Tag Archives: boss

Office Troublemaker Produces Work Stress

You know what they say about one bad apple… Identifying needs increases productivity. Deworming that Malus pumila.   — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — Help. I work with a smart small team on a pretty important project in our division. Four out of the five of us get along, and work out our challenges. There’s one person who is rude and insolent and often hogs meeting time and doesn’t share ideas. How can we deal better with this person?   — Team One

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Dear Team One,

Are you the PM on this one? If so, it’s incumbent upon you to get everyone in the boat stroking to the same beat in the same direction. Identify what makes this troublemaker tick at his/her base. Appeal to that by managing him/her by this motivating need. For instance, time is my currency, and I respond well to being given a long leash of freedom to self-direct and manage my own. If I didn’t make my deadlines and was irresponsible to my tasks, obviously productively managing me would have to change to another tactic. Identifying what this person needs and wants (again, we’re talking fundamental motivating wants, not ridiculous fantasy items) is key to managing the trouble better, more effectively.

Also, this sort of ongoing disruption is very morale-draining for the rest of the team members who get on smoothly. Nip it in the bud. But be aware that the causes that make for bad apples can range as much as people do, from: annoyed at perceived team slackers, dissatisfaction with management, to boredom (often the disrupters can be the highest producers who are expressing frustration non-constructively; get to the root of this). Motivate everyone equally by rewarding positive and constructive behaviors. Rewards don’t have to be monetary or otherwise material — the right-tone public praise and appropriate contests between team members goes miles and miles to building camaraderie as well as laughs and bonding on a long road trip in a small vehicle. [Learn more how to deal with office “Fight” and the five other Automatic Stress Reaction (ASR) Types.]

No jerk zone offices for great good,

BadWitch

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Mother’s Day “hang over” with the little kids leaves Good Witch speechless on today’s question. Have a fabulous week and we’ll see you back here Thursday!

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Juicy Relationship Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.

Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send your brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: coaching@stillsitting.net.

© 2009-2017 ManifestGroup. No materials may be used without expressed written permission.

Office Stink: OSHA, Workers Rights Dismissed

When bad work smell offends management, a stink is brewing. Standing up for your work safety rights.  — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — I work in a department store and there’s a weird smell in the area I work in. It smells chemical or electrical, or something. When I complained to my co-worker, she immediately brought up bringing in OSHA. Our cool manager said she’d ask the store manager. She called us all into her little office, shut the door and yelled at me. She said, “I just want this off my desk!” and that’s how the meeting ended.     — Poisoned Penny

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Dear Poisoned Penny,

I will suppose that you are a reasonable woman and not prone to frivolous troublemaking at work, or crying wolf here. Your situation is potentially serious and your store manager either needs to be sent to managerial training (and such seniors do exist), or there’s more to the story than reported here. Otherwise, health first!

Let’s simply assume that she could use some coaching. For your concerns, it’s really quite a simple process to start. With some exceptions, most employees’ rights to safety under OSHA in the workplace are covered by the law and you can look them up (or find the right people/agencies to help you, e.g., contacting your local OSHA representative, or if you belong to a union, your rep there). The process consists of an opening conference (between employer, union representative and you), walk-around/physcial inspection, and a closing conference to discuss findings and what (if any) corrections need to be taken care of by the employer.

Poisoned Penny, worker safety and a healthy work environment are a legitimate concern/complaint. I have empathy for you and applaud your standing up for your rights especially to a strong-willed but misguided store manager. Lastly, keep in mind it’s probably just one misguided manager and not the employer itself, so your best judgment will serve your best interests.

Safety first,

BadWitch

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Dear Poisoned Penny,

Note in writing everything from the meeting! Include dates, times and conversations you had with co-workers, as well as the store manager tirade. Please note, you are now in a protected class because you presented a possibly hazardous situation to your manager. This “whistleblower” act was put into place so if you know there is something hazardous in the workplace, you can let supervisors know without fear of reprisal.

In truth, your manager may just want it off her desk, but inadvertently has put a more dangerous item on her desk. If someone were to get sick (and, yes, sick building issues do exist and are taken very seriously), she as the representative of the company has been made aware of the situation and now makes the company liable. Scary.

