In part one of this series I introduced how to develop a competitive edge while leading difficult people. I began with “The Know All” (TKA) personality type.
For part two I’ll focus on another challenging personality, this one is seldom satisfied with the status quo and constantly wants to make changes!
The Revolutionary…. aka “TNT”
Making it Right
I often compare this type of person to Mike Holmes, the builder who seemingly blows up your house to fix all the wrongdoings done by previous contractors to ‘Make it Right’.
This kind of person on your team can really test you, pushing at every turn with complaints about process, hand-offs, policy or people. They expect you to fix it.
For the conscientious manager this TNT type is very draining to have on your team. You may pride yourself on good quality work like they do, however you’re more apt to be cautious and comfortable with subtle improvements vs high confrontation or making full-scale change.
These people can be rather domineering in conversations. They have strong opinions, and even though you may see value in their suggestions, they can be tough to redirect back to work.
Rather than doing battle with them, there are ways you can help to leverage their enthusiasm for the greater good!
Meet Sati – the Demolition expert
Lets take Sati for example (names changed). Sati works for a sales organization as a technical rep and has been there for almost 10 years. She is well liked by both peers and customers, so much so they turn to her to solve all sorts of problems. Sati has a habit of adopting other people’s issues, making them her own to solve, even when they are not in her domain.
Her Sales Manager Brian really struggled to get Sati focussed on her own deliverables. Almost daily she would come to him with yet another idea to change...well…pretty much everything. Many conversations began with “Why don’t we....”, “I don’t see why I have to…”, “Why can’t x department do…”. She just constantly challenged.
Brian was recently been promoted and knew Sati had some great ideas from working with her as a peer. As the days and weeks followed however, he found her increasingly frustrating to work with. Poking at him day in day out with yet another scheme she wanted him to undertake and fix, yet did not follow through on her own work.
Sati is a great example of this Revolutionary – TNT difficult person.
The TNT profile
The benefit of having a TNT person on your team – they are opportunistic, filled with ideas, usually very positive, they influence others, thrive on change, deal well with ambiguity and love problems to solve.
The key to leading a TNT person is hearing out their ideas and giving them accountability to see changes through. Set expectations for detailed change plans outlining the risks/rewards and benefits to implementing such a change. They do best when they are heard, given meaningful accountabilities with autonomy to implement and are trusted to get it done.
Caution for leading a TNT – they need a diligent leader to be available for them, not too hands on, yet someone who sets expectations, timelines then follows through. They need to be heard.
After Brian and I laid out a plan he implemented a few strategies:
In the following weeks Brian noticed a change in Sati. She stopped the incessant pushing and began to take ownership of some of the issues, working diligently to resolve.
Weekly they would meet to discuss progress and Brian began to mentor her on how to look deeper into the details. Sometimes she would actually abandon an issue but not until she had more thoroughly explored it and considered the impact(s).
Now Brian is well on his way to becoming a stronger leader and Sati is becoming a greater contributor, not only to the team, but also the organization.
For every difficult type of person there is another way to look at what they bring to your team. It can take some effort on your part but encouraging people the right way, who previously were a pain, can actually turn into a competitive edge toward a highly productive team.
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If you are tired of struggling to deal with a difficult person on your team (or your boss) and you’d like help to figure out how to communicate with them, send me an email. I have a kit bag full of different tactics that work!
Image: CC0 Unsplash @madeincartel
Recently, a client (we’ll call her Yvonne) reached out to me for assistance with a ‘know-all’ on her team. We had such great success improving their working relationship and camaraderie on the team that I decided to pass along some tips!
Many business leaders I talk to grapple with rebels or difficult personality types. Difficult people can test your every-last-nerve, yet once you figure out how to curb their behaviour by communicating effectively, you may discover a competitive advantage on your team.
Over the next few blogs, I will give you tips on how to handle some of the most draining types of people:
First up is the case of Alan – The Know All (TKA)
Alan – The Know All (TKA)
Alan was an effervescent, spirited, high-energy team member, who was very smart. He drove people crazy with his need to be right all the time and his non-verbal, superior behaviour in meetings (like eye-rolling, arms crossed, dismissive noises).
Trouble was that most days Yvonne found herself doing damage control when people complained Alan was difficult to work with. Alan spent all of their 1:1 meetings complaining about others who were unresponsive or uncooperative, inhibiting him from accomplishing his work and expecting Yvonne to set THEM right.
As a result, Yvonne found Alan to be a drain on her time and energy. Due to the culminating behaviour issues, Yvonne seriously questioned whether to keep him on the team despite the great work that Alan did.
After Yvonne filled me in on the many issues, it became obvious that Alan did not build rapport with others and his smug behaviour rubbed people the wrong way. So we set out a plan for Yvonne to begin providing Alan with meaningful and actionable feedback, immediately.
Alan fell into the TKA-The Know All profile:
The Know All profile (exhibits many of these traits)
The key to leading a TKA is to gain trust by showing them you are ‘in their corner’ but challenging them directly on their behaviour so they can see the impact of their current approach.
Caution to leading a TKA – always have your facts and data in order, never threaten or corner. Pick your battles wisely; focus on behaviour that gets in their way of success vs. labeling the person as a problem.
The benefit to having a TKA on your team – this type of person has tons of relevant information to draw upon, they are hard workers, creative problem solvers, decisive, action-oriented, have high standards, are adaptive, and are highly productive.
The root of Alan’s problems was that he made others feel dumb or undervalued – the more he touted his smarts, the more others did not want to work with him. They resented his approach because he never took time to value their input, he didn't create a relationship, he would talk too fast, not ask questions and express how frustrated he was in a variety of verbal and non-verbal cues.
So What Happened?
Once Yvonne began providing more directive feedback, Alan started making positive changes in his approach. Fortunately Alan knew Yvonne genuinely cared about his success and even though it was difficult to hear, he soon realized he came on too strong and decided to take her advice.
In a few short weeks, Yvonne began to hear from others that Alan was less combative and appeared more team oriented and helpful. Yvonne is now less stressed and has improved her own skills for giving AND receiving feedback.
