General discussion

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #2192923

    In the Workplace

    Locked

    by Michael Kassner ·

    blog root

All Comments

  • Author
    Replies
    • #3132832

      In the Workplace

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      This blog will be about workplace issues. I will talk about some of the trials and tribulations–some very odd, some seemingly mundane–that have befallen me as a manager of people and as a cog in the big ole corporate wheel.

      http://techrepublic.com.com/i/tr/cms/bio/toni_bowers.jpg

    • #3093665

      Boxers or briefs?

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      Nothing prepares you for people management. You can take courses or read books, but nothing can prepare you for the real experience. That’s because you’re dealing with people and people are unpredictable.

      I once managed a team of people who wrote about computer technology. I had four co-managers who led similar groups but had different areas of concentration. One area in particular included the developer newsletters, which a colleague of mine was in charge of. One day this colleague knocked on my door, looking quite shaken up.

      He’d gone in to talk to one of his writers. He tapped on the guy’s office door, heard, “Come in,” then opened the door. And that’s when he saw the writer busy typing away at his desk WEARING NOTHING BUT HIS UNDERWEAR.

      For those of you who missed that the first time: WEARING NOTHING BUT HIS UNDERWEAR. You know, I’m not sure what Miss Manners would recommend in such a situation but my friend was, understandably, speechless. What, exactly, is the right thing to do in a situation like that? (Besides a spit-take, that is). Do you put on the greatest poker face ever and go ahead and ask the question you came to ask? My friend could do nothing but stand there until the developer broke the silence with, “Well, it’s hot in here.”

      OK, let’s say it was hot in there. Let’s say his office was located on the surface of the sun. Would that really give a normal person the idea that it was OK to work in his underwear? I think not. And if you think you could have handled the whole thing smoothly as a manager, well then, my hat is off to you. (But only my hat!)

      My point is, books and classes can’t possibly predict all the behaviors and situations you will encounter when you lead a group of people. And what’s really sad is that I have more stories like this.

      • #3093632

        Boxers or briefs?

        by beth blakely ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        Your point is well made, but I simply must know… How did the manager handle the situation?

      • #3092200

        Boxers or briefs?

        by Michael Kassner ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        I think he had a gentle talk with guy and told him the office wasn’t “clothing optional.” I didn’t hear of any more incidents so I guess it took. 

      • #3253304

        Boxers or briefs?

        by jebrant1 ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        Your point is well made, but I simply must know… Boxers or Breifs?

      • #3253199

        Boxers or briefs?

        by gsg ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        Captain Underwear should have been fired immediately.  If a female had walked in, and been offended, you are looking at some serious harrassment issues.

        We had an HR director that would come to work on the weekends in her pajamas and house slippers, complete with bed head.  She would do interviews for a new Chief Nursing Officer, Doctors, etc.. that way.  She left soon after.

         

        If you have more stories, then you should write a book!  I’d read it!

      • #3254550

        Boxers or briefs?

        by bfilmfan ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        Did he think perhaps he worked for Playgirl? 🙂

      • #3254494

        Boxers or briefs?

        by cln ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        One wonders what other errors in judgement the “nothing but his underwear” wearer makes in a day.

        I once interviewed someone, who when asked how he handled a situation where he and his boss disagreed, replied “I went home for three days.”

      • #3080615

        Boxers or briefs?

        by m.smith ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        My mother always told me to wear clean underwear.  Now I know why.

      • #3252465

        Boxers or briefs?

        by mckinnej ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        I will never forget the first “people” problem I encountered when I became a functional manager. I had been a supervisor for several years and had dealt with some uncomfortable issues such as personal hygiene, but nothing had prepared me for this one.

        One of my senior people asked to discuss a problem with me. He gave me no indication about the topic, so I was completely in the dark. We found a private spot and sat down. He bulrted out “My wife doesn’t want to have sex with me.” I was flabbergasted. Once I managed to get my composure back, I was able to tell him to seek out some marriage counseling because his problem was way out of my realm of expertise. I’ve encountered a vast array of personal problems since then ranging from infidelity to drug use to suicide, but none of them has had the impact and shock of that incident.

      • #3252416

        Boxers or briefs?

        by sandra ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        When I worked in the IT department for an interational sports shoe & clothing manufacturer, my co-worker with whom I shared an office often played basketball over his lunch hour in the parking lot with other employees. Prior to playing, he would change into his shorts & a t-shirt at his desk. When he returned, he would strip, towel off and change into his work clothes along with a fresh pair of underwear. I’m a woman, I wasn’t offended and to call it harassment…well, if I would have watched him….maybe. My point is this–we’re all human beings. We see people in bathing suits, naked, etc. Just tell the guy to put some clothes on and get over it. Go to Wal Mart and buy him a $5 fan if you don’t want to see him in his underwear again. 

      • #3252382

        Boxers or briefs?

        by osullivan_j ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        It was definitely not appropriate to strip down to underwear during work hours, (unless you are a model) but I can sympathise if it was genuinely hot. In my first year of employment as a Computer Operator, during an extremely hot summer, the air conditioning in the computer room broke down during a night shift and the temperature came within a few degrees of causing a shutdown. I was not anymore comfortable, but luckily I had my sports gear with me and spent the rest of the shift in just a pair of shorts.I changed back to regular clothes before the day shift arrived and no-one was the wiser.

      • #3252347

        Boxers or briefs?

        by metilley9 ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        Was this a private or public company?  There is a lot more leniency in a private company than a public one.  I think the best way to prepare for a “people management” job is with a people degree, like Psychology.  Management courses don’t even come close and are open to individual’s prejudices and personal phobias.  I once worked at a company that seemed to out do themselves when it came to “casual dress”.  Some of the younger females wore nothing above the waist and some of the younger guys wore G-strings.  Of course this was for a private audience behind closed doors.  Once they achieved their (private) applauses they changed their clothing back to casual or business-casual dress.

        No one likes working for a “stuffy” or “stuck up” boss.  If employees cannot “goof off” from time to time, they will not be productive.  I would like to see what happens within the private areas of Yahoo and Google.  They might not strip, but I bet they have fun.  If employees cannot express themselves, they will go where they can.  If that happens, you’ve just lost some valuable talent and you have gained a negative check-mark against you for future hirees.  Bad news travels a lot faster than good news!  If your company is known as a “fun place” in which to work, you will have talented people knocking at your door!

        A lot of “people management” is common sense and a lot of it requires the knowledge of (Microsoft) Project and Visio, but rarely more than that.  The companies that require their managers to be bastards, play golf with the company cronies, and be old-fashioned ogres that strike fear in employees are the ones that will get crappy, no talent people.  The ones that teach employees to be themselves, be happy, train them in new skills, take them to dinner for jobs well done, and greet them with a hearty “Good Morning!” and a smile, these are the ones that the CEO will remember.  The bottom line will prove it every time.

      • #3254660

        Boxers or briefs?

        by slap_shot_12 ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        We actually had something of a similar situation here. We hired a new receptionist who was very friendly, but after a few weeks her productivity dropped dramatically. She was still friendly when people came in (her desk is right by the front door) but she didn’t seem able to get anything else done.

        Then one day someone happened to sneak up on her, and noticed that she was surfing porn. We talked to her about it, but then later went and checked her computer. That was why she wasn’t getting anytyhing done. All day, right at the front of our office, she was surfing porn.

        And, in case you’re wondering:

        1. She was fully clothed while doing it.

        2. She was fired the next day

      • #3253471

        Boxers or briefs?

        by wordworker ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        I worked there and remember this story well. It was a privately held company.  To the poster who implied it’s okay to strip down like that and the manager should buy the person a fan – get a clue. The dress code was super-casual. The person could have worn shorts, sandles, and tank top. 

      • #3253396

        Boxers or briefs?

        by psifiscout ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        Casual dress works for me…I sometimes come to work in running shorts and t-shirt.  The boss once asked about that and wanted to know why I was not in “Business Casual”.  I replied “Because Dockers and Polo Shirt are not the right clothes for crawling under desks running CAT-5 cable.  He agreed, lather that day he came in wearing hiking boots and bush shorts (and a Polo shirt, just to keep “Business Casual”).  

      • #3091527

        Boxers or briefs?

        by ijusth1 ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        metilley I would love to know where you worked allowing that kinda of casual dress 9or undress LOL).  Sign me UP

      • #3102699

        Boxers or briefs?

        by goran ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        Well people are people, and the first thing to get over is that not everyone agree with your managerial expertise and so forth. The next thing to get on terms with is responsibility. And not everyone elses, that is. Start with yourself, try this one: “This embarrassing and/or unproductive incident happened on MY department, under MY administration.”

        This is where to start… am I as a manager sending the right signals, am I consistent in my demands? Am I clear to my staff?

        It is always easier to look at the things that occured rather than the absence of management actions, policies… yeah you get the picture.
        And we need to put things into context… if this underwear guy is doing fine while dressed, why not see it as a laugh…. Its easy to goof out… and you remember the people that forgave you rather than fire you.

        One more: This incident has to be handled i two steps. First…well react as you do as a human being surprised/chocked. Next…decide a meeting with the employee and think through exactly what you need to communicate as professional and boss.

        I whish I had come to think of all this all by myself, but this is experience shared to me by a very senior and very successfull industry leader I happen to know.

        GP

      • #3102698

        Boxers or briefs?

        by goran ·

        In reply to Boxers or briefs?

        Well people are people, and the first thing to get over is that not everyone agree with your managerial expertise and so forth. The next thing to get on terms with is responsibility. And not everyone elses, that is. Start with yourself, try this one: “This embarrassing and/or unproductive incident happened on MY department, under MY administration.”

        This is where to start… am I as a manager sending the right signals, am I consistent in my demands? Am I clear to my staff?

        It is always easier to look at the things that occured rather than the absence of management actions, policies… yeah you get the picture.
        And we need to put things into context… if this underwear guy is doing fine while dressed, why not see it as a laugh…. Its easy to goof out… and you remember the people that forgave you rather than fire you.

        One more: This incident has to be handled i two steps. First…well react as you do as a human being surprised/chocked. Next…decide a meeting with the employee and think through exactly what you need to communicate as professional and boss.

        I whish I had come to think of all this all by myself, but this is experience shared to me by a very senior and very successfull industry leader I happen to know.

        GP

    • #3253204

      I hate suckups

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      As I’ve mentioned before, I worked alongside several other middle managers at a former company. We were generally cooperative with each other, armed with the knowledge that we all had the same goal–to make the company successful. And we were successful. About five years into my tenure we were purchased by a big company who kept everyone on staff, including the executives who were instrumental in making sure our culture stayed the same. Three years after that we were not so lucky. Our founder moved on to other things, and we were purchased by a company whose ultimate goal, unbeknownst to us, was to move our headquarters from a nice little city in the South to a dismal, decaying frozen tundra up North (but I’m not bitter or anything). All 155 employees were offered jobs in the new location, only three people accepted. The company was forced to scramble to fill all those positions–underestimating our expertise–and then to quickly train the new folks. The once-vibrant company died a quiet death about nine months later. The guy behind the relocation plans fared better, landing gently elsewhere with the help of his golden parachute.

      Before the sale, we’d truly been a happy, though not-so-little family, run by a company president who was like a father figure. After the second sale (but before we knew about the planned change in location), and with our boss pursuing other interests, we underwent a transition. This happened because our old owner knew all of us pretty well, our strengths and weaknesses both individually and collectively. The new owners didn’t. So when they would fly in for meetings, my former colleagues became like first-graders desperately competing for the attention of the teacher; so in need of “validation” by the new powers that it was, frankly, nauseating. Our meetings went from fertile idea-sharing times to “Hey, look at me! Look what I’ve done!” Gone was the cooperation between teams. It was replaced by a race between groups for who could come up with the innovation that would catch the attention of the new bosses, and whose lips could reach the posterior region of the bosses the fastest. It was enough to make Eddie Haskell hang his head in shame. And, sadly, hardly anyone was concerned with actually “minding the store.” The ultimate irony, of course, was that all that grandstanding was ultimately wasted.

      Because of that experience, I hate workplace grandstanding and all the jockeying for position that goes with it. I know that career experts tell you that it’s necessary to toot your own horn now and then but I don’t think that means indulging in obvious bootlicking. I think it’s unseemly and immature and it sacrifices the teamwork that makes truly great companies work. But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?

      Want to see who’s next On the Soapbox? Find out in the Blog Roundup newsletter. Use this link to automatically subscribe and have it delivered directly to your Inbox every Wednesday.

      • #3254598

        I hate suckups

        by jamesrl ·

        In reply to I hate suckups

        One of the attractions of my current position is that I have fairly easy access to the higher ups. Of course there is a downside to it too.

        I was once given a hard time on my team (mentioned to my boss in a skip level) when I fixed the  head honcho’s computer. Now I have seen my own team members fixing their work friend’s computer and said nothing. I know everyone, including myself, works more than 40 hours and if we do the odd favour, no problem.

        But I don’t suck up. The last thing you want is the reputation of someone who goes in to waste time. I go in, make my point or ask my question, and get out. We do have occasion to get together for dinner and those are the occasions to make small talk.

        Deeds speak. My senior management doesn’t want to hear my ideas, they want my plans and they want to see me achieve. If I was a new boss, and came into an org full of those types, I’d be not at all pleased. I think I would be renting Glengarry Glen Ross.

         

        James

      • #3080606

        I hate suckups

        by apotheon ·

        In reply to I hate suckups

        I suck at office politics, and it hasn’t been the most positive influence on my career. Luckily, I can get by with things like knowledge and ingenuity. I find office politics so thoroughly distasteful that I’d rather have a career cleaning toilets than have to support my current career with sucking up, anyway. I’m with you: suck-ups suck.

      • #3253556

        I hate suckups

        by jamesrl ·

        In reply to I hate suckups

        Well define office politics.

         

        One of the things I’ve learned, sometimes painful lessons, over 20 years is that if there is bad news, I should make sure that a) my boss hears it from me first and the b) I present him/her with both the bad news and the information about how we will fix it. This isn’t sucking up in my opinion, but some more isolationist types might think so, and it does make things go better. In the vast majority of situations like this, get to your immediate supervisor first – if they direct you to take it higher, go ahead, if they don’t leave it alone.

         

        My management style and the style of those I work with around here is not friendly to suck ups. We are all busy and we don’t have time for games. M\y boss’ boss will ask me  – what do you need from me – if the answer is nothing, then don’t bother me is the implication. Games players get shown the door(or become salespeople).

         

        James

      • #3101856

        I hate suckups

        by sara morgan rea ·

        In reply to I hate suckups

        I agree about suckups being completly unecessary components of the corporate world. Unfortunatley, there are too many people that truly beleive their worthiness is directly related to how much they can “play the game”. I hate that crap! I hate it so much, that I bailed. I quit. I left a very easy and well paying position in which I was not expected to do overtime or management, but earned a managerial salary.

        Why did I leave such a seemingly “great” job. Because, it was really not that great. There were drawbacks – as there always seem to be. I was not able to live in denial anymore. So, I quit. I am now an independent author. I am somewhat poor, but VERY happy. I hang out in Coffee Shops most days, doing whatever the hell I want. I then do a 3 day gig at a company making just enough to pay the bills. I may never be rich, but I really don’t care. I am truly free and that is priceless.

      • #3103222

        I hate suckups

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to I hate suckups

        P. Gal, you need to recognize that your experience with suckups did not take place under normal circumstances. Your company had been turned upside down and shaken, you were all reporting to people you didn’t know, the future was bleak, and as a result everyone was frightened.

        Very few people do their best work under severe stress, although older American managers tend to believe that all of those people work for them. People who had spent years on Step Four or Five of Maslow’s Hierarchy, fulfilling their potential and making the world a better place, suddenly found themselves back on Step Two, fighting for survival. The way people behave under those unfamiliar–or at least long-forgotten–circumstances may tell you something about their basic character, but what it tells you may not be very useful under normal circumstances. Most of us would not fare well in a survival-obsessed Stone Age environment, which is why most of us do our best to keep civilization functioning.

        So perhaps you can find peace by cutting your co-workers some slack for the way they broke down during a nightmare and became victims of Stockholm Syndrome. And perhaps you can be proud of yourself for not reacting the same way to the pressure, since your instincts were sound and all that sucking up was indeed in vain.

        In normal times, sucking up is not quite so flagrant, disgusting, and pointless. Managers are people too and we have a better day when the people we work with treat us kindly. When we have a good day you have a good day. We like it when people are cooperative and try to anticipate what we’re going to want next.

        But we don’t like people who fawn over us and use up our scarce face time bragging, restating the obvious, or getting personal when no personal relationship yet exists. We really don’t like people who try to manipulate us, and those of us who are good at our jobs have the people skills to notice manipulation immediately. We really don’t like people who agree with us just to be agreeable, since we’re just as fallible as anyone else and can’t always be right. We really don’t like people who show no initiative because delegation is one of our most powerful tools.

        But when times are tough, those people skills warn us that our subordinates are not going to be able to cope well. They’re going to do things that they wouldn’t normally do, that will embarrass them, that will accomplish nothing or even work against them. That’s when we try to cut everybody a lot of slack.

      • #3103208

        I hate suckups

        by Michael Kassner ·

        In reply to I hate suckups

        DC Guy, You’re right about the extraordinary circumstances surrounding that time. However, I’ve seen the sucking up in various (almost as desperate) form in various places since then. In a perfect world, managers would put it in perspective as you do. But a lot of managers accept a lot of the bragging at face value because they’re not in the midst of things enough to see who’s really doing what, possibly because they’re a level or two above the staff level. And insecurity is not just bred by circumstance, it also resides inside many folks.

      • #3103173

        I hate suckups

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to I hate suckups

        So you’re saying that the mediocre managers get matched up with the mediocre subordinates. Perhaps it is a perfect world after all.  ^_^

        The single most effective thing you can do in the way of being a good subordinate who will be appreciated by your manager is one that is the least sucky but also the most difficult, judging by the number of people who simply can’t do it: If your boss tells you to leave something alone, leave it alone.

        “I know you said you don’t want us to use Firefox, but here are twenty reasons why it would make our company the industry leader…” Sometimes we’re not at liberty to share with you the reasons behind a corporate decision. We expect you to be smart enough to figure that out and mature enough to live with it. It could be that I actually don’t like the decision either, but I’m doing my best to live with it myself. Throwing it in my face at every staff meeting, or in the restroom, is not going to improve my disposition or my opinion of you.

      • #3101096

        I hate suckups

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to I hate suckups

        Line Between Cooperation and “Sucking Up

        Having been through several acquisitions, the behavior described sounds suspiciously close to the desired actions following and acquisition.

        Following an acquisition, a change in management, or any change in personnel, explicit communication is required.  With new senior management that is remotely located, the local managers must explicitly describe what is happening within their projects and at the few opertunities available to them.  Remember, the new management does not have a prior history with the project and personnel and remote management does not see the day-to-day successes and difficulties.  The local managers need to build a personal relationship with the new management.  Likewise, after an acquisition, there will likely be a change in direction.  The best thing is to get onboard with the changes.  The acquired staff does not have a prior history to offer advice.

        I was not involved in this particular environment and cannot give advice on what happened in that instance.  From general experience, however, I can advise that the best way to make an acquisition succeed is to overcommunicate, be overly polite, and commit to the new direction.  If the acquisition fails, it is always the acquired company that pays the penalty.

         

      • #3100958

        I hate suckups

        by tink! ·

        In reply to I hate suckups

        I definitely agree that suck-ups are a nuisance. Agreeably, management should take equal notice of all accomplishments or completed projects, despite any attempts to make a certain one most noticeable. In meetings, the mediator should try to keep the topics to what can we doing to make things better? And then appoint the people to get the improvements done by a certain time. Rather than have everyone trying to point out how much they currently do.

        When we have meetings here, they are short and sweet. We go over the issues that need to change. Suggest solutions. And then implement them in the next week or so. That’s how we got our whole new computer system upgrade this last year.

      • #3165652

        I hate suckups

        by prjohnson777 ·

        In reply to I hate suckups

        I completely empathise with you – it’s a really awful situation. But the terrible reality is that it happens everywhere – we’re not the only ones! However, the problem is not individuals but the workplace system that turns people into suckups….if you haven’t done so already you absolutely must read this “manifesto” Why your boss is PROGRAMMED to be a dictator” at http://www.changethis.com/19.BossDictator 

        Strangely enough our boss asked our team to read it!

    • #3254581

      Great point

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      You sum it up exactly when you say, “Deeds speak.” In other words, if you’re doing your job well, you don’t have to curry favor.

      • #3080605

        Great point

        by apotheon ·

        In reply to Great point

        Are you running into problems with suck-ups a lot lately? That’s two in a row about that.

      • #3252590

        Great point

        by Michael Kassner ·

        In reply to Great point

        This was my first blog entry about suck ups. My first was about partial nudity in the workplace. Though I guess partial nudity could be considered an attempt at getting the attention of upper management, it was not in this case.

    • #3101194

      The employee from Mars

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      I managed a large production team for ten years at a company that produced computer software how-to guides for end-users. Some of the team members were IT people, some were graphic artists, and some were copy editors. Due to the fact that this particular company liked to reorg what seemed like every three days, the personnel of my team would shift pretty often. One month I would be managing people a, b, and c and in the next reshuffle, I would be managing people x, y, and z. It could be crazy but it was like a personnel management boot camp and I never got complacent.

      One memorable management interlude happened after I hired a guy who was technically brilliant. In fact, I was so impressed with his knowledge at the interview that I somehow failed to notice that he had also apparently been raised by wolves.

      It took him roughly a nanosecond to alienate himself from everyone within a two-mile radius. He wasn’t rude or nasty but just terribly “unsocialized.” The first thing he did was install his own Mr. Coffee pot at his desk. (I explained to him about fire hazards and how there was free coffee just down the hall.) He always accepted these instructions good-naturedly, but the strange behaviors never seemed to stop. Teeth-brushing at the sink in the communal kitchen/break room. Toenail clipping at his desk. Once I explained to him that a behavior wasn’t appropriate that particular would stop. But then some other bizarre one would take its place.

      After a while, and I don’t think I’m imagining this, I started to get strange looks from other managers and employees who had to work with the guy. Looks that said, “Are you kidding me? You actually hired this guy?” However, none his behavior was actually affecting his productivity or the quality of his work. What could I do? Send him to charm school? At what point does a manager step in and at what point is it none of her business?

      Ultimately, I kept him on. One reason is because of the sheer earnestness in his approach to his job. He was always eager to do what was asked of him. The other reason is that I realized that sometimes genius comes at a sacrifice. He could be exasperating, but he could also be innovative. He could be perplexing but he could also write better than most of the other people on staff. He was not the “norm,” but then how boring would like be if everyone fit into that category?

      • #3102434

        The employee from Mars

        by steve.davis ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        You owe me a new keyboard.  I spit coffee on mine after the “clipping toenails at his desk” part 🙂

      • #3101492

        The employee from Mars

        by th7711 ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        I share the same feeling too as one of my staff is similar. He produce quality work but miss priority and only working in his lab. A few times, he almost lost contorl when someone try to interrupt his work on hand.

        Accept him or dump him is total our personal choice.

         

         

      • #3101470

        The employee from Mars

        by dilipj ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        Mostly a Warning works

        I had also come across one such developer. He was technically very sound. fast to sort out the issues, good in algorhythm, enthusiastic to work, obedient but the problem with this guy was suddenly he speak loud.., sometime sing a song, sometime eat on table and what not…

        If you tell him he will sincerely apologise but after some period will repeat again… I asked him to prepare a list of not.. to ..do acts and paste it on his computer. It was horrible to digest him after some time. Ultimately he was given a strong warning that if he don’t stop all those acts then perhaps he will loose his job without notice..

        And it worked..

         

      • #3101462

        The employee from Mars

        by djsauer ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        Here’s your hang up – I’d rather have an employee in the IT field that is “technically” sound than one that can’t do the work and is “socially” sound. True you need the right mix for the ideal employee and the environment you’re in plays a large part, but technical reliability and the ability to adjust within and environment is key. Sounds like the guy descibed just needed some good 360 evaluation to understand how other personnel view his actions and he would adapter. 

      • #3100720

        The employee from Mars

        by j.g.camp ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        I find it difficult to believe the toenail clipping part, maybe fingernail clipping, but toenail ? Perhaps the employee is good enough to git-r-done that it’s come down to nit-picking personal ticks/quirks from those that are socially adept superstars ?

      • #3100713

        The employee from Mars

        by alfriend ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        As long as he is not changing his clothes in the office in full view or other illegal things and his idiosyncracies are not causing others to lose productivity, then let him be. He is good at his work, brilliant, you said. Keep him, I say. You did not hire him to win a popularity contest.

      • #3100694

        The employee from Mars

        by carevalo ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        Everyone can exist just fine with one or two trolls under the bridge.  They serve their purpose too.  Just remember who they are and what they do…  Hide them from public view and let them do their jobs as long as the other team members aren’t socially disgusted by their habits or hate them for those habits. 

        Your only other future obstacle will be if one of the trolls ever comes up to you wondering why they are still under the bridge and haven’t been given a chance for a more glamorous position.  At that point (if you haven’t done so already) you will have to go through the delicate process of “coaching” your employee to be less crude and more controlling of his bodily functions and habits. 

        Not everyone can be the handsome prince in the fairy tale that is our careers, but everyone up front in a leadership role can and should be neat and presentable.

      • #3100690

        The employee from Mars

        by carevalo ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        Everyone can exist just fine with one or two trolls under the bridge.  They serve their purpose too.  Just remember who they are and what they do…  Hide them from public view and let them do their jobs as long as the other team members aren’t socially disgusted by their habits or hate them for those habits. 

        Your only other future obstacle will be if one of the trolls ever comes up to you wondering why they are still under the bridge and haven’t been given a chance for a more glamorous position.  At that point (if you haven’t don so already) you will have to go through the delicate process of “coaching” your employee to be less crude and more controlling of his bodily functions and habits. 

        Not everyone can be the handsome prince in every fairy tale, but everyone up front in any leadership role can and should be neat and presentable.

      • #3100667

        The employee from Mars

        by johnr ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        Technically sound (genius) or not, if the employee’s behaviors are
        distracting others from getting the job done, then it needs to be dealt
        with openly, honestly and non-judgementally. If someone’s
        personal grooming or other behaviors prevent others from working with
        the person collaboratively, it could be a set-up for more difficult
        inter-personal problems later on.

      • #3100652

        The employee from Mars

        by mwyeth ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        If you think for one minute he was bad you should work with the IT people I have to work with. The commercials on Career builder with the monkeys and Jack Ass is almost a daily thing at this place . I have to go home and drink just to forget the daily events.

         

        Mike

        San Diego

      • #3100642

        The employee from Mars

        by m19 ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        test

      • #3100633

        The employee from Mars

        by m19 ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        I have worked for a small company for the past 5 1/2 years that recently unknowingly hired my ex-wife (She went back to her maiden name and had no idea that I worked here).  The divorce was not amicable to say least.  Once I found out (she hadn’t started yet, but quit her previous job) I immediately went to my manager so that he could notify the necessary people.  I was told by the company that since we had already extended the offer and she had resigned from her previous position, that there was nothing the company could do without fear of legal actions from her.  She starts Monday!!!  Yikes.  What could have been done by the company to prevent me from having to deal with this horrible situation and the feeling I will experience walking down the hallways hoping not to run into her?

      • #3100508

        The employee from Mars

        by angry_white_male ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        When hiring, make sure it’s a team effort (the manager and someone from the team).  Helps when you have a second opinion and a different view of the person interviewing for the job.  As a manager, the new hire only works for you – not with you.  Don’t make the people who’ve been on the team for years pay the price for a new hire who isn’t working out.

        We have a programmer here who’s brilliant but a complete social misfit stereotypical nerd who doesn’t like being under the bridge.  Drives me nuts but my boss likes him (well, tolerates him).  Like most programmers, he’ll be gone within 2 years of starting here I’m sure.

