Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Posts Tagged ‘workplace

Five Strategies to Build Trust

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The actions and behaviors of individual leaders impact trust within the organization. Many fail to understand the elements of a trusting work atmosphere and the strategies used to build and establish a firm foundation for trust and leadership.

There are five key elements a leader must focus their efforts on to develop a comprehensive atmosphere of trust in their workplace. While the concept of trust implies participation by both leader and the people they deal with, including their superiors, associates, peers and employees, it must start with the individual leader. It is counterproductive for leaders to withhold their trust until they are able to trust the other party. In most cases trust is mutually developed by both parties and balanced by the commitment each brings to the relationship. Typically, employees and other individuals will reciprocate the trust placed in them by leaders.

As leaders attempt to build trust, they will experience reluctance in the form of employees who have felt betrayed by the organization in the past. Consequently, leaders must signal a change by making the first steps to initiate and demonstrate trust in their employees. Once employees see that a true change has occurred, they will begin to slowly form the bonds of trust needed for leaders to be effective.

Leaders who wish to establish a complete environment of trust with their superiors, associates, peers and employees must consider employing the following strategies:

Establish Professional and Personal Credibility

If leaders are credible, they are trusted and believable to their employees. Employees consider a credible leader to be one who does not advance a personal agenda but has the best interests of the organization and his or her employees at heart.

Employees and other individuals view credibility from differing perspectives. Often credibility can be confused with personal competence. If the leader is knowledgeable and possesses both personal expertise and experience, they are considered credible. Conversely, leaders who maintain positions in which they demonstrate professional incompetence exhibit a lack of professional credibility, with employees viewing their direction, judgment and leadership as suspect.

The other aspect is the leader’s own personal credibility. This involves the employee’s ability to personally trust what a leader says or does. An individual may possess professional credibility and not possess the personal credibility to lead the organization. Strategies leaders must apply to develop and foster personal credibility include:

  • Making themselves available to their employees and easy to talk with. Good leaders do not wait for their employees to approach them, but seek them out on a regular basis. Many will walk around and talk with each employee several times a day to discuss everyday concerns and issues. This proactive approach allows them to monitor the pulse of their organization while facilitating open communication with their employees. They instantly answer questions with straight responses and openly make their expectations of the organization and their employees known.
  • Trusting their employees to handle their jobs and responsibilities without regularly looking over their shoulders and micro-managing their activities.
  • Being completely reliable and always delivering on their promises and commitments without fail, enabling employees to know without question that they can count on the leader.

Fairness

Trust is built when employees know their leader is fair and consistent in his or her actions, decisions and judgments—no matter who is involved and what the circumstances.

Fairness is comprised of both equity and consistency. Leaders can use the following strategies to develop a strong sense of equity including:

  • Ensuring all employees are treated in the same manner.
  • Making sure all actions, judgments and decisions are fair to all parties concerned.
  • Avoiding any favoritism among employees, especially where rewards, recognition and promotions are concerned.

Effective leaders make certain their actions, judgments and decisions are consistent and not based upon specific circumstances. Only when leaders demonstrate consistency over time can they build trust with employees, who then know they will always be treated fairly.

Respect

Trust is built upon a foundation of mutual respect for one another. If respect is absent, trust can never be achieved. Leaders can develop and foster respect by:

  • Demonstrating a personal regard for individual employees’ experience, expertise, knowledge, insight and perspectives concerning their jobs.
  • Actively seeking feedback and employees’ insight, perspective and opinions regarding important decisions.
  • Actively involving employees in the decision making process.
  • Demonstrating appreciation for employees’ personal contributions to the success of the organization.
  • Providing the training, resources and support employees need to competently perform their jobs.
  • Demonstrating care and concern for employees’ lives outside of the workplace.