So Difficult People or Competitive Edge?
For every difficult type of person, there are ways to connect to capitalize on the strengths they bring while correcting undesirable behaviour. It can take a bit of work on your behalf but building and encouraging diverse perspectives can be a competitive edge for a high performing team!
If you are tired of struggling to deal with a difficult person on your team (or even your boss) and you’d like to know how to better communicate with them, send me an email. I have many more strategies that work!
Do you know anyone similar to Alan? I'd be interested to hear what strategies work for you to manage their behaviour or if you have another difficult style you struggle with - please leave me a reply below!
Sign up for my blog updates (subscribe in the right-hand column) or bookmark the blog page. The next post one will feature: TNT – The Blow It Up Type – think of a ‘Mike Holmes’ like worker who sees many things that need fixing and thrives on change yet balks at routine work.
Photo Credit @ergepic from Pexels Creative Commons CC0
According to Gallup State of the Global Workplace, 85% of employees worldwide are not engaged or are actively disengaged in their job.
“The low percentages of engaged employees represent a barrier to creating high performing cultures around the world. They imply a stunning amount of wasted potential.”
Wasted potential. How that phrase resonates with me!
Death by Administration
I'm sad to say, I was one of the walking ‘wasted potential’ not too many years ago. It was a dark and miserable time. My employer was doing a massive restructure, removing spans and levels of management and it was my job, as the HR lead, to implement it for my division.
Unfortunately the process they undertook was more of a spreadsheet exercise, versus strategic. So the work I loved and excelled at suddenly switched from senior level advisory work to a massive load of mundane administrative tasks Every. Single. Day. , and it went on for months.
This kind of work was my worst nightmare and even though it is hard to admit..I have never been very good at mind-numbing administrative work. It just wasn't the right work for me. What a complete waste!
People can’t thrive when they are doing the wrong work. It devalues them, misuses talents and creates unnecessary pressure.
During stress-filled change, leaders can fall asleep at the helm; too busy ducking for cover, they completely overlook the signs of utter disengagement around them.
Don’t waste your best resources like that; you will surely lose your highest potential people when you don’t pay attention.
A great way to stem the tide of employee disengagement is to tap into the abilities of EACH and every person on your team. Get people doing the right work utilizing their best skills, long before a change occurs.
According to Gallup's survey analytics it is your high potential talent that will take a walk if they are not engaged, long before the others. These top talent are the experts to learn from!
Here is what top talent say will help keep them:
The best leaders demonstrate they care about each and every team member by taking an interest. They pay attention, particularly during stressful times, leveraging potential vs wasting it. They make it a practice to develop potential, all the time. They allocate work in a way that plays to their people’s strength and they keep them connected to the bigger picture.
When you demonstrate YOUR engagement, harnessing the potential of your best and brightest, you are guaranteed better results for highly engaged employees.
If you have a disengaged team (or team member) or are leading through stressful times and need support, I’m only an email away! I help leaders grow and develop by working with them through the toughest of times. I offer a 30-minute free consult.
I want to hear from you, tell me about your own experience in the reply section below.
Image: CC0 Creative Commons/Pixabay
How to Avoid Burnout
Change can be a dirty word in many work environments today. Lets face it “Transformation” is the buzzword de jour! Almost everyone is feeling the affect of increased workload and the speed of change in their job.
It may be brought on from process improvement, new-fangled technologies to learn, added responsibility, regulatory scrutiny, or the most-feared-change of all…downsizing!
Constantly having to adapt, even for the best leaders, takes quite a toll. As a leader not only do you have to continually reframe and communicate the gist of the changes to your team, but you are also expected to be ‘on’ and supportive of whatever is thrown your way. This can be downright exhausting!
So how IS change affecting you? Are you coping? Or are you nearing burnout?
Take this simple assessment to find out:
Watching political leaders wrangle for position, launch smear campaigns and talk trash about each other sure fires up the leadership coach in me. Grown adults identified as so-called “leaders” who choose bully tactics, intimidation and demeaning others as their campaign strategy gets to me every. single. time!
The Canadian province where I live is currently embroiled in a smear-filled provincial election fraught with insults and put-downs; it is such a miserable and appalling ‘gong show’ - wish I could bong the gong to put an end to this conduct!
I am not naïve enough to think anyone could simply fix what seems to be wrong with such political behaviour overnight but I hope I live long enough to witness a group of leaders stand and face the masses, clearly state their position, demonstrate what they believe in (without being wishy-washy) and then once elected, set a concrete plan working to get it done in a professional “principled” fashion.
In my books, everyone in a leadership position, regardless if they’re running for office or managing a team of 2-20,000 people can be a better leader by leading with principles.
My Kind of Principled Leadership
Note: Seeking, receiving and acting on feedback are skills many of us need to develop further. If you have yet to receive constructive criticism from your people about YOU, it is a good sign you have room to grow. If you have received it, consider it a great gift! Now, how did you address it?
The Core Principles in Action
One senior level corporate leader I worked with (Katrina McGee….yah, not her real name) truly exemplified the core principles I look for as a Principled Leader.
Such a pleasure to work with. I recall one time we were working on a very sensitive and difficult message about a pending reorganization (sadly, one of many). It was a very stress-filled period for her. She painstakingly agonized about every change to the department and fretted over each and every word choice because she personally felt the impact of the tough decisions being made – people truly mattered to her.
We were working in her office around 9pm at night, long after others had gone home, when we heard the cleaner in the outer office area singing quite passionately to himself with headphones on. He passed by her door a couple of times - clearly he hadn’t noticed us but we did him. Instead of getting annoyed at the “I hope he buys you flowers” being belted out, she asked if we could take a quick break.
She collected up the garbage from around her room and grabbed a fresh bottle of water from her sideboard and went to the outer office. She startled him as she emptied her bin into his cart and then took a moment to chat, giving him the bottle of water and acknowledged his singing prowess. It was obvious they had spoken before as they shared a little chuckle before she returned to the office.