        Our helpdesk guy just left for another job – nice guy, easy to get along with, dependable in that he did anything we told him to – but was dumb as a rock.  He did a good job of hiding his mess that I now have to clean up… and the stories about him are coming to the surface from my users are all negative about him.

      • #3100481

        The employee from Mars

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        M19, you’re just going to have to learn to deal with your ex-wife. It’s not that uncommon a situation and people survive it. If you’ve never had a co-worker with a more acrimonious relationship than the one you have with her, you’ve been lucky so far. There have been numerous times in my life when I would gladly have traded the person in the next cubicle for my ex.

        Something like 90 percent of Americans meet the people they end up marrying at work. It stands to reason: that’s where you spend most of our time, you’ve already got something in common, and it’s easy to progress from noticing a charming attitude in the elevator, to striking up an acquaintance, to dating when you keep running into the other person. But the downside is the same as the upside. When the relationship breaks down, whether before or after marriage, you keep running into the other person.

        You don’t say whether you met your wife at the office, but odds are that you at least met her because you’re in the same line of work since she’s coming to work with you now. Trade association, conference, class, something like that.

        It’s easier when you meet your wife-to-be in college and you have different majors. Your paths will probably never cross outside of your personal life.

        You’ll be a better person for the experience. If you really can’t see your way into this, pay for some help. Good luck.

      • #3100783

        The employee from Mars

        by see-er ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        I have known and coached technical geniuses who have gone on to CEO positions. It is about the coaching. You must focus on the mentoring. This will invariably result in better productivity and retention. If you do your job well this will move your colleague into a “sociably” acceptable position within your company. You will have accomplished your responsibilities as manager and you can take pride in delivering your geek into the hands of society.
      • #3088354

        The employee from Mars

        by rayj0109 ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        When I worked in tech support we had all kinds of characters. The toenail clipping brough up one of

        them. He was a seasoned veteran of the telecom and PC world and knew an awful lot and was an asset

        to us. Unfortunately he was a social misfit who would clean his ears with a Q-tip when you were in his

        cube talking to him. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he would clean his ears, take the Q-tip out and

        examine it. Enough to make you loose your lunch.

      • #3089688

        The employee from Mars

        by stefaan.meeuws ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        “in the genius lies the defect”

      • #3086577

        The employee from Mars

        by thibbs ·

        In reply to The employee from Mars

        We all have our quirks – those who work for us and those we work for.  We are all unique, but to what degree?  I subscribe to the theory that the smarter the person, the more quirks they have.  So why did you hire this person in the first place?  Because they could get along with anyone and everyone, or because they are technically great at what they do?  Part of being a breat manager is being able to deal with all types of people.  Don’t look at it as “how do I make him fit in”, but “how can I work with him to get the most out of his talents?”  Yes, you have to work with him to keep him within the boundaries, but are you willing to let a “technically brilliant” person go? 

        My biggest concern is with your first statement that your company likes to reorganize frequently.  If he moves to another manager, will they also recognize his talents, or just see his quirks?

        Signed, “Quirky…”

    • #3272367

      The guy who wouldn’t leave

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      What would you do if you fired someone and he wouldn’t go away? That was the case a few years ago in a company I once worked for. A guy who produced virtually nothing in the entire probationary period (six weeks) he was onboard was told he had to go. Our expectations were repeatedly explained to him, yet he just couldn’t or wouldn’t step up to the plate. I must mention that this was a company that rarely had to fire anyone so the decision was thought out long and hard. The following is the conversation that took place when he was given the news of his termination. Let’s call the employee Fred.

      After a lengthy explanation of why the action was being taken, the manager concluded with:

      Manager: So, I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go.

      Fred: Let me go?

      Manager: Yes.

      Long silence.

      Manager: You’re being fired.

      Fred: I’m being fired?

      Manager: Yes.

      Long silence.

      Fred: When you were telling me the reasons just now, I became a little clearer on what I’m not doing right. Maybe if you gave me another chance and paid me a little more, I could turn things around.

      Manager: I’m firing you and you want a raise? I don’t think so.

      Long silence.

      Fred: Can I borrow a company computer to take home and do my resume?

      Manager: No, that’s against company policy.

      Fred: I’ll bring it back.

      Manager: No.

      The manager then told Fred he’d leave him to gather his things and be back in an hour.

      One hour later, the manager walked back to Fred’s office to see how things were progressing. Fred was still seated at his desk, reading a magazine. The manager looked at his watch and reiterated that Fred should be getting a move on. Two hours later, Fred began putting a few things in a box. Same thing three hours later. Same thing four hours later. Finally at 5:00 pm, the exasperated manager, normally an unflappable guy, practically shouts “Fred, you have to leave!”

      And with reluctance, Fred picked up his box and walked out the door. These days, employees are often escorted to the door minutes after a firing. I guess this is one reason why.

      • #3088183

        The guy who wouldn’t leave

        by noo-yawker ·

        In reply to The guy who wouldn’t leave

        This is a funny story. It reminds me of more than one Seinfeld episode, all involving the character of George Costanza, who had many jobs but never quite seemed to “get it.”  

         

      • #3088456

        The guy who wouldn’t leave

        by apotheon ·

        In reply to The guy who wouldn’t leave

        Was there a red Swingline stapler involved?

      • #3267121

        The guy who wouldn’t leave

        by sctang73 ·

        In reply to The guy who wouldn’t leave

        I have a similar story to offer. This occurred in July 2003, let’s call
        the receptionist “Cathy”. She is being let go for calling in sick 3
        times on her first month, but most notably for being a technically
        handicapped airhead…

        Manager: I’m sorry Cathy, but we have to let you go.

        Cathy: (perpelexed) …

        – her face said it all – what do you mean ‘let me go’? This girl clearly had no clue what that term meant…

        Manager: You called in sick 3 times in your 1st month, and two of the
        three times were for invalid, non-critical reasons. I have no choice
        but to fire you.

        Cathy: (dejected) ok…

        Manager: Your paycheck will not cover the days you were out, but you’re paid in full for today. Do you have any questions?

        Cathy: no, I understand…

        For ~30 minutes, we left Cathy in peace to digest what had transpired,
        and to collect her belongings. For ~30 minutes, she continued to answer
        phones, take messages & etc. Finally, the manager returns and is
        stunned, seeing her “hard at work”. He walked over cautiously and
        reiterated politely that she was fired, and that she was free to go. A
        lightbulb finally lit in her head, and she finally got up and said
        good-bye…

      • #3278408

        The guy who wouldn’t leave

        by ozzylogic ·

        In reply to The guy who wouldn’t leave

        apotheon, I know I sound daft, but are you referring to the one in Office Space? I really felt sorry for that character.

    • #3090368

      No, I do not need a hug

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      It’s happened to me twice. Once I had just launched a new project after a couple of months and it was a big success. My (male) boss hugged me. The second time was when I accepted a lateral job offer in the same company. My new (male) boss, who also happened to be a friend, hugged me.

      The hugs were disconcerting to me not because I think they were sexual come-ons. They were disconcerting because

      1. I am not a hugger
      2. They would not have hugged me had I been a man

      On Point A: I am SO not a hugger. (Unless the hug comes from a loved one or a child, it’s really disconcerting to me.) Picture me as the horrified cat that Pepe LePew embraces in those Warner Brothers cartoons. I don’t even like it when people lean in close to talk to me. It’s like I’m surrounded by a metaphysical moat.

      On Point B: Those guys apparently (and probably subconsciously) thought that hugging was an appropriate response because I’m a woman. I know this because it is virtually impossible for me to picture the following scenario:

      Jim: Hey Bill, congratulations on getting your project in under budget!

      Bill: Thanks, Jim!

      Jim: So, how about a hug?

      Not likely, right? I know it’s a small thing and it’s not frighteningly objectionable. In other words, I’d be a little more likely to march over to HR if these guys had congratulated me by punching me in the face or calling me “Toots.” Maybe I’m na?ve but I think they meant well. However, I think it’s still an example of some deeply embedded thinking that affects workplace dynamics.

      • #3090344

        No, I do not need a hug

        by master3bs ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Yeah, hugging can be weird. There are many dynamics involved. A lot of it depends on the person’s disposition.

        I’m a guy, and I don’t mind hugging (with either gender), but again it depends on the circumstances and the person.  Especially with a male-male hug there has to be a strong relationship or heightened emotions (say the death of a loved one) involved.  And honestly, the relationship probably has to be stronger than it would for a male-female hug.  Is that a double standard?  No, I think it has more to do with the dynamics and comfort zone.

        Speaking of dynamics, the environment makes a big difference too.  I am a pastor as well as a tech guy.  I am much more likely to hug somebody at church (and do so regularly) than I am at the office.  Come to think of it, I’ve been in this position at the office for about 6 months and if I’ve hugged anyone here, I can’t think of it.

        I have a third part time job though; pizzeria cook/manager (yes, I’m busy.)  And there have been hugs given and received at that job.  Then again, I’ve had that job for about two and a half years now (used to be full time before I got back into tech) and there were strong relationships formed.

      • #3090308

        No, I do not need a hug

        by techierob ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        I don’t believe that a hug in a workplace is really appropriate as a “well done” gesture. Sure; there’s the argument that it depends on the people’s own personal relationship – but I think that on a general scale, people would be more prone to feel uncomforatable about the whole thing. Ive worked in the professional retail industry for the last three years and have not been hugged by my manager personally; but it so happens my mother is the assistant manager and she has snuck a few on occasions 😉

        As a guy myself, I cant follow your logic when you refer to point B. I have female co-workers; and they are all very good at what they do for the company but I wouldnt think of running up to them and hugging them for their efforts. Personally Id be more worried about my own image (i.e. the office ‘gossip’ that such an act would incur) and the always threatening harrasment suit.

        Have you actually approached your manager \ boss and voiced your concern for this action? As uncomfortable as you may appear on the outside to such a gesture; I’d bet that they’d be none-the-wiser in relation to their actions. You can always say to them ‘Just a thankyou will do…”

        I always think of the film “Office space” when I read articles like this… 😀 

      • #3084794

        No, I do not need a hug

        by jo.shell ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        I am a female, and I have other thoughts on this subject.  First of all, I am definitely NOT a hugger.  Its just not my personality.  My family isn’t huggers, and until I got married and my in-laws started hugging me I didn’t/wouldn’t even consider it. 

        With that being said, I was really surprised not only at myself but at my supervisor when we started hugging on “special occasions.”  We’ve known each other for about 8 years, but I’ve only worked directly for him for the past 3 years.  And I do have to say…I actually not only don’t mind it, but totally reciprocate now.  There’s absolutely no sexual thoughts there.  In fact, since his wife also works in the same building she’s been around during those times.  And I’m happily married as well.  So I guess I’d have to think of the benefits of hugging. 

        I think for us it has made us feel like we’re friends as well as co-workers.  I have been very fortunate that when he needs to be a supervisor, he is.  But when he needs to be a friend, he can be that also.  It has turned out to be a nice balance that I’ve not had with other supervisors.  And when I get a hug from him as a supervisor for a “job well done,” I really feel he means it and its heartfelt. 

        So that’s my experiences.  I guess for me, learning how to hug has really helped me…at home and at work.

         

      • #3084793

        No, I do not need a hug

        by justin james ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        I have to agree as well. The only time that I have seen someone hugging at an office and felt that it was not inappropriate, was when a co-worker found out that his grandmother had just died while he was on shift, and our manager gave him a hug. They were also very close as friends. I know that if I were greiving and a total stranger (or worse, someone with whom I had an adversarial relationship) hugged me, I would not appreciate it.

        My problem with hugging at the office in general boils down to the “slippery slope” of sexual harassment. I’ve experienced sexual harassment at the workplace, and I know how unpleasant it can be, particularly when the harasser is your manager. My experience has been that a harasser starts with seemingly innocent advances to test your boundaries, such as a few slightly off color jokes or maybe a manly slap on the back, and then begins to ratchet up the levels until you find yourself uncomfortable but thinking that the problem is you, not them. At some point, the back slap ends with his hand resting on your should for a moment, or comments like “I like your shirt today” have him grabbing a sleave to examine the fabric, and then these become lingering touches (I say “him” because all of my experiences with sexual harassment have been with men). After a certain point, you find yourself being outright groped; I had a manager start giving me a backrub at my desk to “cheer me up” after surviving a 50% paycut, and I never felt so embarassed, angry, or humiliated at a job before in my life. That was later trounced by a co-worker who followed the same progression, and then one day just rested his hand on my inner thigh while in a break area, while other people were around but out of their sight. I was completely mortified.

        From what you’ve described in your article, it all sounds pretty innocent, but I definitely agree with your point that he is only hugging you because you’re a woman. At the end of the day, that isn’t right, and you have to wonder what other aspects of your relationship there, such as the opportunity for promotion, raises, etc. are being influenced by his thinking that allows him to treat a woman differently then a man. There is also the issue of rumors or gossip. Even if the hugging is all there is to it, if your co-workers are aware of this, they are certain to be making a lot of nasty comments about it, which could be severely poisoning the atmosphere there.

        J.Ja

      • #3084554

        No, I do not need a hug

        by jamesrl ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Far be it to speculate on a strangers motives…..

        I’m so not a hugger either. I grew up in the country in Canada, and my ancesters passed down the “dour” scots approach to life.

        I don’t think I could see myself hugging an employee(I am a manager). Frankly I have some employees that you could not pay me to hug under any circumstances, but thats another story. Handshakes are as far as it goes. I might put my hand on a female peers shoulder – thats as far as the bonding thng goes with me. And it would be a rare occasion as I think if you do it too much it dilutes the meaning.

        I’m sure your boss is either from a huggy kind of background, or is trying to relate to you, the female, in a way he thinks you appreciate.  You need to tell him. Don’t make it a big thing, dont arrange a special meeting, but do make it happen.

         

        James

      • #3085927

        No, I do not need a hug

        by master3bs ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Wow, it looks like I’m the only hugger here at techrepublic.  🙂

        One thing that was commented on here was telling your manager that you don’t feel comfortable hugging.  I agree, especially if it happens again.  Most people want to know if they are making others uncomfortable.  

      • #3085926

        No, I do not need a hug

        by carolyn.attong ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

         

      • #3085324

        No, I do not need a hug

        by reinholm ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Odd, this seems so 80’s an issue. In my company the sexual harassment, workplace environment issues have been have been so heavily targeted that no serial hugger would survive long. The physical dynamic in my workplace limits physical contact to a handshake, and thats iffy.   

      • #3085230

        No, I do not need a hug

        by bfilmfan ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        ROTFLMAO at the Pepe LePew comment. Oh my little butterfly, we shall make zuh beautiful music together…muah..muah…muah…Ah petite, she is bashful and runs away. The chase has begun…(cue Pepe bouncing in pursuit mode theme music).

        I agree that getting a hug at the office is clear harrassment if you would prefer a lack of physical contact.

        And based on your previous blog entries, you have worked at some seriously strange places. It’s almost like a lost X-Files episode! 🙂

      • #3085177

        No, I do not need a hug

        by Anonymous ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Just one thing to say about the hugging because of a death in family and what not.  In December i got word at work that my brother had died.  If my manager had hugged me, i’d have probably punched him.  I don’t think it would be appropiate at all but I might be biased.  I’m a guy and there are only 2 living men I’d hug.  My dad, and my grandfather. Hugging isn’t really something i think is appropriate for work.  Maybe if you work for a small company and are really close to your co workers though……

      • #3086256

        No, I do not need a hug

        by markml ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        It’s interesting what everyone’s opinion on this subject is. Culturally, I think, we Americans define ourselves very much by our personal boundaries. Why do we have this distinction between “hugger” and “non-hugger”? It’s interesting that you mention Pepe LePew, because in those cartoons, the cat is American and the skunk is French.

        I don’t think it’s that unimaginable for two men to hug each other. What you’re probably least likely to see is a female supervisor hugging a male subordinate, unless she is related to them or significantly older (grandmother age).

        My only thought is that the least obtrusive way to avoid the hugs would be to initiate a handshake, high-five, or whatever else is appropriate before they have a chance to hug you. Even if they have hugged you before, I think they will catch on quick. I’m a guy, but that’s usually what I do when I want to avoid a hug. I just extend my hand for a handshake, and if the person was expecting a hug they might be confused for a moment, but generally they get the picture.

        It is quite possible that your male supervisor may be more comfortable giving you a handshake anyway. I mean, a lot of people believe that women need more hugs than men, and they may think that a simple handshake is not enough of a reward or would feel “cold” to you, where it would feel totally appropriate to a guy. If you show them that you prefer handshakes, I think they will respect that. If on the other hand, you prefer no physical contact at all, then it’s probably best to tell them directly and that will make you seem a bit anti-social (but it’d be the same if you were a guy).

        I think that every good boss is trying to balance morale as well as the possible concern over sexual harassment. Just about anything can start something that will lead to harassment, but just about every one of those small things can also be completely innocent, and I don’t think it’s worth time and moral energy looking for those things. In my opinion, what makes something harassment is not the action itself, but the meaning behind the action. Harassment is always intensionally hostile. It’s not because “one thing leads to another”, it’s because the kind of person who is prone to trying to take advantage of others is always that way to begin with.

      • #3086255

        No, I do not need a hug

        by pioneering ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        To all you out there who say “I am NOT a hugger.”

        1) I feel sorry for you.
        2) You don’t know how much you’re missing.
        3) You don’t realize how neurotic you are. See a shrink. Seriously. No, SERIOUSLY. I’m not kidding.
           Find out why you’re “not a hugger”.  You may be surprised by what you find out about yourself.
        4) Our society, in the U.S. is still suffering from Post-Traumatic Puritanism Disorder.
        5) Visit Italy or Greece. Avoid Scotland, England, and Ireland (in that order. See #4 above.)
        6) Hugging is usually not appropriate in the workplace without asking permission first.
        7) Please get over yourselves. (See #3 above.)
        8) You probably disagree with all of this.  You are wrong.

      • #3086252

        No, I do not need a hug

        by twtrout ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Are you a hand shaker? If you were well known as a hand shaker I believe that the hugging would diminish if not stop. In a professional business environment hand shaking is the norm, but some men feel awkward about shaking a lady’s hand unless it is extended toward them. Also, develop a firm (not macho) hand shake, a limp hand shake is not professional.

        Start a pattern. The next time a meeting is scheduled, arrive early and greet the other individuals as they arrive by shaking their hand and looking them in the eye as you speak. If you do this often enough there will be no more hugging. Next time a hug appears to be coming quickly extend your hand.

      • #3086244

        No, I do not need a hug

        by leigh9 ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Right! So how are you going to feel about real equality? Will your biceps handle a playful punch or two? The days of shaking hands and stiff upperlipping an emotionless “jolly good show!” are over.

        Seriously, if we are not demonstrative we are male ‘machines’ on the other side of the glass ceiling, and if we are, we are playng sex games.

        I have never hugged a woman I was coming on to….ever! I hug my daughters, my sister,  and my Mum all the time. And I have hugged men and no, I am not…

        I did however hug a female member of a squash team who, in a grand final, won her first and only game ( not match….game! ) in the entire competition. Her winning that game gave me the chance to win the grand final for our team. All I had to do was whitewash my opponent 3-0. I had the interesting outcome of being presented with the trophy and being criticised for my behaviour at the same time. If I could do it all again …nothing would change. I’d still be inappropriately grateful to the lady. It was an expression of my gratitude, not an expression of interest in her. Perhaps that was the real issue….

        So how do you communicate your enthusiasm to your peers? Hey Jude?

        Sorry, no offence but I am SO not like you…is that alright?

      • #3086231

        No, I do not need a hug

        by marcelo thalenberg ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        You wrote:

        “The hugs were disconcerting to me not because I think they were sexual come-ons. They were disconcerting because I am not a hugger”

        The question is How would they know you are not a hugger or you  don’t even like it when people lean in close to talk to me. It’s like I’m surrounded by a metaphysical moat”

        You could  express softly and carefully your feelings when appropriate to your mates to avoid future hugs.

        You also wrote:” They would not have hugged me had I been a man”.

        How could you be certified about that?This is a pre judgement.

         I am a male, working in international environments  Maybe you are right in Japan about hugs, but in the American melting pot we cannot be so sure. When you cannot avoid it, look on a different way: This person is expressing their best emotions to me and my job.Get these feeling and may be you will fell better!

        Marcelo Thalenberg

              

         

         

          

      • #3086185

        No, I do not need a hug

        by trummele ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        I think your being a little too senitive ! They probably appreciated your good work.

      • #3086176

        No, I do not need a hug

        by jaszman ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Well I’m a hugger, I hug my child more than needed, I greet my brothers and sisters with a hug, I even hug my wife when were sleeping, and all my friends, even those like you that find it physically uncomfortable, get a bear hug from me once in a while. There is nothing sexual, not even deeply affectionate, its more like a show of solidarity, a deep empathy for a fellow traveler. I hug at work people I know don’t mind and they get it, others are wound up so tightly that even if I know they really really need a hug, I’m just scared they’ll explode!

        Should you hug at work? Well yeah, if you like, if you don’t just don’t. Some workplaces are really too formal to distant, too involved with their own seriousness, but in most modern offices, it helps diffuse tension and pressure. I read somewhere that Human Beings need at least 10 hugs a day to keep a positive and healthy mental attitude.  

        As for the cultural hangup, well I don’t think I’d go so far as to say all Americans have a hangup, not really, most are open and friendly, but setting does impact expression, hell one of the biggest huggers I remember was New York Irish, another one was from Texas (this guy ususally followed with a backslap) and 2/3 of my female friends usually peck me on the cheek and you don’t see my wife going for a machete!

        Some of the most uptight people I’ve met cross cultural boundaries (they usually did not like me to begin with). My female bosses are usually more motherly, even if they are my own age, and its not as if I expect them to hug me or not but they do ocassionally, my male bosses are no different, hell I even got a hug once from an ex boss (male) known to be an ogre (rude, taciturn) and the buss it created was more on the tone of “My God, the Ogre is actually Human!”

      • #3084454

        No, I do not need a hug

        by jamesrl ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        techrepublic@….

        Are you trying to write the most offensive post imaginable? That has to be one of the most judgemental things I’ve ever read. 

        People who are “non-huggers” are people. I hug my wife and kids and often. But I do not hug co-workers or friends. It doesn’t mean I am neurotic. I don’t judge people who do hug.

        Think diversity. There is room for all kinds of people in this world. The world generally is richer for it. Except perhaps for intolerant people – and your post reeks of intolerance.

         

        James  

      • #3084435

        No, I do not need a hug

        by tbatton ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        In The American Workplace, for me, it goes like this…..

         

        I don’t like you that much anyhow – don’t touch me.

         

        No reason to go into sexual innuendo or whether it is appropriate or not.  Aside from a handshake, I do not want your flesh touching mine.

      • #3084386

        No, I do not need a hug

        by systemsgod ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        So you feel disconcerted because you were hugged? You need
        to just get over it and move on. Clearly, these two people have misjudged you
        and they should not be blamed for that. Why? If you felt that it was
        inappropriate, you only have yourself to blame for not saying so at the time,
        period. End of discussion.

        You other statements make me think that this may run deeper, though. I think
        you may have a low regard for interpersonal relationships and the team dynamic,
        and if so I am sorry to tell you that this will limit your career. You have to
        be a team player these days, and behaving towards others like a cold fish
        without warmth or substance will not get you far. Rejecting honest, friendly
        gestures such as a hug only serve to distance yourself from others. If you want
        to change, get some therapy and find out why you have a hard time reaching out
        to other people in a friendly, non-threatening, non-sexual way. Work on why you
        feel it isn?t appropriate to ever show any friendly emotions towards your co-workers,
        and, why you honestly dislike other people so much (you said you don?t even
        like for people to get close to you when they talk…sounds to me like you
        really just don?t like people in general).

        I personally went through a time like this after I was (falsely) accused of
        having a bias against a co-worker because of gender. Truth was that this person
        just didn?t know their stuff, and so I called them on it. They responded by
        lying and telling supervisors that I had an unfair bias against their sex.
        Of course the truth finally came out and I was vindicated, but, I lost respect
        for the co-workers and supervisors who didn?t stand by me when I needed them
        and so I withdrew.  I was eventually able to work through this and realize
        that it would hold back my career if I clung to this and didn?t change. So I
        did and haven?t looked back.

        You see, at my current job (and at others I have had in the past) I am
        frequently being hugged by both female and male peers as well as superiors.
        It’s just the way honestly friendly people greet each other as a part of a
        closely knit and highly productive team. I don?t think twice about it, but then
        again I don?t have any issues with who I am or with other people. In fact, if
        we ever started a meeting and I wasn?t greeted that way, I would wonder what
        was wrong.

        One last thing: you are way off base when you say that this would not have
        happened to you if you were a man. Let?s get real here: as a past victim of
        sexism myself, I will say that you are anything but a victim of sexism, and
        statements such as yours implying that sexism is “embedded thinking”
        are unfair and unjust in today?s world. Let’s leave the provocative and
        sexist statements where they belong: in the trash can and move on with our
        lives. There are too many honest people out there who are real victims of
        sexism, and comments like yours only diminish their plight.

      • #3084382

        No, I do not need a hug

        by jaszman ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Dear James:

        Actually, I read my comment over again and for the life of me I cannot see what unsettled you soo (finicky much).

        Your own admits that your upbringing makes you unconfortable huggin and handshakes is as far as you’ll go outside a well defined circle unit. This goes to show your lack of comfort with outward expresions of affection, I don’t have this problem my cirles are more extended, while I do respect your opinion, you are missing the point, we are all different. I didn’t read your comment or I’m sorry to admit many of the others I was replying to the main post, not you the main post. And again if you don’t want to hug don’t I do and I don’t hug people who are unconfortable with it and have, on occasions,  received hugs from unexpected sources.

        I don’t believe in politically correctness – You should say what you think and you should state it as clearly as possible. I did not say that you should believe what I said, I said what I believe if you don’t agree (and you obviously don’t) believe that I meant it as a commnet not a position paper, not as company policy, not as rules and regulations, Its just a comment!

        When you state that I’m being judgmental, I’m just opinionated and where you expressed such strongly your own judgment of my actions, I’m sorry but I don’t take your comments seriously, therefore I keep them in their proper perspective and don’t get offended.

        I promise I will take into account next time I express myself in a comment, if only not to offend you James, the tone and debt of my reply, but I do say dear fellow I think you need a hug! 

      • #3084322

        No, I do not need a hug

        by ryoung2 ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Normally, I am not a hugger in the work setting but as a humourous break in a rather tense good-bye scene with another male co-worker who was leaving for another position, I opened my arms wide and although a little shocked he reciprocated and we hugged and slapped each other’s back with everyone chuckling in discomfort.  It stopped the occasion from being teary.  This came after a few female to male hugs had already occurred.  I was quite comfortable with the physical comedy but many of my co-workers were not.  This leaves them guessing as to my intention which is rather funny in itself.  My supervisor often suggests a group-hug knowing that it will not occur.  I definitely would not have done the same with a female co-worker.  So there is the dichotomy.

      • #3084291

        No, I do not need a hug

        by clavius ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        I can see both sides of this. Personally, I tend to be a hugger, but only with people with whom I feel a particular bond. I’m not too likely to just give any old colleague a hug, but I do give hugs to people I consider friends–both men and women–including the ones I work with. In a work setting, I have given hugs to colleagues of both sexes, but generally only for important events or milestones, such as a death in the family, completing a particularly gruesome “death march” project (but probably not for just finishing a “regular” project), or as a farewell to someone leaving the company.

        Whether to hug or not depends, IMO, almost entirely on the individuals involved. I disagree with those who say “hugs are never appropriate in the workplace”. But I also don’t go as far as saying that non-huggers are all neurotic and should get some psychotherapy. (I might believe they’d be happier people if they did, but I’m not going to tell them what they need–it’s up to them to figure that out for themselves 🙂 People have the right to define their own boundaries, and shouldn’t be subjected to physical expressions they aren’t comfortable with.