In your notes, be sure to comment on the smells—what they smell like to you, times of the day they are present, and any associated things going on in the building (systems running when smell is present, recent construction in the building etc.). And, of course, if you are feeling less than well after the smell presents itself, go see a doctor. Be sure to keep yourself well. Now, please note, I am not a lawyer, but my recommendation would be to drop an anonymous tip to OSHA. In the end, your health is most important.

If you still have questions, consult an employment lawyer. Know your rights!

Good luck,

GoodWitch

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Juicy Relationship Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.

Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: coaching@stillsitting.net.

© 2009-2017 ManifestGroup. No materials may be used without expressed written permission.


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Family Business Succession, Difference of Opinion

When you’ve worked hard all your life to build something meaningful, you think twice about just giving it away. Even to your own kids. When families are split on kids taking over the family shingle.    — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — I’ve run a successful small business for nearly 25 years. I’m planning on retiring within the next five years. My oldest son seems to think I should automatically give him this business. While he’s worked hard for me during summers since he was 16, this is very different from being ready to step into a managerial role right now (he just graduated college). I want him to go work for someone else and learn there first, not take over mine. My wife and I disagree strongly on this.    — Elbow Grease

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Dear Elbow Grease,

My first Real Job was in the skin-toughening media industry, and I was quite a bit younger than most peers with the same title. Except…a guy last named Sherman. His father, he boasted to me, owned a reputable and thriving business that he had a burning itching to join and eventually run. He was reasonable but still lamented that his dad refused him (and hard) which was why he was now working with the likes of me…!

I agree with you, Elbow Grease. Your son will do well to apprentice (preferably somewhere else first — if for no other reason than objectivity of business lessons without family dynamics possibly obscuring his clarity) before prepping to take the reins of the family business, but as that’s not really the main issue I see here. You and your wife benefit from getting on the same page about this so that, ideally (being a family business), you can present a united front to your son. It’s possible she’s simply seeing his interests through her mother’s eyes rather than the business as a full blown enterprise that needs proper tending. Talk operational details to her, and if any, highlight those that your son’s experience level clearly isn’t to par on…yet. Barring unity on the issue, as it sounds like you actually run this business, you should gather your thoughts and present them rationally and if he’s truly serious about this endeavor, he will adapt just fine.

Effectively grandfathering into a leadership role of an established business takes more than just work hours. If your son can successfully navigate potential rejection, hard knocks in this market, disciplining and/or mentoring by an objective manager or two, then he will be far more equipped to learn the ropes and rise in your family business, and eventually possibly run it. There’s no telling a BadWitch that there’s any substitute for a strong work ethic, get-over-yourself/never-take-it-personally thick skin and pragmatic stamina in the work world, to build character, put one’s mind right about one’s place in the world and the biggest lesson of all — earning your reputation and everything you’ve got — humility. Then he’ll be ready to work/transition with you, because for him by then, the business will truly mean something more than a living, prestige or other immature view of such a blessed heirloom.

The old fashioned way,

BadWitch

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Dear Elbow Grease,

Though I appreciate your beliefs on children earning privileges and your commitment to hard work, I have to side with your wife on this one. It sounds like you’ve raised a son who is dedicated to the family business and who is no stranger to hard work. So, if you’re planning to retire and your son wants to take over, why would you want him to work for someone else to learn the ropes.

I understand that you have some trouble seeing him as a leader, as he is just graduating from college, but age alone does not distinguish one’s ability to run a business. CEOs come as young as 13 years old these days. Drive and determination are not defined by how old you are.

Your son has work experience. He wants to be involved in the family business. You are not retiring for 5 years. Why not spend those 5 years training him to take over your business. The work experience he would get from other companies will not be specific to your company’s needs. You have 5 years to give him specialized training on what he will need to know to run your company effectively after you have retired. Isn’t that better than having him work for another company for those 5 years and then trying to learn how to run your business years down the line without your guidance?

You have the opportunity to direct his training through the departments you believe he should have hands on experience. You can oversee his managerial style. You can work with him as he begins to see new ways to improve work flow through your business. You would have the opportunity to work through —with him—to manage how improvements are instituted. You have the opportunity to train the person who will carry on your family business. That seems like an opportunity that should not be ignored.

Good luck,

GoodWitch

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Juicy Relationship Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.

Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send your FREE brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: coaching@stillsitting.net.

© 2009-2017 ManifestGroup. No materials may be used without expressed written permission.

