The Naughty or Nice List

Let’s face it, we all have favorite employees and coworkers. Once we start recognizing that we are always going to be inclined to like certain individuals more than others, we can start overcoming the biases that come along with it.

Seth Godin recently wrote an excellent blog on biases (We are All Biased). To summarize, he talked about how biases can be useful when we have insufficient information to make a decision. However, a wise leader will understand and recognize the drawbacks of biases.  This concept can also apply to our interactions within our professional relationships.

As managers and leaders, we have to take an honest look at our own biases and how they affect our day-to-day interactions. This reflection should include identifying why we get along with some of our coworkers/employees and not others. Additionally, we should take a hard look as to why we don’t have a natural affinity for certain individuals. Finally, in our self-evaluation we need to take a cold, hard look at those biases and ensure they are not influencing our interactions.

I believe we have all been on the other side of the coin in that we have had less than ideal interactions with those in authority over us and we can’t seem to ever get anything right. Now take those same feelings and compare them to some of your direct reports or coworkers. Is it possible that your biases are causing them to fail or at the very least are limiting their chances for success?

During this holiday season and in the upcoming new year, take the time to self-evaluate and think about what you can do differently to ensure that everyone you interact with has a positive experience. Ensure that you are providing all of your employees with equal treatment and the same opportunities to succeed. To summarize, eliminate your naughty or nice list and focus on true objective evaluations while recognizing your own biases.

We Control the Norm

I rarely, if ever, make comments on our political environment. However, in light of our recent election, I felt that something needed to be said about the divide felt by many in our country. A large portion of individuals who are a fundamental part of our society feel that the tactics used in the recent presidential race encouraged a segment of our society to discriminate and harass others. There is a fundamental feeling that the recently acquired norm of respect and understanding for those that have been historically marginalized is just a facade and it is now open season on those that look, act, or believe differently than what some consider the norm.

I choose to believe that the majority of those who voted for our now president-elect did not vote that way because they thought he was going to bring back hatred into our country (sadly, some did, but those people do not represent the America that I love). Despite the poorly chosen words and sentiments used in the recent presidential race, we don’t have to give him or others the power to change the norm of our society. We the people, as a whole, set the tone of our society.

Ensuring a norm of respect starts with you. Take this time to reflect on how you interact with those around you. Are you are treating and interacting with those around you with respect and understanding? Despite what they believe (politically or otherwise), or even how they behave towards you, you can still treat individuals with respect and dignity.

Practice being impeccable with your words: they have meaning. Banish hate and demeaning language from your vocabulary. I believe that everyone, including myself, needs to be regularly reminded to choose our words and thoughts carefully.

In the workplace and beyond, leaders need to clearly model through their behavior and communication that a lack of civility will not be tolerated. In addition to the well-established legal protections, all individuals deserve to work in a place where they are not bullied or ostracized because of what they believe, who they are, or how they look. As leaders, we can set the tone and the norm for every organization by the way we act and respond. Here is a not-so-subtle hint: we all can be leaders regardless of our position.

I encourage you to help heal the divide in this country one person at a time. Take the time to understand someone else’s viewpoint, even if you don’t agree with it. At the end of the day, the norms of our society belong to us, not to politicians or celebrities. You can change the world’s view-point, one person at the time, starting with yourself.

Common Barriers to Effective Communication

Effective Communication in the workplace is a vital part of running a successful business. Communication issues between management and employees, amongst coworkers, between employees and clients or customers, and communication issues when working in a group setting can create conflict that can lead to a loss of productivity and a severe drop in morale. Take a look at the following barriers to communication and keep these barriers and solutions in mind when interacting with your employees and colleagues: (more…)

Can You Hear Me Now???

We have all been there. You need to discuss something with your coworker or employee, but no matter how hard you try to get the point across, they just aren’t listening. Their eyes glaze over, they look confused, they appear distracted, or they simply aren’t paying attention. Dealing with a passive listener can lead to tension in the workplace, as communication suffers and tensions rise.

We have been discussing the importance and skill of active listening in recent posts, and have also touched base on the idea that perception (translating the message) is a huge part of being a good active listener. As good of an active listener that you may be, how do you deal with someone who is a passive listener? (more…)

Rose Colored Glasses

Everyone views the world through rose colored glasses. We all come from varied backgrounds and are equally unique. These differences should be celebrated and used to create a better understanding of the world we live in. Beyond the worthy goal of inclusion, these differences help all of us see things in a new way. Behold the power of perception!

When most of us see a cat we typically think: cute, cuddly, funny, or simply not dangerous (well… maybe not all of us). However, from a mouse’s perspective, when he sees a cat, he sees and smells danger. Trust me, if you were the mouse’s size, you would too. (more…)

The Challenge of Active Listening

Most of us have heard that we must be “active listeners” and refrain from being passive listeners. Passive listening in and of itself isn’t bad, in that passive listening is simply listening or to put it another way, hearing. There are many occasions in which we passively listen, such as background music, television in the background, some conferences or webinars, etc. The danger of passive listening is that we can slip into a trance or get distracted to the point where we are not really listening to what is going on and being said. (more…)