Monthly Archives: May 2013

#154 Dealing with bullies

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I’ve had a few bullies for bosses, and a few co-workers (peers and superiors by title). It’s like a bad marriage. Depending on your organization culture, you can end it by getting a new job or a transfer (easier in the private sector), or you learn how to cope (public sector and government).

There is no real solution to bullies, but there a few things to try: show equanimity and communicate the message, “You can’t get under my skin,” show executive presence and communicate the message, “Don’t mess with me,” and finally, develop your bases of power to communicate the message, “Be careful.” Work on your compassion with such people. The relationship will not last for ever, but you will come out spiritually stronger.

My favorite one is to publicly send the signal, “I’d like to help you be successful.” It does not always work, but it is good insurance when the conflict escalates. You’ll have the court of public opinion on your side.

It helps to be diplomatic, tactful, and flexible. Hone your conflict management skills. Work on overcoming your fears and anxiety, and a bully will go from being a “threat” to an “annoyance.” If your ideas are better, your co-workers will see the truth for themselves. If the bully has power of life and death over you, cut your losses, and start over elsewhere. You can always choose to escalate conflict, but it had better be worth it.

At a policy level, institute anti-harassment training to prevent bullying. Establish HR consequences for egregious behavior.

Above all, make a promise to yourself that you won’t put up with it. The specific solution will reveal itself.


#153 When does work “happen?”

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Everyone I know dreads those long meetings. The ones where there is a lot of talk and no conclusions. Lots of statements are made, best classified as “motherhood and apple pie.” Conflict averse discussions take place. No decisions and taken. No clarity is achieved.

Things get done when a “project” is initiated. With a definite goals, start and end date, and constraints, a project is an excellent leading indicator of whether work will get done.

The workplace is full of projects, some are small (can someone please refill the coffee machine?) and some are large (how about we buy that company?) Many projects are not called a “project” (hiring an employee).

The key benefits of projects is that they have goals, deliverables, milestones, and roadmaps. In short, you’ll have clarity on what needs to happen and by when.

Not every project will succeed, but without a project, nothing will get done. You can start a project prematurely, so be sure to organize a kick off. If there is no sponsor, alignment, and commitment, then you don’t have a project.