        In light of that, the decision of whether to hug should be pretty easy: you should know whether the potential “hugee” is likely to welcome the hug or not, and act accordingly. And if you *don’t* know whether the “hugee” is likely to welcome the hug, then you probably don’t know them well enough to be hugging them.

      • #3084283

        No, I do not need a hug

        by zuzusjulz ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        I see what you are saying.  I don’t think that being or not being a hugger has much to do with it as much as how women can be seen (viewed/regarded) in the business environment by their male counterparts.  I think it could have a bit to do with how a person has been raised to view the opposite sex…women are nurturing and assumptions can be made that women can be ‘fixed’ or responded to with something nuturing/physical like a hug.  There are instances where it will be assumed women will respond to this type of action as acceptable for these reasons. Generally speaking, since women do not always play the corporate games (fit in the corporate environment) the same way men have been (since most women were raised with different expectations), it could just be that’s how some men think a woman coworker/subordinate expects to be treated. 

        I would say since we know nobody can read minds, communication is the best answer to this particular situation.  Talk to the guy and let him know what your thoughts are on this.         

      • #3084253

        No, I do not need a hug

        by x-marcap ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Hugging can be spontaneous, I have been hugged by people I have never met as the Basketball team wins at the buzzer.

        It has also been a “Goodbye forever you jerk, from a girl I loved…” I have been hugged at work by a dozen women when I have fixed systems for them.  If you aren’t a hugger, unless it was accompanied by any inappropriate actions, I’d just say that it is like when I was just hugged by a 330 pound, 6′ 7″ gorrilla for getting his excell spreadsheet back after a power outage. It is something you don’t want to experience twice… The answer is to be moving, and don’t stand still. You can hug a tree because it moves only in the wind… The deer is harder to hug.

        Sorry, just chalk it up to experience, I doubt there was anything to it,also. Don’t make something out of it.

      • #3084138

        No, I do not need a hug

        by smithwaa ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        In my opinion, the American public is hyper sensitive about what is and is not appropriate behavior in the work place. Overt sexual or racial discrimination is one thing by a hug from a coworker is quite another. We have become so dependent on our lawyers skills that interpersonal skills are nonexistent and unnecessary. If you feel that a hug from a coworker is an unwanted sexual advance then have the intestinal fortitude to vocalize it and not depend on unclear, undefined work place social mores to do it for you. He hugged me! I’m a victim, I’m a victim!

      • #3268460

        No, I do not need a hug

        by smithwaa ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        In my opinion, the American public is hyper sensitive about what is and is not appropriate behavior in the work place. Overt sexual or racial discrimination is one thing by a hug from a coworker is quite another. We have become so dependent on our lawyers skills that interpersonal skills are nonexistent and unnecessary. If you feel that a hug from a coworker is an unwanted sexual advance then have the intestinal fortitude to vocalize it and not depend on unclear, undefined work place social mores to do it for you. He hugged me! I’m a victim, I’m a victim!

      • #3268445

        No, I do not need a hug

        by trhansen ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Actually they may have hugged you anyway. I had a male professor in a religious studies course. He had served two terms in vietnam. He was a rugged outdoorsy kind of person and he played on several amature sports teams. He also could not stop himself from putting his arm around your shoulder, hugging you hello or goodbye, patting you on the back (or whatever was close at hand), or pulling you into a half-hug as he shook your hand. I also do not like physical contact and after I was familliar enough with him I told him to stop. He really tried but he reached out to touch people without thinking about it. He never took it further than a touch/pat/hug with anyone and he always remembered my dislike of touching, but only after he had already started the touch. I ended up just keeping an extra foot or two from him and he never took offense when I ducked away from his touch.

      • #3268418

        No, I do not need a hug

        by pioneering ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        For JamesRL and jaszman,

        First, jaszman, I believe that JamesRL was responding to my post, not yours.

        Now, JamesRL, you are in serious denial.  

        I stated a fact that people who consider themselves “no huggers” are neurotic.
        But I still like them, as human beings, even though they seriously need help.
        But don’t take my word for it. Check out the psychological literature.

        It’s those that need help the most who can’t handle the truth.  It’s called denial.
        No need for you to become angry.  But if it helps, go with it.  I can handle it.

        jaszman is right.  Sounds to me like someone could really use a HUG!

             ___                  ____                  ___
          ____(   \              .-'    `-.              /   )____
         (____     \_____       /  (O  O)  \       _____/     ____)
        (____            `-----(      )     )-----'            ____)
         (____     _____________\  .____.  /_____________     ____)
           (______/              `-.____.-'              \______)
      • #3267993

        No, I do not need a hug

        by rpaule ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Appropriate or inappropriate “hugging” in the workplace is an important issue but the real issue here is about preferences and comfort zones.

        As a 45yo professional male with wife, kids, animals etc (shows some form of normality I would think), who has played many team sports – Aussie Rules, cricket, ice hockey……… I find the hugging mentality boorish and a total invasion of my personal space.  I didn’t like bearhugs and sloppy kisses from well meaning people as a kid and still don’t.  I have my personal space and like to keep it that way.  I have no objection to serial huggers, providing they stick to their own kind. 

        I have a number of friends who are huggers but they know and respect my position and understand that NO means NO.  I would never report someone for this unless they persisted – although if it were a bloke – by the 3rd attempt they would face some justified physical intimidation by me.

        Surely a handshake, backslap or a well thought out comment is more appropriate.  Huggers – don’t try to feel sorry for me or my type (I live a great and fulfilling life as I am sure you do) – just give us some respect and allow us to choose our inner circle of hugging companions!  Clavius above has it spot on.

         

         

      • #3267762

        No, I do not need a hug

        by Michael Kassner ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        I just want to clarify a couple of points. I do not believe the huggers meant anything sexual or threatening by the hugs. I knew both men and knew they had no sinister motives. My point was that the hugs demonstrated a very subtle indication that some men still view women differently in the workplace. Trust me, these two guys wouldn’t be caught dead embracing another man in the office. Maybe it’s just a leftover from chivalrous times. Again, a well-meaning gesture that is evidence of differential thinking. And that’s all.

        P.S. I still have my own body space, although I didn’t know until now that I am inches close to an insane asylum because of it (but at least techrepublic@ still likes me–whew!–I was worried to death about that!).

      • #3267060

        No, I do not need a hug

        by dukhalion ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        First of all, have You told everyone at Your workplace that You don’t like hugs?

        Secondly, of course men don’t hug men, unless they are of “that other kind”. Men and women have hugged for millions of years, are You “special” in some way?

        Thirdly, what’s wrong with You, can’t You take a compliment.

        I think YOU are being sexist, not them. (Unless they started to fondle Your QQ, but only then would You have a case).

      • #3266765

        No, I do not need a hug

        by vanessaj ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Just a few things…

        First, thank you so much for starting this blog.  I was interested enough to take a look in the first place, because I am a female tech in an office full of techs with clients who are predominantly attorneys, and predominanty male (with female secretaries, of course).  And, yes, I feel the difference in almost every interaction – no kidding.  But I had no idea just how entertaining it would be and had to read every single one of the responses.  I enjoyed them all (except of course that “techrepublic@…” guy with the 1, 2, 3 list who was abrasive).  So thank you for starting it!

        Second, I am a hugger, raised by a long line of huggers.  When I see old photos of people first coming to this country, I look to see if any of them are hugging, because they probably belong to me.  I hug in my family, at my church and in my many other community groups that I attend…but not really at work.  You have to be sensitive to how people react when you invite a hug – you just can’t grab somebody (unless you have just seen one of those really splendid touchdowns live at a game with by favorite football team).  So I would say to you…and everyone else joining…

        …either feel free to open those arms and get that hug, OR put that hand out and stop him in his tracks, either way.  You do what you are comfortable with and, as long as you are not being rude or abrasive about it, folks have just got to understand that we are all wired differently.  That is just one of the simplest, most basic truths about humans, isn’t it?  Who wouldn’t agree that we are as varied as we are the same?  And respect should rule in a professional atmosphere, don’t you think?  Sometimes we just need feedback from others as to what they are comfortable with and what they aren’t.  It is easier said than done, but it can be done. 

        Good luck to you.

        Oh, and, if you really want to inform him, you can send him the link to this blog.  Have fun.

      • #3266722

        No, I do not need a hug

        by sawyerch ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        There used to be a Hug Doctor on Public Television.  Great guy, died of a massive heartattack, but taught a lot of people to love one another before he left.  If you’re uncomfortable with it then say so….or tell him(s) that they should hug guys too.  Should be good for a few laughs.  Here in western modern society we can’t handle men showing affection to other men, then wonder why men are so “unemotional”.  In the east, men walk hand-and-hand, they hung, and in some countries they even kiss in public.  But, we’re too good for that, we’re more intelligent and sophisticated than that…or are we?

      • #3267741

        No, I do not need a hug

        by vanessaj ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Just a few things…

        First, thank you so much for starting this blog.  I was interested enough to take a look in the first place, because I am a female tech in an office full of techs with clients who are predominantly attorneys, and predominanty male (with female secretaries, of course).  And, yes, I feel the difference in almost every interaction – no kidding.  But I had no idea just how entertaining it would be and had to read every single one of the responses.  I enjoyed them all (except of course that “techrepublic@…” guy with the 1, 2, 3 list who was abrasive).  So thank you for starting it!

        Second, I am a hugger, raised by a long line of huggers.  When I see old photos of people first coming to this country, I look to see if any of them are hugging, because they probably belong to me.  I hug in my family, at my church and in my many other community groups that I attend…but not really at work.  You have to be sensitive to how people react when you invite a hug – you just can’t grab somebody (unless you have just seen one of those really splendid touchdowns live at a game with by favorite football team).  So I would say to you…and everyone else joining…

        …either feel free to open those arms and get that hug, OR put that hand out and stop him in his tracks, either way.  You do what you are comfortable with and, as long as you are not being rude or abrasive about it, folks have just got to understand that we are all wired differently.  That is just one of the simplest, most basic truths about humans, isn’t it?  Who wouldn’t agree that we are as varied as we are the same?  And respect should rule in a professional atmosphere, don’t you think?  Sometimes we just need feedback from others as to what they are comfortable with and what they aren’t.  It is easier said than done, but it can be done. 

        Good luck to you.

        Oh, and, if you really want to inform him, you can send him the link to this blog.  Have fun.

      • #3267680

        No, I do not need a hug

        by aaron a baker ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        You obviously have a real problem.

        There is nothing wrong with a hug be it Male or Female.

        I know an awful lot of people and when we greet one another, or congratulate each other for whatever reason, a hug is usually involved.

        I would remind you that a hug has no meaning other than that it stands for at the moment. We’re not talking about come ons here, we’re talking camaraderie. Get the idea? and this applies to both genders.

        I would suggest that  it might be wise for you to re-assess your view of Hugs, I would further suggest that  you see them for what they really are, a symbol of friendship, regardless of gender.

        It seems to me, that it is you who cannot abide a hug because you do not know how to interpret it’s meaning or inference. I suggest that you take it for what it is, friendship, nothing more,.

        That’s why hugs are acceptable amongst men. I have hugged many ladies and also men, and I assure you it didn’t mean that I  wanted to sleep with any of them, this was purely and act of friendship. If they can’t deal with it, the problem is there’s. 

        As for me, I see nothing wrong with showing appropriate affection when the moment calls for it.

        It what makes us Human. 🙂

        Good Luck and Hugs to you. 

        Take Care

        Aaron

        PS;

        The “Hug Doctor” that the person above me refers to is;

        DR LEO BUSCAGLIA. Professor at UCLA.

        He is still sadly missed to this very day and shall always stand as one of the finest human beings that ever existed.

        Hi whole thing was, “Be Human and allow the same in others”

        If you haven’t read up on this greatman, please treat yourself and look into it.

        To this day, “Leo, I miss my hug”

        Respectfully

        Aaron

         

      • #3266538

        No, I do not need a hug

        by johnfarnham9 ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        My first regular job was in a bank – formal social contact was usual and safest.
        From a not huggy family ( not even close to huggy ) to intimacy among family – not quite THAT much intimacy thank you. Contact varied with people more than geography. Mostly I hug where it’s acceptable to the recipient : I’m not often wrong nor do I push.
        BUT
        Ladies. You are not being discriminated against. The men are because way too many of them are hung up and don’t have the social smarts God gave geese. I’ve hugged one woman who didn’t welcome it. Once. Some sex fiend. Get a grip.

      • #3266468

        No, I do not need a hug

        by marvyj1 ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        I must be different than most managers.  I have 15 women working under me and I have hugged several of those women, some many times.  Many times the hugs are initiated by them. Several have cried on my shoulder because of problems at work or at home.  I would do about anything for these people and they know it and would do about anything for me.

      • #3266099

        No, I do not need a hug

        by sql_joe ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        First, let me make it perfectly clear that I am disgusted by sexual harrasment.  That said, I am also not happy that one cannot even compliment a lady when she is dressed nicely.  We have actually made it a culturally “bad thing” to be polite.  Sad.

        All that said, in the case of this situation, I would not hesitate to say that its not sexual harrasment until you’ve specifically mentioned to those giving the hugs that you feel uncomfortable with it.  If it continues, then it is clearly harrasment because you’ve already indicated your preference.

        I generally feel the same about most of those types of sutuations.  Being a guy, I never know when I can joke with a female and treat her like one of the guys, or if I’m going to be in HR for saying “you look nice today”.  This is because some women at work joke around and some don’t, and some of those that do complain if you joke back with them!  The problem is, this means you have to wait and see what the woman does before you can safely even talk to her, out of fear of reprisal!  Heck, we’ve even been told by HR that we are not to look at female employees unless they are addressing us directly.  Part of the reason there is a problem is because we set multiple standards – people are not treated the same, and the same rules don’t apply.  Touching someone in a private place is bad behavior no matter where you are – and is thus inapropriate for work.  Complimenting someone shouldn’t be unless they’ve asked you not to.  The same standards need to be applied across the board.  Sexual harassment is wrong, but so is creating an atmosphere of fear – and hey, isn’t that a part of what sexual harrasment rules were supposed to prevent in the first place?

        One last example.  We had a female employee grab another workers personal bag one day and search it, and in it she found something she found to be objectionable.  She filed a complaint and the employee was almost fired – until it was discovered that she had searched his bag without permission, in other words, what she had found to be objectionable was kept hidden, and she had sought it out (no the other employee hadn’t even mentioned anything about what he had in his bag).  The employee was still reprimanded and had lost some pay while he was “on the street”.  She was told “don’t do it again”.  This isn’t the only situation like this I’ve witnessed – so while I think women (and men) in the workplace need to be protected – I also wish there was a way we could prevent some of those people from using those protections as a weapon – many times just because they’re in a bad mood and you happen to be the first person they find that day….or, as in the above mentioned case, the female employee was a very religious person, and the othe remployee in question was completely unreligious and therefore she found his very presence to be objectionable.

        George

      • #3268785

        No, I do not need a hug

        by tomp12 ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Yes! YOU ARE A HUGGER AND HUGGING IS APPROPRIATE AT THE WORKPLACE AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT GO BEYOND JUST THAT!

        E-mail me at tomp12@netscape.com

      • #3268779

        No, I do not need a hug

        by tomp12 ·

        In reply to No, I do not need a hug

        Do you hug your mother when she nneds a hug from you? after all, she gave you life!
        E-mail me at tomp12@netscape.com

    • #3267764

      A note from little neurotic me

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      I just want to clarify a couple of points. I do not believe the huggers meant anything sexual or threatening by the hugs. I knew both men and knew they had no sinister motives. My point was that the hugs demonstrated a very subtle indication that some men still view women differently in the workplace. Trust me, these two guys wouldn’t be caught dead embracing another man in the office. Maybe it’s just a leftover from chivalrous times. Again, a well-meaning gesture that is evidence of differential thinking. And that’s all.

      P.S. I still have my own body space, although I didn’t know until now that I am inches close to an insane asylum because of it (but at least techrepublic@ still likes me–whew!–I was worried to death about that!).

    • #3267020

      Manager versus Manager: The Smackdown

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      What do you do with legacy responsibilities after an employee makes a lateral move? I once had an employee who came to my team from another team. Things were going along swimmingly but after a few weeks, he mentioned that the manager on his former team had yet to fill his old position and still called on him to tweak and add to a database he’d worked on.

      Initially all involved had agreed that my guy would continue to help out for a short time until a replacement could be found. But here it was three weeks later, and his old manager hadn’t even begun to find someone to take over the duties. I guess she figured there was no hurry since the work continued to be done.

      I called a meeting with this manager and nicely suggested that she couldn’t expect my guy to continue to do both jobs. I thought everything was understood but two weeks later, the employee was still getting calls to tweak the database or to fix some problem. He was finding it hard to maintain both sets of duties but told me that he would continue to do so, if I “wanted him to.” Of course, that was not a good reason as far as I was concerned. I didn’t want him to keep doing most of two jobs just because he thought he would in some way get me in trouble by not continuing the work.

      I called another meeting, again with the old manager, but this time I included our mutual supervisor. I laid out the problem, including how unfair it was to expect this guy to have to do extra work past a reasonable time frame. My fellow manager countered with, “Well, if he were my employee, I’d make him do both.” In other words, I had the power–by virtue of my position on the corporate ladder–to force one of my employees to do something even if it was unfair. She was implying that I didn’t have the guts to manage a team the way it should be managed. I didn?t lack guts, I just didn’t have the need to treat my team members like they were my own little Bob Cratchetts. But was I being too easy? Should duties that further company goals come before all bandwidth issues? I then knew why they called us “middle managers.”

      Things got a little heated, with our supervisor looking on like a deer in the headlights. I reasoned that if someone is on my staff then it is my responsibility to see that he is treated fairly. The manager had had ample opportunity to find someone for the position but didn’t take the necessary steps. Ultimately, it felt like I was being too touchy-feely in my approach but the other manager was a little too like Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross. It became a matter of where to draw the line between what is best for the company and what is best for one employee.

      The result was that someone was hired within the next two weeks and my guy wasn’t called upon in the interim unless it was absolutely necessary. I’m curious to see how other managers would have handled this and what your opinion is regarding the balance between employee morale and company goals.

      • #3266942

        Manager versus Manager: The Smackdown

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to Manager versus Manager: The Smackdown

        Make a Plan Not a Power Play

        Instead of treating this a political debaote over who “owns” the employee, look at it as if it were a subcontracting arrangement.

        Ask the former manager for a schedule and resource estimate concerning how much time will be require, how frequently time will be needed, and for how far into the future this agreement will last.  Make sure the appropriate charge numbers or other corporate funding approaches are included to ensure appropriate charge backs.  Now overlay this request with your current project schedule.  Can you make the person available while meeting your project requirements and keeping the individual’s commitments to 40 hours per week (or other corporate standard)?  If so, agree to make the individual available, but all requests need to come through you.  If you cannot meet the requests, make a counter offer on how much time you can provide. 

        In the past, I have made employees available for a couple of days a quarter, irregularly scheduled.  The key is to have the other manager expicitly state his resource needs.  With that in hand, one can have a reasonable discussion either with the other manager directly or with a higher level of management, if necessary.  The key is to keep th econversation focussed on resource allocation.

      • #3267189

        Manager versus Manager: The Smackdown

        by gsg ·

        In reply to Manager versus Manager: The Smackdown

        I was in a similar situation as the person who kept getting called back.  I solved it by formulating a plan…  First, when they called, I would be busy.  A downed server was always good.  Then, I would suggest that they try XYZ fix, or call the support line for that product, or RTFM (but in a nicer way).  I would then assure them that I would put them on my list of things to fix, and I would get to them as soon as possible.

        Several hours later, usually at the end of the day, I would call back and let them know that their number was up, and that I would be able to assist.  After a couple of weeks, they had hired my replacement.  The key is that you have to be able to prove that you are working on something more critical, or at least their problem is not so critical that it deserves to be put at the top of the list.  This takes support from the user’s new manager as well.

      • #3266176

        Manager versus Manager: The Smackdown

        by apotheon ·

        In reply to Manager versus Manager: The Smackdown

        Wayne hit the nail on the head for how to handle it if simply reasoning with the other manager doesn’t work. It sounds like you got things handled, and did so without becoming a problem child yourself, but if your approach hadn’t worked you might have tried the bureaucratic approach as Wayne suggested.

        You definitely shouldn’t have just forced the poor guy to do the work. Not even for “the good of the company”. Creating untenable working conditions for your employees is a good way to lose good employees, thus ultimately harming the business more than just saying the other manager can’t use your guy. Even if the employee in question isn’t one of your best, if the better workers see how you treat your people when you’re working them to death, they’ll start looking for other jobs rather than become the next poor schmuck to get mistreated.

      • #3266175

        Manager versus Manager: The Smackdown

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to Manager versus Manager: The Smackdown

        You did fine. We all say we would have handled it a bit differently, found a way not to ruffle feathers, made a better impression on the boss, yatta yatta. But we weren’t there.

        I’d say your biggest problem is your relationship with your boss. Either you didn’t keep him up to date on the problem, in which case shame on you, or else the guy is useless in dealing with staffing problems, in which case he should never have been appointed to a management position.

        I can say flatly that I would have handled things differently if I were in his position. If you had been putting up with this for all this time and not telling me, and then I got blind-sided by it in a meeting, I would have expressed my displeasure with the fact that I seem to have a dysfunctional group of subordinates on my hands. If I were aware of it, if you had been doing your best to solve the problem and it wasn’t working, then at that point it became my responsibility. You would not have had to call the meeting. Maybe I could solve the problem for you or maybe we would just have to live with it, but you would not have to be creative and guess what to do next.

        And yes, touchy-feely is okay. You have to give respect and loyalty to get it.

    • #3266092

      To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      Most companies have their share of employees who like to complain.

      At one company at which I was a manager, we had a small cabal of malcontents that constantly moved about with dark clouds of bitterness over their heads. These people could find something wrong with anything–management, their co-workers, the vending machines, you name it.

      In group meetings, these people would exchange looks, murmur to each other, or just smirk at random. It was very disconcerting to be delivering a presentation and be able to see two people passing judgment on you. It was passive-aggression at its best/worst, sort of like tripping over something in front of a group of high school girls. But no matter how many times we approached these people directly, we could never get any useable feedback. All we’d get was a bunch of blank faces and denials that there were any problems.

      Now there are a couple of dynamics going on here. First, some people are just pessimists who get (what passes for) joy from finding fault with everything. Maybe it’s a result of low self-esteem–tearing down others somehow builds them up. It could be a result of too much self-esteem–nobody can possibly live up to their standards.

      It could also be that management is truly making mistakes. But even if your company management is the Larry, Curly, and Moe of the business world, you gain nothing by talking behind their backs. Thoughts, even hateful ones, do not magically make their way across the room into the consciousness of other people. Management, or anybody else for that matter, cannot mend mistakes unless they know what they are to begin with. Maybe I speak for myself, but I would much rather someone come to me directly and tell me about a problem (no matter how awkward or painful the encounter is) instead of ridiculing me behind my back and letting the problem fester. I realize that there is the fear of reprisal or that your manager will hold your words against you. But there are ways to state things where the blow is not as visceral as a dismissive eye roll from the back of the room.

      • #3074859

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by dapearls ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        You make some good points regarding people who are malcontents and who just like to complain for the sake of complaining.  My company is loaded with them.  The saying is, “Don’t just come with a problem, have the answer too.” 

        As for the people that berate or belittle others, my opinion is that they get very little respect outside of the workplace and therefore have to use their authority to make up for it.  YOU just have to be stronger than they are.

        However, when there are management issues, sometimes it is difficult to get someone to listen.    Management should be able to get a feeling for the overall mood of the office.  If it is perceived as being foul, something is obviously wrong.   Furthermore it should be addressed succinctly.  Not with half baked corporate initiatives but with real, upfront solutions.  How many of us believe that Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) has somehow found a job in the adjacent office and is writing about the company or that the movie Officespace is actually based on things that happen in your particular office?  Obviously there are common issues in all companies.

        A challenge for upper management is to actually do what they proclaim.  Don?t pass out coffee mugs when people are complaining about work.  Don?t ?think outside the box? or ?shift your paradigm?.    Remember that you were once amongst the ?common? people and understand their feelings and issues. Actually do something.  Address the issues.

      • #3075104

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by bschaettle ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        I really HATE to generalize, but I’ve been out in the workforce for over 25 years, and after observing many, many managers of both genders I’ve decided that women seem to have a need for all of their employees to be happy.  Y’know what?  That is never going to happen.

        Look at your first sentence — I agree completely.  The simple fact is that every company has employees who genuinely like to complain.  But it’s not your job to make them happy.  Just make sure they do their job.  If their attitude or behavior is destructive and impacting company profits, counsel them a few times, issue a written warning, and then let them go.

      • #3075031

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by bravof ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        The Manager of my Department constantly says one thing and means another. When  I or a co-worker try to let him know this was incorrect he ignores us completely. He is generally sarcastic and considers this attitude to be humorous.

        I have repetedly tried to engage my Manager in constructive conversation with possible solutions to obvious problems, and received blanks stares and sarcasm in return. This situation does NOT mean I complain or bemoan my fate. I have learned to work around my Manager and continue to work to the best of my ability. I do this not for Him, but for me and the high work standards I have set for myself.

        It would be great in an Ideal World to have an open and constructive dialog with Management, but after working over 17 years as a professional, I have yet to find it. I have found the general attitude among Managers I have worked for is that they would rather look good than actually do a good job. They majority have had a “I paid my dues, now it’s you turn in the barrel.” attitude. You know what they say, ” **** rolls downhill.”. I guess in the final analysis, we all have to grin and bear it.

      • #3075025

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by Michael Kassner ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        I agree completely with bravof. In the case I described, I was apparently not the problem. The case was more with general company policies. My team members knew they could have come to me to talk about the problem with no recrimination, but chose not to. And I’ve also co-managed with the “I’ve earned my spot, now it’s your turn in the barrel” folks. One even called his staffers “subordinates.” Drove me crazy.

      • #3074987

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by skicat ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        I have caught myself pulling the bitch and moan game at times. When I do, I stop and ask myself “What would I do to fix the problem”, and that is what I present. I have done a fair job with instilling that philosophy with my team. If you see a problem with a process, don’t just complain, come up with a solution. Your solution may not be feasible (costs/time/resources) or it may just not be implemented but at least you are offering a solution and not just pointing out the problem.

        Also, no matter what you do, there will always be people who prefer to bitch instead of solve. I try to keep an open ear to them because there are times where the complaint is not just people being negative… there is a true problem. The key is to identify what is real and what is made up.

         

      • #3074938

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        Let me provide a couple of different tactics that might prove helpful.

        If, during a presentation, one or more people appear distracted or are distracting, ask “Oh, do you have a question?”  This is best done as innocently and as naively as possible to allow everyone to save face.  A second infraction, however, can be dealt with more directly, “If you have other business to discuss, please step outside.”  An adult should be able to sit through an hour presentation while paying attention, and a presenter needs to keep control of the meeting.  This is only fair to those who are interested in the topic.

        As a manager, I have rarely found that an “open door” policy is effective in improving communications; usually more direct means are required.  The manager is in the more powerful postion, so he must make a point of seeking out information from staff.  (Aside, this is the meaning of subordinate.  The term is not a pejorative, merely a reflection of actual standing.)  In staff meetings, ensure each person has a chance to speak, but do not be afraid of cutting off the long winded.  Actively delegate tasks, but insist the staff members complete the work.  Do not be martyr and pick up the parts they do not want to do.  Try to have coffee breaks or lunch with staff on occassion.  This may be uncomfortable to do with the true malcontents, so let your intuition guide you.

        I wouldn’t spend too much time trying to psychoanalyze problem employees.  I will note that a lesser skilled employee with a good attidude is usually far more productive that a highly skilled employee with a bad attidude.  If the bad attitude doesn’t get better within about 4 weeks, transfer the employee.  Constantly trying to cheer up a pessimist takes up too much of a manager’s time and diverts his attention from the staff that are doing their jobs without complaint.