You see, she treated everyone with that level of respect and consideration - from the cleaner to every member of her global team to her C-suite colleagues. So genuine was her care for everyone that I can honestly say anybody who ever had the opportunity to work with her would go to the end of the earth to support her agenda. A master at Principled Leadership I would say!
I know most of you want to be that kind of leader too. Here are some of the core principles that make all the difference to the teams who look to you as a leader:
Principled Leaders put the interests of people first. Their every action sends a message that everyone is equal and their ideas and opinions matter. It doesn’t mean they will do everything people want, but they ensure their teams feel heard and acknowledged.
Respect is Earned
Principled Leaders operate with respect for others in everything they do – there is no put down, no intimidation or bullying. They gain the respect of others by treating others fairly and with respect, regardless of their position.
Principled Leaders have a positive attitude. They act in a positive, genuine manner, even during some of the toughest times, ensuring everyone remains calm and productive.
Consistency is the Key
Principled Leaders are who they are regardless of the situation. Whether riding the elevator, walking through the office or sitting in a board meeting, their every move is consistent and in-line with their good character.
Curiosity is a Game Changer
Principled Leaders love learning and knowing but will acknowledge openly they actually don’t know everything. They ask a million questions of people – how does that work, why does that happen, why can’t we do that, how can we make it happen. This inquisitiveness comes in handy, seldom are they duped and inevitably they know exactly who to go to if help is needed because they understand the roles/process in their team as well as other groups.
Delivering is their Jam
Principled Leaders are obsessed with getting done what they set out to do. They are doggedly determined. They make sure all of their team understand the mission and remain steadfast in overcoming whatever obstacles are in the way to deliver on their promises.
Can you measure up to being a Principled Leader? Of course you can! You’re likely well on your way if you took time out to read this article and thought about what you currently do!
Keep Dots Leadership Solutions in mind as you determine your own development needs and plans for improvement. I’d like to be your personal and confidential leadership development guide. My coaching clients will tell you I hold them accountable to deliver against any goals they set passing along many tips and tactics to help them be a Principled Leader.
My style is direct (don't worry, I won't bong the gong on you), yet highly supportive and I bring 25+ years of experience working with leaders from many different industries both big and small – give me a call or drop me an email when you’re ready.
Last month we focused on the letter “S” – Steadiness of the DiSC behavioural style.
This month concludes the Style Talk Series as we focus on the profile “C” – Conscientious characteristics. You may also like to review the first two parts of the series focusing on the profile "D"- Dominance, or focusing on the profile "I"- Influence.
As previously mentioned, in each article I am highlighting real-life clients who tend to illustrate a strong profile of just one of the DiSC behavioural traits.
You will have different degrees of each behavioural style in your own profile but you tend to have a dominant style that many at your work will witness. How you behave compared to people with differing styles to you may be quite different, even when presented with the very same scenario.
Meet Nadeem (not his real name)
Nadeem is an Accounting Advisory Executive with a leading professional services firm. Nadeem has traveled the world, offering advice on accounting and risk management for 15+ years and is considered a leader in this field.
Nadeem has led large, matrixed teams, working on highly complex projects with large multi national corporations providing advice and guidance on Accounting and Tax.
We have identified for Nadeem that he needs to pick up on social cues and demonstrate interest in others. This includes taking a brief time in the first part meetings to greet people and chat for a moment, assess his audience then communicate in a way the other party feels valued.
Nadeems’s development plan includes coaching on relationship building. Some areas include meeting preparation; helping him to assess the people he will meet so he is more prepared to make the right first impression. Also we are doing DiSC assessments with each of his direct team to help him decode their styles. Lastly he is working with an internal mentor who has the exact opposite style to his so they can learn to appreciate their differences. In future this will arm him for analyzing people and provide a roadmap for flexing his communication style accordingly.
Do you know anyone like Nadeem? Or can you see yourself in his profile? He is a good representative of a strong “C” behavioural style.
Can you imagine how it may benefit to you to better understand your own DiSC style and how your style may impact others?
Once you see how your style affects people you work with, you can adapt accordingly.
Likewise as you leverage team dynamics using DiSC assessment, you can find ways to pair people for the best outcomes as well as anticipate where friction may occur.
Do you want your own DiSC Assessment?
Email me to reveal the secrets of success. Everything DiSC Workplace® assessment is a great tool to use with your whole team. This assessment will decode how best to communicate for your own success. It makes a great foundational piece for business planning, improving employee engagement and team development.
Not only will you receive a detailed report but I will also provide a confidential debrief that delves into your personal profile and/or team dynamic. Drop me a line when you’re ready to learn more about yourself and discuss potential career/leadership derailers so you know how to head them off!
Last month we focused on the letter “I” – Influence of the DiSC behavioural style and previously we focused on the “D”.
This month we will continue the Style Talk Series focusing on the profile “S” – Steadiness behaviours and communication characteristics.
As I mentioned before, the clients I highlight tend to be symbolic of a strong profile of just one of the DiSC behavioural dimensions, this month using the “S”.
In your own DiSC profile you will have differing degrees of each behavioural style. That said, people at work likely have observed your most predominant one because when you are under pressure your most dominant style usually shows up.
There is no perfect style, no right or wrong either; just like people are from different backgrounds, we each view a situation and react uniquely because we are approaching it from a different vantage point. This series is to help introduce the benefits of understanding your style.
Meet Melissa (not her real name)
Melissa is a Senior level Human Resource Business Partner for a global financial institution. Melissa has been in HR (different departments) for most of her 20+ career.
She currently supports over 40 executives (various levels) who collectively have over 2000 employees. Her day-to-day work is strategic, focused on providing business executives’ HR advice, shaping and implementing strategic plans. Melissa is keen to be promoted to VP level.
We have identified that for Melissa to move up, she needs to command more authority. Colleagues, leadership and clients enjoy working with her but to be ready for the next move she has to prove she can manage conflict directly and comfortably.
Showing she can stand her ground and be more direct in her communications will give senior leaders more confidence in her capabilities at the next level.
