Workplace Wisdom

08 Jan 2019
What to Do If You Think Your Boss Is Shutting You Out

What to Do If You Think Your Boss Is Shutting You Out

This article originally appeared on hbr.org. In an ideal world, your boss would support you and your career goals, open up opportunities, and pave the way for you to be successful at your company. But the world isn’t ideal and even managers who once seemed quite supportive can make a sudden shift. For example, the boss of a technical director I worked with seemed to lose confidence in her and would effectively embargo her comments, not sharing them with other […]

02 Jan 2019
What Would It Mean to Be an Activist at Work?

What Would It Mean to Be an Activist at Work?

Sometimes things happen at work that seem just plain wrong. Most of us stand by, hoping conditions will get better. But all too often, they don’t, and we continue waiting, meanwhile becoming more and more worried or disengaged. When we see something going wrong or not working well, it can be hard to know what to do. Is it appropriate to say something? And if so, who should we tell? You don’t need to suffer in silence. If your boss […]

10 Jul 2018

Focus on Tasks, Not Emotions, to Save Money on Conflict

“Conflict costs businesses a ton of money,” management guru Steve Caldwell observed while interviewing me recently. Caldwell is a team leadership coach, the author of Manager Mojo: Be the Leader that Others Want to Follow, and the creator of the podcast Manager Mojo, where he highlights commonsense solutions to management and leadership issues. These lightly edited excerpts from our conversation create a through-line from the reasons for conflict to tips for reducing the disruption and expense that conflict causes. How […]

19 Jun 2018

This Is Why Being an Employee Is Not Like Being a Navy SEAL

An up-and-coming manager at one of my client companies asked for help with a longstanding employee. Over time, his behavior had become problematic for other employees — and sometimes for customers as well. In addition to making more and more mistakes and creating conflict with co-workers, he had begun ignoring his manager’s feedback and doing juvenile things like claiming he didn’t have time to get his work done while blatantly engaging in social media and other online diversions during work […]

08 Nov 2017

How to Work with a Manipulative Person

This article originally appeared on hbr.org. Almost everyone who’s ever gone to work has had to deal with an office manipulator. Unfortunately, most employees hesitate to go public with their concerns. And with good reason: Even if they do, typical corporate responses range from wary or dismissive to actually retaliating against the victim, rather than the wrongdoer. Unfortunately, many workplaces promote manipulators because they appear to be effective at getting things done, despite the significant costs their abuse can inflict on productivity and peopleover time. […]

19 Sep 2017

4 Ways to Ease the Pain of Interdepartmental Conflict

When departments operate in silos — say operations wants to streamline processes while sales seeks to please customers by customizing — the result can be repeated misunderstanding and extreme mistrust. Even otherwise reasonable employees can appear to be locked in perpetual battle for authority, resources, status, or the pure triumphant joy of being able to one-up the other. Senior leaders often treat ongoing conflicts as just the cost of doing business in complex organizations. But the actual expense attributable to […]

25 Jul 2017

What Happens When Leaders Divide to Conquer

Working with teams or leaders in conflict is a crucial part of many of my assignments — even when it was not included in the original scope of work. Sometimes these disagreements arise because individual team members or colleagues instigate dissension or turmoil. Historical norms and structural changes can also trigger or perpetuate interpersonal or interdepartmental problems. But surprisingly frequently, conflicts arise from a lack of alignment around goals and responsibilities caused by a leadership structure called “hub-and-spoke.” The term […]

06 Sep 2016

When We Misread Cues and Get Things Wrong

We like to think we understand what’s going on. But sometimes we get things completely wrong. Take a look at this very short video about how, even with the best intentions, our attempts to understand, please, and get things right can fall short — resulting in confusion, disappointment, and maybe even a little shock. Note the boy’s facial expressions. We’ve all experienced the boy’s feeling of optimism suddenly turning to dread. Seeing this video reminded me of a troubling experience […]

14 Jun 2016

Getting Our Signals Crossed at Work

One day last week after lunch, while walking back to my office, I noticed a man parking in the last of four curbside spots in front of the Post Office. He maneuvered a bit and then stopped his car just as another car pulled up, right behind him where there was no official spot. The windows in the second car were open, so I could hear the driver exclaiming to her passenger: “What’s he doing?! Why doesn’t he move up!?” […]

31 May 2016

How to Bring Bad News to Your Boss

In most jobs, you have to learn how to integrate your leader into your plans. Unless you own or run the place yourself, part of your job is to help leadership be successful while you’re taking care of your own responsibilities. This holds true until you’re ready to walk away from the job, whether you love or respect your boss or not. Bringing the Bad News So how can you effectively deliver bad news or uncomfortable truths — stuff your […]

 

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