• So you want to be happy despite your boss!

    Companies often hire management consultants to find ways to improve productivity. They focus on process and procedure. But there is actually an even more potent ingredient for boosting productivity: happiness. According to author and business coach Alexander Kjerulf. It’s about enjoying what you do; feeling proud of your work; knowing that what you do is important and being recognised for it; having fun; and being energised.

    When workers achieve arbejdsglæd, the business benefits from higher productivity, because happy people achieve better results; from higher quality, because happy employees care about quality; from lower absenteeism, because people actually want to go to work, and from less stress and rarer burnout, because happy people are less susceptible to stress. Not surprisingly, all of this leads to higher sales, better customer satisfaction, more creativity, and higher profits for the business.

    Sounds like some kind of Nirvana or Disneyland, doesn’t it? After all, who doesn’t want to be happy? And how can one be happy at work when the boss is a berk, the company doesn’t care for its employees, and the job simply sucks? There are some interesting remedies.

    For example, what do you do about the berk boss? It says that by allowing him to leave you a “quivering mess of indignation, resentment and frustration” you’re handing the keys to your happiness over to him. (or her). Remember that he may have control over what you do at work. But he has no control over your emotional well-being unless you let him have it. Just look at your boss and see the mess of emotions that slosh through him: anger, insecurity, fear, and jealousy. Now consider this: You only have to deal with him a few hours a week. He has to live with himself his whole life.

    Did you smile as you considered this? Good. That is important, because in that smile is the seed of compassion. That is the start of seeing him as a human being, caught in his own predicament, and not solely as an impediment to your well-being. And when you learn to deal with him on that level rather than relate to him in his role as “boss”, the dynamics of the relationship change. It sounds simple, but it is very powerful. It is obvious that when people start thinking like this, they lift the once totally toxic interactions to the “I can survive this” level and even to the “He’s not bad at all” level.

    It is easy to look at all the things that are wrong with your job. But instead of being despondent at work and focusing on the two or three things that you think are wrong with your job, try thinking about the twenty or so things that are good about it. Try making a list of all that’s good about your job, including the fact you have one. Don’t think it. Feel the gratitude. Let it well up and surround you and overflow. It takes some practice but you can get there. Now from this space tackle the problems you are facing. They no longer seem so formidable, and the odds are great that you can resolve your predicament effortlessly.

    You may feel as if you are kidding yourself when you try hard to focus on what is “good” about your job, but you are indulging in exactly the same mental gymnastics when you are preoccupied with what you “dislike” about it. So you might as well invest your emotional energy in ways that make you feel and function better.

    Another important lesson: You always get to pick the way you see the world.

    In the early stages of a start-up, an entrepreneur was irritated by employees who bothered him with “trivial” issues. He reacted with sarcasm and brusqueness and even by blowing up. His view was that his time was important and they should be able to take care of such issues themselves. He woke up when several of his key people departed. He consciously trained himself to view each such interaction as an opportunity to forge a relationship with the employee and to reinforce his idea of company culture with emphasis on independence and innovation. Not only did turnover drop but some of those who had left came back.

    This advice strikes a chord with me. When I was preoccupied with the many problems that beset any growing company, I was sometimes far from ebullient, and this brought down the morale of the entire company. My own experience has taught me that those who choose to view life as a learning opportunity and to take responsibility for their own actions are also the most confident and the happiest. They are the ones who build enduring companies.

    P.S.

    If you want to be happy – or you want your colleagues to be happy, and are not, then do contact us at 07850314 374 or 01323 478 607 or

    norman@mediationforsuccess.co.uk www.mediationforsuccess.co.uk

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  • How to confront those who break their commitments

    How to confront people who break their commitments.

    Just how committed were you to deliver on time?

    When you complain unproductively, you seek to soothe your anger by criticizing another. You might attack the person you blame for your problem or even criticize him to third parties. Your goal is to prove that you have been wronged. You repeat your story over and over. You end up full of negative assessments and righteous indignation.

