Workplace Relationships

Getting Around Negative Gossip at Work

You’re proud of the work you put in while on the job. But one day you walk by the breakroom and hear a co-worker say you frequently miss deadlines, come into work late, or steal their ideas for presentations.

Office gossip can be incredibly demoralizing, especially if you’re new on the job. Someone is spreading lies about you, but it’s their word against yours; is there really anything you can do about it? (more…)

It’s Okay to Quit Your Job—But You Need to Have a Plan

Nearly half (49%) of employees are unsatisfied with their jobs. It could be due to a bad boss, lack of work/life balance, or simply that they don’t enjoy the work they do.

If any of that sounds familiar, it might be time to quit your job. But that means the uncertainty of a new job, a change in pay, and plenty of other complications. A solid plan is one way to cut down on those concerns.

(more…)

Is Your Boss Empathetic?

And why does it matter?

Boss RelationshipsWe all have bad boss stories. Maybe you had a boss yell at you every day, never show up for work, or take credit for a project you completed solo. Or perhaps your manager just didn’t really care or acknowledge you at all.

All of those bosses are lacking one key trait—empathy.

In a recent study, Businessolver® found that 91% of CEOs “believe empathy is directly linked to a company’s financial performance, while 93% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with an empathetic employer.”

However, while 92% of CEOs think their organizations are empathetic, only 72% of employees agree.

To find out whether your boss is empathetic, look for the following qualities.

(more…)

When (and How) to Request a Mental Health Day

Keep your brain healthy and strong.

Work is hard. In addition to normal job responsibilities, you also have to deal with other people. And sometimes stressful conflict can pop up with co-workers, bosses, vice-presidents, and even higher up the chain.

Occasionally those interactions go swimmingly. And occasionally they don’t.

As defined by Merriam-Webster, a mental health day is “a day that an employee takes off from work in order to relieve stress or renew vitality.”

Sounds nice, doesn’t it? If you find yourself dreading driving to the office every morning, bringing work home with you (either physically or mentally), or flinching every time your phone rings, it’s time for a mental health day.

Here are a few signs it might be time to rest the ol’ noggin. (more…)

How to Deal with Workplace Gossip

Stay positive and dodge the drama.

Humans like to gossip. It’s fun to talk to your co-workers about managers that might be less-than-perfect, or project members that just aren’t carrying their weight. You get a certain buzz from feeling like you’re “in-the-know” on a juicy situation.

It’s something we all do. But there are plenty of reasons to minimize gossiping in the workplace, especially if you want to grow your career. Let’s dig in.

(more…)

Diffusing Tension in the Workplace

Resolve conflict and bring peace to the work world

The workplace is complicated. It doesn’t matter if you work on an assembly line, type away at a cubicle, make cold calls in a call center, or take customer orders at a dinner table; you always deal with other people.

We’re all human and we have bad days. And sometimes you might do something inadvertently to make someone’s day worse. It could be a miscommunication via email, perhaps you chew loudly, or maybe there’s a scheduling conflict you just can’t agree on. These little things add up and suddenly there’s tension between the two of you.

Getting rid of that tension is one of the most important workplace soft skills. An employee who can effectively resolve conflict is priceless. So, how is this accomplished?

There are five main styles for managing conflict, according to Thomas, Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann originators of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. The key is to figure out the right mix of styles for any given situation, and recognize your coworker’s preferred conflict management style.

Here are those given conflict management styles, as outlined by SourcesOfInsight.com.

  1. Accommodating

Think of this as killing your enemy with kindness.

Basically, if accommodating is your style of choice, your tendency is to give into the other person’s desires without making sure you get what you want. Maybe you think your boss’ idea is less than great, but don’t tell them because that would make waves.

Although it might sound cowardly on paper, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the accommodating style. All styles are valid. For example, it’s usually better to defer to those with more experience when you’re new to the job.

  1. Avoiding 

With this style, you avoid conflict at all costs. You never win arguments and prefer to stay out of the combat zone entirely. You don’t want to say no so you end up saying nothing. Think of this as the “let well enough alone” mentality.