When is In-office Fundraising Out of Bounds?

Everyholiday season request for donations go up. That’s expected for the Season of Giving, but what if your supervisor asks you to support his kids’ PeeWee endeavors all year long? Giving back some of your mind.     — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — I have a supervisor who always sells crap for his kids’ school. Where’s the line of obligation and suckerdom? — Diabetic Soon

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Dear Diabetic Soon,

Ah!, office politics. Nice. Goes well with pie but little else. If you’re like most people you want to give a token of support to your supervisor, but don’t let this arrangement make you feel like you’ve been taken for a ride personally. Here’s my gently-used donation to you: be straight up with your supervisor. I would gently remind her/him of your salary’s limitations (especially in times like these when everyone’s (including school) budgets have been hard hit) by pointing out that if you supported every good cause you actually wanted to, there’s going to be a car wash to support you that s/he better show up to! Then I would state the annual cap on your willing support – whatever number you want to give and doesn’t impede your budget. If it feels easier for you to break that annual number out to quarterly giving (pre-chat, tally up your last year’s in-office donations and I think you’ll be shocked how much those “small contributions” added up to) then do so, not exceeding your own annual limit. Decide. Commit. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty or ashamed that this amount that you worked so hard for, to give away to support someone else out of your sense of sharing, is too low or “not enough” – remember: zero is a viable option.

If, as you say, this supervisor feels so constantly free to cross the donation line at work, then s/he is either a very gung-ho but tunnel visioned parent, or s/he is A-ok with and willfully leveraging her/his power over you. Water seeks its depth and a supervisor who shows such little common sense or respect tends to languish at her/his own level (except at a company that mirrors such values; another subject).

If all that’s too much for you, then check your employee handbook or ask HR (you don’t have to mention names) what, if any, company policy there is governing in-office solicitations. Then helpfully share this newfound information with your supervisor as a supportive ‘I just found this out, too’-gift. Who knows, maybe s/he actually didn’t know.

All good things within limits,

BadWitch

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Dear Diabetic Soon,

Well, I must state the obvious. Just because your supervisor is selling doesn’t mean you have to buy. Your boss’ fundraising for his kids school is much needed these days. School budgets have been cut to the bone. I know in my children’s school the amount of volunteer hours has gone up across the board, because the school does not have the resources they did, even last year.

That being said, your donation to the cause is not a requirement of employment. Don’t let guilt—or some misguided attempt to impress your boss—put a whole in your wallet or increase your sugar intake. I’m not suggesting you be a Scrooge, because, as I said, the school’s extra fundraising helps buy books, fund computers and, in some cases, keep sports and arts programs going. However, buy what works for you, not everything.

In donations, like living expenses, create a budget. Know how much you can afford to contribute to worthy causes. Then, decide how much of that you would like to forward to your supervisor’s fundraising activities. Spread out those buys over the year, choosing the one’s that intrigue you. You figure, chocolate can go in a gift basket at the holidays. I remember once we sold holiday candles, which works well for stocking stuffers or funny gifts for co-workers. Believe me, it’s an inside joke they’ll all get.

In others words, the little you do can help a lot. But give from a place of wanting to help, not wanting to suck up. The truth is, we can all tell when someone offers us something in some disingenuous bid to up their ranking. It’s called brown nosing and it’s not attractive. On the other hand, donating from the heart, caring about how the dollars are spent and how they help…that will give you big props with your boss—and karma points too. So, make your budget, then dig a little deeper and give from the heart.

Good luck,

GoodWitch

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Image, Universal Studios Home Distribution

Juicy Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.

Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send your FREE brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: coaching@stillsitting.net.

© 2009 ManifestGroup. No materials may be used without expressed written permission.

Office Games: Fresh Hell-in-the-Middle

monkies.hear.see.speak.no.evilManipulate! Freeze! Endure! No, it’s not the latest biting soap opera on daytime TV. It’s most workplace characters in America. This is Your Workplace Reality Hell. Come inside. Welcome…(insert HR satanic assistant evil laugh)…wohohohoho!   — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GW/BW – I work with this (crazy) woman who has our boss suckered. He believes she is the best thing since sliced bread and when I tried to tell him I didn’t trust her, he said she was “cash register trustworthy.” First off, why would he think that when I was talking about her gossiping and being bad for office morale? I feel really STUCK working with this b****, and having to listen to this jerk defend her. I feel helpless. – Stuck in the Middle

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Dear Stuck in the Middle,

That seems like an apropos place for you to be, as from the tiny bit of info I have from you, there are three distinct points of views/stories going on here…at best. At worst, there is no genuine conversation happening between any of you. As our workplaces are the microcosm of Life we spend the bulk of our waking hours at, look at this as a great training ground for you to hone your overall communication skills. Cool!