Melissa’s development plan includes coaching courageous confrontation, role-playing in a safe environment using real-life scenarios and critiquing conversations. Through routine practice she will develop comfort in finding her voice, without sacrificing her strong values for harmony.
Do you know anyone like Melissa? Or can you see yourself in her profile? She is a good representative of a strong “S” behavioural DiSC style.
Imagine the benefit to you to better understand your own DiSC style and how you impact other people?
Once you see how your style affects people you work with, you can modify appropriately.
Likewise when your team uses DiSC assessment as a development tool, you will better understand the dynamic of everyone within the team. Some people may be a lot like you when others are not, you will see how to get the best out of everyone when you learn how to communicate to their style.
Time for your own DiSC Assessment?
Email me to reveal the secrets of success. Everything DiSC Workplace® assessment is a great tool to use with your whole team. This assessment will decode how best to communicate for your own success. It makes a great foundational piece for business planning, improving employee engagement and team development.
Not only will you receive a detailed report but I will also provide a confidential debrief where we will into your personal profile and/or team dynamic. Drop me a line when you’re ready to learn more about yourself and discuss potential career/leadership de-railers so you know how to head them off!
Last month we focused on the letter “D” – Dominance of the DiSC behavioural styles.
This month we will continue the Style Talk Series focusing on the profile “I” for Influence behaviours and communication style. I personally relate most with this dimension myself, though not quite to the same extreme as my client.
As you will see, the client I am highlighting tends to be emblematic of a strong “I” profile which is just one of the DiSC behavioural traits.
You will have varying degrees of each behavioural style in your own profile but we all have our ‘go to’ dominant style that others tend to see, particularly under stress. Two people may react quite differently when presented with the same situation, depending on their dominant behavioural style.
Meet Daniel (not his real name)
Daniel is a Senior Vice President for a national Sales organization that employs 4000+ people across Canada. Daniel worked his way up to a senior level over 18 years of progressive moves.
He joined the company directly from University, when he began as an intern in Customer Operations gathering customer information from clients to prepare for year 2000 cut over.
For Daniel to continue to move up in the organization he must take more time to consider data and facts; use solid supporting evidence to help formulate decisions, and incorporate facts into his narrative.
He is seen as a promotable resource for the business, he may be considered for President or CEO of a smaller division in the future.
Daniel’s development plan includes an executive coach (external) as well as internal mentorship from the CFO, who is giving him guidance and support to develop data-driven decision making.
Do you know anyone like Daniel? Or do you see yourself in his profile? He is a good representative of a strong “I” behavioural style.
Can you imagine the benefit to better understand your own DiSC style and how you may impact others?
Once you grasp how your style affects people you work with, you adapt accordingly. Likewise as you build a team, you can better understand the dynamic of everyone within the team. Some may strike sparks with you, yet they bring tremendous benefit overall when you learn how to communicate to their style.
Time for Your Own DiSC Assessment?
Email me to take advantage of the insightful perspective of Everything DiSC Workplace®
assessment or to arrange a session with your whole team. This assessment will decode how best to communicate for your own success.
Not only will you receive a detailed report but I will also provide a confidential debrief where we will delve into your personal profile and/or team dynamic. Drop me a note when you’re ready to learn more about yourself and discuss potential career/leadership de-railers so you know how to head them off!
Ever work with someone whose style drove you crazy? Perhaps they talked too slow or fast for you, were overly demanding or passive, very logical or maybe they talked so much about feelings and relationships to the point it made it difficult to get down to business? The list of bugaboos vary because what bugs one person, may not bother another to the same degree.
We each have a unique combination of behaviours and priorities; they show up as our style to others. When you work with someone whose blend is quite different to yours, they will likely strike a nerve - when you're not well-armed to understand where they are coming from.
Assess for Your Own ‘Ah Ha!’ Moment
One way to ease this kind of discord is to conduct an assessment that decodes both you and your team’s behavioural styles. A tool to understand clear preferences and what they prioritize compared to you.
My tool of choice is a DiSC® model behavioural assessment tool – Everything DiSC®Workplace by Wiley Brand. It's simple, yet uncovers ‘pinch points’ quickly with leaders and/or their teams so they can adjust immediately. This tool works for building better cohesion in a team, improving communication, reducing tensions, but also offers self-awareness for leaders I coach, most of whom have a few ‘ah ha’ moments as a result!
Over the next series I highlight each one of the four dimensions of DiSC® characterized by people I’ve worked with (names changed, of course) quick links below:
Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston created the theory of DISC® in the 1920’s, illustrating that people exhibited emotions through four ‘Normal’ behaviours of Dominance, Inducement, Steadiness, or Compliance – aka DISC® In the 1950’s an industrial psychologist named Walter Clarke went on to create the first assessment using the DISC behaviours Marston founded. Over the years the assessment has been improved and updated but the principles remain the same. Today we use the terms: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientious in the assessment.
First lets start with the profile of “D” – Dominance.
Meet Belinda (not her real name)
Belinda is a Vice President in a Customer Service group (Canada) of a large multi national company. She moved up through the ranks fairly fast. Here are some of her traits and behaviours that demonstrate a strong “D” profile:
Do you know someone like Belinda? Or can you see a little of yourself in her profile? She is a good representative of a strong “D” behavioural style. Most of us have behavioural styles with varying degrees of each of the 4 DiSC® dimensions so certain circumstances may bring your “D” more to the forefront.
For Belinda to be considered for future, more senior level roles she must make an effort to develop work relationships by recognizing the opinions, feelings and ideas from others. Taking time to get to know people versus putting them to work.
Without some coaching, guidance and support from others, Belinda’s trajectory in a large multinational company will surely be hampered. Much of her advancement will depend on whom she reports to and whether she reigns in her power punches!
Can you see the benefit to you to better understand your own DiSC® style and how you may impact others? Or to decode your team members so you can find the right way to communicate with them?
Get Your DiSC® Assessment!
Email or call me to take advantage of the eye-opening perspective of Everything DiSC® Workplace assessment or to arrange a session with your whole team. This assessment will surely provide a clearer understanding of how you affect others and decode how best to communicate for your own success.
