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Family Wealth Alliance Webinar – Sept 14

15 Aug

webinar

Criticism–used well, this powerful leadership tool can promote positive change and strengthen relationships in business and life. Is it possible to use criticism at work without breeding resentment?

Dr. Deborah Bright, best-selling author and business coach, joins Family Wealth Alliance CEO Tom Livergood for a free webinar and fireside chat about the highly misunderstood topic of using criticism positively in the workplace.

Dr. Bright offers valuable techniques from her most recent book, rated by getAbstract as one of this year’s top 5 business books! She pulls tips from her book The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change to help us:

  • Understand the essential role of criticism in the workplace
  • Overcome common mistakes made when giving criticism
  • Gain insights on handling difficult work-related situations

Register now for this free 1-hour webinar on September 14th, 2:00PM EDT. Turbocharge your workplace and career by learning to strengthen relationships and enhance performance with criticism!

Note: Dr. Bright’s 30-minute fireside chat will follow Bob Legan, of Whitnell & Company, discussing unique issues and planning opportunities with family owned or closely held businesses.

It’s Time to Take the Politics Out of Criticism in the Workplace

3 Aug

Business people

Today there seems to be a concerted trend toward the inception of a policy of intolerance for not just the use of but the very mention of the word “criticism” in the workplace. Exactly who it is behind this trend or why it is happening remains a mystery. While the roots of the trend might likely be found within the secret motivations of various organizations’ overly sensitive political correctness elite, the top-top management of organizations appear unaware of what’s going on.

Recent findings from a national survey conducted jointly by NMA and Bright Enterprises reported that 58% of managers have no problem with the use of the word.

While the actual word, “criticism,” may impress many as something to be avoided rather than cherished, 80% of NMA managers actually have a very positive view of the importance of using criticism in the workplace. Believe it or not, the majority of respondents overwhelmingly view criticism as a powerful motivator, performance enhancer, builder of trust and respect, and a change agent.

Nevertheless, they do appreciate that, used improperly, criticism can cause major problems in relationships. Why? Because few think about where the definitional dividing line is between the word “criticism” and other seemingly synonymic words like “insult”, “condemnation”, “disparagement”, etc .

Using replacement words like “feedback” or “caring confrontation,” while understandably softer and more “acceptable”, doesn’t carry the suggested threat of consequence that criticism does if no action is taken on the part of the receiver. In fact, besides being unclear about whether any action is necessary, very importantly, receivers may not even be aware of any non-action consequences if no action or the wrong action is taken.

Such factors alone are what distinguishes the uniqueness of the word “criticism” from substitute words or phrases designed to preserve the relationship but in the process camouflage the weight of the message’s meaning.

What is needed is for organizations to identify and reeducate those who think the use of the word” criticism” should be banished from the workplace. Why? Because there is no other word that can adequately substitute the full gravity of its effectiveness. But, maybe even more importantly, such people really do not understand what benefits accrue to the organization when criticism and its proper use are understood by all throughout the organization.

Furthermore, it is the lack of skill in this area that most likely contributes greatly to criticism’s bad reputation. Interestingly, 65% of Managers from the NMA and Bright Enterprises national survey admitted to receiving no training on how to give criticism and another 70% of women and 58% of men admitted to receiving no training on how to be a receptive receiver.  What’s more, of those who reported having received any training, 49% believe it was inadequate.

So is banishing the word really the answer? I think not.

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

Are the People You Work with Truly Your Friends?

6 May

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Are your co-workers genuine friends?  This is a much easier question to raise than it is to answer. Depending on who you ask, you would probably get a different response. Most of us think of a “friend” as someone  we can trust and who we think trusts us.. We might even think a friend might be someone we can depend on to help us when times are tough. While we may categorize friends on a sort of scale that runs from “occasional” to “good” to “best” to “very best”, in all cases they are persons we respect and feel comfortable around and with whom we  share some degree of intimacy.  Very importantly, we expect a friend to be truly happy for our successes and is uplifting and fun to be around.

But when it comes to the workplace, we may want to take a slightly different perspective. Friends that form in the workplace are joined together  because of the mutuality of the work and the workplace itself.  That commonality leads to a lot of conversations.  What is oftentimes overlooked or dangerously underestimated is that underlying a friendship at work is the fact that the workplace is competitive. Because of the competitive nature in the workplace, when push comes to shove if someone needs to or has the opportunity to enhance their position in an organization, workplace friendships may oftentimes take a backseat or, to put it mildly, not be at the forefront of individuals’ priorities.