Avoidance is a great for when emotions are running high and you need time to think, when you know you can’t win, or just don’t feel like the situation is worth the effort. Why engage when there will be minimal gains?

  1. Collaborating

Think of this as the “win-win” scenario. You want to work with your coworker in order to achieve common ground and for everyone to get what they want.

This is a great conflict resolution style when everyone is already on the same page. You trust each other, value teamwork,  say what you mean, and don’t have to worry about hurt feelings. It’s not a great choice when emotions are running high or people’s viewpoints are diametrically opposed.

  1. Competing

This is the “might makes right” mentality. You want to get what you want no matter what, and the opposing side’s wishes aren’t important.

Again, this sounds like the angry boss who intimidates his direct reports into getting something done. In that case, it’s not the best decision. But if you’re an accountant on a deadline and someone on another team is trying to tell you how to do your job, competing is a perfect response. You know your job better than someone in a different department, and don’t have time to worry about hurt feelings.

  1. Compromising

Think of this as standard negotiating procedure. The “give and take” approach. You and your coworker both work toward a solution by giving things up until common ground is reached.

The main problem with this one is that it takes time and isn’t affective when someone is unwilling to give anything up. That means it’s best used when you need a temporary solution or when both sides have important goals. However, beware: compromising can frequently be the result when collaborating is the better choice because it’s easier to get done. But if everyone can get what they want with a bit of hard work, why not go that route?

If you’re partial to any of these conflict resolution tactics, ask yourself if you’re trying the same solution in every situation and not getting the results you need. If you are, you might want to explore other methods to get rid of the problem.

Have you ever had to solve a workplace dispute? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below.

Does Your CEO Connect with Frontline Workers?

Most companies dedicate substantial time and energy to researching, planning, and implementing communication strategies that build stronger relationships with their customers, but the most successful also dedicate an equally significant amount of energy to communicating with their employees.

Legendary former General Electric CEO Jack Welch once said, “There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”

Why Employee Communication Matters

Employee communication is vitally important to building a successful company. In addition to building an informed workforce that clearly understands the why and how of the work they do each day, effective and genuine communication between a company’s senior leadership and its frontline workers can make or break employee engagement. For instance, if your CEO sees you in the hall every day and never remembers your name, you’re probably not going to feel valued as an employee. But if he or she both knows your name and asks for your opinion on big company changes? You’ll know you’re valued, and have a tangible company goal to work toward.

According to a Gallup study, only 22% of employees “strongly agree that their company’s leaders have a clear direction for their organization. And only 13% strongly agree that their organization’s leadership communicates effectively.” Similarly, a study by IBM and Globoforce found that “44% of employees do not feel their senior leaders provide clear direction about where the organization is headed.”

In many cases, a company’s senior leadership may very well have a detailed plan for the organization’s future, however, if it’s not being effectively communicated down the line to workers like you, it’s more difficult for employees to rally around a common goal. Opening the lines of communication with frontline workers makes it easier for everyone to work together toward a common goal.

Where Companies Fall Short in Their Communication Strategies

A poll from the Harvard Business Review highlighted some of the top communication issues that prevent effective leadership, including “not recognizing employee achievements” (63%), “not giving clear directions” (57%), “not having time to meet with employees” (52%), “not knowing employees’ names” (36%), and “not asking about employees’ lives outside of work” (23%).

The Solution

Whether it’s implementing a formal internal communication tool or organizing a weekly “coffee with the CEO” roundtable in the breakroom, it’s in a company’s best interest to make a deliberate and genuine effort to bridge the gap between the “C-suite” and frontline workers.

In fact, according to a study from Towers Watson on how businesses capitalize on effective communication, “Companies that are highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared with firms that are the least effective communicators.”

Bottom line, employees care more when leadership takes the time to get to know them. They want to know where the company is headed. The less mystery, the better.

Does your CEO care about frontline workers? Let us know in the comments below!