reconsider if you suddenly change your mind. Make sure that you’re absolutely certain that you want to leave before you give your notice. A bad decision at the end of a long day could be something that you’ll live to regret! Always sleep on the idea and talk to your support network or loved ones before making any commitments.
Leaving your job can be a weight off your shoulders and the opportunity to move onto bigger and brighter things, but by considering these areas before you rush into anything, you’ll be in a much better position.
What are your experiences in resigning from a job?
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This article was brought to you by Jane Smith on behalf of All The Top Bananas. ATTB allows you to search for and browse through UK jobs in one place, from engineer jobs to IT jobs. You can also upload your CV to increase your chances of being headhunted.
It happens to all of us in HR at some point in our lives. We find ourselves caught in an awkward position at work and we ask ourselves, “What is the best response here?”
I am talking about situations where compassion is needed, but with extenuating circumstances. You’ve encountered the scenario before. An employee confides something deeply personal:
- A health issue
- A break-up
- An unexpected pregnancy
She is coming to you not really as a friend, but as someone who she thinks can help her. She wants:
- A break
She doesn’t know or understand the awkward position this possibly puts you in. The information she provides may or may not be true. You know that:
- Her supervisor is at his wits end because her performance is so poor
- She was late again three times this week
- The organization doesn’t have a warm and fuzzy culture with flexibility
- There are impending layoffs and her employment is at risk
What are your responsibilities in this situation? How involved should you be? How do you protect company interests while being a human being?
Human resources practitioners are not registered psychologists or social workers. We are not “Mother Theresa”. For most of us, our employers do not want or expect us to be advocates for the downtrodden, but we are expected to be kind, helpful and looking for the win-win. We do not have a magic wand. Therefore suffice to say that there are no clear cut answers about the level of compassion we need to provide in these tough situations, only possible approaches.
Here are some things you can do:
- To the extent possible, help her find professional help. Does your benefit plan offer an EAP? Are there help lines or government services available? Is counseling a covered benefit? Keep abreast of the resources available to a person in need and share them freely. Short lists are better than single resources. Encourage her to make the call. That way, you don’t have to give advice or get overly involved.
- Are there small things you can do? Can she borrow your office for 20 minutes to get her composure or to make a private call? Is there some small token you have that you can give to her to show her that you and the Company care?
- Be clear about what you can and can’t keep confidential and your channel of communication within the organization. For most employees, the role of HR is unclear, which in many cases leads to the risk that an employee won’t come and see us out of fear or mistrust, even when it is prudent that they do so.
- Encourage her to be discrete about whom she confides in about the circumstances. The workplace is full of people who are your frenemies. Your Company has policies regarding fair treatment but you can’t control everything. While it has become commonplace for stars to rise out of their personal meltdowns, it is more difficult for the rest of us to do so. Also a privately-managed issue will likely result in less workplace disruption.
- Be clear about the conundrum created when personal information like this is shared with someone in HR. Ask for clarity on the reasons she came to you and what she expects your involvement to be. Be clear about what you can and can’t do for her.
- With regards to how the personal situation impacts her job, encourage her to speak with her Supervisor and to be open to possible solutions. Offer to open the discussion with the Supervisor if you feel there may be a risk that the Supervisor may not handle the situation in a manner appropriate to the circumstances. If it is possible, try to create clarity about the continuing performance expectations and work through strategies to address them. Try to keep to as much of a third-party approach as possible.
- Get legal advice as needed. There are a myriad of potential challenges that could present themselves if down the line she is terminated. It could be construed that you used the knowledge gained in the circumstances inappropriately with undesirable consequences.
Above all, be genuine. The success of the outcome is in direct relation to your ability to:
- Be compassionate
- Think on your feet
- Keep your head
- See it through
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The other day I happened upon the Fast Company article 12 Trends That Will Rule Products In 2013. The article was focused on consumer goods like phones and washing machines, but you know what? The trends listed made sense in the context of the workplace too and here’s why: your employees are consumers. It’s inevitable that their consumer purchasing behavior will shape their attitudes at work as well.
Here are four trends Fast Company listed that have implications for those of us in the human resources and management functions of our companies. These trends are driving employee expectations; a wise organizational leader pays attention to these inclinations and responds accordingly.
Customer-facing employees are your brain and your backbone. The article states, “The crucial element in any customer experience is still people, no matter how much technology has transformed the landscape.” Do not be seduced by what your company’s latest technology can do. The “gee whiz!” factor gets old fast – for both employees and your organization’s external customers.
Worth is determined by philosophy, not price. Can you say “intense, endless salary negotiations?” The Fast Company authors ask, “How do you determine a product’s intrinsic worth?” They say that rather than focusing on price, focus on alignment in values. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Then why is it that when the “product” is a talented job candidate, we often get mired in “nickel-and-diming” during the negotiation process? Either an employee will bring a talent set and corresponding values alignment, or s/he won’t. Are you willing to pay for that? If not, quit wasting your time and theirs.
Narrative is a delivery vehicle to make information stick. The Heath brothers made this point with Made to Stick many years ago, but it bears repeating, because, some of us still haven’t figured it out. For example, company policies and procedures are D.U.L.L. but they’re important to efficient business operation. Where’s the “story” behind why you must implement the new policy? If there’s no compelling narrative, maybe you don’t need that policy after all.