This ambition factor can manifest itself especially as it regards people of lower ranks in the workplace who are friends of those in upper ranks. As a result, it’s important to think about whether or not to differentiate workplace friends from just friends.

The idea that today we are friends and tomorrow we are forgotten often times depicts workplace friendships.  Think about what happens when  a co-worker leaves. The common bonds that once  held the friendship together wither rapidly or they simply are  no longer there. That’s because mutual interests really never went much farther than workplace matters.   Over time, the relationships that were once vibrant and full of chatter tend to fade away as the parties realize that they have very little in common outside of the workplace. Reflect on your own workplace experience when co-workers retired or found a new position in another company;   how many of your fellow colleges have you stayed in touch with once they have left?

Co-workers do need to embrace those elements that friends share such as respect and trust. These are factors that are very necessary among those who work together. … and they may be even more necessary in a working relationship than they need to be with just friends.. If you are a manager, it’s imperative that you address this issue with your people who work with you and with one another. People don’t have to be friends to get along and work with one another, In fact they don’t even have to like each other! But, they do have to respect and trust one another or the working relationship will never work.

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

Is Dressing for Success an Outdated Concept?

28 Apr

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With what I am observing in organizations today, it appears that employees are increasingly caring less and less about their appearance. To put it a little more bluntly, it seems like “dress down Friday” has become “dress down Monday thru Friday” in many organizations. This trend got me thinking about what would happen if John T Molloy’s top selling book in 1975, Dress for Success, were to hit the bookshelves today? Would it still be the bestseller that it was back in the late 70s? Would organizations actually change any of their dress codes? Most importantly, would the author’s message gain any traction and cause individuals to change the way they dress? Being pessimistic, I don’t think Molloy’s book as written in the 70s would even get considered a “must read” among today’s office workers! But why is this and why the pessimism? And what has changed in the past 20 or so years that made “dress own Friday” “dress down Everyday” in most workplace settings?

Well, for one thing the social notion of personal rights has been extended to how we dress in our workplaces. I have been told, as probably you may have, that dressing according to your own taste is your personal right. Furthermore, I think a kind of revolution erupting out of the 90s against the wearing of ties, suits, dress shirts, skirts and just about anything pressed in the workplace, has created a kind of “anti conformity” or redefined cool when it comes to dress. Ironically, nothing could be more conformist than today’s dress down climate! And, while most organizations seem to be okay with the notion of “casual dress”, few have been successful in defining where to draw the line between just plain ugly and casual.

But consider this, have you ever been overlooked for a promotion or have not been given opportunities to take on challenging and visible assignments within the organization? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then perhaps it’s time to look into the mirror.

Please don’t think I’m suggesting that dress is essential to being successful. However, try being successful without dressing well! Furthermore, I’m not suggesting that you dust off Molloy’s book either. Rather, what I am suggesting is your choice of how you dress signals an attitude that influences how others think about you. Why else do we dress up for a job interview?

No one has said anything to you about your dress? That’s not surprising.  In today’s politically correct atmosphere, where there is a heightened sensitivity to anything negative, bosses and colleagues are most likely not going to say anything for fear of hurting your feelings or infringing on your sacred “personal rights”. So, rather than take a risk, it’s easier for them to say nothing at all.

One thing is for sure; don’t think that poor dress is going unnoticed. Sounds a little over the top? Well, think about this: if you subscribe to the idea that a cluttered desk equates to a cluttered mind, then what’s the corollary to someone who dresses in a careless and sloppy way?

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

“Personal Responsibleness”: The All-important Active Ingredient In Personal Responsibility

29 Feb

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Part Two: Personal Responsibleness vs. Personal Responsibility

If you have been watching the news at night, as I have, you may have heard from some reporters and politicians, alike, the argument that our citizenry needs to take more responsibility and rely less on handouts from the government. Similarly, a few of my clients have complained to me about how their employees need to take more initiative. While the sources are very different, what they have to say has a lot in common. When you combine the need for initiative with that of responsibility you come up with personal responsibleness. Perhaps, personal responsibleness, which is in the dictionary, hasn’t typically been in use because it’s quite a mouthful. However, after repeating it several times, it begins to roll off your tongue.

What is personal responsibleness and how does it differ from responsibility?