Pride

Trust is fostered and nurtured by a sense of mutual pride in the work, quality and accomplishments of the organization. This builds organizational cohesiveness that bonds all employees together and strengthens trust in all involved. As workplace cohesiveness increases, so does a sense of trust in the organization and its people. Everyone feels they are working together, and each can be trusted to fulfill his or her role and responsibilities.

Leaders can encourage the development of pride by using the following strategies:

  • Helping employees understand their individual role in the organization and how their efforts contribute to its success.
  • Helping them understand that they personally make a difference within the organization.
  • Exhorting employees to take satisfaction both in their organization’s accomplishments and its contributions to their community.

Comradery

Comradery is not normally associated with the concept of trust, yet it does contribute to the organizational cohesiveness established by trust. As cited above, the stronger the organizational cohesiveness, the stronger the bond between leaders and employees. All involved feel linked by common goals, experiences and successes. They have a sense that everyone is “in it together” and work as a unit rather than as individuals.

Leaders can use the following strategies to build comradery with their employees:

  • Creating a workplace where a common concern is demonstrated and employees feel they can “be themselves.”
  • Openly and regularly celebrating special events and mutual successes.
  • Consistently and openly recognizing, rewarding and celebrating individual successes in a warm and genuine manner.

Excerpt: Building and Nurturing Trust in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI  2011) $16.95 USD

Related:

You Are Judged by the Actions You Take

Emotional Bonds are a Reflection of a Leader’s Effectiveness

Six Ways to Enhance Your Personal Credibility

 Can You Be Trusted? The Answer May Surprise You

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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The Challenge of Handling Conflict

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manpointing-atemployee

Conflict in the workplace is often created when somebody wants to make a change another party does not agree with. Often it only takes one to create controversy. This person draws others—who many times in order to maintain the relationship have no option—into the vortex. Since this can lead to these people then terminating their employment with the company, the conflict must be resolved.

The role of the leader includes mediating conflicts between employees. Many leaders not confident in their ability to resolve stressful conflict may seek to overlook, minimize, or avoid it altogether, allowing it to fester and grow through backbiting and constant complaining that saps the productivity of the organizational unit.

In some cases, unresolved conflict may mushroom into a legal issue with one or more parties using attorneys to resolve the problem. This often has wide-ranging ramifications for both the company and the involved leader.

It is important for leaders to understand that conflict and disagreements are part of the workplace environment and that it is in everyone’s best interest to develop the skills to resolve these disputes quickly and equitably. Effective leaders learn to watch for any potential conflicts and quickly address the pertinent issues before they explode into a bigger problem. Conflicts and disputes are best addressed early on before they become more complex and difficult to handle.

“Conflict” is used to describe numerous situations that are not in fact conflicts, but problems of indecision and personal stress. Conditions induce workers whose jobs are interdependent to feel angry and perceive others as being at fault. These situations and reactions constitute a business problem that must be resolved.

What Causes Conflict

There are seven types of conflicts. The leader who can develop a clear understanding of the issues greatly reduces the likelihood of mismatching problems and solutions.

Leaders should understand that most conflicts are complex and can include several elements of different issues. Leaders must carefully observe to determine the actual issues involved in order to match causes with solutions.

Data

Data conflicts arise over facts, figures and statistics and will have their solutions in obtaining new data or verifying and clarifying existing data.

Personality

Where there are people there will be personality conflicts. While in general a person cannot hope to please everyone all of the time, the problem is often directly attributable to the manner in which parties interact with one another and can be addressed by improving communication between involved parties. This may include clearly stating needs and developing clear expectations or even written agreements between conflicting parties.

Values

Clashes over values occur when disagreeing parties have real or perceived incompatibilities in their personal belief systems. Solutions include increased tolerance, understanding and acceptance of opposing points of view.

Resources

Disputes often arise from struggles over a real or perceived scarcity of available resources to adequately perform a job or achieve objectives.