Taking your side of the story at face value, the Automatic Stress Reaction (ASR) Types here at work are (note: all Types have strengths and weaknesses) her Manipulate, his Freeze and you are the Endure. As such, her reaction to stressful situations is to create a buddy system…with everyone. She is a very good at influencing people to her own ends, but her perception is that she is “just getting along” and really does want the best for the office. She often does things that support this assertion (like orchestrating birthday cakes, etc.). I’m deeming your boss a Freeze simply because it seems he has not heard your side of the story fully to create a productively neutral workspace for his employees. If he is indeed defending her to you, I suspect Manipulate has done things that make his office life easier for him to get down to taking care of business. Your Endure ASR allows you to do just what it sounds like, put up with things as a matter of course, just get through the long To Do List. You rarely put yourself (or your interests) first, preferring to get the job done truly because it serves the group’s best interest.

Since you wrote me, I address your concern in the hopes it serves everyone in the end.  Endures must learn to take better care of themselves, more often. Even if your need to serve the greater good is a burning obsession, you can do that better if you have more personal resource to pull from. Right? Taking care of ourselves first is not selfish. In this case, talk to your Manipulate peer first and see if you can’t get her to stop gossiping with and/or around you. Just tell her it makes you feel uncomfortable – tell her you’re a big sensitive girl, if that’s the sugar she needs to gulp down that Rx with. You might have to be consistent and, uh…remind her a couple times. On the other hand, if she’s a true Manipulate, she will get the order right the first time, wanting to show you how much she cares about your needs. So you can help her take care of hers later. That’s fine!, and not necessarily some evil plot of hers. This is all just a first step, Endurina.

Take care of yourself first,

BW

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Dear Stuck in the Middle,

You are truly between a rock and a hard place. If you keep pushing your boss to devalue your workmate, you run the risk of alienating yourself. You are right, gossip is poison to a group, so the question becomes how do you proceed without driving yourself crazy.

The first thing to remember is that karma will play out. People are consistent. Chances are she will continue her loose lips approach and your boss will start to hear about this woman from sources other than you. Sit back and allow her to show herself.

You can also act as the counter-gossip influence by speaking up in the office. When Loose Lips begins her tirade refuse to react. Respond either by remembering something you need to do in your office/cubicle or by stating a positive truth. For instance if she says, “I can’t stand these inefficiencies! Why do we have to keep doing it this way.” You can offer, “Well, it may not be perfect, but I’m glad to have job to do and another paid day to figure it out.” The first few times you offer this rosy view of life while she stirs up the muck, you will no doubt be greeted with scorn. Don’t let it get you down.

As you continue with no reaction and alternating sunny side statements, she will soon enough stop making comments around you. Why? You are not giving her the reaction she wants. If she gets no reaction from you, she will look to find someone who will react the way she wants. You will get some reprieve. This, of course, is not a full solution, as others in the office will also be affected. But it will be enough to make your work life more bearable.

Unfortunately, there is little else you can do. Preserve your own sanity. Unless your boss sees her for who she is, or she leaves or you leave—this is the situation you are in. Definitely do some guided meditation to clear your co-workers energy off you at the end of each day. Picture a golden bubble that envelopes you as you step out unto the street each night. It sinks in clearing away the stress of the day, your co-workers energy and any attachments you have replaying the annoying images of the day. The golden bubble cleans your energy and sinks into the ground to be recycled. This repeated practice will help you stay balanced in an unbalanced situation.

Look out for yourself. You are not personally responsible for the harmony of the office. Do what you can, but remember the Serenity Prayer. Whether you are religious or not, the idea of understanding what is your responsibility and what is not is a core truth. You can’t do it all, but you can make your slice of the world more peaceful.

Good Luck,

GoodWitch

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Hear the coaches – Podcasts coming. Talk to the coaches! –  Personal and group coaching available.

Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send your FREE brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: coaching@stillsitting.net.

