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How to Make a Mean Boss Marvelous

How to Make a Mean Boss Marvelous

Dear Dr. Sylvia, My boss is the nastiest, mean woman I know. I cringe every time she says “Good morning.” Now, please don’t get me wrong. I really like most people. I would probably like her if she were not my boss. She is so particular and there is nothing I can do right. For example: she was an English major in college (she LOVES to tell us this) and while she is head of I.T. she speaks like a Shakespearean actor. Even a simple email saying “I will be done with my part of the project by the end of the day” will be sent back as “The word ‘finished’ is more specific and appropriate than ‘done’.” I want to tear my hair out! (Oh, and she thinks exclamation points are overly dramatic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)! If she sees a speck of dust on a desk she runs over to wipe it off…and never says anything, just snorts!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I must say using these exclamation points is making me feel so much better)! Any suggestions? Signed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  _____________  Dear Exclamation Point, First, here is my best question, “Who else in your life was a perfectionist where nothing you did was ever good enough?” Take some time and answer this before you read the rest of what I am about to write. You see, sometimes we overreact when a person in present time, sets our teeth on edge and it is really a memory from the past. Before you say “No” and delete this post, just give me a minute. Look, your mean, woman boss may be annoying, may be impossible. And then...

Pattern Interruption in the Workplace

So you are frustrated with your direct reports. You can’t seem to get to the bottom of their gossiping and slacking off at work. You have talked to each one separately and no one is willing to say what is really going on. Pattern Interrupt is the way to go. Normally you call together a team and ask “what is going on” and you do the same thing with the individuals to no avail. Open the discussion with food. Yup. Food. Did you know that “breaking bread” together is one of the oldest rituals on the planet? And use music. Yes. Music. Ready to see how it works. Set up a lunch meeting with your crew. Do NOT tell them what it is about. Just set the date and time (Hint: it needs to be within a day or two of the email.) Let them stew and talk with each other and let them worry. If they ask what the reason is simply respond “Just a time to talk.” Have fun food. The obvious? Pizza of course. You can spread it out to be international. Have tacos and egg rolls and even pirogues and hummus with veggies. Now for the music. Let it be in the background. Did you know there has never been a culture on this earth that did not have music? You can use songs from today, say Katie Perry or Miley in her grown up songs. You can go back to the Beetles or hey, have Pavarotti blasting out his famous song (Nessun Dorma) about courage. Use that very popular song from Frozen, “Let it go.” Hey… YOU can have some fun putting this pattern...

Extraordinary Boss as Truth Teller

Did you ever think it is better to tell just a little white lie rather than have someone be upset with you? We all have at one time or another. Then there is the opposite extreme where the truth is told in anger with judgment, blame and attack. Not pretty! What a gift to have a boss who is not afraid of the truth, who is willing to let you be uncomfortable for the sake of growth. What a relief to know exactly where you stand without feeling diminished for a mistake. Telling the truth is an art form that we all have to learn. Often the best truth tellers are those who grew up being pleasers. You know, the folks who would always smile and say “yes” to everything so they would not make any waves and always be everyone’s friend. Except all that smiling and pandering really does get old. With a truth teller as a boss you are treated as an adult. You learn that you are strong and resourceful and you do not have to be protected. Telling the truth is NOT spilling your guts! Being in the presence of an extraordinary boss who can say it like it is and still have you feel capable is a gift. When you find a boss like that, you don’t have to keep changing jobs. You have hit the...

Extraordinary Bosses and Extraordinary Insight

Did you ever have a boss who was or is a bully? Someone who always tells you what you are doing wrong and blaming you when the situation has some thorns around the roses that prick and draw blood? These are not what I mean by extraordinary. They are, sadly, a dime a dozen. And these persecutor, bully bosses often have one thing in common. They grew up in families where they had way too much responsibility at very young ages. These bosses learned to boss people around as kids. Often their parents were the children who could not keep a job, did not prepare meals for the kids, sat around and drank or smoked too much and left it to the children to run the household. Usually one child in the family became the parent and told the others what to do to keep things running as smoothly as possible. They often protected the babyish parent/s and never complained. They just bossed everyone around. Now, as a competent boss the behavior is so ingrained they keep doing the same thing. Except…. It will not work anymore. Bully bosses that can change into visionary bosses are the ones we name extraordinary. Think of it this way: instead of poking their finger in your face they change the direction of that pointer finger toward the sky, that place where visionary leaders show a new way. They know that so much more is possible, after all they kept the household running when they were mere kids. They can communicate what seems impossible in words that get everyone on board with a project. They learned how to change adversity into opportunity and they use that skill now...

Extraordinary Bosses and Extraordinary Work Cultures

Who are the employees who drive most bosses crazy? They are … ta da…. The rebels. Rebels are those who always find something wrong at work and want to gather the troops to take their case to HR. And if HR does not respond, well, there is always a hungry lawyer lurking in the corners who is ready to go at it with a hostile work environment suit. Now, don’t get me wrong. Some situations (think Enron) are really ugly and need special attention. However, most situations at work can be changed with a bit of discussion and some good will. Here is where an extraordinary boss takes the lead. Extraordinary bosses are able to listen to the wants and needs of the community and move from what is to what is better. They create a groundswell of good intentions by letting employees voice their dissatisfaction and then help them take the bitter out and go for the better. Let’s go back to the rebels at work. They often grew up in families where there was discrimination and they were the recipients (or their parents were) of unpleasant comments or rude and ugly reactions. As bosses or employees they are highly sensitive to subtle slurs and overt insults and rightfully do not want to tolerate intolerance. Extraordinary bosses create a level playing field where more and more people feel included and want to be part of a new and creatively effective solution. Rebels turned community builders make amazing things happen and change comes about because each individual is seen as UNIQUE and with a gift to add to the whole community. People want to work in environments that make room for differences and applaud the gifts...

Can Conflict Really Be Good for the Workplace?

Why do so many of us cringe in the face of conflict? It’s because the little kid part of us that looked up at those giants in our world (that means any adult) and knew they were big and we were small, and they would win and we would lose when it came to decision making, makes us feel….inadequate. You have two choices: one is to smile into the face of conflict and say “Welcome to my world, let’s get to know each other better” OR you can run and think that by running you can hide. But you can’t; at least not for too long. It is up to you, the entrepreneurs and leaders in your businesses to handle workplace conflict with grace and presence. Otherwise, and this is absolutely true, you can unknowingly create a toxic work environment and then, yikes, it gets really ugly because all the upsets go underground and well, the pollution then runs rampant. So here are some ways to stay above the fray and yet, still be available to solve the issues as they show up: Clarity: Acknowledge the stress that comes with conflict and keep going. Let everyone know you are willing to let the conflict turn into an opportunity for creative thinking and growth. Stay neutral: Let the team handle the tensions by setting time aside to discuss and chew on the disagreements. Everyone will want to get you engaged. Be like the parent who says “I’m here if you start punching, otherwise figure it out yourselves.” Have a stop watch: Give some guidelines and expect a decision within a matter of days. Conflict left to its own...