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Stuck Plumbing?

Stuck Plumbing?

Dear Dr. Sylvia, I am a newly named director in a major tech company. We have been around for many years and have so many systems in place. However, what cannot be programmed (wish it could be!) are the human beings who surround me. Here is my dilemma: my boss is a mixture of a micro-manager and a hands off do-it-yourself type. The combination is crazy making. She is, in your pattern terms, a persecutor always looking over my shoulder to see what is not being done right, and an avoider who hates conflict. Now I have studied your patterns and I am a bona-fide avoider, especially of speaking up to power. And my boss is very powerful. They even say she could be the next CEO. I am working at transforming my avoider pattern and becoming an initiator and it works with many. However, with her I tread lightly. Example: If I ask her for help when I have been at a meeting and I need to report back and I am not sure what to do she always says “I was not there so I can’t help you.” And with that she waves her hand and dismisses me. I do not think she has my back and I am fuming inside. It makes me nervous to say something to her and I feel all my upset at her and at myself, backing up inside. Suggestions? Signed, Need to flow freely Dear Flow, The combination of looking over your shoulder and ignoring your needs can be crazy making. I certainly understand. However, the ball is in your court...
What If…?

What If…?

Dear Savvy Sylvia, I want to quit my job. I am miserable. I went into healthcare to please my parents, both physicians. So, guess what I became? Nope, not a medical doctor. I became a senior V.P. in a large medical device company. Now, what we produce is really good and helps lots of people. And my parents are OK that I did not become a doc like them. At least, I am in the helping professions. HOWEVER, I want, yes yearn to be a philosophy professor. Everyone thinks I am nuts. I make big bucks and my travel expenses are covered for lots of amazing organizational meetings. Philosophy professor, in 2015? That is the look I get. No one takes the liberal arts so seriously anymore and while I am smart, what if…I don’t get a job. What if…the students think I am a fossil? What if…I cannot live on a lower salary? Any advice? Signed What If   Dear What If, I get questions like yours by the bucket full. So many people went into their careers to please others. You are not alone. Now, to answer that big question ‘what if?’ There are lots of variables. So, here is a check list before I give a really good suggestion. On a scale of 1-10 (1 is not good, not good at all, and 10 is soaring into the stratosphere): How much support do you have with family and friends? How could you live on a salary of 30% less than now? How is your overall health? How do you handle ambiguity? How much do you need...

When does a Boss Transform into a Leader?

Question: “How many managers does it take to become a leader?” Answer: “Only one, so long as the manager can give up subordinates to gain followers.” Here in lies the trap of management versus leadership. It really is easier to have people who work for you where you can set the game plan and the schedule. When your main task is to check off the boxes, you can expect those who report to you do exactly as they are told. There is a minimum of ripples and the ocean of work is relatively easy to navigate. Life can be mostly risk free and overtconflict avoided. Management is essentially transactional in style. There is limited dialogue and business training is of the “tell and do” school. It was the preferred way for decades and so long as staff had a high degree of pleasers and martyrs, work would run relatively smoothly. In many places management is still preferred, yet more and more management courses are adding a leadership section. It is what the world of work is demanding as younger generations are questioning “why do we do what we have always done?” Leaders live in an amorphous land of both inspiration and perspiration. Leaders really do “sweat the small stuff.” Leadership development requires both an internal and external focus and a willingness to give up formal control. Rather than transactional, the best leaders are transformational. They show by example what truth and integrity look like. There are fewer words and more actions. While most leadership training programs still focus on the external, more are moving into the realm of self-exploration. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. No...
What do you do when you are ignored?

What do you do when you are ignored?

Did you ever sit in a restaurant and wonder if you had a snake on your head, or maybe a bird’s nest, or a mouse, or if your face had turned bright blue? You sit there and question why the server is taking so long to get to your table. It looks like everyone else is getting attention. Your meal drags on and on.  When you finally get your food, it is put in front of you with a grunt. You accept it with a groan. Some of us eat as fast as we can, get the check and get out, vowing never to enter the place again. Some of us chew every morsel and sit longer than usual just to see what, if anything will happen next. You question:  Should I leave a tip?  Do I seek out the manager? The way you handle poor service is a great indicator of the behavior patterns that you developed watching your parents maneuver through the courtesies and discomforts of going to the market, going to a clothing store, going to a restaurant, going just about anywhere. What do you do when people are discourteous? And on the other hand, how do you reward excellent service? Here is what happened at the eatery. I called the waitress aside and told her I thought she had been rude. I gave her an out by suggesting maybe she was unaware of it. What happened next was powerful. She took my hand and apologized. She told me she had just flunked a final exam and would have to go to summer school. She was...
Leadership Training: Work is NOT a Rehab Facility

Leadership Training: Work is NOT a Rehab Facility

When you have a lazy employee, one who has excuses for everything, who acts like a victim when you point out work not done that needs to be done and all they do is make excuses; then what? I am asked all the time in my coaching sessions, “When do you finally let someone go”? Let’s go back to yesterday and the employee who could not get work done because the cat was sick. The first thing you do is ask accountability questions. Remember, I suggested you go into a room with a door and close the door. This is not to keep anyone captive. It is to create a contained space where there are few distractions, few ways to wiggle out of the “face the music” moment. Leadership development training programs should all have a module where you have to practice asking the tough questions and then sit in silence waiting for answers and not help to rescue the other person. Okay, if the questions fall on deaf ears, then what. REMEMBER THE RULE OF THREE Sometimes it does take a bit of remedial work to get the point across, so give the employee a second and a third chance to step up to the plate. However, by the third meeting if nothing is really changing and the “cat” is still sick, then it is time for action. Performance improvement plans work. They are like a red flag that time is running out. Make them factual, specific, with time lines. And you can “unhire” if you must. Often employers who are caring and helpful have a difficult time...

Coca-Cola Faces Anger

Coca-Cola Faces Anger From Shareholders About Use of BPA in Cans [UPDATE] BY Dan Nosowitz Today Bisphenol-A, commonly called BPA, is a chemical used in many plastics that in recent years has been found capable of leaching into liquids when used in liquid containers like plastic bottles. It has also been the subject of large-scale recalls, since the FDA discovered it could cause all sorts of medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and diabetes. Many organizations have recalled products using BPA, including Nalgene, Whole Foods, and Eden Organics, but one in particular has not: Coca-Cola.   Oddly enough, Coke eliminated the chemical from their plastic bottles, but as it turns out, the plastic used to line aluminum cans still contains BPA. The shareholders aren’t happy about the level of disclosure Coke has provided so far, saying the company has “failed to provide investors or consumers with sufficient evidence that it is taking steps to address these public health concerns.” In response, they’ve scheduled a vote for tomorrow on a proposal that will demand the company fully disclose all measures they’ve taken so far.   They’re right to be concerned; BPA has proven not just a health threat but a downright disaster for a company’s public image–Nalgene in particular has suffered a huge loss in trust. Hopefully this pressure from the shareholders will force Coke to phase BPA out of their products entirely.   UPDATE:The shareholder resolution received a 22% vote. Michael Passoff, senior program director of the corporate social responsibility program at As You Sow (a co-filer of the anti-BPA resolution), says: “Overall, it is a great first year...