Not only will you receive a detailed report but you will also have a confidential debrief with me where we will delve into your personal profile and/or team dynamic.
Call or email me when you’re ready to learn more about yourself and discuss potential career/leadership de-railers so you know how to head them off!
Hanging out with my grandson the other day he told me about a neighbourhood bully who makes ‘bad choices’. We had a great conversation about people who make bad choices, particularly bullies. In his vast wisdom of nearly 5 years, my grandson told me ‘Bullies are people too but its not OK when they hurt other people and if they do, then a grown up has to give them a time-out.’
What a thoughtful leadership lesson in this little statement. After all, we use time-outs with children to make them think about their actions, they must apologize and we expect them to do differently so they learn from their experience. So why don’t we tackle bullies in the workplace with the same energy - especially people in a power position over others?
What Would You Do?
You know the headlines these days are dominated by allegations of sexual harassment; victims are speaking out about their nasty experiences, almost daily - a topic seldom talked about before. Women everywhere have been emboldened to speak up and share their personal stories of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour in work situations. With every news story, it triggers another woman's courage to speak out. Rest assured, there will be more to come.
Will you know how to manage an allegation at work if someone in your company or organization turns to you for help?
Policy and Practices Start with YOU, not HR!
Lets face it; dialogue about sexual harassment makes most of us uncomfortable. Anything ugly is difficult to speak about, but open discussion is vital to bring about improvement. It really concerned me when I read the Globe & Mail article that '94 percent of Canadian's leaders believe sexual harassment isn't an issue.'
Given harassment has become such a hot topic, every company should recognize that sexual harassment IS a real problem. It is time for leaders, or anyone in a position to help, to stand up, call out and follow through with discipline for inappropriate behaviour. No one should ever feel harassed at work, particularly if it is unwanted and sexualized in nature. It’s just not ok, regardless of how you qualify or explain it away as ‘that is how it is here’.
Turning a blind eye to anyone’s harassment claim can make worldwide headlines within a few hours through social media when they don’t get the help they need. So #Time's Up on covering up transgressions of anyone, especially senior level leaders or officials.
This is tough stuff to handle but there are steps you can take, immediately, to prevent all forms of harassment from happening at your work. Lets look at how you can create work environments where both men and women feel safe to bring forward concerns and get support rather than feeling they have to go public or leave the company.
Think ‘METALS’ - Leadership Steps to Say #Times Up
1. Model. Everyone is watching you whether you know it or not. Don’t speak inappropriately about women (or men); leave any form of sexual innuendo out of the workplace – sexual dialogue does not belong in a work environment. Help your team remain respectful in every interaction, show them how you manage with respect. You are the one your team will imitate, so show people the right way to treat others.
2. Enforce. The basis for change at work begins with having policy as a guidepost. No matter the size of your business, you need policies in place to fall back on to enforce. Ensure your workplace has a clear harassment policy in place with specific actions to take should any disrespectful behaviour occur – regardless of level or position in the company. Check to see that your company has a policy, become familiar and communicate it. If they don’t have a policy, suggest it be implemented ASAP. You can be the catalyst for ensuring a harassment policy is in place, communicated and enforced.
3. Talk. Talk about harassment with your team, long before an issue occurs. When opportunities arise to reinforce, discuss behaviour openly, highlighting what is acceptable and what is not at work. Openly share stories about past personal experiences and state how you would handle it now. Immediately discuss any sign of disrespect you observe or hear about so your team know you will not tolerate it. Make your team aware that they each have a role to play in keeping the workplace safe, people who stay silent are complicit; give them the courage to speak up. You create the environment of open dialogue.
4. Act. In the best work environments ‘respect in the workplace’ is a foundational training piece for all employees so they understand what behaviour is expected of them and what to expect in return. Many people go through training but notice when management doesn’t consistently follow through when something occurs, so they clam up. Be the one who acts swiftly. People want to work for leaders who readily step up and take responsibility for the wellbeing of their people. They will know you care enough about both the ‘bully’ and the bullied to deal with bad behaviour head on. Any form of bullying or inappropriate behaviour should be investigated and acted upon with appropriate discipline, without delay. Action begins with you, not HR.
5. Listen. Treat any form of harassment claim with urgency, seriousness and respect by hearing out those who have the courage to speak up, suspending your own judgement. Ensure a proper investigation is done while taking steps to protect the complainant from any form of retribution. Active listening shows them you care, understand and can be trusted to help. Listening with empathy is a key leadership trait.
6. Speak Up. By respectfully speaking out for those who feel harassed at work, you quickly become a powerhouse leader of tomorrow. Inappropriate behaviour at work is not OK; it is never to be tolerated. By speaking up and supporting others who speak out you will be the leader everyone wants to work for.
Take a Stand
You make choices everyday for how you treat others, we all do. If someone chooses to be a jerk or worse, an aggressor, then they should face appropriate consequences for their actions, regardless of their position in a company or organization. But it takes strong leadership to follow through with these people and take deliberate action. Take a stand!
As a leader you have the ability to choose what your team’s workplace should be like, irrespective of the culture or industry you’re in, or whether you have an HR team. YOU can be the shining example to others in management. YOU count to the people who report to you and how you act during the toughest times will be a key differentiator to their lives.
I’m here if you need guidance to manage tough leadership situations. Send me an email if you want support to develop policy or practices to enforce a respectful workplace or you’re struggling with a difficult issue and want a coach to talk it through.
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It could be you’ve heard of others being let go; you’ve seen a shake up at the top leadership levels or you suspect your new boss is really here to restructure. Any of these scenarios can make you uneasy about your own job stability. And once the anxiety sets in, it can affect your normal ability to focus, make you dread every unexpected meeting or just make getting up to go to work, feel miserable.
Given the percentage of our life we spend at work, this ongoing negative stress can be bad for your health so it is worth finding productive techniques to take back control.
If you are one of those people sensing impending doom, I’m here to say relax, don’t let it unnerve you. Instead let me show you how to actually take full advantage of it.