      • #3076466

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by server queen ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        There ARE times when the b&g (bitch & gossip) sessions are
        simply blowing off steam, or a way for employees to bond over common
        gripes.  There’s a reason the military permits a certain amount of
        moaning and groaning  – otherwise, people’s resentment gets too
        pent-up and things spiral out of control.  There are far too many
        managers out there for whom any criticism, no matter how constructively
        put, with no matter how many suggestions for improvement, is
        unthinkable treason.

        Sometimes you just have to accept that some people are naturally
        gripers.  So long as they’re not actually adversely affecting
        morale, let people blow off steam.

        Oh, and the dismissive eye-roll from the back of the room – if you
        actually catch sight of it, a good tactic to use at that point is “Joe,
        did you have a different opinion?” and let the person state their case
        (so long as they don’t totally derail the conversation). 
        Sometimes people just will never like the soup unless they pee in it
        themselves.  Some people simply don’t ever like anything that
        wasn’t their own idea.

        In many cases, your employees simply don’t like you, and think your
        ideas are lame-brained and half-baked.  They’re entitled to their
        own opinions, provided they don’t sabotage the work of the team. 
        My personal opinion is that you should let the chronic complainer
        complain, up to a point.  They can nearly always be stopped in
        their tracks by asking what they’d do differently in your place. 
        If they actually HAVE ideas and suggestions, listen to them.  If
        they don’t, then they’ve just pretty much exposed themselves as whiners
        in front of everyone.

        The only defense against the passive-aggressive – and I say this as a
        lifelong Seattleite, the epicenter of worldwide passive-aggression – is
        to make them bring it into the open.  And sometimes, remember,
        they have valid complaints.

      • #3076393

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by harris.julie2 ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        I’ve had to deal with these types before. I find the best way is to really make an issue of their smirks and sideways looks. If you see it occuring in a meeting then call them to task. “You look like you have an issue with this Bob, would you like to share your experiences with the rest of us”. When they deny that anything is wrong, point out the smirk or look to a collegue or negative body language.Eventually they will realise that they cant get away with it.

         

      • #3076336

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by browngr ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        Behind every “chronic” complainer is usually some form of “mis” management, “mis” communication, “micro” management or yes even a disgruntled employee. You know, as well as the “little” person in the workplace , that there are the haves and the have not’s. The haves being the “in” crowd, you know, they all watch sex in the city or are i the  “clique”. You know they all take trips to disney world on the comapny’s training budget and call it an “EXPO” or “FAIR”.

        Some are even in the position to reorg the company and give the “clique” promotions and raises. Do you still wonder why they smirk when you give your presentation. Okay, Example 2!! I am a firm believer that you will never please evreyone, but at the center of 98%, and yes I am just “throwing” that percentage out there” of all problems in the workplace stem from poor management practices. We all have that Larry, Curly, and Moe of the business world, hell thats why half the problems in the company exist. Larry got in, and because, Curly is married to Larry’s sister, he gets in and is brought into a management position, and now that Curly is in, his “other” brother’s cousin is in need of employment, regardless of managerial experience nor skillset, come on in brother, now I have my “team”

        A bit extreme, “Ya Think”, know fact not myth. You say that when you approach”these people” that you never recieve any “usable” feedback. I ask would you use it anyway. What makes it not useable? Would it be useable if it was not contradictory to you thought process, your way of thinking, “fell” in line. Okay I do not want to bash ya, but do you feel guilty or wonder why they gie you a “bunch of blank faces and denials that there were any problems”. They have probaly been around long enuf to know that Curly and Larry got yo back even when you are wrong and yes they do have mortgages. Or know that its a long raod back; Let me sum this up:

        Can you honestly look in the mirror and appreciate what you see? Do you have your favorites, those that regardless of morality will do whatever you desire to stay in the “in” crowd. Can you say Orland for the next Technology Fair that your techies should be going to but you authorize Larry and Curly, because the kids will love it.

        Welcome to the world of mangement, Crap or get off the POT, but wash your hands before you leave the bathroom, because germs do travel….

        Respectfully1

        The ChiTownDrifter

         

      • #3076298

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by lcossey ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        There are several good solutions here, and yet, clearly the
        roots of the problem are here as well. I agree with the idea that it is not our
        job to make our people happy, but it is our job to ensure that they are not disruptive.
        In my experience, which spans more than 30 years (21 of which were military) I
        have witnessed this sort of behavior. The root causes are many, but I think
        most do stem from personal issues, but not all. Some organizational practices
        provoke these people. In the Army I was taught that you must make sure your
        people are fed, given the best equipment, and always get their mail. In the
        business world that translates directly. Today?s business culture is, in my
        opinion, best described as the ?what have you done for me today? mind set. As a
        young NCO I learned first hand the impact of giving my people direct positive feedback. Every day I make sure that I talk to
        every person on my team. A minute of small talk and praise is an investment
        that pays in so many ways. Another group of employees feel they are stagnating.
        They see others getting training opportunities while they languish in the same
        job day in and day out. These folks need better ?equipment.? The next group
        needs some honest information. Those of us in management have a tendency to
        think that our people can?t handle the truth so we spin it, make it more
        positive than it really is. The only dumb person in this scenario is the one
        who believes that their employees are buying what they are selling. Our people
        are smart and they can spot corporate bull*** from a mile and a half. Again a
        lesson I learned from the Army, ?Always keep your people informed.? Never let
        them be surprised if at all possible. In short, some of the behavior you
        describe is actually a lack of trust. The final group are those who as someone
        described they enjoy being a little black cloud and spreading poison all over
        the office. In my opinion, the best way to help them and yourself is to suggest
        that they update their resume.

         

        Lindal Cossey, PMP

      • #3076283

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by sneirinckx ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        I have two simple sayings my grandfather handed down to me that have helped me through life and my career in regards to these specific situations:

        “Don’t dirty someone else?s porch until you?re sure yours
        is clean”

        ?If you expect your employees to work like gladiators then
        don?t treat them like butlers?

        Simple comments that can provide big results.

      • #3076265

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by infobug7 ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        “THE ONE MINUTE MANAGER!”

      • #3076229

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by giskksharma ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        May I say to all here that it’s worker job to complain and that’s the way it goes. and you improve your managerarial skills by correcting the compalints of work force therfore, we must learn to appricate the compiants and listen to them and act and you dont compalian too.

         

         

        Krishan Sharma, Ph.D.

                                           

        303, ?Parisharma?, 40, Palihills, Bandra,                         

        MUMBAI- 400050. INDIA

        Mobile: 987-029-4791

        Telephone: 022-2646-3709

        Email: info@gisextechnologies.com

         

      • #3076224

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by sfling ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        One more “one minute manager” cliche to throw out…I tell my folks to “Choose your battles wisely”.  The chronic complainers are cautioned that there is a fine line between bringing to light an issue that effects the productivity of the dept/company, and just creating noise…hence a positive action vs. getting labeled negatively as a chronic complainer.  Once they realize that if the just complain about the significant items that they will be heard and action will most likely be taken, as compared to “crying wolf” all the time and being ignored…they usually modify their behavior.

      • #3076215

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by biggeorge ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        Being a manager constitutes knowing people about as much as knowing your job.  Anybody can learn to do a job but it takes a special person to handle people.  I was taught by an uncle that was the best I have ever seen.  He was speaking in a hostile environment one night and a man in the back of the room was being as disruptive as he could be.  My uncle never called his name, said anything to him personally, but just stopped speaking and looked directly at him.  Once he quit speaking and looked to the back of the room, everyone else that was enjoying the talk, turned around and looked at the man disrupting the meeting.  After what seemed like an eternity to me, he hushed and my uncle started back speaking.  I have used this trick myself and you would be amazed at how effective it is.  Of course, it does not gain you a friend, but you do get control back of the meeting. 

        Another trick he used that I wondered about, was when he was speaking he would get to stuttering so back I thought he could not talk.  Then he would go on.  When I asked him about it, he asked if I watched the people in the room.  It seems if he really had their attention, then by stuttering or using uh,uh,uh, they would actually get up in their seats waiting for the next words.  Of course, you have to have an interesting talk going to make this work.  But, he could control a meeting.

      • #3076207

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by shannyhan ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        I have never met a person that was complaining where there was not some shred of truth to their issue. It doesn’t matter if they are a customer or an employee.   I see it as my job to help that person learn how to communicate better.  It does not do any good to anyone if the “message is lost” because the person cannot see their way clear to using a better communication style.  Once I tell them this, I usually get them engaged in a constructive conversation.  This technique is not a personal attack, but does address their behavior.

        If they are receptive to your feedback – then you know they care and really just want to be heard.  Work with them and then once you actually understand what their concern is, see if you can find a way to address it … together!  As a manager, one of the biggest complaints I have heard is issues that are raised remain unaddressed.  Over time, this is bound to wear even the most positive person down.

        If they are not receptive or continue with their behavior – I will explain that while I am interested in their concern, they need to find a more positive way to communicate their issues.  Again, this addresses their behavior.  I tell them when they are ready for a constructive conversation to let me know.  This has worked for me with my employees, my customers and with my management (although depending on the manager, I have had to time the opportunity for discussing this when it will be most advantageous).

        Bottom line – it usually takes both sides to acheive success at addressing an issue.

        As for the coworker that continued to talk or make faces while I was presenting — well that is a clear signal to have a direct conversation during the Q&A session.  e.g. “I feel it is important that we are all on the same page … When I was presenting slide no 14, I noticed when I said “xyz” you seemed a little distressed.  Do you have a concern with the content that was presented?”  or “was there any clarification you wanted me to make?”

        Hopefully, that is enough to get them engaged.  If not, and it continues.  I would ask their manager or my supervisor to observe their behavior during the next presentation.

        Bottomline for me – is either I care about their opinion or I don’t.  If it is just my ego getting in the way of me being able to do my job… it is time to move on and forget about it.  If I need their buy-in – it is my responsibility to get it.

        just my 2 cents

      • #3076205

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by shannyhanm ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        I have never met a person that was complaining where there was not some shred of truth to their issue. It doesn’t matter if they are a customer or an employee.   I see it as my job to help that person learn how to communicate better.  It does not do any good to anyone if the “message is lost” because the person cannot see their way clear to using a better communication style.  Once I tell them this, I usually get them engaged in a constructive conversation.  This technique is not a personal attack, but does address their behavior.

        If they are receptive to your feedback – then you know they care and really just want to be heard.  Work with them and then once you actually understand what their concern is, see if you can find a way to address it … together!  As a manager, one of the biggest complaints I have heard is issues that are raised remain unaddressed.  Over time, this is bound to wear even the most positive person down.

        If they are not receptive or continue with their behavior – I will explain that while I am interested in their concern, they need to find a more positive way to communicate their issues.  Again, this addresses their behavior.  I tell them when they are ready for a constructive conversation to let me know.  This has worked for me with my employees, my customers and with my management (although depending on the manager, I have had to time the opportunity for discussing this when it will be most advantageous).

        Bottom line – it usually takes both sides to acheive success at addressing an issue.

        As for the coworker that continued to talk or make faces while I was presenting — well that is a clear signal to have a direct conversation during the Q&A session.  e.g. “I feel it is important that we are all on the same page … When I was presenting slide no 14, I noticed when I said “xyz” you seemed a little distressed.  Do you have a concern with the content that was presented?”  or “was there any clarification you wanted me to make?”

        Hopefully, that is enough to get them engaged.  If not, and it continues.  I would ask their manager or my supervisor to observe their behavior during the next presentation.

        Bottomline for me – is either I care about their opinion or I don’t.  If it is just my ego getting in the way of me being able to do my job… it is time to move on and forget about it.  If I need their buy-in – it is my responsibility to get it.

        just my 2 cents

      • #3075957

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by smogmonster ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        I work in a High school with 1800+ kids plus after school students, plus 200 staff – around 550 pc’s in total. How much support do I get, 1 guy who turns up when he feels like it. Tried to get shot of him but there’s no support from senior management. The users who have, as does any organisation, varying degrees of IT competence, have become hostile over the last 6 months since since we moved to the XP era (as opposed to Windows 98). At the first point of issue, staff do not tell me and go straight to senior management and complain. The moral of this is if I don’t know, I can’t sort it. If you tell the staff this then they think you are telling them how to do their job.

        Do you tink it’s time to move on before I strangle someone???

      • #3076942

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        You don’t say what impact this behavior has on the organization. As a manager, that must be your primary focus. Do these people get so carried away with their disrespectfulness that it sabotages projects, derails working relationships, impairs other people’s morale? Do they bad-mouth you to people outside your circle–I mean we all do a little of that and everybody expects it but are they making it hard to do your job?

        If this is strictly a personal issue, if you’re just fed up with their attitude, then you need to figure out whether it goes beyond the personal at all. If it doesn’t, you just have to grow a thicker skin. If they’re doing their jobs and fulfilling their goals and everybody else just laughs them off or rolls their eyes back when they’re not looking, this is probably just one of those many sacrifices you signed up for when you applied for a management job. If you can’t stand the trade-off and you’re not getting enough out of the job, including the salary, to justify the knot in your stomach when you get home, well then you’ve learned some valuable information about yourself and your future career choices.

        IT is full of misfits, people who simply are not housebroken. After all, just exactly which demographic group is going to be excited about working in the world of silicon rather than carbon? People who are more comfortable with technology than with people end up working with technology. We need them so we have to put up with their lack of social graces.

        Be grateful that you’re not back in my day. “Programmers”–that was the only title anybody had–came to work in dirty t-shirts with holes in them; you wouldn’t ever invite one to a meeting in the first place. Today’s IT people actually have some rudimentary people skills and are often capable of carrying on a polite, understandable conversation with an end user.

        If it is a problem that is more than personal, if it affects others, then you have the advantage that many if not most of the others sympathize with you and will appreciate your efforts to solve it. Be both the good cop and the bad cop. Sweet to everybody else but merciless with wrongdoers. “Smithers, do you have something to contribute?” “Could you please share your thoughts with us, we’re all dying to hear them because you are always so articulate.” “Johnson, do you have something to say that’s germaine to the topic of this meeting?” “Is there a problem in the back row? Is the air conditioner not working or something? You all seem so uncomfortable and squirmy.” “Shall I send out for fresh coffee? You look like something has upset your digestion.”

        Alter the agenda of your meetings to include more staff participation. Call on everyone in turn and put these people on the spot to say what’s on their mind.

        Disrupters usually fall into two extremes. Some are not very good communicators so eye-rolls are the best they can do. You might innocently push them into training classes that will help that. The ones of that type are ubiquitous and dirt-cheap. Others are brilliant and articulate and get frustrated with the general decline in verbal and other cognitive skills in this country. (As do I!) Let them give presentations. Challenge them to put together reports and other documents. Ask their opinion on things that matter and–using those management skills that got you this job–make it clear that you’re not settling for vague expressions of discontent but you want some serious thinking.

        Good luck!

      • #3076854

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by bfilmfan ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        As an observation, Moe Howard was a brilliant businessman that supported his fellow Stooge actors, even after they ruined themselves. He paid for Larry Fine’s care after Larry suffered a stroke and was unable physically or fiscally to care for himself.

        They were also brilliant actors, an art in which a number of managers could use further instruction.

        Almost all people would rather not be talked about behind their backs. Very few people have the confidence to talk directly with their management. One of my observations is that few managers can stand a healthy dose of literal reality of confronting the issue as seen from another point of view. I like to pride myself that I do seek honest feedback from my employees and expect them to tell me if I have made a mistake that can be corrected. We learn through errors, not arrogance. 

      • #3263864

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by bluron ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        owning my own busnisses and or managing for others over the past 35 or so years, i have seen one evolotion amongst employees that go a long way towards the behavior of workers today.  in the past the phylosophy was, what can i do for the company.  now it has done a 180 and the employee now asks, what can the company do for me?  i have also heard many employees complain about management.  i have never seen these employees in a management position.  easy to complain about something when you know either nothing or very little about what you are complaining about.  the quality of management has become of such poor quality it is a wonder any company survives.  see how easy it is to place the blame elsewhere.  if you have a problem at work, don’t jump to the conclusion that management knows not what it does, instead maybe learn more about what you should be doing.  imagine how pleasant a work environment would be if attitudes on both sides would be more concerned with the success of the company.  i hope i have made my point clear.

      • #3152014

        To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        by todd.ryder ·

        In reply to To the chronic complainer: Fight fair!

        As a chronic complainer myself, my take is that we complainers do have high expectations and work rarely (one job my entire life — a dot com that folded) even approximately satisifes them.  In other words, I believe that people with high expectations from this life (not the afterlife) are rarely satisfied in their jobs, marriages, personal relationships, etc.  In my experience what passes for pretty good for most people’s lives would long ago have placed a gun in my mouth if I weren’t also an over-achiever in addition to chronic complainer.

    • #3076909

      Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      You’ve just made a presentation before a group of company employees. And maybe, despite your lovingly crafted PowerPoint presentation and your honey-voiced delivery, the group doesn’t appear to be enthusiastically receptive. If those attending are showing signs of discomfort–yawning, shifting in their chairs, weeping, forming suicide pacts–then you need to improve your presentation skills.

      Let’s start with that PowerPoint thing. I would venture to say that most people misuse PowerPoint. A lot of folks put their presentations word for word on the slides, separated by heads and subheads, like those research paper outlines we used to have to do in school. Then they read the text directly from the slides. Unless they’re three years old and haven’t yet mastered the art of phonics, your audience members can read the words themselves, and they would probably prefer to do so at their desk while eating a bag of Funyuns. If they have the slides, why do they need you? So remember:

      • In the slide, just list the main points and then fill in the details in your delivery. You can read the main points, but summarize or paraphrase the rest as you go along.
      • Use slides for visuals such as charts and graphs. It drives home any statistical point you’re making. And you don’t want to find yourself verbally describing a bubble chart.

      As for your speaking skills, it’s true that not everyone is a wonderfully charismatic orator. But you don’t have to be. You’re not trying to get your staff to rise up and stamp out tyranny in our lifetime; you’re just trying to pass on some business information. Here are a few pointers:

      • Stick to the point and don’t digress. Don’t ramble, as in, “I got this data last Tuesday, or was it Wednesday? No, it was Tuesday because that’s the day I went to the dentist. Or did I see the dentist Wednesday? I’m not sure. It was either Tuesday or Wednesday?” Because frankly, who cares? You keep that up and people are going to confess to kidnapping the Lindbergh baby.
      • Use attendees’ names in your examples if you can. Nothing jolts someone out of a grocery list reverie than hearing their name spoken.
      • Use (but don’t overuse) anecdotes and examples from another topic area. I attended a presentation where someone compared an OS’s anti-spyware capabilities to car anti-theft features. It really clarified his topic.
      • Keep the presentation under an hour (counting questions at the end), or the approximate length of an episode of CSI. No matter how interested the audience, we’re all used to getting our information quickly. If someone has grown a beard during your presentation, it’s a bad sign.
      • #3075867

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by dcase ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        All this is a very good idea.  I have one more to add to this.  Please when creating your presenation please make sure you text is large enough for people in the back rows to read.  I have found that in your titles font size of 38 to 44 is perfect. For the body or a bulleted list don’t go smaller than 24.  That way all who are watching you will be able to read what you are trying to say. 

      • #3075812

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by kevinhammerton ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        Good general points on presentations, another point would be to check your presentation using a projector and not just on your computer as the colours will often display differently.

      • #3075750

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by gsg ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        I have several of my own rules…. 

        1. Keep it 10 slides or less.  I’ve never had to use more than 10.  If you are using more than that, then you have too much on the slide.
        2. Give Slide handouts.  Powerpoint has nifty print functionality.  Put no more than 3 slides per page.  That allows the audience to take notes, and have something to refer to.  If nothing else, they can roll it up and swat each other to keep awake.
        3. No fancy slide transitions.  There is nothing worse than having a slide swirl in, the next one shutter in, etc…  It gives the audience motion sickness.
        4. No bizarre colors.  Please, don’t do a black background with neon green lettering.  It hurts the eyes.  A nice soft, light background with dark lettering, or a dark calming background with light lettering is sufficient.
        5. No bizarre backgroud graphics.   See #4 above.
      • #3075708

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by michaelday ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        Agree with the points above and would like to add my own personal pet peeve – cartoons or awful clip art.  Both these components can make your presenation look amatuerish and tend to detract from the content.  having said that there may be situations that warrant these images so go seek out some high quality ones.

      • #3074345

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by rayjeff ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        Checking the presentation on the projector as well as the PC/laptop is the most important thing to do. I work at a college and I see students come up with these PP presentation and never once test them out on a projector much less to see if the presentation even works at all. I would say that’s the most important action to take once the presentation has been created and is what the user wants it to be.

      • #3264984

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by mlechols1 ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        I agree with all the comments listed.  I have one more.  Check your spelling.  When a word is misspelled, everyone will focus on it.  You will lose control of the presentation because of the small-group discussions about the misspelled word.

      • #3100155

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by techno_notice ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        Beware Strange fonts…

        A lot of people just assume that the fonts that they have on their computer are on every computer.  Sometimes that special font you need to use is only available with a specific application (Map symbols from a GIS system).  Also if you are travelling to a conference and have to use the provided equipment they sometimes provide a bare system with just a powerpoint viewer on which of course has almost no fonts available except for the system ones.  If you need to use a special font dont forget the “Pack and Go function” (office 2000) or “Package for CD” (Office 2003) and embed the font.  Just beware of fonts with built in Copyright restrictions as they wont be included.

      • #3100134

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by enrevanche ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        Observing that many people create PowerPoint decks as if they were writing a research paper is spot-on.  

        Here’s how I broke myself of that terrible habit: Use the Speaker Notes feature in PowerPoint!  Go ahead, do that brain dump directly into the Notes field; you can type all the text you want in the Notes section of each slide, and then just summarize the key points on the slide itself, hopefully accompanied by an attractive visual if that would help.

        When it comes time to give your presentation, you can lean heavily on the notes on your copy of the slide deck – or in situations where you want to give attendees a nice value-added “leave-behind” (such as a training class), you can print out the slide deck with the speaker notes.

        I also subscribe to Guy Kawasaki’s “10-20-30” rule for PowerPoint presentations: a presentation should never be more than ten slides long, shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to get through, and no font should appear in less than 30-point type.

      • #3265275

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by carlos.oliveira ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        Comment on the comments:
        My guess is most people read through and missed the point. Presenting is NOT about how nice your Powerpoint looks, what letters or what colours. Presenting is getting a message trough and communicating. Powerpoint is only for having those things you can not put on words, like graphics, or a very short summary of what your message is, just to underline it.

      • #3265264

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by pillaika ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        Reference the suggestion by enrevanche . Is there any way that the following can be used to enhance the utility of this suggestion ?

        During a presentation, is it possible to have two versions of power point running simultaneously : one would be just the slides, that get projected through the interconnection between the laptop and the LCD projector, and the other would show the speaker notes and appear only on the screen of the laptop. This would allow the presenter to read his notes off his laptop screen, and would not need him to read from hard copies. At the same time, the audience would not get a direct view of his speaker-notes.

        Any suggestions, any one?

        Thanks

        Pillai

      • #3265024

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by atcollege ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        This article was very good. It gets down to real life stuff, like not boring the audience into tuning out.

        I sent the link to my students because I have noticed that most people want to list everything and then just read the presentation. They use it like a security blanket. Thanks for the article.

      • #3265000

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by leith ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        We call this”Death by Power Point

      • #3263893

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by mag7ue ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        On the questions by Pillai:
        When using a laptop with a projector for powerpoint, you can use the projector as a 2nd monitor. In powerpoint 2003, go into the ‘Slideshow’ – ‘Set up Show’ options, and play with the Multiple Monitors options. I like the Presenter view – it works quite well.

      • #3263640

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by smorty71 ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        Back in 2003, WIRED had two interesting articles about PowerPoint — one from information design guru Edward Tufte and one from Talking Heads singer / artist David Byrne.

        Tufte’s anti-PowerPoint article — “PowerPoint is Evil”
        Byrne’s pro-PowerPoint article — “Learning to Love PowerPoint”

        I was able to see Tufte speak a couple of years ago and a big chunk of his lectures focus on how to use PowerPoint effectively. 

      • #3263626

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by romantickisser ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        All said and done, all the comments made are very much in the right place. All I’d want to add is: PRESENTERS SHOULD REHEARSE AS PART OF THEIR PREPARATION. Nothing is more boring than a presenter who hasn’t rehearsed his presentation. A minimum of 7 rehearsals would do.

      • #3265656

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by leee ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        I second the clip art. I hate that little Microsoft stick figure guy clicking his heels.

        I once had a client who loved clip art and used it everywhere she could, even at the expense of the actual content. She thought it looked “cute.” This actually has gotten her far–perhaps because of the suicide pacts you mentioned.

        Occasionally a carefully chosen, relevant graphic or cartoon may be used for comic effect, but that should be the the dessert, not the main course. Likewise, the presentation should be a springboard for ideas, the skeleton, not the whole body. If not, what’s the point of having a human presenter?

      • #3265474

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by trajmag ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        Great guidance in all the comments! I would second the advice on stupid slide transitions and add, DO NOT do the walking line thing. Nothing is worse than sitting in the audience and having a presenter use a click to add each and every line to a slide. Just put the titles and subtitles up there and talk to them. We can get a better idea what your presenting if its all there.

      • #3087458

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by mparic ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        Just because we could, doesn’t mean we should. An outline of the presentation handed to all attendees goes much farther than hoping they all take notes from your projected slides. Plus your handouts have your logo and business information on them; if the presentation is to potential clients you’ll receive more call backs. Ask yourself “Does my slide presentation offer any more value than a handout?” If not, leave the projector off.

      • #3285880

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by edwintechrep ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        @enrevanche: Indeed, such use of the notes facility is handy. But beware of the reverse .. once I got emailed the presentation I enjoyed very much when attending it. Then I looked into the Notes View to discover that the author had filled the space with a mixture of draft, presentation & speaking directions (“point here, emphasis there, if they ask X say Y, …”), and some obvious household reminders … (grocery list, …). Be sure if you complete a presentation to go at least once through the notes, especially if your presentation is in fact a modified version of somebody else’s …

         

        @ghost_75_24: Yes, check the presentation in the theatre prior to the event if possible. Especially, when you have audio included which may sound terriffic through your home installation, but may be a disaster or not audible at all during the actual presentation ..

         

        @carlos.oliveira,

        @Leee,

        @sMoRTy71 (and others): Indeed, in most cases the real oratory talent doesn’t need these fancy colour slides at all ..

      • #3155322

        Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        by bmgraham ·

        In reply to Do your part: Prevent PowerPoint abuse

        Somebody asked if you can run two Powerpoints, one for the slides and one for the speaker notes.  Yes you can, if your laptop is able to support two independent screens.  Set up Windows to extend the desktop on to your second monitor (from Display Properties>Settings).  Then in Powerpoint do “Slide Show>Set up Show” – choose to show presenter view and to show the slides on monitor 2.

    • #3265313

      Just when you think it can’t get any worse…

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      Most managers, I would say, don’t enjoy firing people. In fact, for some it can be a heart-wrenching experience. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances can make things even worse. That was the case with a co-manager of mine once. He was the gentlest of people and if this firing could have been avoided he would have found a way. The employee in question, let’s call him Bart, was a major non-performer who just couldn’t do the job. It came from higher up that he had to be let go. After all the HR hoops had been jumped through and all the documentation was in order, it fell upon my friend to tell the guy he was through.

      This was his first firing so he spent a day working through what he was going to say and trying to anticipate any repercussions that might come from the meeting with Bart. The moment finally came and though it was uncomfortable, Bart ultimately became aware that he was not cut out for his job. He was sad but resigned and began to pack his belongings.

      Now in a seemingly unrelated incident, one of the women in the office came in from lunch and said she saw a suspicious looking older man in a paneled van cruising around the parking lot. He would park for a minute or two at the entrance to the building then cruise around a bit and come back. She said she thought he was scoping the women as they came in and out of the building. This woman got herself all worked up and called the police to come by and check this out.