‘History’

Conflicts can stem from unresolved experiences, problems and issues. These conflicts can only be settled by revisiting the past. Issues were created over time, and as such will take time to resolve. Both parties must be allowed to vent their frustrations and perspectives on the issue. The separate issues identified must be addressed and trust reestablished between the conflicting parties.

External Sources

External conflicts refer to the realities of life outside the workplace including anxiety over childcare, health, finances, divorce and other personal issues.

Psychological

These conflicts are caused or maintained by the psychological needs of individuals including the desire for power, control, autonomy and recognition. Psychological issues are often masked by other more tangible problems and may be difficult to distinguish. These issues can only be resolved by addressing the individual’s psychological needs.

Common Responses to Conflict

Individuals in conflict will normally employ one or more of the following three basic responses.

Fighting

When an individual chooses to fight, they are taking a side and getting caught up in the emotional energy flying around the dispute. These individuals are only in touch with their personal feelings and those on their side of the dispute.

A fighting response may be appropriate when a legal point must be decided, the moral issue is at stake or when a clear victor will not damage the relationship between conflicting parties.

Avoidance

Individuals who engage in avoidance are trying to protect themselves from conflict by erecting psychological barriers. This is their way of handling conflict from a safe distance. These individuals have difficulty empathizing with other parties due to the distance they have created between them.

Avoidance may be appropriate when it is important to allow the conflict time and space to de-escalate.

Acquiescence

Individuals simply give up and drop their demands when faced with a conflict. Most feel it is not worth the fight, but may feel used and manipulated later on. The problem is unresolved and festers until it erupts at a future date.

In other cases, individuals acquiesce because they prefer to give up on smaller issues to win when larger problems arise.

Resolving Conflict

The most effective means of settling conflict is to bring all parties together and allow them to air their side of the issue. Leaders must carefully listen to and observe the interaction between conflicting parties and identify the specific mix of issues involved.

Once the true issues are on the table, each must be individually resolved as outlined above. Leaders must be careful to match solutions to the problem. For instance, a historical conflict cannot be resolved by addressing psychological issues nor can a relationship conflict be resolved by addressing value issues. Solutions must take into account the underlying issues of the conflict.

Leaders must take care to completely resolve each issue to both parties’ satisfaction. Any issue left unresolved will fester and return as a bigger problem in the future. This includes any conflict with a forced resolution that one or more of the parties is compelled to accept.

Excerpt: Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Related:

“Dissent, Even Conflict Is Necessary, Indeed Desirable”

Handling Workplace Complaints, Concerns and Issues

With Conflict, Nothing is Straightforward

Conflict Does Not Occur in a Vacuum

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Six Ways You Can Destroy Trust and Credibility

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stressedwoman

Leaders can be so caught up in the flurry of daily tasks and activities that they easily stumble into many pitfalls resulting in broken trusts with and betrayals of employees. Many of these actions are inadvertent, yet consequences can compound over time as unresolved conflicts build in employees’ minds.

The desire for building trust is an attitude that leaders either have or must develop if they wish to be successful. It is an essential building block of leadership. If leaders are unable to nurture a workplace grounded in an appreciation for the power of trust, instead of lead they will only be able to manage and direct using fear as the primary motivator.

This is important for leaders to appreciate because of the ease in which they can stumble into past management practices that undermine rather than cultivate employee trust. It may take time and effort to foster a personal attitude of trust, but when leaders do they will find their employees more effective, cooperative and productive. The alternative is an atmosphere of mistrust and betrayal where continual conflict, ineffectiveness and quality problems reign—and worsen over time.

Many leaders can easily stumble into a myriad of pitfalls and practices that undermine their ability to build and foster trust with their employees. The stress and demands of daily work make it easy for a leader to overlook many of their actions without understanding their attendant consequences. These can include:

Inconsistency

When leaders are reactive rather than proactive, they are often inconsistent in their actions. A decision made in reaction to a specific event or circumstance can be inconsistent with a similar decision made at another time. While both may seem logical at the time, this inconsistency creates a sense of mistrust in employees since they have little or no idea what to expect from the leader’s behavior.