    When you confront productively, you seek to restore coordination, trust, and integrity. You address the person directly. Your goal is to repair the task, the relationship, and the hurt. You confront only once, and you follow through to resolution. At best, you end up with a new agreement that closes the matter. At worse, you realize that your counterpart is not trustworthy and you can responsibly decide what you want to do about it.

    Here are three steps for a productive complaint:

    1. Check the commitment. Many problems result from miscommunication at the time of commitment: You think you requested X; your counterpart thinks she promised Y. If this is the case, then discuss how to avoid repeating this in the future.

    2. Ask what happened. Besides helping you understand the other’s perspective, inquiry shows respect. It helps you evaluate whether or not the causes for the breakdown arose after the promise and were thus unforeseeable. For example, if she called you at the last minute, or not at all, ask why.

    3. Negotiate a recommitment. Every productive confrontation includes a request for resolution. This may just be to recommit to the original promise, or it may include additional conditions. The key is that you clearly express what you need to close the issue, restore trust, and feel at peace. The other key is that you ask for what you really need to close the issue.

    You may worry that step one provides an opportunity for the other to get off scot-free: “I never said I’d do that!” This is a real risk, but it pales in comparison to the damage caused by holding your counterpart to a commitment she believes she didn’t make.

    The next time you get a commitment from this person, summarize the agreement and verify that she concurs. Then, e-mail her a summary with a request to confirm or correct it. This serves as your “signed contract.”

    There are three levels of confrontation. The first level concerns effectiveness in the task. For example, you may confront your counterpart about the fact that he did not show up for the meeting as agreed. He might have an excellent reason for not keeping his promise. For example, he might have gotten an urgent request from a customer that you agree takes priority over an internal meeting.

    The second level concerns trust in the relationship. For example, you may confront your counterpart about the fact that he didn’t let you know when he decided not to attend the meeting. It’s much harder to justify the lack of an early warning. As I said in my previous post, integrity means “no surprises” and one can preserve it even when one cannot deliver on one’s commitment.

    If your counterpart acknowledges that his behavior was a breach of integrity and that he should have called you, then you can accept his apology and move to negotiate a recommitment. If he argues that he didn’t need to call because he had a good reason to skip the meeting, then you must proceed to the next level.

    The third level concerns integrity in the person. If your counterpart insists that he didn’t have to call because the absence “was not his fault,” you might confront him about the meaning of his commitments. The promise came from him; therefore, he’s obligated by his own word to honour it, letting you know of the problem as soon as he finds out and trying to minimize the consequences for you.

    A person who breaks a commitment affects the task, the relationship, and his integrity. When you confront him with grace, you give him an opportunity to correct matters and re-establish trust. Therefore, a productive confrontation shouldn’t create conflicts; rather, it should resolve them.

    Provided, of course, that your counterpart receives it with grace.

    How comfortable would you feel confronting people that you think have broken commitments? Is the culture of your organisation conducive to integrity?

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  • Why listening is the key to conflict resolutions!

    Listening: No.1 of The Simple, Effective Skills of Conflict Resolution:

    Most conflict is the result of parties not listening!

    The purpose of listening in conflict resolution is not for the listener to get ‘the facts’ but to support the speaker in understanding their own thoughts and feelings about the destructive conflict they are involved in.

    If you are focused on getting the facts it suggests you are wanting to take some level of control of the situation in order to resolve it for the speaker.

    You can't resolve another person's destructive conflict, you can only help them to resolve it themselves.

    The following poem introduces us to the features of this important skill:

    Listen

    When I ask you to listen to me

    And you start giving advice

    You have not done what I asked.

    When I ask you to listen to me

    And you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way

    You are trampling on my feelings.

    When I ask you to listen to me

    And you feel you have to do something to solve my problems

    You have failed me, strange as that may seem.

    Listen! All I ask is that you listen

    Not talk or do – just hear me.

    Advice is cheap: 50p will get you both Claire Rayner and Russell Grant in the same newspaper.

    And I can DO for myself. I’m not helpless.

    Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

    But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel,

    No matter how irrational, then I stop trying to convince you,

    And can get about the business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling.

    And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.

    So please listen and just hear me, and if you want to talk,

    Wait a minute for your turn, and I’ll listen to you.