      The police came. When they approached the man, he told them that he was just waiting for his son, who had just been fired, to come down with his stuff so he could drive him home. At that moment, Bart came out the door with his stuff only to see the police talking to his father. Now that’s what you call a bad day.

      Of course, my friend the manager could not have anticipated this: You fire someone and simultaneously his dad almost gets arrested for stalking. So my sensitive manager friend, in his first agonizing firing, got even more depressed. Ultimately, Bart went on to a position elsewhere for which he was more suited, and my manager friend never forgot his first experience with an employee termination.

      • #3265111

        Just when you think it can

        by bfilmfan ·

        In reply to Just when you think it can’t get any worse…

        At least the police didn’t shoot him or his dad.

        By any chance was the lady that saw something suspicious a member of the office rumor mill party? I’ve found those tendencies tend to show up in that group.

        You should write a book and call it “The Office X-Files.” You have a ton of material already. I won’t ask for a cut of royalties, just a mention on the dedication page and a big steak dinner.

         

      • #3265050

        Just when you think it can’t get any worse…

        by Michael Kassner ·

        In reply to Just when you think it can’t get any worse…

        It was pretty scary when I sat down to remember these stories how many there were.  It was a mighty interesting place to work!

      • #3264397

        Just when you think it can’t get any worse…

        by klept20 ·

        In reply to Just when you think it can’t get any worse…

        Insert comment text here

        Do you actually get paid to write this stuff? Who gives a …. about your friend and his / her  “traumatic” experience of firing someone. You mentioned HR hoops, etc.. Sounds like some typical screwed-up large American corporation that’s been so busy hiring dummies the past 10-15 years,  that now crossing the street is difficult for them.

        Thought your article would mention some new labor law or otherwise be edifying. But it just sounds like watercooler gossip by the losers that are still with this company.

      • #3103750

        Just when you think it can’t get any worse…

        by aaron a baker ·

        In reply to Just when you think it can’t get any worse…

        Thank you for the Article.

        If nothing else, it shows that we too are “Human”. That although the job Must be done, we too are capable of being hurt.

        As far as “Bart,” it should be remembered that if he could have done the work in the first place, he would still have the job and no one would have had to go through this. So if one is going to blame anybody, blame “Bart”, for not knowing his work and forcing everybody else to do their duty,as unpleasant as that duty is.

        Sometimes, in the management position we find ourselves in situations that we have neither asked for nor solicited, but the fact remains that as long as we are the Bosses, we must do our jobs also, or we too would end up joining “Bart”.

        No matter how long or how comfortable I had become with any firm, I have never let go of the old axiom that states” They would fire ME TOO in a second” if I didn’t perform. Even if we all just had lunch together. Business is business and if you don’t fulfill your role, then you’re gone,simple as that.

        Hope you friend remembers that.

        Thanks for the article, Nice to get one about being Human. 😉

        You’ve got a good heart. 🙂

        Regards

        Aaron

         

    • #3087186

      Save me from the e-mail impaired!

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      In most of my blog posts, I’ve merely relayed some experiences that I had as an employee and as a manager of people. I’ve avoided being “rant-ish” because I know myself too well. Believe me, you just don’t want to get me started. I’m really hard to shut up once I get going.

      But sometimes, something really irritates me and writing about it just makes me feel better. So, if you’ll indulge me, I would like to unleash a wee bit of fury toward one particular pet peeve of mine. Today I will address–cue the ominous music–the E-MAIL IMPAIRED.

      First of all, I don’t understand how anyone whose job involves communicating with his or her co-workers can go more than a whole day without answering a question received via e-mail. (Those on airplanes, in long meetings, or dealing with business crises can be excused. I’m talking about colleagues that you know to be in front of their computers.) Maybe it’s me, but I make the assumption that if a someone actually types my name in the To: bar, keys in words that are followed by what we in the grammar business like to call a question mark, then clicks Send, he’s probably looking for an answer to a question. For those of you who get e-mail like this and do nothing, I need to ask: If you don’t know the answer, would it kill you to say “I don’t know” or “Don’t know but I’ll find out and let you know” because I can’t surmise that from your silence alone. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with not knowing. Trust me, I don’t know a lot. That’s why I send you those questions.

      One woman with whom I used to work waited until the end of the day after everyone had gone home to answer all of her e-mail messages because she didn’t want to “interrupt her work flow.” And that’s fine, if you have a serious case of Attention Deficit Disorder. But if part of your job is interacting with others, you don’t really have the luxury of scheduling that interaction. I might be sending you a message because I’m at a place in a project where I can’t go any further until I hear back from you. What happens if you wait until the end of the day to read your e-mail and one of the messages is “The building’s on fire”?

      People, it’s e-mail. There’s really nothing easier to use. It’s not like you have to walk over to my desk; or lick an envelope; or train a carrier pigeon.

      I know of some people who don’t answer their e-mail immediately unless it’s from their boss or someone further up in the organizational food chain. And they will tell you this, like you shouldn’t take offense. It’s like saying, “Sorry for not answering your e-mail. You just don’t rank high enough on my Matter-o-Meter.”

      Admittedly, I am a solid Type A. I can’t even let a telephone ring, even if I’m pretty sure it’s a guy selling cemetery plots who I’ve already hung up on four times. I just can’t not answer it. So, e-mail? Forget it–as far as I’m concerned, it’s the cyber siren. Bottom line?Answer your e-mail.

      Here’s another e-mail faux pas: Let’s say someone has a nice little piece of industry news that he sends around to a mailing list of about 30 people who it could affect. If your reply to the news is merely, “That sounds great!”, or a attempt to suck up like, “Wow, Jim, I have to say your e-mail messages never cease to enrich my existence,” please please, I?m begging you please, resist the urge to hit “Reply All.” Because if you do, we then have to read 29 other responses like “Sure does!” and “Thanks for sharing!” And after people start responding to those, the e-mail begins to multiply. Unless your comment is funny or informative, I don’t care to see it. So, please, try to resist the sexy allure of the Reply All button.

      OK, I feel better. Thanks for listening.

      • #3104782

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        Alternate Viewpoint

        Sorry, but I gotta go against you on this one.  Do not use e-mail for time critical communications; the advantage of e-mail is that it permits time shifting between the people involved in a conversation.

        If I have something that is urgent, my first impulse is to speak face-to-face.  This is simply the most efficient means of communication and provides the most feedback to ensure clarity.  If face-to-face is not feasible, telephone is a second best alternative.  It provides for immediate vocal feedback, at the expense of no visual feedback, and also with the cost of rudely interrupting.

        The advantage of e-mail is that it allows the recipient to respond at his own time and own pace.  The cost is that almost all of the burden for clarity of communication falls upon the sender.  There is no implicit factor to cause someone to respond immediately to an e-mail, and it is only an excercise to set up personal e-mail “rules” and expect others to know and follow them.

        If one uses e-mail, one is implicitly giving the recipient the option to respond at his own leisure.  If a more immediate response is desired, one should speak face-to-face or, as a fall back, via telephone.

         

      • #3104779

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by bfilmfan ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        I have to agree with Wayne also on this issue. With the deluge of email that I get on a daily basis, I have to priortize what is really important, rather than what the sender perceives to be important. Often these are very different phase states, comparable to water vapor and ice.

        Perhaps the real answer is that your message and it’s importance aren’t high enough on the “Matter Meter.” If the matter truly is critical, use an instant messaging system like a phone.

        One question to ask yourself is do only certain people answer your email late or everyone. If only certain folks, have a conversation with them about it. If it is everyone, have a conversation with yourself.

        And remember, no one ever died of taking 10 deep breaths at the office and saying “Ommmmmm” while awaiting an answer to a missive.

         

         

      • #3104777

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by justin james ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        “I know of some people who don’t answer their e-mail immediately unless it’s from their boss or someone further up in the organizational food chain. And they will tell you this, like you shouldn’t take offense. It’s like saying, “Sorry for not answering your e-mail. You just don’t rank high enough on my Matter-o-Meter.””

        Don’t take offense, but this is EXACTLY what this means. There are many, many people on my “you don’t matter list” Indeed, my boss is often on it. Why? Because there are a great number of people out there who have a habit of sending an email in 10 seconds that spawns 10 hours of work. If I investigated or actioned upon every email I received, I would never get my actual job done.

        With certain people in our organization, I have actually implemented what I call “the four email rule”. someone on my “4EL” has to send me 4 emails making the same request, or actually come to my desk or call me before I will even acknowledge the contact. Why? Because otherwise I get nothing done. They send an email like “oh, just send me XYZ information” not knowing (or not caring) that it will take me all day. If you question them with “is this truly important/needed?” then they get defensive and insist they need it right now. I have found that if it is truly important, they will follow up on it, at which point I tell them “it’s in my pipeline.” Ignoring email is my best defense against the nonsense of the business world.

        It sounds to me like you have a serious case of treating people like black  boxes. People are not calculators or computers, yo ucan’t just stick some input in, say “give me results” and expect results. I am willing to bet that the way you phrase your email shows no courtesy or respect, too. I have found that an email that says “I would like this done, what would need need to do this, and how long would it take?” gets a lot better results than “I need this by noon, thanks.”

        Stop treating people like they are black boxes. If you know that someone doesn’t treat the incoming email as important, follow up with them in person or on the phone. It isn’t everyone’s responsibility to ask “how high” when you say “jump”, particularly if they aren’t below you on the org chart. You have no clue what they spend their day doing, what their agenda looks like, or anything else. Everyone has different work styles. I have yet to experience a truly critical request where the person requesting it never followed up, and I don’t make critical requests witout following up. If you are consistently having this problem throughout your organization, it sounds like you’re the problem, not them. Not everyone was raised in or chooses to follow the super-hyper workplace style, they find that a more controlled pace acheives better results for them. Live with it, and adapt.

        J.Ja

      • #3104752

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by Michael Kassner ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        You say, “I am willing to bet that the way you phrase your email shows no courtesy or respect, too.” That’s a big (and fairly rude) assumption. When I send the mail I’m talking about, I’m not saying “I want this done now.” I’m asking a question that would require about 5 minutes time to respond to. I’m seeking information not action. And I’m not saying I want the information in a nanosecond, but eventually would be good. I can live with a day, maybe two. But to not be answered at all is rude, and in  many time passive-aggressive. And I’m not saying that I get this response from everyone. I’m self-aware enough to know that if that we’re the case, the problem would lie with me. It is always the same one or two people who are guilty of this. And if I am expected to send four e-mails until my request is “counted,” then I think someone is assuming that their time is more important than mine. If you can’t deal with the person getting huffy when you ask for justification for the work, then tell them. Ignoring won’t make that issue go away. I understand time management. But if I ask you a question that would take two minutes to answer, why put it on the back burner for two days? That seems like faulty prioritization to me.

      • #3104644

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by bfilmfan ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        Thanks for the clarification that it is the same people again and again. Does everyone have this issue with them responding to email or is this a more isolated issue between just you and them?

        Sounds like their needs to be a discussion on a formal system of dealing with email priority if it is a constant issue.

        You’ve always appeared rather reasonable in your blogs and not a hatchet-weilding furry-legged hyphenated-femme-gal sales weasel ferret goddess (I stole that from talk show host Kim Peterson of WGST radio in Atlanta as it is hysterically funny when his sales ladies call him up fussing cause he said it on the air..haha) looking to count more than coup in the office, so I would take any remarks made here with a large grain of salt. If ncessary, put the salt around the margarita glass. 🙂

      • #3104535

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by justin james ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        I apologize if I came off as rude, I was just reesponding (in a way I should not have) to what I viewed as a lack of understanding for others.

        It’s good to get some clarification that it’s just a few people. In that case, just work around it. Like many others have said, call or show up at their desk.

        To me, my time is more important than yours. To you, your time is more important than mine. That’s the way the world works in general. What you think may only take a few minutes for someone else to answer may be seen as an amazing inconvenience to them. I know that for me, when I’m on a roll, the last thing I want is to be derailed. Other people follow stringent time management rules. Many mangerial courses often have tips in them like “set aside one or two small portions of the day for email, and do not check it at any other part of the day.” For a manager, this makes good sense. Too many managers spend all day glued to email and not focusing on actually running their business.

        Just sending an email to someone who you know will probably not respond is a form of aggressive passiveness. You’re saying, “I know that I am demanding that you work in a way that you do not feel comfortable with, and I am going to get mad if you don’t bend to my standards or needs.” This is why I have had to establish the “4 email rule”. Too many people are fond of making up entire project specs without actually involving the people who will do the work, or they make certain assumptions about the work to be done. My time is too valuable to myself and to my employer for it to be wasted on nonsense. Of course, my “nonsense” is someone else’s “must have” and vice versa. For me, I am extremely strict about my time at work. My projects often last a few hours or a day or two. Taking ten minutes out of a twenty minute deadline can make or break a project for me. I have worked other jobs such as at a NOC, where you have a fifteen minute window to respond to an event like a down router, or the company starts taking SLA penalties to the tune of thousands of dollars per hour. In that position, it was quite frequent for me to spend three, four hours just writing a short email to someone asking a question of my own, let alone responding to someone else; when you have a five person conference call and are simultaneously troubleshooting three different network devices and incoming calls are stacking up, email becomes the last thing on your mind.

        I also filter my email by the number of recipients; once it hits four or five people, I know that the email is not important. No time-sensitive or urgent email applies to that many people at once, in my experience.

        J.Ja

      • #3104456

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by Michael Kassner ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        Thanks, BFlimFan, for the encouraging post. As for “hatchet-weilding furry-legged hyphenated-femme-gal sales weasel ferret goddess”—-God, I wish I’d thought of that!  Who among us hasn’t known a weasel ferret goddess (or god) at some point? Thanks for the laugh!

      • #3263435

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        “Admittedly, I am a solid Type A.” I never would have guessed. ^_^  Is there a liquid or gaseous Type Z for me?

        Most people consider us to be the architects of the virtual world, so we owe it to them to take the lead in resolving issues like this. For starters, we can no longer get away with saying things like, “If it’s important, come see me face to face.” The day will come–hopefully before I retire–when most Americans work at home and have all of their conversations on the phone or the internet. We HAVE TO develop the protocol and etiquette for making life work in this environment.

        The subject line helps a lot. You can fit a lot of information onto it. “Need sched. completion for project XYZ-123 for tomorrow’s report.” “Can’t find Smithers acct., you were last one to check it out.” “Submit your time report if you want a paycheck.” “What does this ‘Excel’ thingie on my desktop do?” You can estimate the effort and importance involved in those requests pretty easily.

        If people keep answering a chain of e-mail and leaving the original subject line, you should be able to take that as a clue that this is bottom priority. If they have an important question or comment they can make that clear in the subject.

        Remember, as several other people have already pointed out, not everyone thinks you’re as important as you do, particularly if you’re a “solid Type A.” Many of us have learned to tune you out to preserve our own peace of mind because you drive us bonkers with your relentless intensity and your desire to cram 12 hours of work into an 8 hour day. Make your subject line a little clearer and let us rate the importance of the SUBJECT, not the SENDER.

        Finally, bear in mind that many people get an e-mail every couple of minutes. The only way they can concentrate on their primary work is to block the reminders, so they don’t even know yours came in for an hour or so. Then they have twenty to process and it could take a little time to get down the list to yours.

        Most people really don’t want to talk to the person selling cemetery plots. Try not to be that person.

      • #3106461

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by charliespencer ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        If your message requires a rapid response, why not use the telephone instead?  If I’m in the middle of writing a program, I’m not going to break my concentration to answer an e-mail.  (I admit, I probably won’t answer the phone either under those circumstances.  If I don’t, please leave a voice mail and I’ll get back to you.  Please don’t keep calling every five minutes, wasting your time and mine.)

        E-mail is a great tool, but it’s there for our benefit.  We’re not here for its.  Respectfully, your position sounds like a reflection of the increasing tendency in our society to be in constant communication and on the go.  But what do I know; I don’t own a cell phone or pager and won’t work where I’m required to carry one.

      • #3106382

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by ewilson1313 ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        Sorry Gal, but I have to agree with the dissenters – I work as a data provisioner, and it’s my job to ensure that customer’s are installed or deconfigured, depending on each individual customer issue. There are only 4 of us in this group for a small, but soon to be mid-level CLEC that provides both V & D services. Yet I’m constantly seeing emails, directly to me (and not the group as a whole) concerning signing off on our stage in the process. I don’t have a problem doing this, but I have a worklist that numbers over 400 service orders on any given day, and this is supposed to be my primary job.

        Further, I am supposed to do these in a particular order, so the orders that are the oldest get done first (makes sense to me). But the individuals sending me these emails have no clue (and insultingly, act like I’m only surfing the net, can’t be doing anything important) that I am required to work orders in this manner, and get peeved when I fnally get a chance to reply to tell them I’ll get to it as soon as possible. However, doing the work I do, I really have to work hard just to read my emails (btw, I get at least 100 to 200 a day to both myself and my group as a whole, EVERY DAY), and if I just checked email, I’d be out a job.

        Sry, Gal  :o)

      • #3286120

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by Anonymous ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        Insert comment text here

        I do soooo agree with you, “Gal!”   Excuse me, but isn’t that what email was designed for?  Quick and easy communication?   Get up and walk over to someone’s desk?   For a quick question?   Sheesh!   Somebody has time on their hands.   As for “waiting for 4 emails” asking the same thing – what a time-waster!   In the time it took you to READ 4 emails, you could have answered the quick question.

        I think I’m reading a lot of egos in this group…….

        JVB

         

         

      • #3285661

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by gsg ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        Too much mail comes in for me to answer right away.  If I’m involved in something that needs my full attention, I’m not answering that email unless it’s an emergency.  And if you leave the subject line blank, I might not get back to you for a couple of days.  That said, I make every effort to get to my email in a timely manner.  However, when I get upwards of 100 messages a day, I have to prioritize, and since my boss doesn’t email unless it’s an emergency, she goes to the head of the list.

      • #3075410

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by goal120 ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        I totally agree with you!  (…. and with most of the responses!)  Hope the venting helped. 

        Would it be okay to pile on with a related annoyance?  Here’s what is bothering me this week:  I have gotten several phone calls and emails that literally say “Hi — I have a question.  Please give me a call.”  Sometimes there is more than one message like this from the same person.  And then when finally reach them on the phone, the question is something like “My mouse isn’t working — can I have a new one?”.

        Why, oh, why?

         

      • #3227696

        Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        by gyhgy ·

        In reply to Save me from the e-mail impaired!

        On one hand, I really hate the idea that people expect me to stay logged on to my email all day and instantly respond to their messages. I start to feel like I am chained to it and that if I don’t respond immediately, I’m in trouble. There are some people out there who will “have a cow” if you don’t respond to them in like a nanosecond, which is really irritating. I also hate that email constantly interrupts me from my important tasks-at-hand, and I do turn it off at times when I’m in complete overload. At the same time, I think it is very rude to simply NOT ANSWER an email from a coworker or business associate. No matter how unimportant it may seem to you, it’s only common courtesy to reply – at least within a week’s time period. But to ignore an issue hoping that it will just go away or work itself out is an inferior way to conduct business in my opinion. Occasionally, my emails to certain people have been ignored, and I know just how frustrating that can be. In the business world, we sometimes NEED to have answers in order to proceed with a particular project or task. Why should we have to nag you in five different emails or go hunt you down just to get an answer???  That’s pathetic. Ignoring an email because you’ll eventually be called or visited about the issue is a really a lazy, ineffective way to communicate. What a waste of time. And in business, time is money! Why not just respond to the email when you get a moment, and tell them upfront that you’d rather meet in person or talk on the phone about it?

    • #3105981

      Lessons my big brothers taught me

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      I grew up being the only girl in a house with three brothers. Therefore, on any given day in my house someone was clobbering someone else. Usually it was in fun, but sometimes it was just the way my brothers had of dealing with conflict. Of course, being the youngest and only sister, my involvement in the frays consisted merely of one of my brothers putting his hand on my head and holding me at arm’s distance while my little arms flailed into the air between us. They seemed to find that ever so amusing.

      Since I had no sisters, I had no early exposure to the covert warfare that some girls practice. Girls won’t usually slam your head into a wall, but they’ll casually say something so biting that later, when it dawns on you that it was an insult, you’ll want to slam your own head against a wall. (I’m making a generalization with the sexes here, so if you were a Gandhi-like adolescent boy or a Mike Tyson-like girl, I apologize.)

      I mention these differences because I grew up somewhat appreciating the straightforward ways of handling conflict that my brothers (when they were young and unruly) practiced. The cause of the conflicts was always clear and clean-cut and once it was over, it was over.

      Now fast-forward a few years and picture me in the corporate environment. It goes without saying that when one has an “issue” with someone at work, one cannot walk over and bop that person upside the head. And I’m not in any way recommending that. But the corporate environment can be more like the girls’ locker room in junior high school. There’s invariably an “in” crowd, people can be pigeon-holed very quickly and irrevocably, and if your parents won’t let you shave your legs until you’re 14, gym class will be a nightmare. (Oops, strike that last one.)

      It sometimes takes great stealth and Machiavellian planning to get a simple problem solved in a corporate environment. People are often reluctant to go to the source of a problem for fear of career repercussions. Sometimes the fear of conflict can cause problems to fester forever. I can appreciate the fact that we lose some of our rudimentary and barbaric behaviors as we age and mature, but why do we have to lose the good part too? There’s something to be said for directness–this includes having the guts to express your own thoughts and opinions, as well as being clear on what the expectations of your boss and coworkers are. Corporate employees can’t exercise that directness with a fist, but they don’t have to live in a psychological fetal position either.

      What do you think? (Or are you still grossed out over that leg-shaving reference?)

      • #3105886

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by bfilmfan ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        As long as your legs aren’t hairy still, I ain’t scared.

        In addition to the works of Machivelli, might I recommend the following philosophers as being necessary and useful for surviving the nonsense that is often the modern corporate environment:

        Sun Tzu’s The Art of War

        “To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

        Fredrich Nietzzshe’s writings

        “The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.”

        General George S. Patton

        “If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking.”

        Albert Einstein

        “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

        President George Washington

        “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. It is better be alone than in bad company.”

        And last, but not least, President Richard Nixon

        “Don’t get the impression that you arouse my anger. You see, one can only be angry with those he respects.”

      • #3105438

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by dawgit ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        Good points there Mr. B.Film, I enjoyed that.  And to Ms. PublishingGal, as to your statement: “I can appreciate the fact that we lose some of our rudimentary and barbaric behaviors as we age and mature…….” , we did?  And to: &”……… do we have to lose the good part too?”  Nope.!. (at least some of us didn’t, it’s called “Charater”) -d

      • #3264579

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by Michael Kassner ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        Dawgit,

        Amen, brother!

      • #3264547

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by traininggal ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        I have found these two points to be very helpful:  1 – understanding peoples’ personalitly styles and working with them.  It was helpful to me to take a brief course (e.g. DISC or The Platinum Rule).  2 – “Say what you mean, don’t say it mean.”  If you are going to confront someone, keep it to the facts, without emotion.  Whenever emotions have gotten the best of me, that’s when things really went downhill, and the whole point was lost.

        • #3264543

          Lessons my big brothers taught me

          by traininggal ·

          In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

          I have found these two points to be very helpful:  1 – understanding peoples’ personalitly styles and working with them.  It was helpful to me to take a brief course (e.g. DISC or The Platinum Rule).  2 – “Say what you mean, don’t say it mean.”  If you are going to confront someone, keep it to the facts, without emotion.  Whenever emotions have gotten the best of me, that’s when things really went downhill, and the whole point was lost.

      • #3264422

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by radobson ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        Getting an idea through the corporate world is really no different than developing software.

        You have to begin with the end in mind. You have to know a variety of ways to get to the end. And you have to be able to adapt.

        If you only have one style of communication, its kind of like knowing only one programming technology. Interesting, and you’re probably good at it, but some what less than useful in the broader business world.

        Don’t compromise your integrity, don’t compromise your principles. Don’t make the assumption that there is exactly one best way to communicate with everyone all the time.

        Speaking of 7th Grade, a couple of jobs ago I had a fellow employee (note the abscence of “co-worker” or “colleague”) write a cmment about my weight on her white board in a cube about 15 feet from mine. That was her response to me asking for the requirements for a project she ran that was in trouble and had failed 3 implementations. I don’t much miss Jr. High.

      • #3285493

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by unknown idiot ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        Unfortunately my big brother (who’s a shrink now) was the ghandi guy!  Add to that the fact that the conflicts around here are solved in the one room that over half the employees can’t enter and where does that leave us??????????

      • #3285482

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by unknown idiot ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        Unfortunately my big brother (who’s a shrink now) was the ghandi guy with long arms!  Add to that the fact that the conflicts around here are solved in the one room that over half the employees can’t enter and where does that leave me?????????? 

      • #3285480

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by mollenhourb9 ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        PublishingGirl, you are absolutely correct.  Our
        current society tries to turn our little boys into little girls.  As these
        boys become men, those who listened to the “intelligencia” become
        confused.  Zero tolerance policies at our schools only mean that any kid
        that doesn’t exhibit model behavior 24/7 is shuttled off, instead of being
        taught.  I’d rather have my son push someone on the playground and go to
        detention (I can deal with him when he gets home from school), then to grow up
        thinking that the appropriate way to solve a problem is to wait until the
        person with whom you have a problem leaves, then get all catty about him with
        your friends.
         

      • #3285476

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by Michael Kassner ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        Funny you should mention the zero-tolerance policy, mollenhourb, because that’s another pet peeve of mine. My son’s school goes as far as to say that if he is punched in the face and reacts by hitting back, he will be suspended. I think they expect a little too much Zen behavior from kids who are barely coping with life in general.

      • #3286689

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by bfilmfan ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        Only in school is it wrong to defend yourself against attack. I keep waiting on a court challenge due to someone fighting back against some Colombine-inspired nit wit. Of course if that happened, the parents might well lynch the administrators and school board.

      • #3286375

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by cmc ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        Exactly, I grew up playing “cowboys and Indians, and Kick the Can (Canadian kids game) and know exactly what you are saying.  I have 2 female bosses. One of them thinks like I do – you know where she stands, if something happens – it’s out in the open, dealt with, AND THEN IT’S OVER.  The other boss, you never know what’s going on with the little “ineuendos, remarks etc” and she holds a grudge – SO CHILDISH and lowers morale.  I’d take the first one anytime.  One blow, and its over.

         

      • #3075567

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by too old for it ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        The high school I went to was in deer hunting country.  We were allowed high-powered rifel, so on any given day during gun season, about a third of the lockers (guys and gals) had a .30-30, .30-`06 or some such in the locker.

        No one shot up the school, nobody would have thought about it.  You settled your beefs in the quad or up on the wrestling mats.

        As far as catty, inuendo-besotted managers of either gender, I like to call them out: “And just what do you mean by that catty little remark?”  Maybe because I’m old they think I’m just a curmudgeon …

      • #3075514

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        The problem is that people can only see two ways to conduct a conflict. Aggression, which at worst is physical violence and at best is verbal intimidation; or passive aggression, which takes many creative forms from simply aggreeing to do something and then quietly not doing it to undermining a person’s authority by spreading slanderous gossip.

        The proper way is to just be assertive. Try to get what you want in an honest, respectful way and then make peace with a universe in which not everyone can win every time.

        Women often look longingly at the way men solve disputes by pounding each other until one concedes. But the problem with this is that the man who is strongest, meanest, most experienced at fighting, or has the highest pain threshhold always wins. Guys who can get what they want by being tough don’t usually bother to get much of the other kind of education (just like women who can get what they want by being cute), so this technique has the lowest conceivable correlation with the merits of the two parties’ positions and as a tool for conflict resolution it is guaranteed not to advance civilization. The other problem is that a culture of violence keeps inventing technology to beat the other guy even if he is bigger and stronger. Eventually the combatants end up tossing each other in gas chambers or dropping nuclear bombs on each other’s cities.

        It was these final two ways of resolving conflicts the “masculine” way that was the cause of the Generation Gap in the 1960s. We young men recoiled in horror at the world that hundreds of generations of patriarchy had created, so we completely rejected our male elders as role models. We all learned to cry and do embroidery and express our feelings, and allowed ourselves to be initiated into life by our female elders.