Other inconsistencies occur when leaders show favoritism toward one employee over another. Employees don’t feel they are treated fairly and, consequently, will not trust the leader’s judgment.

Reluctance to Share Information

Many managers and leaders are reluctant to share facts and figures with their employees because they feel unable to trust them with the information. This attitude clearly and completely sets the tone in the organization. If a leader shares information freely, he or she will find that employees will in turn begin to share information with them. This builds an atmosphere of mutual trust and open communication.

The leader reluctant to trust employees with information shuts down this critical two-way communication and limits the organization’s ability to grow and adapt to change.

Lack of Personal Trust

Leaders must learn to trust their own personal judgment and competency. They must accept that they will make mistakes, be willing to learn from them, and move on.

As leaders face a daily barrage of information, feedback and data, they must learn to take time out of the day to do nothing but “let the dust settle.” This enables them to see things more clearly and in their entirety, to identify what needs to be done, and as time spent with employees is usually more important than any other item on the agenda, where time needs to be spent in order to build trust.

Lack of Open Dialogue

Building or rebuilding trust among employees is one of the biggest challenges leaders face. Downsizing and mergers have taken a toll on workplace trust, making employees more territorial wondering if they need to work to protect their jobs. Leaders must acknowledge these fears and anxieties and open a dialogue allowing employees to vent their fears and anxieties.

Refusal to Deal with the Past

Many leaders feel that the past events and circumstances that may have caused employees to feel betrayed are just that—in the past, and should be ignored. Yet it is a clear mistake to ignore these unresolved conflicts, as they will continue to fester and undermine any efforts to reestablish trust.

As leaders open a dialogue with employees, these issues should be allowed to surface and be dealt with. While it is true that the past cannot be changed, these personal feelings must be resolved before trust can be truly established.

Lack of Clarity of Beliefs and Values

In the heat of organizational change, the beliefs and values of the organization can get lost or muddled. Leaders must take the time to clarify fundamental beliefs and translate them into commonly held and agreed upon values. This allows leaders to align their organization with the company’s values and beliefs.

Excerpt: Building & Nurturing Trust in the Workplace: The Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Related:

You Are Judged by the Actions You Take

Emotional Bonds are a Reflection of a Leader’s Effectiveness

Six Ways to Enhance Your Personal Credibility

 Emotional Bonds are a Reflection of a Leader’s Effectiveness

 Can You Be Trusted? The Answer May Surprise You

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Do Your Communications Have Room For Improvement?

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Every leader has room for improvement in the way they communicate with both their superiors and employees. The fast-paced workplace environment and immediate but impersonal nature of electronic communication has diminished many leaders’ ability to effectively convey their message, gain valuable feedback and lead their organization.

Surveys often show employees are concerned with the quality of communications in the workplace. Many feel companies give lip service and are not sincere in the messages they communicate. Others feel the only way information is imparted is through memos on bulletin boards. Still others feel instructions or policies are vague and difficult to interpret and follow.

This is important to recognize because ineffective communication begets poor cooperation and internal coordination, decreased productivity, and increased tension, absenteeism and turnover. Voids in communication are then filled with extremely damaging gossip and rumors. These repercussions seriously undermine a leader’s efforts to facilitate change within their organization, a crucial ability in today’s business climate.

The following is a list of proven concepts and techniques leaders can use to improve communications with both superiors and employees.

Communication: A Two-Way Process⎯Not a Monologue

Leaders should understand that communication does not end when they are finished delivering their message. Whether with superiors or employees, it is a two-way process that involves both giving information and receiving feedback. It is an ongoing exchange as questions are answered, additional information is given, and further feedback and input solicited.

Emphasize Personal Communications

The convenience of voice and email has made impersonal communications a reality for many leaders. Rather than rely on these electronic media as well as bulletin boards, memos and other like methods of communication, leaders should rely on personal exchanges and stress face-to-face meetings where possible. This helps eliminate miscommunication as leaders can readily interpret nonverbal facial expressions and body language.

