Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Bullied at Work

Q: As an HR manager who’s just started at a large organisation, I’m concerned about a line manager who is considered a star performer. He is dominant, dogmatic and rude to his team but the organisation turns a blind eye, because he brings in so much money. I suspect he may be a bully, although no one has yet come forward to complain. What should I do?

Marielena Sabatier, Executive Coach with Inspiring Potential, writes:

This is a delicate situation. Certainly in organisations, there are ‘bullies in hiding’. They may be the ones who are control-orientated, who have a rigid way of thinking and don’t see anyone else’s point of view or who are constantly blaming others or using excuses to explain why targets have not been met.

In this case, it may be worth trying to provide a safe confidential forum where his team can speak up. As a new person in the organisation, you could try conducting one-to-one interviews with the team, as part of a process of getting to know people.

You may also consider introducing confidential 360 degree feedback as part of the appraisal process. As well as identifying if this manager is a bully, this should also provide you with beneficial information on the management and the culture of the organisation.

If the organisation is turning a blind eye to bullying, your bigger challenge would be to try to create a culture of dignity and respect in the workplace, by actively defining and promoting positive working relationships - and showing employees how to treat each other with respect - rather than simply trying to build a corporate culture where bullying isn’t tolerated. Citing the negative mantra that ‘We don’t tolerate bullying’ is not enough. It is critical to focus on the positive behaviours that are required to succeed in the organisation, such as respect, honesty and clear and open communication.

To do this, you need to get buy-in from other managers, run awareness training and establish a clear policy on how to deal with bullying.

Of course, it may be that the manager in question is not a bully. Some people are so driven by the task or challenge that they are unaware of their behaviour. They may have very little emotional intelligence or it could be the result of inexperience, stress-fuelled anger, fatigue or a lack of communication. Some line managers have an autocratic management style. Others occasionally become aggressive or snappy under stress. For these people, an accusation of bullying can come as a shock.

If this manager shows bullying tendencies, you might consider providing coaching to help him modify his behaviour. Coaching can also help individuals with issues such as aggression, lack of confidence and low self esteem.

Bullying is cruel and disrespectful and there are legal, moral, social and economic reasons why it should not be tolerated in organisations. If it does exist then everyone - bullies, victims and bystanders - should work together to stamp it out.

For further information about how our executive coaching can help your organisation, please contact us.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My job is meaningless


Q. I'm an HR manager in my mid-fifties. I feel my job is meaningless and I’ve got another decade to go before I can retire. I have worked for this company over 20 years and I don’t want to move. I feel valued and respected here. What can I do to re-motivate myself?

Marielena Sabatier, Executive Coach with Inspiring Potential, writes:

With the passing of time in a particular role, it is easy to get the idea that this is all you can do. I would suggest that you explore your options firstly within the role itself. Is there any option to adjust the scope of role so that you are incorporating some aspects that give you more meaning?

A job that has become meaningless can indicate that it is not aligned to your values. So the first step is to identify what would make your job meaningful. Bear in mind, that this is a very personal question. Everyone has different values and defines meaningful in a different way, so it is important that you do some soul searching and identify what is meaningful to you.

Ask yourself: What is important to me in my role? What would make my role meaningful? What am I motivated by? When I last felt really motivated, what was it about the situation created that state? How would I like to help others in the company?

Look for ways that will allow you to incorporate your values and your 20 years of experience into your role. For example, if you value creativity then look for ways of being creative. Or look for ways of utilising your experience in new ways, maybe become a mentor to less experienced HR managers. Only you know what can make a role meaningful to you.

If you cannot see options to bring meaning into your role then there may be some scope to do something else within the company or even to create a new role. The role that you dream up could be exactly what your organisation needs and it may be possible for you to make a case for it.

If this is still not an option, then you need to ask yourself: What is it costing me not to move? In other words, what are you missing out on by staying there until you retire? Is it fear that is keeping you there? This is a common factor as to why people stay in places that they don’t like.

Fear is often backed up by a belief that any new venture may not succeed. It is important to realise that such beliefs are personal and not universal laws. By being very clear on what you would ideally like to do, much of the fear can start to disappear and you can start visualising what you really want and make it a reality. Getting the support of a mentor, friend or a coach at a time like this can help you to clarity your options and re-energise your enthusiasm and motivation.

For further information about how our executive coaching can help your organisation, please contact us.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lonely At The Top!

Q: I’ve just been made head of the HR department in a large organisation and I’m finding it ‘lonely at the top’. I feel I have no one to talk to internally. If I’m the boss, how can I ask for help from members of my team, on important decisions, without losing face?

Marielena Sabatier, Executive Coach at Inspiring Potential responds:

Feeling lonely at the top is common among senior executives. Many feel they don’t have anyone to talk to internally. It could be that other senior executives in your organisation have similar fears and concerns - and they may be surprisingly receptive if you’re able to ‘test the water’ and raise the issue of ‘loneliness at the top’.

These feelings are often driven by a fear of being found out or of not being good enough for the role, which is usually rooted in lack of confidence.

So, even though you are not alone in your thinking, it is important that you realise that a good manager can ask for help from his or her team and involve them in important decisions without feeling threatened or undermined. Your team provides you with support to ensure that important decisions are examined carefully and from different points of view.

In order for you to feel more comfortable, it may be necessary for you to:

• Understand what is the root cause of your discomfort in asking your team for help?

• Consider how you feel about showing vulnerability.

• Define what makes a good boss and ensure you develop the confidence to be one.

• Get some feedback on your managing style.

I would recommend seeking help from a coach or a mentor, so that you can:

• Understand the beliefs underpinning your feeling of isolation.

• Develop the confidence to be yourself.

• Become more self-aware.

Self confidence is a state of mind. People who lack confidence often focus too much on their weaknesses. It is important to have a balanced perception. Undertake an honest assessment of your strengths and how they help you perform your role successfully.

A coach can help you shift your focus and develop more confidence, in a safe environment. A good tip to improve your confidence is to think about different times that you have felt confident in the past: what were you doing, thinking and feeling? How did it help you succeed in that situation?

By focusing on developing self confidence and awareness - and by accepting your strengths and weaknesses - you can be a better manager and confident enough to ask for help when needed without feeling exposed.

For further information about Inspiring Potential's career coaching services please contact us.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Tips in delegating effectively

As a manager today, do you ever got the feeling the work you delegated was not done properly, the results were not satisfying and you ended up wondering if you wouldn’t have been better off doing it yourself? It’s a common complain among my clients. Now the tricky question, Have you ever considered, that it is the way you have delegated the task the problem?

There is a misconception that delegation is just about giving a task to a person on your team without taking the time to explain it, identifying clear goals and setting deadlines. However, effective delegation requires you to take some time to think about what it is that you want and expect:

  • What exactly is it that needs to be done and to what standard?
  • Who in my team can do it and I trust to do it?
  • Why is it important?
  • By when specifically (date & time) do I need it done?
  • How will he/she know she has achieved or not your standard?
In times in which we are under so much pressure at work, both with regard to strict deadlines as well as to the required quality of the results, we tend to forget that delegation is not only about assigning tasks to your team in order to take some of the load of daily work off you, but that it has a significant impact on your team’s motivation, confidence, their professional and personal development and ultimately their productivity.

So just remember: Slowing down to delegate effectively will speed up your performance!

Benefits of executive coaching

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