        Of course this didn’t work. Every child has two mothers. They get loved enormously and ride around protected from the world by prams that look like little Volvos. But no one teaches them the important masculine lore, like deferred gratification, situational ethics, and letting your Dark Side out in controlled, ritualized circumstances where you have a good time but don’t do any serious harm.

        Or how to wage an argument like a REAL man, which is to be above the shouting and the name calling and let truth and righeousness prevail even if it’s the other guy.

        Come to think of it, there’s no good reason why a REAL woman can’t do the same thing.

        The paucity of worthy masculine role models has done a lot of harm to both men and women.

      • #3103910

        Lessons my big brothers taught me

        by jlrobins ·

        In reply to Lessons my big brothers taught me

        Raw aggression (verbal and physical) vs Ghandi vs middle school cliques… in the workplace!!!  Seen it. 

        At one job, a programmer (who thankfully was gone a couple of years before I started) was a real problem because of his angry and physically threatening outbursts, etc.  Shortly after I started, his mother’s body was found cut up and buried in a 50 gallon drum.  After a short investigation, the guy was arrested and convicted for the crime.

        “Assertive” is an interesting word.  I had a female supervisor that thought assertive was to tell you what you did wrong in private, and then discuss ‘the problem’ in a ‘general’ manner at the next staff meeting. The problem was that she always included enough details in the ‘general’ discussion that everyone knew who and what the problem was.  And she had a very sharp tongue, even in the group meetings, mixing nicely worded insults into the discussions; i.e., “that was not a very intelligent way of handling…”

        All too often, how a person presents themself is best judged by others.  They can not accurately hear what those around them are saying because, even if presented with examples of their behavior and how that impacted others, they are too personally involved to understand.

        For many people, unless they are consciously taught new ways of communicating, they will just continue to ‘refine’ and reuse the communication styles they found successful as kids.  That is not the best way.

         

    • #3103581

      Me, two dogs, and a litter box

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      This is a story of two dogs. (And it has a point, so stay with me.) Kipper is the name of one dog. He is a miniature dachshund that I got through a rescue organization when he was a year old. My other dog, Packer (Go Green Bay!), is a beautiful and regal white German Shepherd.

      You should know that Kipper is crazy. He is a short-legged, log-shaped bundle of neuroses the likes of which you’ve never seen. He barks when people leave the house, he goes crazy at doorbells (both live and on TV), and he loses his ever-lovin’ mind in a moving car. At the park, he picks fights with Rottweilers and at home he snacks from the litter box (the latter I think qualifies as a crime against humanity.)

      Now Packer, on the other hand, is ruffled by nothing. I show that dog how to do something once and he’s got it. He’s a stoic, Rin Tin Tin-ish dream dog. Dependable, protective, and asks nothing in return (mainly because he can’t talk, but you know what I mean).

      You can guess which one, out of necessity, garners most of my attention. Yep, the one with all the problems; the squeaky wheel (or, in this case, the pip-squeaky wheel). It’s an unconscious thing. It’s not favoritism, it’s just a matter of my attention being taken up by problems that happen to be continuously caused by the same entity.

      I’m using a dumb example to make a point. My point is that this phenomenon can also happen in families, where one child needs more attention due to bad behavior or ill health. And it can also happen at work. (Note: I’m not comparing your staff members to animals, I’m merely discussing a psychological phenomenon.)

      If you’re a manager dealing with a poor performer who you are trying to get on the right track, you can easily start to take your good employees for granted. The good news is that your good employees have their own personal standards and probably don’t need feedback to keep doing their jobs well. The bad news is that’s no excuse. It’s still your job to nurture and encourage good traits like productivity and dependability, just as much as it’s your job to correct the bad ones. At some point, and better sooner than later, you’re going to have to step back and take a look at how the problematic employee is affecting the morale of the rest of the team. If the problems can be fixed, then by all means fix them. But take time every now and then to acknowledge the good stuff that’s happening, and the good work that allows you to step away and focus on the problems.

      • #3103501

        Me, two dogs, and a litter box

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to Me, two dogs, and a litter box

        I can’t speak to the dog-as-metaphor-for-people part of the story, but as a breeder I can help with the litter box problem.

        Dogs have a bacterial culture residing in their intestines just like we do, which functions as an integral, if symbiotic, component of their digestive process. The problem is that we, whose remote ancestors had to digest leaves, have something like a hundred feet of intestine; whereas dogs, whose immediate ancestors on a good day ate nothing but meat, have about two feet.

        It doesn’t take much to destroy the balance or completely kill off a dog’s bacterial colony. Wild canids have the instincts to deal with this problem. They are the only predators who eat their entire kill, including the intestines, the contents thereof in all stages of decomposition, and the accompanying bacteria. Wolves, jackals, and their more distant relatives like foxes, replenish their bacteria at every meal.

        Some of these species like coyotes have adapted spectacularly well to living in the shadows of civilization and have become clever and inquisitive scavengers. Nothing pumps up the bacteria of a lonely colon like a tasty meal from a garbage can that’s been left outside for a few days.

        But domestic dogs have a problem. Since the more adaptable individuals in wolf packs moved in with us voluntarily to form the world’s first multi-species community about twelve thousand years ago, they have slowly been adapting to an omnivorous diet. Their teeth have lost some of their raw-meat-ripping power, their brains have shrunk a tiny bit to accommodate less protein, and their tastes have changed so they would rather eat the perfectly good food we drop on the ground than our babies.

        But twelve thousand years isn’t very much time. DNA analysis has proven that dogs and wolves are a single species, and nothing illustrates that better than a tour down their alimentary canal. Dogs still need a bacterial colony in their intestines, just like the descendants of the wolves who chose to eschew human companionship.

        So what do we feed them? Manufactured food full of preservatives. The first thing the preservatives do when they hit the old colon is kill off the bacteria. Duh. That’s what preservatives are designed to do. Your gardener will scream at you to never use dog stool as fertilizer, since the preservatives in it will sterilize your soil.

        The poor dog needs bacteria. Dachshunds were developed to control burrowing vermin (badgers specifically, “Dachsen” in German), but I doubt very much that your dog ever has the chance to kill a wild animal and feast on the bacteria in its gut. Call it an educated guess.

        So what’s he gonna do? Hey, smell all that fresh bacteria in the cat box! The colon will rest happily tonight.

        Dogs will eat each other’s stool, the stool that foxes, skunks, and raccoons leave in your yard, and even their own. Despite the preservatives in the food, no preservative that’s available on the consumer market can completely thwart the growth of a bacterial colony in stool left out in the open air. For a dog, leaving his stool out in the yard is just a new stage in the digestive process that is both called for and provided by domesticated life.

        So what you need to understand first is: This is natural, this is normal, this is healthy. Dogs were designed by nature to eat stool and it’s good for them.

        If you don’t want them to eat stool, then you have to provide them enough bacteria that they don’t feel the hunger for it. The first thing to do is make sure your dog food contains no preservatives. There’s plenty of that kind on the market these days. It may be more expensive but your dog can digest it better so you’re probably paying less per unit of nutritional value. Second, make sure your dog gets enough water. That way the food will be in a medium that facilitates complete digestion and promotes the growth of internal bacteria.

        If that’s not enough, if your dog still has a taste for bacteria… well then feed him some. Yogurt with live culture mixed in with his food is a perfect source. If you give him too much he’ll start to be too loose, so it’s easy to reach the right balance. Then play food detective and make sure he’s not getting preservatives in something else you feed him. If he gets table scraps (naughty naughty), that food from your plate could be just jam-packed with preservatives. It could also be full of antibiotics, which will kill the bacteria for the same reason: that’s their job. Commercial milk sometimes has that problem. Even commercial meat for human consumption can be made from livestock that’s been overdosed on antibiotics.

        You’re best off to give your dog only food that was made for dogs and that is specifically free of preservatives. There are plenty of good dog treats, he doesn’t need bits of bagels and cream cheese.

        But you may have to find a way to make the cat box unavailable to him. Cat food is much higher in protein than dog food, and even after recycling it represents a real treat, with or without the bacteria. Your dog is not exactly well civilized, so you may never succeed in training him to have good manners and not eat from the cat box.

        Good luck!

      • #3103946

        Me, two dogs, and a litter box

        by cb0503 ·

        In reply to Me, two dogs, and a litter box

        Publishing gal, I recognise what you are saying from my horses – the one that does it right first time would get sour if we did the same thing over and over again. The one that doesn’t get it first time needs feedback and repetition to learn what it is I am asking for.

        It would be like asking the quick learner “what is 2 plus 2 ?” and she answers “4” but then I ask the same question. If I am not careful she will start to doubt that “4” is the answer and start offering different answers…

        But if I quit asking “what is 2 plus” when she gives the right answer, she gets less of my time, less of my feedback…

        So then it becomes a challenge for me to set a *new* question, one which will extend our skills together. And maybe its not a completely new question, but a different way of posing the original one “two apples plus two pears equals four items of fruit” ?

        Either horse requires me to use my imagination…as a coach to help them realise *their* potential… but in completely different ways. “neglecting” the fast learner is not a consequence of her good behaviour but rather a consequence of me not engaging my imagination…

        of course its a little easier with a horse as they don’t eat the litter tray, or chase the postman or his car  (just the lambs next door !).

      • #3103934

        Me, two dogs, and a litter box

        by jlrobins ·

        In reply to Me, two dogs, and a litter box

        Try another analogy that is a little more ‘human’ and complete.

        Almost everyone has gone to some sort of school.  In some class, we have all had a class clown, a troublemaker, teacher’s pet, the slow learner, the kid with problems at school because life is hell at home, or other ‘attention magnets’.  The teacher is distracted by these sorts in different ways.  But each one takes attention, support, and a chance to learn away from every other student in the class.

        It takes a good ‘teacher’ to learn when and how to deal with each of these attention demanding behaviors in a way that does not take away from the average to good performers.  Sometimes it involves just supressing a particular behavior (tantrums, tattling, distracting people from the learning activities of the entire class, etc.). Other times it involves spending extra time teaching the person the skills needed to compensate for the real cause of their ‘behavior problem’.  For example, often the troublemakers are often either slow learners hiding their problems by disrupting other’s chance to learn, or are bored with what they are doing because they are really smart; exactly opposite ends of the ‘skills’ issue.  But the solution is often similar: find what excites them, give them the tools and support to move in that direction and they will solve your problem for you, they will motivate themselves and demand less attention… or they will figure out that they don’t belong in your ‘class’, and make the effort to find the right ‘class’.

         

    • #3103950

      Don’t discipline entire staff for mistakes of one person

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      One of the first management mistakes I ever made occurred when I had just been assigned my first team to manage. I was young and inexperienced, but eager and confident that I knew how to guide my team to corporate greatness. In other words, I was delusional.

      The problem arose when one woman on my team starting slacking off on work, causing other team members to pick up the pace for her. I don’t even think she realized that she was doing this; she just subconsciously depended on the good will of her teammates to even things out. The me that I am today would readily approach the woman herself to talk about the issues she was having. However, the me I was back then was unable to take the direct approach out of fear that I would hurt her feelings or become–God forbid–an UNPOPULAR MANAGER. Instead I called a team meeting and announced a new policy. “Due to some projects whose deadlines haven’t been met,” I said (and thank goodness for passive voice), “Each team member will keep a log of all work he or she completes, and turn the log into me weekly.” My goal was that the slacker would see from the logs that her name showed up less frequently beside completed work than those of her peers.

      Now, in my little manager fantasyland, this woman would have had an epiphany of self-awareness at this announcement and realized that I was talking about her, begged my forgiveness, and re-devoted her entire life to the company cause. Of course, that didn’t happen. I was wrong to think someone could read my mind. If you want clarification or changes, you simply have to be direct and explicit. Here’s what happened:

      Over the course of the next week, each of the “stars” on my team approached me separately at some point, asking if he or she had done something wrong to cause the new policy. The overachievers and perfectionists all blamed themselves. I had to tell each person it was not him or her without mentioning the name of the person the policy was intended for. And of course, my problem employee blithely went about life without a care in the world, never once asking if the problem had been with her.

      It goes without saying that my remedy didn’t work. I had to eventually speak to her about the particulars of her performance directly–what I should have done in the first place. Unfortunately, she never improved.

      I once heard an expression that the world is made for people who are not cursed with self-awareness. The over-achievers on my team were hyper-sensitive to the perceptions of others so my actions caused them unnecessary worry. My friend the shirker, however, probably never suffered a moment of honest self-evaluation in her life.

      • #3103925

        Don’t discipline entire staff for mistakes of one person

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to Don’t discipline entire staff for mistakes of one person

        IT is a singularly dismal profession in which to find help in becoming a better manager. Most of our superiors got their promotions the same way we did: “deserving” them for being outstanding technicians with a rudimentary organizational perspective. Without receiving one moment of training in the duties of a hands-on first-line supervisor, which are arguably the most critical in a field that by its nature attracts people who are brilliant enough to get themselves in trouble and lack the social skills to get out.

        I hope you didn’t beat yourself up too badly for your mistake. You were doing the best you could with the preparation you were given, which was probably zero. You learned your lesson so you could do better the next time. That’s often what life is all about.

        However, it must be said that contemporary organizations, particularly in technology, make management difficult. Any Management 101 textbook will tell you, probably in the preface, that in order to be a successful manager you have to learn to manage results. Not effort, not attitude.

        Okay, how do we measure the results of our IT projects? Duh.

        How many IT shops measure the deliverables of their software development projects using Function Points, the only viable unit of measurement? Clue: There are only a couple of thousand Certified Function Point Specialists on the entire planet. How can you tell whether your developers have delivered a reasonable amount of functionality in a reasonable time, for a reasonable cost, with a reasonable MTBF, if you can’t measure what they built?

        How many IT shops have rigorous, or even halfway honest, timekeeping procedures? Clue: The average American work week has crept back up to 50 hours, the same as it was at the end of the Victorian Era before Henry Ford discovered that the quality and productivity of work requiring concentration and coordination (such as, to pick an example at random, programming a computer) drops off precipitously after 40 hours. Yet if you look at the time records of any American IT shop, you’ll find that every staff member worked only 40 hours every week. Gee, who’s out there working the 500-hour weeks that keep that average up? How can we measure productivity if it’s an American secret of sacramental proportions that our labor records are nothing but lies?

        It’s very difficult to set measurable, understandable, agreeable performance goals for your staff if you don’t have any for yourself. Tom DeMarco has launched a withering salvo against the dinosaur managers left over from the Industrial Era who rate the performance of their subordinates exclusively on attendance and “looking busy.” We have trained an entire generation of office workers to “look busy,” whether or not they actually accomplish anything. It’s no wonder these managers are scared witless at the prospect of telecommuting. These people would be incapable of knowing whether their employees are working if they couldn’t physically spy on them. Especially with no good, measurable idea of what their entire team is supposed to be doing or how to tell if they’re doing it effectively. DeMarco warns us that what factory managers punished as “slack” is really “protective capacity.” When people appear to be idle or distracted, even playing solitaire or minesweeper, that may be the time when they’re doing their creative thinking, which could be largely unconscious. These breaks may be the resource that allow people to figure out how to “work smarter, not harder.”

        I just read a short bio of Jean Henri Fabre, the great entomologist of the nineteenth century. He became famous for using children’s fascination with insects to teach them lessons about life. I was moved by his demonstration of the activities of the Processionary Caterpillar. He filled a flowerpot with their primary food source, pine needles. Then he arranged a column of them around the rim of the pot so they were touching head-to-tail. Each one diligently followed the one in front. They circled the pot for seven days and then fell over dead from starvation, six inches away from an inexhaustible food supply.

        They had mistaken effort for accomplishment. Many IT managers do the same thing.

        I’m sure you had measurable goals for your staff and that the lady you terminated was simply incompetent rather than creative. But many managers in your position would not have been equipped to recognize someone who had seen through the facade of “We’ve always done it this way” and realized that some of her assignments were meaningless.

      • #3103862

        Don’t discipline entire staff for mistakes of one person

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to Don’t discipline entire staff for mistakes of one person

        One of My Two Rules!

        Publishing Gal, this is one of my two rules of management.  One never discipline the group for an individual failing, and two never discipline an individual for a group failing.

        For rule 1, my results have been the same as above.  The individual in question never got the message, and the people who got the message weren’t the problem.  Never have a group discussion, a broadcast e-mail, or write a policy based on one person’s actions or inactions.

        For rule 2, never let frustration with an ongoing issue allow you to lash at one person.  The person who gets reprimanded will be confused why he got picked on when everyone else was doing it and the others are likely to ignore the issue assuming it is based upon something else relating to the individual.  If your team is consistantly late coming to meetings, don’t suddenly go ballistic on the last person in the door.  Admit that you have been letting the situation procede, but you have decided to change the rules.  Take responsibility for the current team actions, but request change.

        I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen these two rules violated, never providing the desired outcome.  Thanks for raising the issue!

    • #3148643

      The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      It seems like everywhere you turn these days people are talking about how to cope with workplace stresses, particularly in reference to those co-workers who drive us crazy. There are books, like Working with You is Killing Me, that talk about how we can be trapped in relationships with a co-worker, boss, or subordinate who just pushes your buttons. We all say we know these kinds of people. But here’s a scary thought–what if that person is you but you just don’t know it? What if you don’t come across to others as the amiable, suave sophisticate that you think you are?

      Think about it for a moment. We all know, for example, those people who can’t stop talking; the ones who go on and on in excruciating detail about some minute event in their lives. You can’t get a word in edgewise and you can’t get away from them. (I call encounters with these people “paw-chewers,” because they make me feel like the animal caught in a trap that will chew its own paw off rather than stay in the trap.) But the talker never knows he’s the talker, does he? He doesn’t pick up on the subtle signs, like your glazed-over eyes, your stifled yawns, your loud snoring. Could you also be lacking that self-perception?

      Last week I was talking to my 3-year-old twin nephews and made a joke. They laughed and laughed and I basked in the chuckles thinking I must be one cool, funny aunt. That is until one twin, still laughing, said, “Did you hear her? Who talks like that?” Well, there went my illusions. I went from being Cool Aunt to Instant Dweeb Aunt in one second, cut down in the comedic prime of life.

      Of course, children have a complete lack of artifice. If a thought swirls around their brains, it comes out their mouths. So if you don’t measure up in their worlds, you’ll know it. Stories like this make me think about the difference between how we see ourselves and how others perceive us. We can’t always have a small child around to point out our obvious deficits. Most of the time I’m pretty confident that I appear to others as I really am, but sometimes I just don’t know. For example, I’ve had colleagues tell me that as a public speaker I come across as very self-assured and calm. That’s amazing to me because I feel like I’m coming across as The Nutty Professor. In that case, I’m pretty happy with their erroneous perceptions. But it could just as easily work against me.

      I once had a co-worker confess that, before he’d gotten to know me, he was scared to death of me. Of course, I was about 14 months pregnant at the time and generally pretty surly so I imagine I was fairly scary to the uninitiated. But still, it just floored me that I would have given someone that impression of me.

      So what if I have other characteristics that are being misinterpreted that I don’t know about? I mean, we all know that person with low self-esteem who comes across as completely arrogant or the shy person who comes across as snobby. It’s easy to make assumptions about co-workers when you only know them so well. Of course, if we all communicated as well as we should (my constant mantra it seems), we’d eliminate or at least ease many workplace problems. But since there aren’t any three-year-olds around the workplace, what are we to do?

      Want to see who’s next On the Soapbox? Find out in the Blog Roundup newsletter. Use this link to automatically subscribe and have it delivered directly to your Inbox every Wednesday.

      • #3150259

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by stubby ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        Good shout ….. in my last but one job a colleague whom later became (and still is) a very good friend told me once that when he first met me he thought I was “obnoxious and that he just wanted to hit me” …. as my jaw fell off he quickly added that he realised very quickly that “it was just that I am confident about who I am and what I know”. It certainly made me stop and think about how I come over to others …..

      • #3150205

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by msg2612 ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        There’s this one guy we work with named Steve.  He’s a good guy
        and has a HUGE heart, but get him started and he just will not SHUT
        UP!!  haha!, and try to politely walk away from him and he just
        follows you, continuing the conversation to your back.  Most times
        I just try to politely nod while walking away.  Once, I even
        closed my office door over behind me as he was following, rambling on
        about some statistics of some new supercar, and he actually open my
        door and followed me in and kept on going.  There’s no stopping
        this guy!  He traps everyone like this.  Finally, I found a
        way to kinda put a stop to it without hurting his feelings — You just
        bust in on his conversation to rescue the others and say, “Steve, are
        you rambling on again?”  He just laughs and goes about his
        business.

      • #3150168

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by dand ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        Having an extensive background in the liberal arts, I just can’t help but torment the hard core geeks with it once in a while…

      • #3151243

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by torsten_svenson ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        Reminds me of people at work when we go out afterhours, never really noticed how self centered?most of them?really were until I actually stopped drinking. I could stand chatterboxes but it starts to grate the ears after awhile when you notice the conversation about “him/her” ,how much money will that person get, what that person has better than someone, the usual competitive trash

        Why can’t a conversation not be mostly centered on who is better or the “ME” or “I” compared or “whoever” ?because they have?”more of”,”something the other person does not have”?,”the university s/he went to is better”,?higher degree ,etc.

        what disgusted me most is some people?I know (even related to)still took?a wake?as opportunity to say how “better they were” compared to that family?and/or the deceased. That is an extreme no one want a part of.

        It?really shows how?bankrupt a personality is when all they could talk about are “possessions of mind and body”? (quoted that one from an old?pal of mine from school?called Norm)then have to be validated every time you meet them when they should be finding common interests or some thing that both parties enjoy to talk about rather than beat their chests and play the “alpha” person.

        ?

      • #3151239

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by bradcoll ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        I once met this girl, that was at first impression, really boring, quite and had no sense of humour, I later found out she thought I was loud & obnoxious.

        She had got this impression from my from my high self confidence, and was therefore intimidated by me. Well that was nearly 15 years ago and we have been happily married for the last 10 of those

      • #3151224

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by chaz chance# ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        So, my conversational skills would be better if I was more involved in conversations, but I don’t get to talk to people much, so I don’t know when I am being boring, or going on and on…  How do I know whether you are interested in the minutia or the big things?  

        Most of my conversations are in my head, and there is no discrimination there.  It doesn’t matter if I drift from topic to topic, eventually forgetting what the original subject was.  If I was involved in more of your discussions, maybe I would learn from example.

        I put so much time into learning things, perhaps because I have fewer social engagements to take up my time.  Sometimes, I can’t understand how you don’t know all this stuff that I know, and I have to tell you because it’s important that you should know.  I can’t understand how you manage to live your lives without knowing the things I have learned!

        People occasionally make comments about how I talk, and they aren’t always nice, and even when they are I worry that they are just hiding being not nice.  So I retreat and avoid conversations so when I do start to talk I got all this stuff inside of me just waiting and I gotta let it out…

        ====

        Okay, that’s not me (well, not much, anyway).  It’s a mixture of some of the people I know and care about.  Each one has their own special talents.  Each one is a good person.

        I don’t know how to help them, but I won’t give up on them.  I won’t join the others, who complain about them behind their back, or even say obnoxious things to their face.  I WILL ask them along when we go for drinks.  I WILL ask their opinion on topics of general discussion.  I don’t expect great results, but it can get lonely in a big office when people avoid you.  Sometimes others see what I am doing, and join in, and sometimes they cut me out, instead.

        I won’t give up on them.  And maybe I will learn something along the way.  Might become less of a bore myself.

        By the way, have you seen those new style train tickets, with the P/CODL number printed on the top?…

      • #3151180

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by techinprogress ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        This article was very interesting. In fact, I usually thought about this and thought that I was being kind of obnoxious at work and annoying. I was so much distressed about it that I asked a colleague of mine about their perception of me. Well, they informed me that my delegation skills needed some working and that being in the position that I’m in I need to distribute my workload evenly to other individuals because it causes me to rant and rave when I become overloaded with work. Naturally, I defended myself but I stopped and thought about what my colleague was telling me and realized that they were right. I’ve come to realize that I was taking on a lot of responsibility which in turn would make me become arrogant, self-centered, and annoying idiot. I believe that we all must sometimes stop and think about who we are as individuals and analyze what factors make us the way we are.

      • #3151164

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by Michael Kassner ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        That’s a good idea–asking a co-worker to give you an honest appraisal of how you’re perceived. Of course, it could be painful and you may not get a totally objective answer from the person. But it’s a start and shows that you at least want to be aware of how you come across to people.

      • #3151155

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by jaqui ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        Is it Me?

        I hope so. `grin~
        I love irritating people and making them check their assumptions, it’s so much fun.

        I know I’m not always right, but if I can get those around me to really look at what they beleive on a spcific subject then we all learn something. the disagreements often lead to people researching the subject so the inofrmation improves everyone’s knowledge about it.

        Just had to point out that being the obnoxious / abrasive person isn’t always an unintended effect, and can be used to improve the skills of everyone in the office.

      • #3151135

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by osirisb ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        I worked with one of those guys who wouldn’t shut up and would follow anyone who walked away. However, the interesting thing about him was that he KNEW he had a “talking problem”. So whenever he rambled, I would say “You know, you’re doing it again” and he would finish the current story and leave. I know it’s blunt, but that was the only way I found to get him to be quiet. And it never seemed to bother him when I said it (he always came back eventually).

      • #3151126

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by bassplayer and drummer ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        Oh, come on!  Everyone knows I’m the best co-worker to have
        around.  They all find my personal drivelings quite interesting,
        and I know that when they are running away from me they really want to
        hear more.  😉

        Ha ha… my sense of humor can be grating at times, and I know
        that.  that’s why I keep my jokes to myself.  I take my cell
        phone with me to a conference room when I need to make personal calls
        knowing that I might have to be a little loud.  I do my best not
        to look over people’s shoulders at what is on their computer
        screens.  I try to maintain positive energy without being overly
        exurberant.  I’ve been told that I sound too chipper and need to
        sound more depressed.  There’s a delicate balance between
        confidence and coming across as a loose cannon.

      • #3151059

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by gardoglee ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        Being the obnoxious one is way too easy, but even easier is seeing someone else as being the obnoxious one.  One way of countering this is to occasionally remind yourself that all of those obnoxious, boring, ignorant, stupid or even outright demented people you meet at work are very, very likely to be just as intellignet, knowledgable, smart, funny and relevant as you are.  Instead of running that internal dialog about why you are justified in thinking of them as irritating or worse, you can try to figure out how they must be looking at things for what they say to make sense to themselves.  At that point you will not only have figured out how to deal with whatever is biting you, but you may also have inadvertently seen something new and different which you hadn’t considered.

        Saying that is also much easier than actually doing it, but I’ve always found that when I can discipline myself to try to see my coworkers as actually being just as great and wonderful as me, I frequently discover that they are at least as smart as me, always know a few things I don’t, and that I am learning something valuable.  Even the most obnoxious bore knows something useful which I don’t yet know.

      • #3151048

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by gsquared ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        http://www.c-comltd.com/unskilled_&_unaware.htm

        Has some interesting things to say about this kind of subject.

      • #3151023

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        This ought to give you some perspective, from the Demotivators that were posted here a few days ago:

        http://techrepublic.com.com/2300-22_11-6063627-12.html

        About the only thing we can do with people who are annoying is to live up to our principles, be honest, and tell them. They may respond with hostility, and worst of all they may not change, but it’s the best we can do.

        Remember that the reason it got this bad was that somebody should have told them this a long time ago and didn’t, so the person assumes that they’re getting along fine. If you’re the first one to disagree with what they assume is everyone else they’ve ever met in their life, you can see the problem. It would be helpful to have some other people who are willing to back you up. In which case you have to use your very best people skills and come across as caring friends, or the person will start to smell a conspiracy. Now there’s a whole group of you who disagree with everyone else they’ve ever met in their life, this is no longer just one mean person but an evil cabal.