Be Specific

Vague statements or instructions cause most miscommunication by failing to clearly and concisely direct or inform employees/superiors. Since vagueness is open to a variety of interpretations, confusion quickly sets in.

Every time a leader conveys a message or gives an instruction, they must ask if what they are communicating is clear, concise and specific. If not, they must restructure the communication so that it is.

Information Is… A Service

“Information is power” is a widely used phrase. The problem is, instead of sharing information, many managers and leaders hoard it as a method of wielding power over others.

Leaders should view the delivery and availability of information as a service to both their superiors and employees that enables them to be more productive and make better-informed decisions. It is in this service sense that information should be considered powerful.

Show Respect

Effective and open communication demands that all parties respect one another. This means that leaders, superiors and employees demonstrate respect for what each other has to say. They ask questions to show interest and further clarify key points. When this is done, all will feel an important part of a team and tend to be both more dedicated and productive.

An Open-Door Policy

Leaders don’t give lip service to an open-door policy, they practice it. They take the time to be among and interact with their employees. They keep their finger on the pulse of the organization by openly discussing needs and problems and allowing employees to disagree and contribute new ideas and insights.

This practice demonstrates a sincere concern for employees—and builds an endearing sense of loyalty. The impact it can have on a leader’s organization cannot be overemphasized. Actively and continually showing care and concern dramatically increases productivity and personal dedication.

One-on-One Meetings

Where possible leaders should have one-on-one meetings with their employees to develop insight and ideas regarding how to increase productivity within the organizational unit. Discussions should focus on ways leaders and employees can help one another be more productive.
Build Credibility

Without personal credibility, no matter how hard a leader tries he or she will fail to communicate. Unless leaders create a climate of credibility, they will not be trusted or believed by their employees. This destroys any ability or image of leadership. True leaders deliver on their promises and do what they say they will do.

Related:

Communication Must Be Personalized To Be Effective

Building Employee Support Requires Interactive Leadership

Encourage Questions to Improve Open Communication

Excerpt: Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

 

 

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Personal Techniques to Handle and Adapt to Change

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manonphone

The Greek word metamórphosis means, “changed or transformed.” When individuals accept that change is a natural part of their organizational environment, they cease resisting it and are thus transformed. They henceforth evolve with the ongoing changes that take place in the organization.

Most people fear change. In the workplace, leaders’ fears are fed by a feeling that if they attempt to initiate change, they will lose their job because their superiors will not support their efforts. Leaders also resist change due to the time constraints associated with their existing responsibilities. If time is taken from these, they fear their core business will fail, resulting in everyone being out of a job. Additionally, change is an unknown. Since leaders might fear what the unknown will bring to their organization, they attempt to ignore it, hoping it just goes away.

Leaders must comprehend that what they fear is the organization-threatening choices that companies are faced with after ignoring the earlier and obvious need for change. At such a point, the organization has no other option but to make a decision or perish.

Leaders must learn to accept that change is here to stay and something that they must deal with in small and incremental steps that allow the organization to evolve. Taking the proper far-sighted approach ensures that a company will not have to face the organization-threatening changes that everyone fears.

Before leaders can deal with organizational change they must first accept change personally and professionally. If they can hone personal techniques to handle and adapt to change, then they can adjust these techniques to the workplace and their leadership style. These methods are discussed below:

Acceptance

Individuals must learn to accept change. Whether they realize it or not, most people currently in the workplace grew up in a dynamic environment characterized by change. Since the 1960s, society has been subject to drastic change stemming from events such as the civil rights movement, Vietnam and Watergate. All of these pivotal events spurred waves of change that have impacted everyone’s lives to this day.

