Friday, November 29, 2013

Civility in the Workplace

Bullying is a very complicated issue.  We have seen it in the news lately with the Miami Dolphins suspended a player who was accused of bullying.  Most people are aware that it goes on, most people believe it is a problem and a good deal of people are unsure what to do about it.  Most companies or agencies have some of the same issues as any other workplace and each has some unique challenges.  Regardless of what is going on, what I believe and what we know does and does not work in addressing these issues, they are not easily solved.  It is my goal to give you some statistics, share some ideas and hear about some of your challenges.  What I hope you will leave here with are some things to think about. Think about what’s going on in your workplace, how do you contribute to it, how do you work toward solutions and what new things can you try. 
68% of employers surveyed think bullying is a problem
9% of Targets think Management view bullying as a significant problem
76% of Targets think Management sees Bullying as IRRELEVANT

Bullying in general is not illegal in the U.S. unless it involves harassment based on race/color, religion, national origin, sex, age (over 40), marital status, disability, sexual orientation/gender identity, Veteran/military status or any other protected class.
What can we do? 

      Educate Employees on Professional & Respectful Behavior & Company Code of Conduct
      Have Clear Policies that have zero-tolerance and anti-bullying guidelines
      Train Supervisors about how to intervene
      Encourage witnesses to report any incidents immediately.

Kathleen Bartle, Conflict Consultant,, says:
Bullying and abrasive behaviors are deep-seated problems. Many behaviors are unconscious. Most aggressors are unaware of what they are doing. Even those who seem to be deliberately choosing a target for bullying behavior may not realize how aggressive they are. Without a full intervention by a qualified conflict expert you should expect that the behavior will continue. So, what about dismissal?
My recommendation is that you should not dismiss someone for behaving in an aggressive or bullying manner until you have had an intervention that has some likelihood of success. Warning, ignoring, cajoling, etc. are not among them. You need a good investigation and evaluation of the situation. You need a model for evaluating the aggression that takes into consideration various factors including: the culture of the organization, character disorders, poor management styles, biases and prejudices of the aggressor, and awareness of how the behavior is described by the aggressor. Without this information you can expect to have a problem that will fester until someone is fired, quits, hurts him or herself, or someone files a lawsuit.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Difficult Employees: How to Manage

What do you consider the most important quality in a manger who successfully manages employees, especially the difficult ones? I believe role modeling healthy behavior is a key component in every successful manager’s repertoire.

 There are lots of examples of problem employees. Two books I would definitely recommend on the subject are Managing Difficult People by Marilyn Pincus and Managing Government Employees by Stewart Liff. Getting to know your employees, knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are, treating each employee as an individual and knowing how to balance motivating your employees and advocating for them are all a part of successful management.

Let’s look at role modeling healthy behavior and each of these components as it deals with problem employees. If you act out when you don’t get your way, if you collude with your employees against your boss or the company, if you lose your temper and communicate in inappropriate ways, then you are not role modeling healthy behavior. I have been appalled at how many employees, I supervised, were afraid to talk to me because they had a former supervisor who yelled at them on a regular basis. If this is you, then your quest in learning to deal with employees needs to start with you dealing with your own issues.

Anybody who has ever supervised has probably encountered the brilliant employee who can deal with, fix, figure out, network like no other employee you have ever had. We have also had that same employee with such a bad habit that it keeps us awake at night. Do you get rid of that employee? Probably not, but you may need to figure out a way to deal with him/her so that you don’t lose the rest of your employees. This is where treating each as an individual comes in.

Depending on your company, agency or set-up, there are usually certain guidelines which each employee has to abide by. Aside from those, there is usually lots of room to be creative and find out what perks fit for each employee, what motivates each employee and what is an acceptable level of performance, quota, behavior, separately but equally.

If you have a difficult employee, or two, I encourage you to check out the books I have mentioned and try to implement some of the ideas I have shared. I wish you success.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Holiday Spending Tips

I work as a counselor and see Employee Assistance clients.  One of the things I offer is help with finances.  Tough economic times, tight finances and difficulty managing money can have an effect on your overall well-being. 