While I can’t guarantee you won’t be on the chopping block, I can help you reframe your mindset and give you hope for a much more positive outlook. Simply by learning how to Duck, Prepare to 'Jet' and/or get ready to make a Career Pivot!
Here is how ‘Duck’ worked for one of my corporate clients:
I’ll call her Eileen; Eileen had a new boss, a bossy boss with a big ego, who she didn’t see eye-to-eye with.
My advice was this - get on with the work, don’t act in an artificial way, just keep the focus on doing a good job. It wasn’t always easy. Eileen asked clarifying questions to understand what her boss wanted and then delivered accordingly. She gave the boss no cause to centre her out, no angry or emotional outbursts – she kept her head down and managed her emotions. (We would often debrief after the tough days).
We found that when she focused on only what her manager asked for, it became much easier for her to cope day-to-day. This gave her personal control. She controlled her reaction, her output, and her thoughts. The goal was to deliver, and deliver she did!
Only those close to her ever knew the true feelings of doubt and worry. She is a great example of how positively shifting your state of mind gives you the ability to work through job stress. She proved to me that anyone could overcome the dread just by changing your mindset!
This concept not only reduced stress for few years until the boss moved on, but she said it taught her to become more focused and action oriented.
Every Exit is an Entry Somewhere
The other strategy is to get ready to 'jet' (aka. leave, exit, vamoose, hit the road). This means ACCEPT that you are going to go, stop worrying about it and begin your own transition now…while you’re still working!
I always tell my clients “you have the gift of time so lets use it to your own benefit.” Think of it as extra paid time to regroup, plan and prepare for your next move.
Here are some action steps I suggest to create change, on your own terms:
Create an action list with target dates to be done by:
This mind shift is a game changer to overcome the oppressive feeling of dread. You invest in yourself and take back some time. If all goes really well, you’ll receive a nice little severance package AND start your new job shortly thereafter. Or you may land a great job before they send you packing – either way is a positive outcome!
Consider a PIVOT!
Treat this as a defining moment in your career where you sit back, take stock and re-evaluate what YOU want for your future. It’s the perfect time to consider an intentional career change in a completely different direction!
Maybe there are departments you’ve had a yearning to join but never had the courage to apply? Perhaps you may have been thinking of starting your own business, or you’ve had a side hustle that you should consider if you can do it full-time?
I’ve had clients take this opportunity to plan to return to school, become certified in a speciality or finish higher level education that later jettisoned them on to a successful new chapter in their life.
Regardless of where the pivotal change takes you it usually needs a catalyst to push you over the edge and make that wishful change happen. Turning the dread into a meaningful plan can make all the difference.
Need a Career Lifeline?
I’ve supported several leaders through this uncertainty, waiting for the day they will be let go. I’ve also sat on the other side, breaking the news of downsizing to quite a few people and I can say with 100% confidence that everyone finds a new path and 9.8/10 times they end up happier than before.
Rather than let the worry drag you down or make you sick, I say shift your thinking to make it work for you! The big trick is finding ways to take back control, accept change quickly – better yet, embrace it!
If you find yourself stuck and want to work with a professional to review your options, create a personalized career plan, hold you accountable or give you candid feedback, advice and insight, give me a call or send me an email! I offer a 30-minute free consultation.
Regardless of the scenario that has you anxious or worrying about job loss, I’d love to help you ‘connect the dots’ for the next phase in your career!
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My hubby and I have this ongoing joke that I am a closet cape crusader. You see I stand up for good vs. evil and I even have recurring dreams where I leap out of my car to rescue someone from a car accident. Did you ever think of yourself as a super hero? Well I’m here to tell you, that just like every defender of the universe has unique powers, so do you!
All business leaders I’ve worked with have powerful influence over others as well as many other admirable traits. The fact is that each and every people leader brings special powers to the world; it just hasn’t been pointed out in that way!
What are Your Leadership Super Powers?
As a leader, I want you to take time to consider what super powers you possess. These will likely be leadership skills that you are best known for. As example, I am known for insight - I perceive things others don’t see in themselves. Through questioning, feedback and thought provoking conversation I help leaders grow, becoming aware of their own gifts.
Caution – Be Careful of Overuse
These unique skills make us great at what we do, but only when used in the right way. As leaders, it is important to look at your best skill and be aware of the trap to overuse it in a negative way. Some of the greatest learning comes from recognizing this nuance and avoiding the potential harm that can come from it.
Here are a few examples from some successful leaders I’ve coached, with the evil trap they had to steer clear of:
Decisiveness – The ability to quickly assess and evaluate pros and cons, then make a call. People with this power often are ‘go to’ people, called upon to provide advice and come up with solutions, particularly during tough times.
The Evil Side – the flip side of decisiveness is someone who can rush to judgement based on the wrong assumptions. If not careful they can damage trust with members of their team, as they may not take the time to seek input and detail from those who are closer to the information.
Tenacity – This power is the epitome of ‘when the going gets tough, the tough gets going’. You’re a leader who doesn’t give up; you hold yourself and others to high standards. Determined in the face of whatever challenges you encounter.
The Evil Side – the flip side of tenacity is someone who can be hard on their team, pushing them to succeed, not taking time to reflect and learn, missing out on reward and recognizing the team because you just want to keep going!
Dealing with Ambiguity – This is the power to be open and versatile, the ability to manage during times where you don’t have all the answers.
The Evil Side – the flip side of being good at ambiguity, can be a leader who is a bit wishy-washy or unclear. Your team will look to you to help them understand what is going on and why it is happening. You may be comfortable with the unknown but many people get frustrated without more concrete information.
Loves a Challenge –This is the power to take on difficult and meaty work, likely the one who is frequently asked to take on difficult assignments, complex tasks or projects.
The Evil Side – the flip side of loving a challenge can be taking on more work than is reasonable for your team to deliver. Often leaders who love a challenge will take on too much. The team can be quite worried and stressed as increased workload comes their way.
Thorough – This is the power of great detail orientation. You pride yourself on knowing the answers; can dive deep on a subject or know all the details on a project.