Personal responsibility is something that we take, or is given to us. In contrast, personal responsibleness is a state of being. It describes a characteristic that engenders an inherent competence and trustworthiness dedicated to the maximum fulfillment of responsibilities.

Perhaps a simple example will help to illustrate the difference. A manager asks an employee to send an e-mail to notify a client of a meeting cancellation and to offer some new dates. The manager after several days hears nothing. The manager asks the employee for an update and the employee responds, “I sent them the e-mail, as you requested.” That’s an example of taking on a responsibility. Someone with Personal Responsibleness would have kept track of the e-mail request. If the client hasn’t received any word, the employee would take it upon themself to call the client to make sure the e-mail was received. Perhaps it went into the Trash folder or was blocked. After all, what’s important is not sending the e-mail but making sure the client receives the information and that a new date is established. That’s making sure the end result is achieved and a valuable difference is realized.

 

Through law and ritual, society can impose responsibilities on its citizens, but ultimately it’s those citizens who must discipline themselves and adopt personal responsibleness if laws are expected to be followed. Fulfilling responsibilities entails just doing specific things for others. With personal responsibleness, when individuals are given or assume a task, they look not only at how they can fulfill the responsibility but also, how they can use their energies and personal expertise to ensure the result and make a valuable difference.

Personal responibleness is a characteristic that defines one’s being. Hence, taking initiative, where one accepts the power or right to do something, falls right in line with the person who operates with personal responibleness. The reason is because the motto for those who operate with personal responsibleness is, “it’s up to me to make things happen … unless that is made impossible by circumstance beyond my control.”

If you are reading this blog while spell check is on, you may have noticed that spell check wants to delete the word “responsibleness” and regards it as non-existent. Well, as a manager or supervisor or someone with responsibilities, you must make it not only exist, you must make personal responsibleness a key part of your working vocabulary. So, in today’s times, in addition to giving people responsibilities, what’s needed if we want the best results is personal responsibleness. It’s time for this word to enter into our dialog because we want people to take initiative and we want people to look not only to themselves, but to family, community and place of work to strive to add value.

For a more in-depth look at Personal Responsibleness see Chapter Three of my book On the Edge and In Control.

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

A New Position? Some Tips for Getting a Head Start Toward Success

16 Feb

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image21661599You’ve just accepted a new position in a different division within the organization you have been working in for the past few years. Even though the company goes by the same name, from your point of view it might as well be a different company because all the players are pretty much unfamiliar to you. In fact, the only familiar link you have to this new environment is your new boss – and you barely know her. She’s the one who personally approached you about the job. She impressed you as someone you could easily get along with and the job responsibilities fit well with your competencies. One critical factor in accepting had to do with a lesson you learned from a mentor awhile back – he urged that the best way to “reset yourself” is to leave your current job. Your desire to hit the “reset button” reached a critical point when your husband put his foot down and said you can’t keep going at the pace you’ve been running. Up until this point, traveling was a constant, as was putting in 65-70 hours a week. On weekends, you were moody and glued to your laptop. Rather than argue with your husband’s forceful so-called “request”, you agreed. So now you’ve made the grand leap to change jobs and bring some balance into your life. To make sure you get off to a successful start while resetting yourself to a more reasonable work schedule, here are 4 tips to keep in mind:

 1. Secure Some Quick Wins

Remember, at the start of most any job there’s an implied honeymoon period where you have a little extra time and leeway to make things happen; so, take advantage and use your time wisely. One way to successfully position yourself to identify some quick wins is by interviewing all the key people you support. Ask them, as one successful manger did, the following question – “What is one thing that’s within the framework of my role that I am in control of doing that would be of greatest help to you over the next 30 days?” Write down what they have to say and remember to reconnect with them when you have fulfilled their request.

 2. Don’t Be Too Quick to Draw Conclusions

In your effort to get up to speed in a new job, it’s not uncommon for us to jump to conclusions about what the issues may be only to find out later that we misread what was happening around us. Don’t fall into this trap. One manager, who recently started a new job, avoided that tendency by deciding to keep a daily log that chronicled his observations about people and issues. Each day he would write down his thoughts about the people he needed to support and work with. He also had a separate section that identified pressing problems and potential longer-term issues. As a word of caution here: since this diary reflected his candid thoughts, he felt it was best to journal his ideas at home – just to keep on the safe side! Each week he would summarize his thoughts. To his amazement, he found that many of his initial conclusions about people and issues were totally inaccurate or had to be modified. Explore whether using an approach such as this may prove to be helpful for you. To be successful, you need to accurately read the work environment.