        But it’s a lot easier to get someone to criticize you than to get someone to accept your criticism. If you suspect you have a behavior flaw and you ask enough people about it, you won’t have to go far to find someone who’s willing to take the chance on upsetting you. This is I.T., after all, a haven for people with seriously undeveloped social skills.

        The slogan on that Demotivator poster reads: “DYSFUNCTION. The only consistent feature of all your dissatisfying relationships is you.”

      • #3151001

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by mmiller ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        I am the Proposal Manager for my company. I face any number of unmovable deadlines every week. As most people know, if you miss the due date stated in an RFP you are most likely out of luck.

        I am in a cubicle environment which can make my job almost impossible. I sit near the “Cackler.” All day, every day, at least hourly, she demonstrates her distracting laugh. Others are equally rude. Hallway conversations (often non-work topics) are constant. People come over near my cubicle to use their cell phones. My cubicle is near the building atrium and reception there is better. I have lobbied for an office but to no avail. Offices are assigned based on position and do not take into consideration an employees needs.

        I know that some people view me as crabby and unfriendly and would tag me as an obnoxious co-worker. This isn’t true. Most of those that feel that way have been asked, by me, to take their conversations to a more appropriate location. Some are amenable to my request; others act like I just slapped them. I put up some signs but was told to take them down because they were rude. The signs said, “This is not a conference area. Please take your conversations to a more appropriate location.” My intention was not to be rude but to remind people that I was trying to work.

        It would be extremely difficult to confront the people causing the distractions because they are in the majority. I am afraid that my options are limited to adapting to the distractions or finding another job.

        By the way, I have tried noise reducing headphones and music but find them almost as much of a distraction.

      • #3150864

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by callplus ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        Who the f**k said I’m obnoxious??!?! Come here and say it to my face ya cheeky B*stard!!

        [edited 4 poor grammar. doh!]

        Seriously tho I got some good advice from someone regarding us techies. We can spend our day effing and blinding at computers and cursing Bill from a height but it’s no problem because they don’t talk back (I think…) However when we are confronted with real people and their problems these, er, “high spirits” can sometimes carry over.

        Last week at the end of one of those lovely 12 hour days I finally got down to look at a problem. What was it? Fecking network cable not plugged in. Yeah I let my true emotions reveal themselves! The PC equivalent of a car running out of gas. Bitch complained about me too! My manager was cool tho, heh-heh!

        Friday here and We have a work pub crawl commencing in T minus 2 hours 40mins so I’m happy now…

      • #3150617

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by fr_gough ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        It’s easy to tell if you are the one.

        If the words “High self confidence” or their equivalent ever passes your brain, then know that you are an annoying git. And, no it’s not because you have high self-confidence, it’s because you’re an egotistical annoying git.

      • #3149842

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        MMiller: Your company is not very savvy if it doesn’t recognize your problem. Where I work, the areas like yours that are likely to attract people who are likely to bother the residents have signs posted reminding everyone to be considerate. And we all try to remember to do it.

        If you can’t get your superiors to see your point of view then there’s a real communication problem underlying all of this.

        Nonetheless, SOMEBODY has to have the office near the atrium, so your location is a measure of your status in the company.

        Keep at it with the noise canceling headphones. You’ll have to spend some time getting used to them but you will. As for music, I find music with lyrics to be distracting. I think it competes for the language brain center. But instrumental music, whether it’s Debussy or Tangerine Dream or Jean-Luc Ponty, doesn’t seem to do that. You might try it.

      • #3149709

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by absolutely ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        If co-workers are pushing your buttons, maybe you have too many
        buttons.  I’m paid to get things done, not to make friends, and if
        you have a problem with that, take it to your therapist because I have
        better things to do than listen to you whine.  I work to make
        money, not friends.  We don’t have to like each other to work
        together.

      • #3149659

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by absolutely ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        If co-workers are pushing your buttons, maybe you have too many
        buttons.  I’m paid to get things done, not to make friends, and if
        you have a problem with that, take it to your therapist because I have
        better things to do than listen to you whine.  I work to make
        money, not friends.  We don’t have to like each other to work
        together.

      • #3149443

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by stooobeee ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        One of the best books I ever read was: How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. He did not describe theoretical attempts to improve one’s image, but practical ones found through trial and error. He was not simply trying to demonstrate how one’s reputation was perceived, which is something we tweak on the outside to influence others to think of us how we want them to think, but our character, giving us true credibility and predictability from the inside.

        People generally know when they are obnoxious and self-interested, but there are inward features of us all that need to be satisfied. This is what makes us unique. In fact our own personalities contribute to the very characteristics about people we love and despise. It is interesting that the obnoxious person is not obnoxious to all people—only some. Others around him can be friendly, even kind if they choose. That is really where all relationships begin and end—they are choices. After all, what reward is there when we love someone who loves us back; we do not have to give more than they. But to be kind when someone treats us with contempt shows others who we are on the inside; we too are not exempt from responsibility to be to others what we want them to be to us—even when they make a choice not to be.

      • #3148402

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by hlhowell9 ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        An IP professional who is obnoxious?  Perish the thought!  Ha! Ha! Ha!

        We are almost all basically nerds to the “normal folks”, and so can be misjudged by our deeds and statements when we get in the sunshine (Yes, Mortimer, there really is  a sun!).

        Me, I am just an obnoxious old Chief Petty Officer (you can take the Chief out of the Navy, but you can’t pry the coffee cup from his cold dead fingers).

        Seriously, though, some folks need a little recognition, and may not be getting it in their comfy cubicle.  Others just need to blow off steam once in a while, and still others want to be recognized as a contributing human.  Some time and comfort will help most of these folks.  Granted that there are a few that are beyond the pale, but generally they soon grow weary and move on as well.  Listen but don’t encourage them.

        I am somewhat obnoxious myself.  If you ask me for something and I get iit for you, I expect you to recognize me and accept the gift of my efforts.  Some people think they are too good to talk to anyone, or even deign that others exist in their narcissistic world.  They own their BMW, the fancy house in the gated community, and think they are the personification of everyones dreams and aspirations.  However being a legend in your own mind doesn’t relieve you of the responsibility of being and behaving as a human being.

        Me, I am probably what many of you would not want for a boss.  I expect excellence, team work, participation and good work.  I expect you to do the job.  I also expect you to inter act with others, teaching, and learning  from the team’s total experience.  I also expect my people to be self directed, highly motivated, and I will help you with those tasks if you are not on target.

        But that is just me.

        Good luck with the obnoxious folks you create in your own life.  I had my share as well.

        Regards,

        Les H

      • #3148401

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by aaron a baker ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        Unfortunately the God lord gave me a face that looks like I just killed my own family.

        No kidding, It’s not about being ugly, “I don’t think I am” but it’s about looking dead serious etc. Upon seeing me coming, you would easily say, this guy is an “Axe Murderer”.

        So I find myself going overboard in an effort to show that I’m not a bad Guy at all. So much so that sometimes this has gotten me into trouble. Or the reverse, people wonder what it is you want from them?, why are you being so nice? and all the rest.

        In an effort to show people and I’m actually a really good guy, and if the truth be known, once the people get to know me and talk to me, they usually like me. After all, I AM a god guy, it’s the face, the “looks could kill” syndrome is what I call it.

        I can’t help what I look like. I look like a very serious man who’s gone through just about every facial acrobatic you can think of in order to soften my facial expressions and appearance, to no avail.

        So now my attitude, is “Hey, this is me” once you get to know me, you’ll like me, if not, it will be your loss.

        Regards

        Aaron

         

      • #3148282

        The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        by mcwise ·

        In reply to The obnoxious co-worker–is it you?

        The interesting thing to me is being in a situation in which I started
        out as a good guy, but the more I’ve gotten to know the company
        policies and practices (over a year’s time), the more I’ve ceased being
        a teammate and being “the enemy”.  I’m in a Fortune 100
        company.  A high level tech.  20 years of experience. 
        Altho I could stay at this company, I refuse to be abused or to be part
        of a situation where my team is abused.

    • #3149287

      When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      I once managed a team of people, all of whom were in their 20s. They were all creative and hard-working and got along with each other well. Too well, in fact, as I was to find out that two of them?I’ll call them Jane and John?had begun dating. Since they were peers (one didn’t carry any corporate influence over the other), the company had no formal rules against their dating.

      As manager, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the situation because Jane could sometimes be a little unstable in her personal relationships and I feared the effect a spat between them might have on their working relationship. As it turns out, they only lasted about a month. If I had been uncomfortable with the dating, you can imagine how ill-prepared I was to deal with the breakup.

      John was eager to get past the bad feelings and went out of his way to speak to Jane, sometimes walking by her office to say hello. Jane, on the other hand, was not so eager. The next thing I knew, Jane asked to speak to me confidentially. She explained to me that she thought John was maybe stalking her. She said she didn’t want me to take any formal action but she just wanted me aware of it.

      Now, let me just say that I seriously doubted John was stalking. He’d initiated the breakup to begin with, and he was a really nice guy, so I think he was genuinely trying to reach out to be friends again. However, a hostile work environment is in the eyes of the beholder. If Jane felt his actions were threatening or offensive, then that became the fact of the matter. Legally, I had to take some kind of formal action. If I didn’t and John turned out to be some closet psycho, I and the company could be sued. I had to document Jane’s statements and speak to John.

      In the case of a hostile work environment lawsuit, I would have to be able to produce some documentation that the matter had been dealt with in order to protect the company from liability. I had to step away from my gut feeling about this guy and speak to him. I also had to draw up a short warning for his file explaining her interpretation of his behavior and had him sign it. From that day on, he steered clear of Jane. (Which, ironically, probably created a hostile work environment for him, but he never mentioned it.) But I had a legal obligation and as manager I had to protect the company. It was just another one of those times where, as manager, I had to step out of my personal feelings and walk the company line. Have you ever had to deal with a similar situation?

      • #3149238

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by wordworker ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        You did the right thing by writing up the incident.  This story is further proof (as if anybody with half sense and one eye needed proof) that you should NEVER date a coworker.  I have never seen it work out well.  When I was a programmer for a law firm, they had a strict rule against “dating the help.”  When one of the attorneys started dating or married another lawyer or paralegal or administrative assistant, they were told that one of them had to go.  The cool thing was the firm’s management would help the displaced attorney/paralegal/secretary get a new job at another law firm.

      • #3149222

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by wayne m. ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        Use One’s Own Judgment

        I think this is one of the gray areas where a supervisor needs to use his own best judgment.  Without knowing the full details, I think I would have handled this like any other disagreement between staff members and would have facilitated a brief meeting between them rather than creating a formal document.

        Rather than play intermediary between Jane and John, I would have first called them together and have them agree to some ground rules for working in the same group.  Make sure that each party explicitly states his expectations and each understands what the other desires.  Also, make clear to both of them that failing to follow their agreement could lead to more formal action.

        I do not think I would have recorded any written notice concerning the meeting, but would be prepared to do so if the problem persisted.  Barring a more detailed description of the “stalking” and based on Jane’s request not to take formal action, I would not write the incident up, but would make a concerted effort to monitor the situation.  I do not think it was in the best interest of any of the parties to assume the worst and file a written complaint prior to having additional corroborating evidence.

         

      • #3148477

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by Michael Kassner ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        Believe me, I wanted to exercise my better judgment. The paper that John signed went no further than a folder in my office. It just served as proof that he had been made aware of how his behavior was being interpreted; it wasn’t a form of disciplinary action.

      • #3148446

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by ericsaddress ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        Very, VERY gray area here. I agree with the previous poster’s comments about facilitating a meeting between the two. Sometimes when you write stuff up that you really don’t intend to share with others, it has a bad habit of leaking out at the wrong time. On the flipside, if you don’t document the complaint and something happens, it is on you as a manager. Catch-22 situation.

      • #3148376

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by oneamazingwriter ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        I think, if you had called both parties together to talk, you might have wound up in the middle of a very emotional situation with all three of you being uncomfotable in the future.  Handling it as you did kept you in your place as a professional. Becoming too closely involved on a personal level with anyone that we are in a position to help to manage is not conducive to productivity at any job. Someone needs to remain detached and in charge. 

      • #3148242

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by gerard.thomas ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        A very difficult situation where the people work in the same space, many years ago I was a field technician for a major Telco and I dated a girl who was in the sales support areaof the same company, the result, now married for 11 happy years and two kids later all is well, we have seeen this happen with a few of our friends so there can be a positive side to this, much of this possibly hinges on the culture of the organisation and the trust between collegues.

         

        GT

      • #3148236

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by neil.bodger ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        Yes, this is a tricky one and I would like to comment from an English Employment Law point of view.  The first thing to say is that the matter becomes an employment issue and therefore a company one when jane makes a complaint against John. Now it is interesting that she makes the claim that John is stalking her and then says ttat she does not want any formal action to ensue. However as well as having a duty of care to the agrieved employee (Jane) you and the company have a n equal duty of care to the accused (John) and therefore have to inform him of the accusations that have been made about him and who made them, he has the right to defend himself and if you make a note on his file without undertaking any formal investigation to sunstantiate or refute the claim, then you and the company could be sued equally by John for defamation, and potentially Unfair Dismissal.   However back to Jane and John, you should inform Jane that as she has made this claim, you and the company have no option but yto pursue a formal rout and investigate her claim fully. As I suspect you thought that she was only trying to get her own back on John, this course may prompt her to withdraw her accusation without reservation, in which case you can just make a note on her file to say that she had an adverse reaction to a personal episode which, following a confidential discussion, has now been resolved. If sh persists with her claim, then as stalking is a criminal offence you should bear in mind that it could well be better handled by the police.  If he is a stalker and you try to interfere to sort the problem out, in whatever way, and she is later attacked by John, even outtside office hours, the you have placed yourself personally as well as the company in a very difficult situation legally and it is likely that you would be successfully sued for damages by Jane.  By “upping the ante” and taking a very clear line, you keep yourself and the company clean and also send a very clear signal to others that an office romance, however rosy it amy seem at the office party, barbecue or Chrstmas do, can also end very badly for all concerned.

      • #3148235

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by andreas.koell ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        my way is different. because as manager my focus are humans not the company. everywhere around the world, where people work together “things” like this happen, and its “normal”.

        i also think it is wrong to deal with a confidential talk in this way. jane should talk to john, not to the manager!

      • #3148231

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by neil.bodger ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        Just one final comment, you say that “But I had a legal obligation and as manager I had to protect the company”. I am afraid to say that this commment, if read out in court, is tantamount to legal suicide. You as a manager are, de facto, the company and the company’s interests are subservient to its legal obligation to protect its employees. A company that puts its own financial and commercial interests over that of its legal obligations is no better than Ford in the Pinto Gas tank scandal.  Be aware of that. Your primary duty in this instance is your legal obligation to your employees and  it is also your duty to apply that obligation fairly and equally across all staff. Therefore to treat one employee less favourably than another based on the unsubstantiated statement of another is to break that legally binding duty of care which is enshrined in every employment contract. Failure to observe this obligation to an employee can be regarded as breach of contract.

         

      • #3148229

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by elizemeijer ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        I met my current BF on the workfloor.. we worked together for 3 years before I left, and we have been at seperate companies for the past 18 months.  We decided from the start to keep work and home seperate, and that seemed to work.  Our boss treated us as one entity, untill we told him we don’t appreciate it. 

        It can work, but both have to be mature about it

      • #3148221

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by neil.bodger ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        Lieber Andreas,

        Guten Morgen and vielen Dank fuer die Kommentaren. Unfortuneately they only highlight a glaring deficiency in the overall management knowledge of Employment Law.  Employees rights are more protected in Europe than they are in th UK and England where we rely on a proper Conratct of Emplyment with attached conditions in addition to employees legal rights at work. When you say that John should have talked to Jane or Jane to John, you are abrogating your responsibilities and if you were those peoples mnanager and therefore you were, as far as they were concerned, the company, you would have also not protected their individual and several rights in the workplace. 

        I know that you will say that we are talking about human, for heavens sake, but humans are the ones who go to court and one human wins over another because of a human mistake.  The lesson is, be a human by all means, but when it comes to employment matters and situations like this, hand it over to a properly qualified person in HR and if they are not qualified, get an employment lawyer, but please, please, don’t try to be a nice guy and try and handle it yourself. You will be the one who loses in the end…I’m not being negative on your attitude to Employee Relations, just realistic in relation to Employment Law, they are two very very different things

      • #3148206

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by ball5ball5 ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        Tricky situation, to be sure, but I certainly wouldn’t have
        written John up unless company policy dictated that I do so. You don’t mention
        that this is the case; rather you say you only did it to cover the corporate
        hindquarters. Now, because of an uncorroborated and unsubstantiated charge, he
        has a “stalking” complaint on his record. Whether or not it goes no
        further than his file in your office or not is beside the point. It exists. Combine
        this with your statement that ?Jane could sometimes be a little unstable in her
        personal relationships?, and the fact that you had a feeling that this was an
        inaccurate accusation, and the course of action you followed simply does not
        add up.
         

        Did you write up the fact that you did not believe the
        charge and that you personally felt that Jane is unstable? No. You only wrote
        up John, a man, because some jilted woman (who told you she didn?t even want
        any action taken) decided that she wanted some revenge. You should have seen
        that for what it was and told her to take her complaint to the police. Stalking
        is not a ?company policy? violation, it is a crime best left to the
        authorities. You may have actually created a larger legal issue for your
        company. In some areas, having knowledge of a crime and not reporting it is a
        crime in and of itself. 

        My guess is that had you told her that your office was not
        the place to lodge a stalking complaint and that she really needed to go to the
        police, she would have dropped the issue, much as you have dropped the ball in
        this case. 

        Let?s hope you use better judgment next time.  

      • #3148191

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by kovachevg ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        I’ve seen it all go down many times but not just under working conditions within a company. It’s like “mommy, mommy, help me deal with this bad guy  – who by the way jilted me a week ago”. In this case, the fact the manager was a female played a substantial role. Jane would be less likely to go and sob in front of the manager if it were a he.

        Someone said it very well below – hand it over to the police. Stick to your management role and encourage them to work out their issues. After all, reaching an agreement is a painful but very productive experience. In this case, you only humiliated John. The guy turned to be exactly as your ‘gut feeling’ suggested and he ended up with something bad in his file.

        And if you really want to have the upper hand on things like these, talk to an employment lawyer. At least this way, you will be well-informed on how to advise the people in question based on employement law, NOT on a set of emotionally derived practices meant to serve your company.

        You defintely went too far by asking John to sign this non-consequential piece of paper. As a result, at the very least you got resentment among team members, and at the very worst – hidden animosity that had the potential to backfire. How likely do you think was John to help Jane with a problem that occurred following this incident?

        I will give you an example I participated in years ago. I was a test subject in a hospital study ordered by NASA that measured side effects upon resetting the Circadian Clock of a person (or a dummy astronaut). At some point, one of the female assitants had to measure the circumference of my skull in order to attach electrodes at specific points. She had to calculate percentages as part of the task but did not have a calculator. Being a Math instructor in public schools at the time, I offered my help and pointed out the subject is not well taught in American schools and that I understood the difficulties she was experiencing. Needless to say, she used the accurate percentages I offered but said nothing after she was done and quickly left the room. The head of the research unit came to see me 15 min after the “incident” and asked me why I behaved offensively. I was stunned and could not hide the surprise just thrown at me. After my explanation she asured me the matter was closed and said the technician in question would be assigned to another project.

        Whether this resulted in a note in my personal file, I am not certain. But I know for sure that young girls resort to the “MOMMY HELP” strategy when they don’t want to deal with a problem.

        I hope my comment helped. Let me know if you need more example because I have 8 more.

      • #3148187

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by james speed ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        That was a tough situation. You handled it well, although I believe there were a number of ways you could have acheived the same result. I believe Jane was behaving very immature. Because the breakup was John’s initiative she was on the defensive and ANY actions by John would be suspect. Although, John should have known that going out of his way to say “Hi” was not a good idea at all. The working relationship should have been “very” casual, he was pushing the envelope in my estimation.

        Dating between co-workers is an age old problem with no clear answer. As long as people (either sex) behaves immature and irrational – there will be escalations.

         

      • #3148186

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by kovachevg ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        Prevention is Better Than Cure!

        One more thing: you could have emphasized at the very beginning that personal relationships are discouraged between co-workers. If you had made it substantially clear, the hookup and subsequent fallout would have been much less likely to happen.

      • #3163496

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by arjee63 ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        To be sure, women can be more emotional, and how women and men perceive things is frequently not the same. Rather than assuming that a woman is going to go into “little girl” mode, as kovachevg suggested, realizing and respecting differences will go a long way in avoiding a hostile work environment. For every man with whom I’ve worked who respects my intelligence and gives my work and conclusions merit based on my demonstrated abilities, there are four who discount what I say until it’s said by a man…even it if that man is one of my own subordinates. If that were done to you, after a while, it would affect you. I’m tough, and very direct…so I have had to learn to maneuver in such a way that things get done, regardless of whom gets the credit. Most women weren’t reared to be blunt or direct..and most men balk at a woman who is. If you want the pluses of having a woman work for/with you, deal with the fact that women still have hurdles to cross that are based on gender, and don’t create more of them. It’s a tough balance – being sensitive to the differences, and yet not discounting someone’s behavior or work based on those differences. Guys…be the guy who ignores gender and looks at ability. From a personnel standpoint, I’d agree publishinggal used good judgement in not involving HR, but documenting the issue anyway. This didn’t need to be part of John’s permanent record. Were this to escalate, the next step would be to involve HR. But, let’s go one step farther with our charges. These were people in their 20’s. Having been 20-something, and not any more, I can say I’ve learned a bit about dealing with co-workers that I didn’t know then. As managers, we have a responsibility to foster not only proper work ethics, but appropriate professional relationships, within those who report to us. I’d no more write off a young man as clueless as I would a young woman as overly emotional. Both need to grow, and to be shown alternative and appropriate behaviors. John needs to realize that a cool but polite distance would have been more appropriate in this awkward situation for at least a little while. This isn’t high school, nor a sitcom, where we all still want to be buddies before the season ends. Jane needs to realize that her personal feelings don’t belong behind her desk. If she wants to be treated like a professional, she needs to maintain professional relationships at work. Period. (And yeah…telling her that is probably gonna make her get all teary-eyed. Female managers don’t like dealing with that, either.)

      • #3163492

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by dougfitz ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        While some might see this as grey, there are clearly difficulties with a corporate policy that allows a file note to be maintained without some form of investigation.  It appears to me to be intrinsically unfair.  I think that I would have been more inclined to put a record of conversation on Jane’s file with her signing an acknowledgement that she had requested no further action be taken as a more appropriate course.
        Did you consider making a file note on Jane saying ‘Jane makes unsubstantiated and uncorroborated allegation in a manner that makes it difficult to investigate’ so that someone has a record of these as well over her time in the company.  That would appear to have been just as important if you really had suspected that the complaint was not well grounded.  While I cannot comment directly on what you interpret as your company’s legal obligation here, you appear to have overlooked at least one of the significant threats to workplace harmony.

      • #3163402

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by gordon.rudd ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        To help me clarify the discussion…we have established that you ARE the company and your documentation of the situation while you felt was adhering to your fiduciary responsibilities to the company may NOT have been in the “best interests” of the company. 

         

        Having hopefully restated the thread accurately…the point I would like to add is simply this.

         

        If anything had ever or ever does happen to the lady in your story, your document is subject to the discovery process and will be admitted into evidence in court.  The next issue any astute legal mind will dangle in front of the jury is “why didn’t you take appropriate action to prevent the bad from happening? (whatever the bad may be) and why did you go “with your gut feeling” instead of getting the ?proper authorities involved?? 

         

         

        While what you did seems innocent enough and was done for all the right reasons with the right intentions?your attempt to cover the corporate derriere, in fact sealed the fate of the company in court.  Your actions have locked your company into being completely and absolutely liable for anything that happens to either party in your story.

         

        Let me ask you a question?perhaps something you have not yet run across in your career; why is it that corporate counsel in large companies often does not want to know certain information?  You can not un-ring the bell.

         

        Hope this helps?

      • #3163376

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by tundraroamer ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        Level the playing field – fire them both!

        Okay, maybe you can’t do that but you could bring them together, tell them that their professional relationship better improve as it is affecting their and others work (office gossip circle) and it better get resolved here and now.

        If they refuse to do that verbally, write out the problem and your request/solution to it along with any repercussions should either continue having an “issue”. Have them both sign it and then tell them it is going into each of their personal files and to leave their personal issues offsite and not bring them to work. Time to grow up and get on with life. If they need a “time out” to correct the problem, then they may not be mature enough to continue handling professional responsibilities in general. We have grown to become way to litigious in our society and it is causing problems like this to waste time and energy. Dating is an age old issue and has been dealt with in each generation. Sometimes their are winners and sometimes not. But since we are all here, it looks like winning is gaining ground over loosing.

      • #3163374

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by lwherman ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

         Just as a side bar.  I have worked for a large Corporation for 30 years.  My knowledge, training, and supervisory skills have always been noted as exceptional in the Performance Review which are held annually.  I had to work with a young lady who is 32 years younger than me.  I have always had the utmost respect for my workers, as they have had for me.  I was never a slave driver, or someone who looked over their shoulder.  They were professionals and were treated and compensated that way.     

      • #3163343

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by lwherman ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        Re: dougfitz comment.

        I have been with a large Corporation for over 30 years.  My education, training in team building, and supervisory skills have always been admired by others within the company.  They are highly regarded by Senior Management and well documented during my yearly performance review.

        I had a young lady ( 32 years my junior ) make unsubstantiated remarks and comments in a letter posted directly to the President of the Corporation.  This is normal procedure if you are being harrassed or intimidated.  We have a policy of providing a Safe Workplace and Environment.  She made statements that were untrue and could not be substantiated by the co-workers she had selected to confirm the incidents took place.  For 3 weeks I lived with anxiety and stress of having to appear before the President, and answer to her allegations.  The day arrived after the Manager of Human Resources had prepared his report.  It took them better than 5 minutes to finally get to the point that there was no truth to her statements.  She was not reprimanded for this, and I am not allowed to speak with her about why she did it.  How is that for justice?  They have placed a letter, along with the findings in my personnel file, but nothing went in hers other than her letter to the President.

        There was never a relationship between us, other than work related.  We never saw each other outside of the workplace.  I never made comments, she said I made to her, at any point that we have worked together over the 2 years.  I have been married for 30 years, and don’t plan on leaving my wife anytime soon.

        I have a Lawyer involved and we are taking things one day at a time.  I cannot sue her for anything, as she has nothing.  I’ve asked the Corporation for a buy-out for the 3 years I have remaining until I can start collecting on my Company Pension Plan, as well as an unspecified amount for the damage she has done to my reputation and health.

        Our Managers are not allowed to get involved in matters of this nature.  However, he did make a comment that it should have been dealt with at his level first, to see if there was a problem or a situation.  It would not have gone any further than his circular file based on what he knows of the individual.  If it is a matter of principle, then “Jane” should have had a letter placed in her file, or “dismissed with cause” for making false allegations.  My “Jane” remains on staff and acts as if nothing ever happened.  The old mommy, mommy syndrome.  The company has now left itself wide open for a lawsuit and payout because of the improper handling of the situation.  I look forward to my long retirement, as I just turned 54.

      • #3163826

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by dc guy ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        This is something that managers have to learn to deal with because they have no choice. The universe just works this way. Americans spend more time in the workplace than anywhere else. Counting only places where they might meet eligible people of the opposite sex, Americans spend more time in the workplace than EVERYWHERE else. The workplace is a place where they meet people with whom they have something in common, whom they get to see in their “real life” personas rather than drunk or on the prowl, and in all their moods. They get to learn all about each other’s lives including the quiet, charming hobbies and the crazy ex-spouses. They see how they act under pressure, in groups, when they’re worried, confident, rushed, and praised.

        Could anyone invent a better environment for meeting people?

        The vast majority of Americans beyond college age meet their eventual spouses at work.