Human interaction has never been more precious. “Look for places to act more human.” We’re all fatigued with automated everything. Sure, we love the convenience, but sometimes we just crave an interactive experience with a real person. Like the Discover TV ad that features a customer who is surprised when an actual human answers her call, as leaders and HR managers, we must remember to value the power of a conversation.
Everyone is a specialist. The other day a colleague told me that they were consolidating job functions in the sales division; their sales reps would move from selling three lines of very complex business to eight. That’s insanity. The Fast Company article states “trying to be everything to everyone is a losing proposition.” I agree. People love to “show what they know” and that’s pretty tough when they must “know” everything.
Taking a seemingly unrelated topic like consumer behavior and applying it to workplace issues can help offer insights we might otherwise overlook. As leaders in our respective functions we can glean new insights on bringing out the best in our employees with a slight tweak in perspective.
What say you? How do you see consumer behavior outside the office influencing the way employees act in the workplace?
About the author: For 20+ years, Jennifer V. Miller has been helping professionals “master the people equation” to maximize their personal influence. A former HR generalist and training manager, she now advises executives on how to create positive, productive workplace environments. She is the founder and Managing Partner of SkillSource and blogs at The People Equation. You can connect with Jennifer on Twitter as @JenniferVMiller.
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“”My relationship with the office bully is strained and unproductive. Whenever we interact I get a knot in my stomach.”
If you have experienced something similar, you’re not alone. In 2013, The Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) reported that “35% of the US workforce has experienced workplace bullying” (http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/problem/being-bullied/).
Bullies yell, spread rumors, roll their eyes or “forget” to invite you to meetings. According to WBI, workplace bullying is “repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons, by one or more perpetrators in the form of verbal abuse, offensive conduct/behavior and work interference.”
Rakesh Malhotra, founder of Five Global Values, writes “most bullies portray themselves … as polite and respectful, as they are charming in public …” Gretchen, from the movie, Mean Girls, says: “I'm sorry that people are so jealous of me … but I can't help it that I’m popular.” Bullies often see themselves as the victim and don’t get or care how they make others feel. Says one bully, “The biggest problem I have at work is that I don’t get respect from others.”
When bullies run amok in the workplace, they can cause emotional and psychological turmoil. Dr. Gary Namie, who is leading a campaign to enact the Healthy Workplace Bill, which requires employers to implement policies and procedures to prevent workplace bullying, says victims can have “hypertension, auto-immune disorders, depression, anxiety and … have their work and career disrupted.” One victim reports, “I did not go to the satellite office for months because I did not want to see the bully.”
To learn more about workplace bullying, The Lindenberger Group, a New Jersey-based, award-winning human resources firm, conducted written surveys and interviews in 2012. 121 people participated, from age 20 – 65, from companies with 50 – 5,000 + employees, and from a variety of industries.
Over 80% of respondents believe that bullying is a serious problem but fewer than 25% of companies do anything about it.
Bullying includes swearing, shouting, humiliation, and unwarranted criticism and blame. One victim reports, “I had to make a bank deposit so I left the office and locked the door. When the bully could not get in, she called me, screamed, and threatened to have me fired. The next day another employee showed her the office key on her key chain. She never apologized. Her response was just ‘Oh, silly me.’”
ur study, over 50% witnessed or were victims of bullying in their current workplace (60% at a previous company).
Over 95% of victims report increased stress and 90% report lower job satisfaction. Other effects include health complaints (65.4%) and lower productivity (57.9%).
Men are bullies more often (55%) and women are victims most of the time (77.1%). Most victims (59.3%) and bullies (68.6%) are ages 41 – 60 which leads to an interesting question … will Millennials (born 1977 – 1992), reputed to “play well with others”, be less prone to bully?
Another finding is that most bullies (77.6%) are at a level above the victim. In the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, Andy says about her boss, “She's not happy unless everyone around her is panicked, nauseous or suicidal.”
The majority (78.2%) state that no actions were taken to correct bullying. However, when action is taken, coaching is the preferred strategy (50%) followed by termination (38.9%).
Most believe that bullies have psychological issues (88.1%) while others see bullying as career-driven: to weed out competition (60.3%) or get ahead (52.4%). One victim states, “Our office bully needs to listen and manage her temper. She needs to stop throwing people under the bus.”
80% favor laws to prevent workplace bullying but believe that laws have not been passed because employers worry about lawsuits (63%) or don’t understand differences between bullying and harassment (59.7%). Bullying can be directed at anyone regardless of race, religion, nationality, gender, age, disability or skin color. Harassment is treating someone differently because of those differences.
Over 90% think that discipline is the best course of action, 88.8% favor policies, 86.4% want to know how to report bullying, and 84.8% favor training. Says one executive, “It’s important to take complaints seriously and handle things quickly.”
The course of action for human resource professionals is clear: develop policies, provide training, let employees know how to report bullying, offer coaching, and create exit strategies. The course of action for managers is also clear – take complaints seriously and follow through with disciplinary action. Leaders must create a culture to prevent workplace bullying. And if that doesn’t happen, remember Ralphie from A Christmas Story? His best line in the movie? “Say Uncle. Say it!”
About the authors: By Judy Lindenberger and Travis Johnson. The Lindenberger Group is an award-winning human resources consulting firm located near Princeton, New Jersey with experience in developing policies, conducting training and providing coaching on all types of workplace issues, including bullying. You can learn more about The Lindenberger Group at www.lindenbergergroup.com.