The Evil Side – The flip side to being thorough is micro management; I find high detail oriented leaders have difficulty delegating. They need to know every detail. Your team can lack a feeling of autonomy and trust.
Authenticity – This is the power to be real, you don’t hide behind a façade. You speak your truth, you are candid and open with everyone you meet.
The Evil Side – The flip side of being authentic is that you can share way too much about your life and personal business, making it very hard for you to make unpopular or difficult decisions, should you have to. Blurring the boundaries of leader/employee relationship can also lead to a lack of respect toward you.
Awareness is the Greatest Agent of Change
You can see from these examples that when a great leadership skill is overused it can result in damage to your relationship with your team and in some cases possibly hurt your career advancement. It’s important to reflect and consider when and under what circumstances you may be over doing it.
Becoming aware of how your behaviour impacts the people who report to you can be a real eye-opener. Consider having a proven 360 Assessment or confidential workplace survey done with your team to uncover feedback and help you grow.
Beam the Bat Signal
I may not be a Wonder Woman with a red cape and gold armbands to anyone other than my husband but my super powers are undisputable with anyone who I’ve worked with.
If you’re ready, I mean really ready to develop to your full leadership potential, I’d be honoured to be your coach! Drop me a line, or call me from your red phone I’ll be there. I’m already picking up telepathic messages!
Sitting together at a big oak table, in her spacious corner office on the 24th floor overlooking Bay and Wellington Streets in Toronto, my well-respected client asked me to help her map out the next steps in her career. She felt stuck; almost embarrassed that she was misaligned to her career after all it took to get there. Proof that even when you reach the coveted C-suite, you can still feel discontented or unfulfilled in your job.
Most people associate their sense of self and identity with the work they do and paycheque they make. You can see how difficult it would be to determine where to make the next move when you find yourself in this situation.
Where to Begin
I often suggest watching a TED Talk by Adam Leipzig, called How to Learn Your Life's Purpose in 5 Minutes. One of most popular TED Talks of all time, with more than 8.5 million views. In less than 10 minutes Adam provides 5 key questions to help identify your life’s purpose. It’s a great start to expanding your view on what you should do to give you fulfillment.
I use a variety of introspective tools as well as questioning techniques with my clients. If you feel stuck, or in a fog you’ll find a snippet of questions below that can begin to clear your view. This reflective exercise activates ideas, narrowing in on clues you can use to reimagine a more rewarding career or job.
Many of us are forced to make life-long choices selecting education specialties or career direction with minimal information about who we are and what we are best at. Seldom are we given tools to help identify what path to take.
Caught up in the tsunami of life and career, it sweeps you along without much time for reflection. In fact, sometimes it takes years of doing the wrong thing before it really dawns on you that you’re way off base!
Few can afford to leave their job to experiment and dabble in other fields to figure out where the right place is; instead you need a solid plan with a process to follow. What I’ve found best is to carve out time for self-reflection and introspection. Then seek feedback and dig into your strengths, doing this opens you up to connect with your calling.
YOUR CALLING = the intersection between doing what you love and the ability to make money doing it!
Who AM I Really?
The answer to the right place for most people is typically tied to who they are and have always been. There are trails of evidence that you can relate to when you go through this exercise. Similar to Adam’s Ted Talk these questions help you uncover what you’re meant to do.
Connect the Dots
While it seems a simple exercise, this reflection actually takes work to gather and time to contact and listen to as many people as you can.
It is vital that you remain open to hear feedback without judgement. Take notes, ask clarifying questions and avoid judging or defending. I always say feedback is a gift! So just accept whatever points people share and say thank you, graciously.
Armed with this information, you will find some obvious clues to connect the dots for what you are meant to be doing. The key to success in the future lies in leveraging your very best traits and skills while focusing on areas you’ve had the most enjoyment and impact to others. Impact to others is a crucial piece of data few ever collect. Service to others, or making a positive impact is a critical building block to most people’s work contentment.
From here brainstorm, look at what you can change in your current job to better align with your purpose. But also look for project work, roles, departments, or other industries and your network for potential opportunities to consider. The path isn’t always immediately obvious. Some people stay within their job working on the side with charities, volunteering or mentoring others or contributing to the greater good in other ways.
Craft an action plan to network further, identify potential jobs that leverage what you’ve done so far, look at independent work or other businesses where you can fully utilize all that makes you unique.
If you find yourself struggling in a job that leaves you feeling undervalued, and want assistance from a leadership coach to help guide you , provide feedback and gain clarity with accountability to follow through, please send me an email! Or if you’d like to delve deeper into who you are and what makes you tick, please reach out. It would be a privilege for me to help you find work you love!
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Hire The Right Person Fast
If you’re like many of my clients, you have probably posted a job to fill, only to find yourself sifting through 200+ UN-qualified applicants.
With the likes of Monster, Indeed and Career Builder simplifying the job hunting process has made it easy for what I call 'serial job seekers' to blast out applications to a mass number of postings without even reading the full job posting.
But this doesn’t help you—you need to find the ‘right’ person to without wasting your time!
This means you need to be extra diligent in your quest to hire, in order to reduce the number of serial job seekers you encounter.
To help you find the right fit for your new role, follow these top 5 tips…
By now, you’ve surely read the news that Steve Bannon, the ever-controversial White House Chief Strategist was let go after just 7 months in office. He joins Anthony Scaramucci who was fired (or removed from office) after a mere 10 days on the job as White House Communications Director. The ‘Mooch’, as he liked to be referred to, was quick to show his true colours within a few short days on the job with inappropriate comments and bombastic tirades.
While the White House may have substantially different hiring/firing practices than many businesses, these departures underscore why ANY company should act fast when an employee–particularly those who hold a position of trust - damage the reputation of a business, or presents them with ‘cause’ to terminate.
But did you know, you can actually fire anyone, anytime–with or without cause?
Yes, let that sink in for a moment…
You can fire anyone. Yes, even in Canada! BUT don’t get ahead of yourself…there can be consequences and ramifications for doing so, depending on what led to the decision and how well you managed it.