Since the 1980s, society has seen monumental advances in technology that have changed everyone’s lives as well. The introduction of the personal computer, fax machines, cell phones, email, VCRs, the Internet, mobile computing devices and a host of other technological devices have literally changed the face of business and personal lives.

Whether or not one would admit it, life has changed, and most changes have been quietly accepted and integrated into many people’s lives. And many would agree that it has made their lives easier and better. So if people fear change, then they would be well served to go back over their lives to see how they have handled and adapted to change. Most would probably agree that it has been a slow, incremental process that they have hardly noticed, except in hindsight.

Observe Change

Every time individuals buy a new car, a new electronic device such as a computer or DVD player, or a new consumer product such as self-rising pizza crust, they are accepting change. Since these changes are small, they are not the life-threatening events everyone fears; yet, they are still changes. Obviously, individuals can resist or deny change by choosing not to purchase these products, but most feel they have no other option, and subsequently think nothing of it.

As leaders learn to handle change in the workplace, they should begin by observing the countless changes made in their personal lives. They should note the impact these have made and how they felt about the results. These reflections should help leaders learn how to adapt in a constantly changing workplace environment.

Learn Personal Flexibility

Inflexible individuals have the most difficulty adapting to change. These are often older people who grew up in a more stable pre-1960s environment. They liked the way things were and resisted even the smallest changes. However, this description does not characterize everyone who grew up during this period. Many, in fact, have found the changes in society and technology liberating, making their lives easier and more productive.

It is not age so much as mindset that is important. Leaders must learn to become personally flexible. Anyone can become more flexible by learning to change some of the minor details in their lives, such as eating at a new restaurant, rearranging the furniture in their homes and offices, changing a hair style or taking a vacation somewhere new or unknown.

When individuals learn to be personally flexible and adaptable, they can easily do the same in the workplace. It starts with taking small, incremental steps and then observing the effects and consequences.

Look for Small Opportunities

Life outside the workplace provides individuals with many opportunities to change and improve their lives. Individuals should become more aware of the countless opportunities for change. Most people can make these changes without a second thought. As a personal lesson in accepting change, leaders should look for small opportunities they can seize to change their lives. They should learn to evaluate their personal decisions and analyze the impact these small changes have on their lives.

Experiment

Individuals should experiment with various methods of change. When they experiment, observe and learn from the results in their personal lives, it should be easy to translate these lessons to the workplace.

It is notable that most people are more conservative about changes in their personal lives than at work because they have to pay for the changes out of their own pocket. At work, on the other hand, they are spending the company’s money. This is not to say they have lost their thrift altogether, but it makes a difference that the monetary costs associated with change are not their direct burden.

Excerpt: The Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Related:

Dealing With the Challenges of Change

Managing Change: The Transition From Chaos to Order

You Keep Innovating if You Want to Keep Leading

Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Facilitating Change: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Communications in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership: The Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

A “Conspiracy of Silence” Creates an Organizational Tolerance of Harassment

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headinhands

The role of the leader is to create a smooth operating and empowered organization that frees employees from obstacles and barriers to their personal productivity. The presence of harassing behaviors and those who would use them against their fellow employees destroys any and all empowerment and organizational cohesiveness a leader builds.

Harassment in any form humiliates and frustrates not only the victim but the employees forced to witness these behaviors on a consistent and regular basis. A “conspiracy of silence” typically develops that creates an organizational tolerance of harassment even when corporate policies are in place to prevent harassment in any form from occurring.

While harassment may not be tolerated at the higher levels of management, it can be present in the lower echelons of the organization. A failure to deal with this jeopardizes the victim of harassment, the company, and the leader who observes it but fails to take appropriate action to eliminate it.

The real legal ramifications and consequences are becoming increasingly severe for the leader and company that turn a blind eye to this negative behavior. Additionally, leaders allow their authority to be undermined and diminished, which results in a measurable impact upon their professional and the company’s financial performance. What appears to be an easy decision to “look the other way” can have far-reaching career advancement implications.

