Workplace Wisdom

21 Jul 2015

How to Keep From Drowning in Your Own Thoughts

Are you stuck somewhere inside your head, talking to yourself about things you want to change? Are you stressing over how stalled you feel, or fixating on why the situation is so awful? No wonder you can’t sleep at night and feel fretful all day! Why not get some benefit out of your worries and doubts? Move them out of your head, where they’re scrambling like countless little hamsters on a squeaky hamster wheel. Externalize them so you can use […]

16 Jun 2015

Four Ways Colleagues Drive Each Other Nuts

You see your colleagues every day, or at least several times a week. You all get along, appreciate each other’s good intentions, and care about the company. And yet, some of your colleagues’ behaviors drive you absolutely nuts. Here are some common types of challenging behaviors, and a few suggestions for thinking about these crazy-making colleagues. Colleagues who point out everything you could — or should — have done better: They may be highly imperfect themselves, but they’re aces at […]

05 Aug 2014

How to Improve Your Routine When a Manager’s Like a Bad Joke

Last week’s post began with the Critic, the Control Freak, and the Micromanager walking into a conference room. (You’ll find their characteristics here.) Unfortunately, it can be very challenging to change these tendencies. After all, these individuals may have behaved this way as early as middle school when they had to work together on group projects as kids. But that doesn’t mean you should give up! If you know you’re one of these folks, try the suggestions below. And if […]

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 […]

15 Jul 2014

How to Cope When Difficult Colleagues Won’t Cooperate

It’s frustrating to try to get through your own work or to help your team make progress when you can’t get your colleagues to cooperate. Last week’s post covered some of the reasons that you might be hesitant to address this lack of support directly. Whether you prefer to avoid conflict and confrontation or you’re worried about being perceived negatively by peers or management, here are three ways to reassure yourself that you’re doing the right thing: Make the commitment […]

08 Jul 2014

How to Confront Your Fears with Difficult Colleagues

Some midlevel and senior executives are perfectly comfortable holding their staff members accountable for their responsibilities, but they get flummoxed when a peer is unenthusiastic, uncooperative, or downright obstructionist. These execs may not perceive it as their job to correct or manage a colleague. They wonder, in disbelief, “Isn’t everyone supposed to know how to behave both responsibly and collegially?” But that stance is unrealistic. The higher in the organization you go, the more likely it is that you’ll need […]

11 Mar 2014

How to Stop Suppressing Your Staff’s Potential

In last week’s post, Don’t Threaten Me with the Truth, I suggested that managers make themselves ineffectual when they try to avoid the bad news that is part of all organizational and business life. Executives who censor or silence the day-to-day challenges, the customer problems, the border skirmishes, the legal constraints — whatever is real and messy — do damage to their people and their organizations. These execs create an artificial environment that ignores the real needs of customers and […]

05 Mar 2013

Are You a Creative? Or a Critic?

It’s so much easier to critique what you can see than it is to conceptualize something that doesn’t exist yet. Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” He knew how to scrape away stone to find the perfection of form he could already see within it. Most of us know how to polish and fix up, but we’re often liable to ding a shoulder here […]

02 Aug 2011

The Bully Pulpit, Part VI: When You’re the Bully’s Boss

Recognizing a Bully As a manager, you might not know that you have a bully reporting to you. Depending on a bully’s style, you may never observe an inappropriate interaction yourself. In these difficult times, employees often stay in jobs even if they’re unhappy, so turnover might not have increased. The bully’s departmental results may be wonderful, and you might not even hear any complaints from subordinates and colleagues — particularly if they are afraid of retaliation, feel guilty, or […]

26 Jul 2011

The Bully Pulpit, Part V: Can the Group Bring a Bully Into Line?

Can a work group resolve a bully problem without the intervention or support of senior management? Several readers raised this question with the concern that it can be inconvenient, impractical, or downright useless to try to get a senior exec involved. It’s very difficult to change a bully’s behavior. It’s hard for bullies to give up the nasty business that has “worked” for them for so long, or for them to recognize that they’re hurting others. Workplace bullies usually think […]


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