If you fail to treat the employee appropriately, you could face all sorts of trouble and/or additional expense. For instance:
I’ve worked with many leaders in different industries (both big and small) to plan terminations, and in most cases they were extremely conflicted about making the final call. Let’s face it; this is not an easy thing to do. You wonder if you have enough information to back yourself up, you question if you’ve ever said or done anything inappropriate that could later ‘bite you in the butt’ and you worry about what to say on that dreaded day–the day you actually let them go.
Whether it is a directive from the top of corporate to downsize your team or it is a lingering performance or behaviour issue, letting someone go is one of the hardest actions you will ever have to take as a manager. And so it should be. I always say if you don’t feel a little sick inside when affecting the life of someone else then you really shouldn’t be a people manager.
That said, there are times where you know very well that somebody needs to go – and as aggravating or grueling as it may seem to be, there are some very important things you should consider before you ‘pull the trigger’. Lets call it CYOA! (cover-your-own-ass)
So how do you CYOA?
Long before you have that tough conversation, it’s important to consider if you’ve covered yourself properly. Have you:
1. Been fair?
Do you have favourites on your team, or are there people who you don’t really like? If I spoke to others on the team, would they tell me they’ve observed a lack of fairness with this person? How did you arrive at a decision for this person to leave and how fair did you apply these selection criteria across the team? Have you let others with the same performance level or behavioural issues remain on the team or did you provide all of them with the same type of feedback and given similar chances to improve but this one individual hasn’t measured up? If I can find out you were not fair in treating this employee, you can bet the court can too!
2. Been consistent?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard how terrible an employee’s performance is, only to read their previous reviews–all of which were glowing. Do not assume an employee just ‘knows’ when they are not performing because you think you’ve told them. It is your responsibility as the manager to ensure the issues have been clearly expressed, both verbally and in writing with a clear-cut plan to improve. This plan becomes your supporting ‘back-me-up’ information. At the very least, be sure to document stern conversations by sending a follow up email after your meetings to reinforce what you’ve spoken about and include the steps required to improve. Now, I have a test for you… pull out all of your notes/emails or reviews to this person over the past year, and re-read them as though you’re the lawyer defending this case. Does your evidence support the termination? Have you been consistent with your feedback and directions; will this information reinforce your case? Or is it wishy-washy and non-specific? When you say one thing verbally, but record it differently in performance reviews and/or emails, the written information will be taken as the truth every. single. time!
3. Provided ample opportunity to improve?
Everyone deserves to be given a chance to improve–yes, everyone! I have heard many leaders tell me somebody ‘just has to go’, but when asked, it becomes apparent no one gave the employee clear feedback with an opportunity to improve within a realistic time period. If challenged legally, you’ll have to show the proof that you gave the person helpful, specific feedback on what needed to change, and how to improve--within a reasonable timeframe. So ask yourself–did you give them adequate feedback? Did you provide clear actions they need to take within realistic time period – did you create a performance improvement plan? If not, now’s the time to do it!
4. Provided training or progressive discipline?
If the issue is a ‘skill gap’ you need to show that you’ve provided the employee with adequate training to acquire the right skill level.
However, if it is a behavioural/attitudinal issue, the only way to help someone change is to provide him or her with progressive discipline in a formalized way – some may call it performance coaching or corrective action. When I say formalized, I mean well-documented (notice a theme emerging?) keeping track of meeting dates, a summary of each circumstance/situation, and a record of feedback (provided to the employee) so that there’s a trail of the intensifying consequences. In formalized progressive discipline you use formal warnings, beginning with simple verbal warning to correct the behaviour, escalating the consequences according to your company discipline policy (if you don’t have one, you should create one… pronto).
‘Three strikes you’re out’ may not be necessary or on the other hand, it may not be sufficient; it really depends on the seriousness of the wrongdoing, the situation, the history of the individual and whether there were any justifying circumstances or not. Most progressive discipline practices use these culminating stages: verbal warning, formal letter of warning, suspension and then termination. It is really important you follow through with an action each and every time they act inappropriately. And again, you have to conduct yourself the same way with all employees.
Tip: The test I use to know the difference between a skill gap or a behavioural issue is to ask, “If you paid them a million dollars, could they do this correctly?” If the answer is no, then it is likely a skill gap and training is required. If the answer is yes, then chances are you have a behavioural/attitudinal issue on your hands.
5. Treated them with respect?
Of course, you likely know this is important while they work for you to treat them with respect, but did you know it’s equally as important after they no longer work with you? If after someone leaves an organization they can prove you were talking disrespectfully about them or their performance to someone who had no right to know, the organization may face defamation claims in addition to wrongful dismissal suit. Limit discussing negative qualities about any colleagues or team members at any time–the less said, the better! Only management/HR of the employee should be involved with these discussions. This kind of gossip can not only cause legal issues, but also trust issues with other team members, as they begin to wonder if you talk about them in the same way behind their back.
The bottom line is this–you can avoid most wrongful dismissal lawsuits and/or Human Rights violations when:
It may seem onerous to have to complete performance improvement plans, provide verbal and written warnings, have performance/behaviour coaching sessions, keep desk notes and provide follow up emails, but these are your best tools to help you CYOA. It’s absolutely critical that you be in control the information that could be used against you.
When you’re dealing with an employee with difficult behaviour or you’re at the end of your rope and are about to let someone go, book me for a consultation. I have tips and tools to help you get organized and I have 25+ years experience helping leaders plan and prepare for the ‘dreaded meeting’–including their follow up discussions with the rest of the team.
And to help make sure you properly CYOA, I will challenge you with tough questions to help you move forward. After all, wouldn’t you rather it be me asking as opposed to the courts?
Elaine Adamson is a leadership consultant with Dots Leadership Solutions Inc. A natural dot connector. Passionate about coaching team effectiveness and leadership development she shares over 25+ years of real-life tips and tricks that really work!
Elaine believes you can discover and leverage strengths to forge a strong team dynamic despite business challenges or organizational change.
She posts some great articles on Linked In too!
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