Surveys published by Harvard Business School regarding employees’ perceptions of harassing behavior show that multiple or extreme instances clearly have serious ramifications for organizations. These surveys included employees from a number of major U.S.-based corporations and specifically indicated the following:

Job Satisfaction

Harvard reported a 15% decline in job satisfaction between those employees who never witnessed these harassing behaviors and those who witnessed two or more instances within their company.

Evaluation of Supervisor

Approval ratings of supervisors who tolerated these behaviors in the workplace plummeted by 20%. Included with this is the loss of trust in the system that is supposed to allow employees to make complaints without negative consequences in terms of their jobs and potential for advancement within the organization.

Communications

Organizations experienced a 10% decline in company communications. This is due to a lack of trust in the system and a feeling among employees that they are placing themselves in jeopardy if they make complaints about harassing behaviors. There is a strong sentiment that management does not take discipline seriously and that there is a fear of reprisal that keeps employees silent.

View of Senior Management

Organizations experienced a 15% drop in the approval of the actions of senior management. The prevailing view is that senior managers are out of touch with what is happening in the lower echelons of the organization, specifically highlighted by the fact that they feel adequate policies and channels are in place to deal with the problem of harassment.

Organizational Commitment

Personal commitment to the organization is reported to drop approximately 20% as employees feel they have been left on their own to deal with these problems. There is a prevailing view that when harassment occurs, they are powerless to do anything to effectively handle the problem. This is why so many ultimately go outside of the company and go through the legal system to handle the problem.

Employee Turnover

Employee turnover increases with the existence of workplace harassment within the organization. Approximately 30% of those who witness harassing behavior will actively look for a new job. For employees who have actually been harassed the number increases to approximately 50%. This represents a loss to the organization that then has to replace and train new employees as well as a drain on experienced and productive employees who refuse to tolerate this negative behavior.

Additionally, once employees feel compelled to seek new employment due to the hostile workplace environment, the liability risks to the company increase as many will seek compensation for financial and monetary losses associated with the change in jobs.

It is difficult for companies to quantify the total financial impact these factors have on efficiency and productivity, not to mention the financial risks associated with lawsuits stemming from this behavior. It places leaders in the dilemma of having to effectively lead in what may be considered a hostile workplace environment. The principles of empowerment and team development are negated, completely undermining leaders’ efforts.

Excerpt: Workplace Harassment: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 19.95 USD

Related:

Six Ways You Can Destroy Trust and Credibility

Functioning in a Less Than Meaningful Workplace

Handling Workplace Complaints, Concerns and Issues

With Conflict Resolution Nothing is Straightforward and Simple

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Sexual Harassment: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Negative Employee Behaviors: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Building & Nurturing Trust in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Communications in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Questions Should Mirror Employees’ Sense of Adventure, Interest and Curiosity

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womanonscreen

Within the workplace leaders need to emphasize the importance of questioning, and can do this by welcoming all those “why” and “how” questions, and asking a lot of them personally as well. Routine, rigidity and tight boundaries tend to snuff out the questioning process before it begins to achieve any glimmer of light, hope or momentum.

Leaders need to be content with leaving many questions unanswered, and by so doing, create a collection of unknown working elements that offer evidence to the prominent place that curiosity holds within the organization. Leaders can use questions and answers to make the employees’ work life and environment curious and exciting. To do this, questions should mirror employees’ sense of adventure, interest and curiosity. Observing and questioning their world of work helps to establish an outstanding and superb sense of teamwork.

To Make Questions as Important as Answers Safeguard Employees Against Excessive Organizational Routines

Organizational cultures often hinder the attainment of positive workplace growth and development when they tend to allow, incorporate, or spread, a bland veneer of “sameness” or a status quo of “apathy” throughout the working environment and workplace landscape. Faced with a bland, dominated working landscape, it is up to leaders to find ways to liberate their employees from the continuous shaping of ideas, opinions and the peer pressure of “sameness.” Employees can be freed from these organizational culture constraints by becoming good questioners.

