workplace dynamics Archives

 

In the previous post on the Skill of Speaking Up, a Responsible Conflict Resolution Technique, I described a case in which Yolanda, a new Latina staff member, made a suggestion at a staff meeting on how to increase their sales. She noted that she liked to spend time in small talk and relationship building before launching into the sales pitch. Jim, her White male colleague, dismissed her statement by responding, “I disagree completely. People want you to get to the point and not waste their time. All that small talk and personal stuff is so Hispanic.”

Josh, a coworker, spoke up responsibly using the three guidelines provided in the post. Not surprisingly, Jim took offense and countered to Josh, “Are you implying I’m racist?”

Jim graciously accepted Josh’s implicit disclaimer that he meant no harm, albeit acknowledging that he felt confused about what had happened. They all then went back to the meeting agenda.

That was the gist of the post. To read the full post, click here.

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Suppose you were at a meeting where one of your coworkers insults another? This is the stuff that breeds festering conflict in organizations.  What’s needed is a good conflict resolution technique.  Well-meaning people who are unfamiliar with conflict management may try one of these approaches:

  • Stay silent (after all, you are not involved)
  • Stay silent in the moment and talk to the offender privately later (this is consistent with the adage, “praise in public, criticize privately”)
  • Tell the offender in front of everyone that he’s completely out of line and explain why he is wrong
  • Change the topic so that the meeting can move on to more safe topics

If none of these options sounds satisfactory, then you’re right, there are other alternatives. We call it Speaking Up Responsibly.

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Preface: Martin Prouix, President of Pyxis and an organizational coach, posted this article on his blog, Analytical-Mind.com, this past fall. For years, I have asked students, people I coach, and sometimes even myself whether they would rather be right or effective.  Martin poses essentially the same question by asking, “is it better to be right or to be helpful.” His example on what can go wrong when trying to build effective relationships is worth sharing.

Jean

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Preface: Workplace Undercover is a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant. In the previous post, “How to Deal with Stress at Work When People Let You Down,”Vicki screams at Saul for not getting a draft document to her at the time he had promised.

She collapses nearly in tears, wondering whether she was the only one in the company who cares. Saul apologized and then secretly fumed, “Why didn’t someone do something about Vicky?” The case is discussed by Dr. Jo Bowens Lewis, a certified teaching and supervising transactional analyst, and a Leading Consciously practitioner.

We continue with Jo’s case analysis.

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Preface:  Workplace Undercover is a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant.  The scenario below was written by Eillen Bui, our research associate.  Jo Bowens Lewis, a licensed psychologist, organizational consultant, and Leading Consciously practitioner will respond.

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Preface: This continues the previous post, How to Reduce Stress at Work through Conscious Use of Self: Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Hudson, and the Blizzard, Part 1, in which I described how Oprah Winfrey  coped with an nerve-wracking incident at work. Superstar Jennifer Hudson was unexpectedly late for a scheduled taping of the Oprah Winfrey show, throwing off the entire day’s schedule.  The unfolding events were shown in “Episode 116” of Season 25, the highly acclaimed reality show.

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In Oprah Winfrey’s 25th and final season of her award-winning show, superstar Jennifer Hudson was scheduled to appear to discuss her amazing weight loss. Unfortunately for all of them, the taping was scheduled a day after the largest blizzard that Chicago had seen in 25 years, resulting in a textbook-like study of stress at work.

A behind-the-scenes look at what transpired that morning was shown on “Episode 116”of Season 25, the highly acclaimed reality show showing the makings of The Oprah Show’s 25th season.

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What happens when someone hasn’t developed good listening skills? Here are some typical conversations that create stress at work and home:

Example 1: Manuel sits down with Chris, one of his direct reports, to describe a new assignment. As he explains, the nature of the job requires that Chris weighs the quality of the project against the ultimate goal of meeting costs and timelines. When he finishes the explanation, he asks Chris if he is prepared to take on the assignment.

  • Chris:  Sure, I’m ready. I just don’t understand exactly what you are asking me to do.
  • Manuel: What part of it don’t you understand?
  • Chris:  Well, actually, I don’t understand what you are saying about costs, time, and budget. Would you please explain it again?
  • Manuel:  [Sigh!]

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3 behavior changes to increase team performance

Preface:  Martin Prouix, President of Pyxis and an organizational coach, posted this article on his blog, Analytical-Mind.com, this past fall. I thought Martin’s thoughts on team performance were worth sharing.

Jean

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Many people are confused about what term is appropriate to use when referring to different others. I provided examples of this in Part 1 of this series on bridging cultural differences. This topic is a hornet’s nest because a term that is appropriate in one context may be inappropriate in another.  Choosing the right word can be a daunting task for who wish to avoid offending others and are horrified at thought of being judged.

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Workplace Undercover: Suffer in silence or speak up?

Preface:  Workplace Undercover will be a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant.  The scenario below was written by Eillen Bui, our research associate.  Mary Harlan of Harlan Consulting is guest consultant for this scenario.

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The scenario: Carina was recently promoted from Operator Technician to Engineer after working at TLC Co. for 15 years. To Carina, this promotion was bittersweet. She knew that she deserved this position, but felt it should have happened long ago. She was already doing everything the Engineer’s job description entailed years ago and was very experienced. The only thing was that she never earned a degree in engineering; everything she knew, she learned from working at the company.

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Seeking Words of Encouragement in the Workplace

Seeking love and supportive feedback in all the wrong places

The young woman’s eyes filled with tears.  “Neither of my parents really cares about what I do or think.  I’m not even sure they love me.  Maybe they didn’t even want me.  It hurts me in my stomach to think about it.”

The conversation above is nearly true. (I changed a few details to protect my friend’s privacy.)

Not feeling cared for or recognized in the way we expect can hurt for sure. I know. For a good part of my childhood and young adulthood, I was convinced my parents didn’t love me.

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Preface:  Workplace Undercover is a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant. This scenario was written by Carole Marmell. Jennifer Joyce, cofounder of LeadershipSmarts responds. This is the third of a three-part segment.

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Part III – Support for Bank’s Feedback System

In Part I of this Workplace UnderCover scenario, Molly, a bank employee, received harsh criticism instead of the supportive feedback she had expected during her yearly performance appraisal.   In Part II, Jennifer Joyce, a leadership development coach and consultant, described three steps that Molly might take.  In this segment, Jennifer discusses the bank’s role in supporting Molly and her supervisor in giving and receiving more effective feedback.

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Preface:  Workplace Undercover is a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant. This scenario was written by Carole Marmell. Jennifer Joyce, cofounder of LeadershipSmarts, responds. This is the second of a three-part segment.

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In the previous post, Molly, a young bank employee, had expected supportive feedback from her manager during her yearly performance appraisal. Instead her manager strongly criticized her and accused her of acting arrogant and believing she is smarter than everyone else. What can Molly do?

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Preface:  Workplace Undercover is a recurring segment of this blog, featuring a workplace scenario and a response by a guest consultant. The scenario below was written by Carole Marmell. Jennifer Joyce, cofounder of LeadershipSmarts responds. This is the first of a three-part segment.

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Molly is a 30-year-old bank employee. The bank has a very structured environment, with formal performance appraisals after every project as well as every year. The appraisals go both ways, for supervisors as well as line staff. All appraisals are done by committees consisting of supervisors and line staff. In addition, the supervisors have procedures for providing coaching and feedback to all line staff to help them advance step by step.

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