        You can’t stop this. You can’t interfere with Cupid and who in the world would even want to? How much higher would the divorce rate be if people weren’t as well acquainted as they are with the people they decide to marry?

        It’s a social cost of doing business. If you’re going to keep people locked in windowless hamster cages for 40-60 hours a week, you will be hosting their mating rituals. That’s just how it’s going to be.

        As for harrassment, stalking, and all the other whining that goes on, this is just more evidence that the number of lawyers in this country should be reduced to about one percent of what we now have. We used to call that experience “a broken heart” and we had a good cry instead of calling security.

        You can’t “make” people not date their co-workers. The biology and chemistry are way too strong. They’ll just do it clandestinely and what you don’t know will hurt you worse than what you do. I’m sure that law firm that was mentioned in a previous post has lots of office romances, they just do their best to keep it secret.

      • #3163099

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by bryanpeabody ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        Insert comment text here

      • #3161742

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by aaron a baker ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        Had it occurred to you that this nothing more than a cheap underhanded shot being taken at “John” through yourself and your  office?.
        This girl is no fool, she knew the rules. I’m quite sure that she knew you would have to create a report on the situation. No amount of placating in the world and erase a black mark against an innocent person. Let us remember that this man wasn’t guilty of anything other than trying to patch up with a co-worker.
        I must admit , it’s a convenient little story, when one can make such a claim as stalking without proof, and no one even questions the authenticity or more important the validity of such a report?.
        To have told him that was not a warning of anything other than a discussion was misleading.
        You knew you would have to act as a Manager. Which meant you would “Have” to right a report.
        So what have you really done here? You have besmirched an innocent man’s character on the basis of highly questionable motivations from the source.
        I think I might have acted a little more appropriately and had them both into my office at the same time. They started the relationship, and now after being released, she accuses him of “Possible” Stalking.And the worst part, you claim not have believed it, but you DID write a report didn’t you?
        You have besmirched this man’s character didn’t you?
        All for the oldest reasons on the planet, a-CYOA attitude and b-Vengeance on the part this other person.
        I can’t believe you didn’t see this
        Your all lucky he doesn’t take YOU to court. I surely would, let her explain her “Suspicions” on the stand.
        It never ceases to amaze me just how fast we are ready to believe the worst in people even when we know them to be innocent, we ”Crucify them and cover ourselves and boy we’re good at it.”
        Forgive, I’m disgusted, not only by the Cretin he dated, but by your severe lack of judgment.
         
        You were more interested in saving yourself and the firm rather than ascertain his guilt and “WROTE HIM” into the record books.
        Regards
        Aaron
        PS

        As an add-on on I would like to say, it’s pretty pathetic when you can’t even date on the job and then break up hopefully in a mutually amicable fashion, that you it would be so difficult to be professional enough and mature enough to say Hello, “Without Rancor,or Prejudice.”. John did not act badly, as a matter of fact, he acted like a true professional. He left the problems of outside remain outside. However it’s the likes of the Janes of this world who’s need for vengeance who create these stupid scenarios. John was only trying to be professional and let bygones be bygones, while the other had her beady little eyes set on vengeance” after all, how DARE he dump HER?. Well she accomplished this with your help and with the help of a very serious charge.
        Please be more careful next time before you damage anybody else. Don’t believe he’s damaged?Just try to show his sheet and hide this. This is what you’ve done.
        I’m sorry but, Very Bad judgment.   

         

         
      • #3154228

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by lloydpc ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        I believe the right thing was done as for John and Jane although I doubt that this situation is often the case. As for myself, I met my wife 18 years ago as a co-worker and we have been a couple for the past 16 although I have long since changed jobs. From experience I can honestly share that there is always whispering and snide comments and I believe the demise of many work couples obtains it’s roots from these added work stresses.

      • #3154194

        When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        by ozzylogic ·

        In reply to When a manager has to deal with fallout from office romance

        I
        Luckily, I never managed to fall for anyone @ work (I?ve always been the youngest in the companies I worked in, but they say age doesn?t matter) but I did however witness a similar situation. It involved a guy who had been recruited from an Asian country interested in a peer (well, almost a peer, she did the scheduling and coordination, he was the systems engineer), but eventually, she lost all interest in him?it was more of a one-way thing, but eventually, they brought all their hostility and bitterness to the corporate environment.

        All I could do was to ask her to make him understand and stop being a pain. It did work?but then the guy was pig-headed enough to still offer her a ride home (though she lived 10 minutes away), take her out for dinner, pay her a visit @ the clinic even though he was supposed to be on a customer call, etc. Our department (during one of their arguments) looked like the set of a soap opera. It affected productivity as patience-levels dropped between them, and there was a huge communication gap in between them.

    • #3163566

      If you don’t like it, leave

      by Michael Kassner ·

      In reply to In the Workplace

      That seems to be the sentiment in many companies these days. I heard it once when I approached a VP about a problem my entire team was having with a certain procedure. “If they don’t like it, they can leave.” A friend of mine heard a variation of it once when he expressed dissatisfaction with the management style of another manager, a dissatisfaction that was shared and voiced by many before him. “If people don’t like him, why don’t they leave?” And I’m not talking here about one employee’s personal gripe or moral viewpoint. I?m talking about big issues that if remedied could make quite a few people happy and the company more efficient.

      I guess, on the surface, to those with the golden parachutes, leaving is a clear-cut option. After all, there’s no gun to our heads to make us stay in any job. Not in the literal sense, anyway. There are symbolic guns–the house payment gun, the car payment gun, the kids’ education gun–but, in reality, the only fingers on those triggers belong to us.

      I’m not sure what school of thought the “don’t like it, leave” statement comes from. It’s not exactly Management by Fear. It’s more like Management by Apathy. Maybe if you make your employees feel expendable, they’ll be so grateful to you for employment that they’ll buckle down more? I really don’t know.

      Would you offer that statement to your spouse if you were having problems and wanted to strengthen your bonds? I would hope not. I know that marriage and your relationship with your company are not the same but don’t both benefit from some nurturing and tweaking? And we spend more waking hours at work than we do with our spouses.

      What does that attitude do to the integrity of a company? I know that employee loyalty and motivation can’t be measured in ROI, like a wireless implementation. But I think somewhere along the line, its neglect will start to show in more serious and irreversible ways, maybe even in product degradation. I know it’s no longer my father’s day, when people often retired from the first company they worked for. Because of company relocations and buy outs and layoffs, I’ve seen my long-term careers plans derailed more often than I care to think about. The cosmic job forces all seem to want to send the same message to workers?You are replaceable.

      “If you don’t like it, you can leave.”

      The statement is dismissive and not conducive to positive change. It’s like trying to correct unruly behavior in your teenager and hearing “Well, I didn’t ask to be born.” It simply becomes a mechanism for avoiding the work it will take to correct a problem.

      So what do you think? Is good employee morale just a corny and outdated notion? Or is it just something that takes too much work to ensure?

      • #3163091

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by beth blakely ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        “If you don’t like it, you can leave”

        Possible translation: “Quit complaining. I don’t care about you or your problems. I’m not even going to listen to you, let alone make any suggestions for how your work life might be improved. Go away and if you dare complain again, I’ll show you the door, since you obviously can’t find it yourself.”

        The only time I would think that phrase would be appropriate is when an employee is a constant complainer who is never happy… That’s a whole other column.

      • #3163085

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by bfilmfan ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        I would call attention to the synchronicity between toxic workplaces and an abusive lover.

        The situation doesn’t get better until the abusee abruptly leaves or the cops and courts are involved after someone is dead.

        Frankly most people allow themselves to be led into economic bondage and spend their entire lives in the pursuit of the next “have to have” consumer item. Perhaps that is another whole column also?

      • #3163059

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by justin james ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        My experience with this phrase has been that it is code for “I am insecure as a manager; if you have a suggestion or complaint, you are implying that I do not know how to do my job. I need to beleive that I am perfect, therefore any criticism which may shake that belief is dangerous to my ego and self esteem. You threaten me by not thinking differently than I do.” It is the same kind of thinking which motivates hatred based upon religion, ethnicity, nationality, etc. If a manager says something like that, they are obviously closed minded, and are most likely running whatever they manage into the ground; even if their methods are acheiving success today, when the world changes in six months, they will be clinging to old ideas and old habits while the customers disappear. The only way to deal with a manager with that attitude (and I have had a few of them in my life) is to actually take their advice, and leave. You won’t be able to change them. Get into a different department, get into a different company. A good or great employee always has a way out. Highly valued employees will have tranfer requests fulfilled. If that is not possible, unless you live in the middle of nowhere and that is the only employers with a need for your skills, you can always leave. Even in a bad economic environment, great employees are able to leave their jobs for greener pastures.

        J.Ja

      • #3162122

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by arjee63 ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        If it’s worth complaining about, it’s worth making a little more investment of time and proposing a solution to the issue. Many managers are stuck in the middle between employees and upper management – in their eyes, hearing about a problem is just one more thing to have to deal with.

        Two tactics to try, depending on the nature of the manager. 1) Take the “I’ve uncovered a potential solution to the issue we’ve been having with X and would like to review it with you.” This works with the less insecure types. 2) The more insecure, and also more domineering, do well with a “I’ve been looking at the issue we have with X, and I thought of a couple of possible solutions. What do you think about Y and Z….” This allows them to maintain their position as decision-maker and feel less threatened by you, the upstart. 

        Notice that the first words from you are of the “I’ve found a possible solution to…” nature rather than a statement of the problem. It completely changes the direction of the conversation, and how what you have to say is perceived. It also (it’s manipulative, I know) throws the manager a bit off-guard. You walk in with the assumption the manager knows all about the issue, and their ego will likely prevent them from showing their ignorance. Use good judgement about how you handle that – if it’s something they’d only know about from communication with you, you’re not helping yourself if you profess surprise that they’re unaware of the issue.

        This does a number of things for you. 1) Proposing a solution enhances the likelihood your concerns will be addressed, and perhaps even addressed in the manner you’d prefer. 2) The “teamwork” approach fosters a better relationship with the manager. 3) Whomever is involved in the issue is given the impression that you’re a problem solver, not a complainer…and this is the case even if your suggestion isn’t taken.

        The biggest thing to bear in mind if you plan to offer potential solutions to the issue is the known set of limitations your department/division/group has in terms of resources and flexibility to implement change. If you make a suggestion that is completely outside a concrete-set budget or unworkable in your corporate environment, you’re not really providing much help.

      • #3162031

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by sysadmin/babysitter ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        Another take………..
        1-Perhaps the manager being addressed WANTS the other manager to fail.
        2-Many managers refuse to get involved with problems that are from persons that do not DIRECTLY report to them.
        3-The chain-of-command MUST be followed in some offices.
        4-Or, it could be as simple as – the manager doesn’t have the authority
        to actually perform the job they have been given. (micro-management
        from above).

        In some companies, Employee morale is only important when it is seen as a tool to lower payroll costs.

      • #3161575

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by metro_au ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        Good employee morale is absolutely important to have a thriving, innovative organisation.

        Without high levels of morale, no employee will offer suggestions on how to improve processes / technology or realise opportunities for fear of being ridiculed.

        It does take a lot of effort (from managment) to ensure high levels of employee morale – but the benefits are even higher. It’s difficult to measure, impossible to legislate but fragile and easily destroyed.

        Viva all management that rises above the level of day-to-day operations to focus on improving morale!

      • #3161572

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by zaphod9 ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        The problem with the “If you don’t like it, you can leave.” management response is that it is the most talented employees that will have the easiest time finding new jobs.  That leaves the manager with the least talented employees.  I have seen a few really bad managers in the past, sometimes I left, sometimes they left.

        Far too many people spend everything (sometimes more than) they make and put those golden handcuffs on themselves VERY tight.  Because I have made sure I live below my means, I would be able to live on savings for over a year before having to go into debt (i.e., tap into my home equity line of credit)  about a year after that, I would have to sell my home.  Most of the people I know would have BIG financial problems within a month of loosing a job.  I just never wanted to wear the golden handcuffs.

        I am reminded of Leon Clancy’s Law of Reciprocal Loyalties: An employee owes exactly as must loyality to his employeer as his employeer has shown to the employee.

      • #3161567

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by zanonil ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        This is quite a dangerous statement. What happens if the roles were reversed – an engineer tells his boss “The email server is down. If you don’t like it, leave”. Absurd ? Of course. But does it not illustrate the point ? The company has invested in a resource and now that resource is being treated despotically.

        I found very early in my career that an unhappy employee is a victim of his/her circumstances. He/she may be unhappy at work on a Monday morning because of something that happened over the weekend – him and his spouse may have had a blow-out and now at work, he feels miserable. If someone now were to tell him, “If you don’t like it, leave”… what would that achieve ? He’d be twice as miserable, and blame it on his career – the company will most probably lose a valuable resource simply because no-one spent time asking him “whats the matter” – If he leaves, is he going to something better, or running away from something ?

        No employee should be told “If you don’t like it leave” – rather a counselling session with one of his peers should be arranged. Get someone who he respects, but does not intimidate him, to have a good old-fashioned chat. Just ask the employee what the matter is. Provide a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen.

        Its much cheaper keeping a good employee happy, than to get someone new and put them through a learning curve.

      • #3161552

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by psifiscout ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        One angle that I have seen in thr workplace that was not brought up here is, the ‘silence is agreement’ point of view, or “If you don’t like the way we do things, why are you still here?”  

        There are some mid level managers who feel that if they don’t hear any gripes, then there is no problem, some find their way clear of the fog in time others don’t see the light of day untill it is shining through the door as they are heading out thr door with their pink slip in hand.  A key factor of good leadership, is staying in touch with those around, above, and below in the business environment.

      • #3161540

        Corporate suicide note?

        by victoree ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        So…when all the people who “don’t like it” leave, nobody cares that the company becomes a ghetto of apathetic, low life, opportunist, self seeking employees, verdad?  Oh, I see…the develpment of the cancer that will eventually break out and spread thoughout all society.  We  have torn a page out of the last days of the mighty Roman Empire.  Next scene.

      • #3161538

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by bill.beckett ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        No question about it, this mentality is alive and well in most work places today. It is unfortunate because this attitude compounds the bad attitude among the workers so it becomes a snow ball affect. Every worker out there would like to be or at least feel, appreciated. Good morale and feeling like part of the company, part of the team, starts at the top. If the attitude coming down from the top is, “If you don’t like it, then leave”, what kind of attitude can you possibly expect from the employee? It is a two way street.

        I’ve been in the work force for 20+ years now and more and more I see company loyalty as a thing of the past. Why? Is it all on the shoulders of the employees? I don’t think so, I think it’s directly related to this newest of company sentiments. How can you ask for company loyalty from an employee when your stance is, “Hey we don’t need you”, “You’re replaceable”, “If you don’t like it, you can leave”.

        Treat your employees well and your employees will treat you well. It’s amazing what people can accomplish when they are nice and those positive vibes are reciprocated. No, I don’t think good employee morale is corny or an outdated notion. Unforunately, it seems that most companies feel like it is an outdated notion.

         

      • #3161490

        If you don

        by rrosca ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        I absolutely abhor the “if you don’t like it, take a hike” attitude people can get when dealing with situations ranging from the mundane (employee issues) to the monumental (quasi patriots asserting this philosophy against anyone who might dare question presidential authority).  The fact is that when there is a problem, even if it?s just a perception issue, a manager ought to get involved because something might be amiss. 

        Taking the stance that ?if you don?t like it you can leave?, sends home a very important message ? this manager does not care about making this place any better than it already is.  Clearly if there is a problem, the place is not the best it can be and so this manager is settling for a lower standard. What manager should be happy to proclaim ?I settle for the lower standard and I am proud of it?? David Brent perhaps?

         

      • #3161478

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by ontheropes ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        I was hired to replace a long-time, ?if you don?t like it?, manager in the manufacturing industry. The results of his attitude towards Union employees seriously impacted the bottom line. My four departments provided emergency repair service to a 5,000 person, 3-shift operation. The attitude of my people towards the previous manager often shut production lines down.  They followed ?the rules? to the letter, but no more, and were within their Union rights. Their Union brothers supported my people’s rights but it created a lot of tension. Most of the production workers were paid piece-rate. When the lines went down they didn?t make as much money.

        After many trials by my people to see how the new regime, so to speak, was going to treat them they finally returned to the idea that they were part of a team. You?ll notice I said ?returned?. They?d always wanted to do a great job. I just made it possible for them to do a great job. The previous management neither trained them, rewarded them or recognized them as individuals. It was only a matter of a few, extremely stressful, months, before my Union people broke their own rules and would often work thru their lunch-hour and breaks to get the lines running again. The most important point here is that they did it on their own.

        After a few years I moved to another position within the Corporation. During my tenure at the Division I’d already had two of the supervisors and 8 foremen who?d worked for me reassigned to other positions without replacing them. My people learned good procedures and my old departments run just fine with minimal supervision today.

        There?s a lot to be said for training and most importantly, treating people the way YOU want to be treated. It’s not easy.

      • #3161462

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by dsusysmgr ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        We are no longer a culture that values loyalty. We have in this generation been taught that our own acheviement is the only yard stick of sucess. Therefore teamwork and cooperation just as job satistaction are concepts of the past. Why does Toyota continue to gain market share, improving the real and perceived quality of their product while GM continues to loose market share and perceived product quality? I think that one very important factor is the attitude of the company and its managers toward the employees. In IT our job is to support the users, all of them from the President to the Janitor. I assume that they are hardworking valuable members of my company. Unfortunitly it appears to me that American Companies who can not learn to value all their employees and form a culture of teamwork will ultimately loose the battle to stronger more efficent Teams – Companies who do understand the value of motavated people working to gether toward a common goal.

      • #3162478

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by keith.r.bettis ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        It does take work and upper-management doesn’t work any more. They work to up their pay and get a better ‘parachute’ but real work, the type that helps the company in the long run is ignored. That is for ‘the next guy’ to worry about.

        And people wonder why America has become a joke.

      • #3162413

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by kovachevg ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        If you get that kind of comment or order, you should probably start looking for a new job right away. Someone who ignores the needs of his/her team for personal convenience and self-promotion.

        I recently read that whether conciously or unconciously, managers are always in the habit of taking credit for other people’s work. Maybe not all of it but significant chunk. I have rarely seen a manager that says – my team did 90% of the work and compenesated for many of my shortcomings (followed by a list).

        Modern managers are position heavy. If they repeated to them in business school that employees could screw them up pretty badly if they treated them like dirt, maybe they would have a better attitude. Unfortunately, this is not the case. They are trained to exude confidence, even if they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. To be boombastic and overbearing. I once heard a CFO say to a fellow co-worker that he had enough of soft-spoken IT people. That opened my eyes to the truth that I should go get an MBA on top of my MS in CIS and BS in International Economic Relations, and some day, send him packing.

        An advice to all IT people: BE MORE ENTREPRENEURIAL. Don’t be afraid to become a consultant. And when you do, DO NOT BE SOFT SPOKEN. Charge top dollar and deliver.

      • #3162382

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by ernie.jackson ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        Good employee morale is priceless to any organization.  Although the days of long-term loyalty, the gold watch, and ferverent employee dedication are gone, making a statement such as “If you don’t like it, you can leave” reflects a weakness in leadership, and arrogance and short-sidedness on the part of a new genre of senior managers. Just look at Enron. I still believe that it’s the essential staff–entry level managers, project teams and service teams–the operational and administrative staff, whom if they are happy at work, are highly productive and efficient. They make the boss look good and allow that VP to continue to wear that title and to have that golden parachute. It could also be corny to say that people (staff) are the most valuable resource of any organization. Yet, when employees hear negative messages conveyed by an obviously immature and insecure VP, it makes them feel worthless and unappreciated.  The message is especially devastating when they perceive that the VP has the backing of the executive committee.  It would serve the executive team well to take a closer look at their ROI in terms of costs associated with replacing specialized knowledge-bases and inherent intellectual property possessed by its employees. The phrase “If you don’t like it, you can leave” creates a chasm between staff and management.  It breeds an “us verse them” environment causing employees to focus more on personal survival in the workplace rather than getting the job done.  When the corporate theme discussed in the hallways, bathrooms, and cafeteria, or at “happy-hour,” is ”…too bad, leave!” it spreads faster that “great job, we’d like to keep you around.” Senior management can be great motivators and assert tremendous influence on staff, if it is positive.   However, when management makes negative statements and acts out in a negative manner it initiates low morale. Negative influence will force a shift of influence from management to employee and lateral bonds among employees will develop causing them to group together influencing each other to “leave” as soon as possible. Subsequently the organization begins to suffer from high turnover.  My position…good morale is not corny or outdated.  It needs to be revived. 

      • #3162381

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by jgmsys9 ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        The name of the person to whom this paraphrased quote is attributed escapes me, but the quote goes something like this:

        “It is a foolish general who dismisses the advice of his privates.”

        In effect, management that subscribes to the mentality depicted in this posting does so at its own peril.  Many a valuable suggestion can come from “the front lines.”   This strategy was adopted by the Japanese years ago, and was a key contributor to their economic success.  To ignore the thoughts of the rank and file will result in stagnation, and ultimately the management representatives responsible for this should be held accountable, preferably with their own positions. Perhaps if BoD’s would threaten executives with the loss of their golden parachutes and subsequent dismissal, if it can be proven that negative impacts on earnings occurred as a direct result of this mentality, there would possibly result a realization of the importance of morale.  But that goes against everything the corporate world stands for, where the mentality of management is to do no work, but take all the credit.  

      • #3162345

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by mrgwillard ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        I agree with the other posts that indicate this comment to reflect the real position, “I don’t care about your problems, I have my own problems to deal with.”  Quite unfortunate that this attitude still exists in todays demanding business world.  The fact that someone is coming to you with a problem indicates a situation you need to fix.  You either need to fix the valid concern brought to you by an employee who needs direction and leadership, or you need to fix an employee who brings a false problem to you in order to demand your attention (which in itself could be a problem).  Beware of this “uninterested” kind of leadership.  Not the kind of thing you would want to hear as a first mate on the Titanic.

      • #3162257

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by jmgarvin ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        Typical.  I’ve noticed that managers aren’t leaders, they aren’t even followers.  They tend to be amorphus blobs that do nothing but absorb credit for difficult tasks their underlings performs. 

        Usually management doesn’t like to hear that there are issues.  They like to live in a nice little bubble where everything is wonderful and the workers are happy.  However, if they actually OPENED THEIR FRIGGIN’ EARS, they’d get better performance out of their workers and better products. 

        What management hears is that they are doing something wrong and that the employee(s) know better.  This *IS* the case.  THOSE THAT ARE DIRECTLY WORKING WITH THE PRODUCT KNOW BEST!  Listen to your employees and act like a leader.  You can be wrong sometimes.  You should also think of what is best LONG term…this short term thinking is killing American industry.

        /rant 

      • #3162176

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by dwrandolph ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        A slight twist is when it is not so much my manager, or even hers.  But the CIO has been given marching orders to cut costs, they started with headcount and are consolidating or reducing services.  We know the RIF’s will continue (projected 50% by end of 2008 (on top of last years!)) and there is very little internal redployment available for IT.  Things are falling apart, it is going to get much worse before the few that are left come out the other side.  Our “career” choices are find another job now, or wait for the layoff package to fund a little time for finding another job then.

      • #3152569

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by daveo2000 ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        And another take on it…

        Although it might not fit this situation, another type of manager that will tell you “if you don’t like it, you can leave” is saying so because they are giving you real advice.  This is the manager that is, him/herself fed up and planning to leave as soon as they can.  They will probably use that unhelpful phrase on you in a bitter or dismissive way because they are feeling bitter and dismissed and just can’t be bothered anymore.  You might really care about making a difference at your current company but that manager has given up the ghost.

        Before too very long you may just see an invitation to that manager’s going away drinks at the local watering hole.

      • #3152557

        If you don

        by dougfitz ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        The flip side – “I only have time for people who believe in what I am doing”

        I have worked in both public and private sector organisations, and over the years have heard countless variations on this theme. Someone “talking with your feet” can be a real drain, not just in the effort to recruit, but also with the extensive tacit knowledge they take from the workplace. A few years ago, my manager’s manager prompted me to think about this another way when he said something like “I only have time for the people who believe in what I am doing”. This stunned me, but I had no way of responding immediately, and went away to think about why it concerned me so.

        As a broad categorisation, there are four types of followers in organisations – sycophants, true believers, dispassionate observers and cynical disbelievers. This is based, fairly obviously, in their level of commitment to their organizational leadership. Suffice to say that sycophants and true believers are indistinguishable to the rest of us because they display passionate zeal for whatever the boss does. What an outsider cannot readily detect is that the sycophant does it because he or she thinks the boss is always right, while the true believer thinks that what the boss is currently doing is right. Dispassionate observers, on the other hand, don’t necessarily think either of these things, but are prepared to give the boss the benefit of the doubt, and work on the boss’s projects. Finally, the cynical disbeliever believes that everything any boss says is bound to be wrong, and might occasionally admit surprize when something goes right.

        So what? Well, for a manager, sycophants and true believers are manna from heaven. They require low levels of transactional inputs to stay committed, don’t create intellectual challenges, aren’t disruptive or embarrassing at meetings, etc, etc, etc. Dispassionate observers require harder work and real intellectual endeavour to convince, and cynical disbelievers are both hard work and take advantage of every opportunity to challange, embarass, heckle, etc. A manager would not view this as productive territory, and would prefer to be rid of these problem people.

        A leader, on the other hand, can see a different perspective, that of bringing (beneficial) change to all parts of the organisation. This might be manifest in several ways, two of which are useful to illustrate here. In the first, they acknowledge that there will always be an element of financial conscription in their workforce, or other factors that will not allow them to make wholesale changes. So they will see the beneficial effects of changing dispassionate observers (and sycophants) into true believers, and perhaps of turning cynical disbelievers into dispassionate observers. This would result in beneficial changes that would manifest themselves in higher rates of discretionary commitment, less disputation and higher productivity. Alternatively, they may be motivated by a genuine interest in ensuring that individuals are able to work in areas where they can be commited to the work at hand, and any productivity, etc gains are the bonus.

        My assessment, then, was that individuals who had the approach “Talk with your feet”, or its many analogues, were operating as managers, and while the organisation might be well managed, it was unlikely to be well-led. In contrast, where individuals rejected this notion and engaged the dispassionate observers and cynical disbelievers, then there was the prospect of good leadership and more commited followers. I much prefer working in the latter.

      • #3152343

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by gord.moore ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        Every day I see more and more situations that are echos of the great business mis-management tomb “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.  From the conversation between Scrooge and the ghost of Jacob Marley “You were always a good man of business, Jacob.” “ “Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands
        again.  “Mankind was my business.  The common
        welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance,
        and benevolence, were, all, my business.  The dealings
        of my trade were but a drop of water in the
        comprehensive ocean of my business!”
        ; to the difference in the working atmosphere between Fezziwig’s Christmas Party, and when Scrooge and Marley take over Fezziweg’s business and offers the employees a chance to stay on, providing they take a cut in salary.  

        Instead of business books from Star Trek “Make it so!”, I should write one based on “A Christmas Carol” called “The Ghost of Companies Past, Present and Future”, and we should all fear the visit from the last spirit for we seem to be headed in a morbid direction. Still, Dickens believed that there was hope and  “He became as good a friend, as good a
        master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or
        any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old
        world. 

      • #3153589

        If you don’t like it, leave

        by sandeep.karun ·

        In reply to If you don’t like it, leave

        This attitude has to be severely discouraged and punished. This leaves a very bad impact on the team spirit of a group of people. What if you are 3 levels down the management, and the 2nd level guy is discriminating you with this attitude whereas the 1st level doesn’t know about it at all, and you don’t have access to the level 1. This gives rise to a loss of a lot of good resources due to someones arrogant attitude.

        This can be debated by saying what is stopping you from accessing level 1 in this age of free communication. But everyone may not utilise them and as rightly said, good nurturing and tweaking can boost long term productivity. And well, if you want positive waves and team spirit in the workplace there is no room for “like or leave”.

      • #3153516