© 2009 ManifestGroup. No materials may be used without expressed written permission.

Help!, I’m being held captive in a fortune cookie factory (or Workplace Gitmo)!

madmenjoan

Post-MSG reading, you might have one of two reactions, 1) to fight your visceral urge to help; or 2) to laugh it off as a joke. No matter your reaction, a person who feels a prisoner to their cut off workplace options, is an unhappy person feeling trapped between a Chatty Cathy and a politico outsider hard place. But when the ransom for your freedom is your precious time and reputation (gossiper), know that you can take hold of the reins! Time to cut the talking string that bind us, and blow this biscuit facility.

— BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GW/BW – The big boss’s assistant is a true Chatty Cathy…how do I kindly extricate myself from her gossipy clutches. Please know she’s a very nice person but she has a hard time taking a hint – and, I need to stay in their good graces! Please help. — Captive Audience, Chicago, IL

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Dear Non-Stockholmed,

Politics! Intrigue! Gossip! As you know, oh captive one, that’s a tough situ and not as glamorous as it may sound outside your particular 9-5 pokey. My recommendation is as simple as I’m telling you to keep it. Tell her straight up you need to keep the conversations between you separated: professional and personal. Then whenever possible, be specifically on-purpose and on-point with your boss, and charge on in on (real or supposed) deadline past her frontline gatekeeper. Keep exemplifying for Chatty Cathy on every occasion – consistently – around her desk, your bosses’ door, at your desk, that you are On a Mission. Then whenever you see her otherwise, in the caf, in the parking lot, in the Ladies’ Conference Room…you can chat her up socially. Soon enough, you will train her as to the etiquette you need and want her to treat you (and you her!) by. In other words (and it’s my 2009 favorite), boundaries! And Bonus Points!, you will be helping this theta-brainwave babbler get back into her body by recognizing her surroundings more often. Being friends with people at work, and friendly with people you work with are not the same thing.

Cut the cord,

BW

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Dear Captive Audience,

Now is the time for strategic thinking. The boss’ assistant is not where your challenge necessarily ends. She has your boss’ ear. It will be an important thing to remind yourself of as you take on strategically managing her gossip habit.

Gossiping is a habit, for many formed sometime in high school when one scored points for knowing dirt on others. Queenbees and Wannabees shows a breakdown of girls high school cliques the power girls draw from gossip. Being the “Informant” means you are in the know. It is also means you are protected from outside bullying because of what you know and who you know it about. Come on, you watch Gossip Girl, right?

When dealing with this sort of “Chatty Cathy,” my first recommendation is to protect yourself. Be very aware of the stories or comments you share with her. If she is willing to share dirty information on others with you, chances are she’ll share your dirt with others. This makes the cubicle gossip much more of a minefield. If you get sucked in and start to agree or add your own 2¢, it could easily end up in a co-workers ear, starting a landslide of public opionion against you. Let’s face it, when she shares the info she’s not giving up her comments—just yours.

The best offense to this kind of insidious poison is deflection. When your boss or her assistant start in a line of gossip, change the subject. Sometimes this is as easy and linking her story to something you’ve seen on TV and then taking the subject straight off somewhere else. If, however, your boss’ assistant is a dog with a bone, play her by pointing out the positives in a “look on the bright side kind of way.” I have a neighbor who enjoys negative gossip. Whenever the rampage starts, I point out the positives, “well, at least it’s off your desk” etc., etc. Then when I segue into a new topic, he latches on. Why? Because he has not been getting any energy to feed the negative gossip. I’m just no fun to gossip with! Then when I start up some new conversation, he jumps on board. He really just wants to chat, but his habit is to gossip chat. Retraining continues, but we maintain good, cooperative feelings for one another—just as you must with your boss…even if it’s through her assistant.

And remember, if its been an extremely daunting round of let’s change the subject, you can always excuse yourself to the bathroom or create an “I have to deal with this right now” matter that slipped your mind until just that second. It’s not dishonest, it’s self-protection of mind, spirit and job. Dodge ball is more than game.

Better to buzz off,

GoodWitch

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Hear the coaches – Podcasts coming. Talk to the coaches! –  Personal and group coaching available.

Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send your FREE brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: coaching@stillsitting.net.

© 2009 ManifestGroup. No materials may be used without expressed written permission.