    Anonymous

    The more you let go of giving advice, suggestions, opinions, interpretations, the more you can focus on what the speaker is saying.

    You may feel they are telling you about their interpersonal conflict because they want you to solve it for them and so you may feel a pressure to come up with 'the answers' for them. They may even think that's why they are doing it as well.

    While you could give advice about the situation and it may seem like good advice to them, you are ultimately not solving the problem for them as they will have to be the ones to carry out that advice. If it works for them, what will they do next time?

    They will probably come to you for more advice. In this way, disempowerment and dependence are born.

    And this will probably continue until the advice you give doesn't work. Then you are at risk of being considered 'responsible' for the failure of your advice.

    Throughout all of this, however, the speaker has been blinded to the realisation that the destructive conflict is theirs and that they have the capacity to resolve it themselves. And when they see that, they can also take responsibility for resolving it and not pass it on to you or someone else.

    So why not cut out the intervening confusion and truly, genuinely, listen from the start and not give advice or suggestions or opinions or interpretations, all of which imply you are trying to take some ownership of a destructive conflict that is not yours. And possibly it implies you don't believe the person can resolve their destructive conflict by themselves. Now isn't that just a little arrogant?

    P.S.

    If you want help to resolve destructive conflict in your organisation, then do contact us on

    07850 314 374 01323 478 607

    norman@mediationforsuccess.co.uk www.mediationforsuccess.co.uk

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  • 5 reasons why appraisals dont work in your organisation!

    5 reasons why appraisals fail the organisation, manager and team members.

    It is not the papaer work

    It is not the employee (mostly not any how)

    It is not the HR department!

    It is.......

    Not valuing the individual or process of appraisals

    Lack of preparation by both parties

    It’s once a year

    Lack of trust

    Poor Leadership

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  • Have you got a bully at work?

    As if you needed any more evidence that bullying behaviour is corrosive to your culture, Inc. last week we reported the results of two studied that found being a jerk is actually contagious, spreading from the original bully to his or her unfortunate victims and then outward to infect the office culture in general.

    For business leaders, this science tracing how bad behaviour spreads through a group may be interesting, but the more pressing question about bullying for bosses probably is: How do you put the genie back in the bottle?

    If your company has somehow become infected with nastiness and your culture (and team productivity) is suffering, is there any way to battle the malaise and re-instill a sense of safety and support among team members?

    A fascinating recent blog post by best-selling author Seth Godin offers a suggestion. For inspiration, Godin looks to perhaps the world's most bully-intensive environment--yes, you guessed it, high school—to explore the roots of nasty behaviour and what interventions are effective to stop it.

    He starts out with a clever definition of what bullying actually is: "Bullying is what happens when an individual with power exercises that power against people who don't fit in. By threatening to expose or harm or degrade the outlier, the bully reinforces the status quo in a way that increases his power." And goes on to suggest that to combat jerk behavior at its root, organizations, whether they be schools or small business, need to explicitly celebrate the weird:

    Bullying persists when bureaucracies and hierarchies permit it to continue. It's easier to keep order in an environment where bullying can thrive (and vice versa), because the very things that permit a few to control the rest also permit bullies to do their work. The bully uses the organization's desire for conformity to his own ends.

    At the fabulous lab school in Manhattan, they're making huge progress at undoing this problem. A recent assembly (organized and run by students and volunteers) was created around weirdness, fear and most of all, "owning it."… When there isn't a race to fit in the most, bullying those that don't fit in loses much of its power.

    This is incredibly brave and risky for those in charge. It involves trusting people to become something wonderful, as opposed to insisting that they fit in at all costs.

    "We're all a lot weirder than we'd like the world to know," he concludes. Bullying, in other words, thrives in environments that value conformity and implicitly demand group members hide their true selves to make life easier for the higher ups. That sounds like high school, but remove the raging hormones and ill-advised fashion experiments, and it also sounds like plenty of businesses.

    Bully at work, costing your organisation,

    Do contact us

    norman@mediationforsuccess.co.uk

    www.mediationforsuccess.co.uk

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