With the holiday season just around the corner, I wanted to offer some tips to keep from going into debt or further into debt with holiday spending.

·         Spend Within Your Plan
·         Plan Your Shopping
·         Shop With a Buddy
·         Scrutinize Your Gift List
·         Look For Alternatives
·         Go Debit
·         Pay Bills Early
·         Start Your Shopping List for Next Year

If your finances are already out of control, you might want to get your spending under control.  The first thing you might want to do is track your spending.  You can do the envelope system, keep it on paper, much like a check register or use one of the many apps available. 

Next you want to develop a Spending Plan.  Karen McCall, in her book, Financial Recovery, introduced me to the concept of a Spending Plan.  She likes this term instead of a budget, because it offers you freedom.  With a budget, some people feel too constricted, like someone else is deciding for them.  With a spending plan, you decide how you will spend your money.  If you have financial goals, you can set your spending plan so that you can reach those goals. 

If you need help with getting your finances in order, you can  visit Consumer Credit Counseling’s website, talk to your CPA or Financial Planner.  

Track your spending, figure out where your money is going and then develop a plan so that your money goes where you want it to go.  This is a tough thing to do, but it is necessary so that you can achieve some control and freedom over your finances.

Once you have tracked your spending you can establish that spending plan, including how much you have to spend on holiday gifts, parties, decorating, etc.  You either want to keep from accumulating debt and/or keep your debt down.  Start now, setting aside cash in an account to cover your holiday spending. 
Spend within your plan.  Sticking with a spending plan is hard.  Allow yourself some wiggle room, but set limits, and decide a dollar amount that you won’t go over in spending.

If you are going shopping, start with a plan:  where you will go, what you are shopping for; maybe even do some comparison shopping online or over the phone.

When shopping, go with someone else.  Someone else can often be the voice of reason and help you to avoid over-spending.

Revamp your gift policy, especially for the people over 21.  Does everyone need a present?  Are there alternatives?  Don’t be afraid to bring this up because others may be under the same pressure you are and may be trying to keep spending in check.
Think about drawing names, setting a spending limit.  Do you have a talent and can you make gifts for people on your list?  These are often welcomed because you may have a talent that they don’t have.  Some examples are Cooking, woodwork, crafting, etc.  Suggest to a close friend that you don’t exchange gifts, but wait until after the first of the year and do something special together.  This will be especially welcome if it is something both of you want to do but are on tight spending plans.  Are there second-hand alternatives for gifts? Things like a family heirloom, a refurbished antique piece?  Let your imagination take you a creative place.

Go Debit:  By using your debit card, you avoid carrying around cash and you avoid incurring debt.  Be sure to stick to your limits and track what you spend so that you don’t spend the mortgage money that will be withdrawn from your account at a later date.  You want to avoid any overdraft charges.

Start your shopping list for next year early so that you can watch for good deals all year round.
If you have used your credit cards, pay the bills as soon as they come in, if possible.  If not, pay as much as you can and put it in your spending plan to avoid other non-necessities until those holiday bills are paid. 

I have mentioned Financial Recovery.  Another good book on this subject is Spent by Sally Palaian.  


We know that finances and emotions can be closely tied.  The Substance Abuse & Mental Health services administration has put out a publication “Getting through Tough Economic Times” complete with 

·         Possible health risks
·         Warning Signs
·         Managing Stress
·         Getting Help and
·         Suicide Warning Signs

Studies also suggest that sad people make poorer financial decisions.  If you recycle through getting in and out of debt, it may be time to work with someone on looking at your Relationship with Money.
Whatever your issues with money are, the best thing is to start.  Start looking at how you spend your money, whether or not you make enough money to pay for your obligations and whether or not you can adjust what your “necessities” are.  Use the resources we have talked about or enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member.  Start gaining freedom over your finances today.