 3. Be Aware of the Expectation You Set in the Eyes of Others

If you demand perfection in everything you do from the onset, others will come to expect that level of performance from you all the time. Is that the reputation you want to create? By no means am I suggesting that you slack off or do mediocre work. Rather, you want to discriminate between when you need, want to, and have the time to go beyond what is required and when you can get by with simply meeting expectations. Use your time wisely and assess carefully the priority you assign to each task. The ultimate control lies with you – so take care to focus your energies on what counts regarding the success of the organization’s objectives as well as your own objectives

 4. Manage the Number of Hours You Work Each Week

In most cases, success is based on results, not long hours. Gaining some insights into what success looks like in your new role may be something you can and should clarify with your boss. You might even consider having a similar discussion with those individuals you support. It’s about reading the culture of your organization that can be important. For instance, is there a culture of expectations that includes responding to emails after work hours or over the weekend? This is something to address early on with your boss, peers, and staff in an effort to keep from being surprised on Monday morning when your boss or team says, “We didn’t hear from you regarding the home office request for budget cut ideas.”

When taking a new position, the idea should always be to move from something to something. Using these tips will help ensure that your new career moves in an upward direction to something even better!

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).

Manners Still Matter in the Workplace

9 Jan

Manners During the holiday cocktail party where I was mingling with other colleagues, the subject of what is going on regarding manners in the workplace, or more accurately…the lack thereof, came up. There seemed to be a majority of consensus among these colleagues of a noticeable decline of standards related to simple social etiquette that not too long ago was expected of people. Among the examples bantered around were how their peers didn’t return phone calls and emails and how just these two things alone contributed to disruptions in the ability to get work completed on time. Rather than spending valuable time chasing these recalcitrant types down, many of my colleagues opted to do the work themselves or go it alone when it came to making decisions. Not willing to settle for calling such behavior as just “bad manners” most agreed it was better characterized as shear rudeness that exemplified a sort of selfish disrespect or, at the least, uncaring attitude on the part of such non-responsive culprits. It was also agreed that just as similarly guilty are an increasing number of coworkers who all too often arrive late to meetings and cause others to accommodate them by reviewing what was said in their absence. Those were mentioned as the bigger disruptive and rude offenses that seemed to be increasing in frequency.

A few of my colleagues who are consultants piped in with other experiences they felt were kind of new in regards to what they observed in the past. In visiting other companies or other departments in their own organization, they have begun to notice an absence of what-use-to-be a sense of welcome. Oftentimes, upon meeting others they have to ask the names of the people they don’t know rather than have a familiar intermediary introduce them. In an unfamiliar setting, they have to awkwardly ask where to hang their coat, get a drink of water, or sometimes where they should sit in a meeting. Politeness is something many of these colleagues never considered to be an elective option. It had always been an expectation! Everyone chimed in with agreement of how there seemed to be an increasing shortage of “thank you’s,” “pardon me’s”, and “may I’s (as in “May I get you a coffee? Tea? Hang your coat? Offer you a Kleenex?” etc., etc.) This quickly led to the topic of giving employees holiday or birthday gifts. Many of them confessed having never received any “thank you” notes from their respective employees or any feedback as to whether or not they enjoyed, liked, or successfully used the gift. I could go on – from failing to open doors, to the rudeness associated with indulging with one’s smart phone during meetings, to not picking up after oneself at the conclusion of meetings– but I’ll stop here.

What’s important to note as this new near gets underway is how nice it would be if everyone we come in contact with at work made a resolution to simply return phone calls and emails by the end of the day – or at least within 24 hours. Making that one small change doesn’t require the adoption of a new corporate policy, nor will it cost the company any money. It’s just making a commitment to our fellow workers to be helpful and respectful and show a tad sense of “manner awareness”. More than any gift can do, it’s showing kindness and caring that keeps on giving throughout the year!

Deb Bright, Ed.D., is founder and president of Bright Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm devoted to enhancing performance. Her roster of clients includes Raytheon, Marriott, Disney, GE, Chase, Morgan Stanley, and other premier organizations. She is also a best-selling author. Her newest book is entitled The Truth Doesn’t Have to Hurt: How to Use Criticism to Strengthen Relationships, Improve Performance, and Promote Change (AMACOM Books).
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