When employees are surrounded by leaders and supervisors who provide immediate, simplistic responses to all the questions they ask, a false impression is created that emphasizes, “Answers do not require serious thought or ingenuity.” Employees are prevented from observing firsthand just how initial questions spawn additional ones, which eventually lead to fresh answers. As a result, they tend to lose out on the opportunity to experience mind searching, analyzing and decision making.

Look at Questions and Answers as Part of an Uncompleted Puzzle

Working environments tend to present an endless supply of puzzles. The only problem is, many employees spend most of their time and lives avoiding puzzles and serious questions. Yet, if every question has a quick and easy answer, the purpose of inquiry is lost.

Puzzles within the mind tend to arouse a sense of curiosity and stimulate questioning. While some employees may be bewildered when first attempting to figure something out, good questions will start to break up their mental log jam and begin to unlock everyone’s frozen thinking, while at the same time, setting them on the path to greater understanding.

Puzzle avoidance leads to stagnation and a healthy organization keeps its employees’ heads out of the sand and tries to see what is coming in order to be prepared. A proactive group of employees learns to wrestle with difficult questions and predicaments rather than rely upon recipes and formulas, which may have worked in the past.

If leaders provide a continuous menu of workplace puzzles to decipher, employees will develop at a faster pace, feeling confident and resourceful in the process. Ingenuity and skill will grow faster and when confronted by a problem, quandary or an impossible situation, employees will less likely to be shaken or fearful. Over time, they will actually begin to greet dilemmas as a “challenge and a test of ingenuity.” However, at certain times it is important for leaders to make it a point to answer some questions, especially more complex or wide open ones, with an admission of ignorance or uncertainty.

There is no such thing as a  “right question” or “truly perfect sequence” to search out answers since effective questioning tends to require a certain amount of “mind mining” and “muddling around.” Tough questions are intended to invoke some trial-and-error reasoning engagement and outcomes.

Dilemmas, paradoxes and perplexities all deserve and require some “messy questioning” that is balanced by a degree of disciplined, logical inquiry. Thinkers who are able to “shift gears” from the right to left side of the brain, and back and forth between logic and license, will typically generate deeper and more workable insights.

Maintain a Focus on the Importance of Questioning

One of the goals leaders should have is to teach their employees how to find or fashion satisfying answers to work-related puzzles by learning to ask good questions in effective sequences and combinations. As part of their human nature, most employees will tend to seek stability, predictability and certainty in an uncertain world, instead of embracing the challenges associated with it. Instead of learning to use good questions to adapt and adjust to a changing world, they more often than not, adopt a “foxhole” mentality. However, without experience handling unanswerable questions, employees will not be prepared to deal with the riddles of work and life.

As a second goal, it is up to leaders to share a sense of wonderment at the vastness of “what is unknown.” In this regard, questions will often end up becoming a collection of segmented pieces and bits of inquiry whose answers are as confusing as individual puzzle pieces that have no frame or outline to place them into. The question becomes, “How can employees be motivated to relish the challenge to find complex or difficult answers and solutions and how well will they be able to deal with ambiguity?”

When leaders treasure and value the “mysterious and unknowable,” and extensively question things themselves, always seeking answers (even if certain solutions remain abstract, unreliable or unattainable) their employees will tend to become more prepared to deal with the puzzles of everyday situations, events, issues, as well as unforeseeable future occurrences.

Excerpt: Effective Questioning Techniques: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 19.95 USD

Related:

Making the Questions as Important as the Answers

Leaders Need to Focus on Questions Rather Than Offering Answers

Correctly Framing Problems Pinpoints the Right Solution

Encourage Questions to Improve Open Communication

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Effective Questioning in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Developing Critical Thinking Skills: The Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series

Comprehensive Questioning: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

The Use and Application of Advanced Questioning: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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