Workplace Wisdom

24 Mar 2015

Five Ingredients for a Successful Problem-Solving Recipe

Some business problems are so straightforward they can be solved by the right research; once the facts are available, they dictate the solution, so there’s almost no discussion necessary. When a business problem is complicated and thorny, though, the way you approach it can have even more relevance and impact than the “facts” themselves. Planning a Balanced Decision-Making Menu A complex problem’s components may have interdependencies that are neither obvious nor easily quantified. Beyond that, the optimal answer might not […]

03 Feb 2015

Four Markers of the Safe and Trusted Leader

When employees are not shut down or demotivated by fear, they’re able to absorb input and recommendations, learn and grow, and stretch to meet larger goals and aims. How can leaders create safety and trusting environments? Typically, safety starts when leaders demonstrate competence, openness, candor, and vision. Don’t for a minute think these are “soft” skills, as they’re so commonly called. These skills are actually quite challenging, and they advance the accomplishment of rigorous business goals. Safety is not a […]

21 Oct 2014

Do You Need to Cope with a Conflict-Averse Executive?

When an executive disagrees with a proposal or approach, the situation can go in two directions: In the best-case scenario, the disagreement gets worked through collegially, even if it means that other people — other executives, even — have to change their approach in order to achieve a resolution. But in the worst-case scenario, for whatever reason, the executive feels that she can’t, shouldn’t have to, or doesn’t have the time to work things through. She may make some gentle […]

29 Jul 2014

So You Think Your Manager’s Like a Bad Joke?

A critic, a control freak, and a micromanager walk into a conference room… Do you know the punch line to this joke? No? That’s because it’s not a joke. Each of these folks can suppress innovation, create process bottlenecks, and demoralize staff. And yet countless employees work for these types of managers and sit in their meetings every day. So, if you’re one of those employees, how can you cope with these types in a way that lets you feel […]

03 Jun 2014

How to Get Out from “Under the Bus”

“They threw me under the bus” is one of the most common expressions of complaint among employees who see themselves as the victims of intra- or inter-team sniping. Whenever I hear it, I picture tire tracks — big, wide ones — across somebody’s back. People tend to say they’ve been thrown under the bus when they want to convey: Anger about feeling attacked during a presentation; Confusion or distress that people who previously pledged support didn’t back them up in […]

25 Feb 2014

This Is How to Find a Happier Ending to Workplace Dramas

The last few blogs have covered various kinds of typical workplace dramas and their instigators: The eager beaver type who’s “overwhelmed and overreacting;” The intelligent, intense, easily triggered “conspiracy theorist;” The “perfect victim,” who’s always right and always suffering; and The “workplace scold,” who gains self-importance by speaking for others. Of course there are other types, like the Firebomber who storms the barricades with the clear goal of blowing people up when she feels she’s been neglected for too long. […]

18 Feb 2014

What to Do About a Workplace Scold

Many workplaces have a person like Ermengarde, who’s an excellent worker and a dedicated employee in her own right, but often takes it upon herself to bring to management the concerns and complaints of other individuals and groups. Often someone like Ermengarde gets started down this road because she really does have a good relationship with her boss, and the head of HR, and other execs, all of whom appreciate her intelligence, astuteness, and credibility. Whenever an exec responds positively […]

11 Feb 2014

How to Handle an Employee Who Plays the Perfect Victim

“I’m a victim! I’m a victim!” Have you dealt with someone who sounds like that — maybe not as clearly, but just as dramatically? For Perfect Victims, everything that goes wrong is the result of someone else being unhelpful or too demanding or getting in their way. Every suggested alternative only creates new difficulties for these types. No matter what you do, the PV complains, “Why aren’t you helping me more?” Perfect Victims are convinced they’re always right, and they’re […]

04 Feb 2014

How to Cope with a Workplace Conspiracy Theorist

Most human relationships involve subtext: What you see on the surface is rarely everything that exists. But if you’ve ever worked with someone like Englebert, you know how an innocuous comment about some administrative matter can suddenly plunge you into the organizational equivalent of a whodunit complete with mystery, intrigue, perhaps an edge of danger. People like Englebert are highly intelligent, knowledgeable about their job function (even if occasionally rigid or narrow-minded), and motivated to achieve. Typically, though, they believe […]

28 Jan 2014

How to Help an Overwhelmed and Overreacting Employee

At some point in our careers, we’ve all crossed paths with people who create unnecessary drama as part of their daily workplace routine. “Valentina” is a pretty typical example. Valentina believes she has to get everything right or the entire system and her whole career will be at risk. She needs to see herself as the most responsible party, so she has difficulty with delegation. She’s afraid things will blow up, so she takes it upon herself to tell everyone […]


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