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February 28, 2007

Anonymous comments accepted

Several weeks ago a comment from ‘anonymous’ came in on the Values to Love post.

Today I tested submitting a comment anonymously. It’s very easy. It works. In the ‘name’ field, just type in anonymous. In the ‘comments’ box, type in whatever you have to say.

I really want to hear your comments so if you don’t feel comfortable putting your name on a comment, please use this method.

February 27, 2007

(Humility) You first, please…

Humility is thinking about others before you think about yourself.

Humility is the self-confidence that you don’t need to be the center of attention. You accept and acknowledge the work, the talents, the abilities and the authority of others.
Humility brings authentic happiness, an inner peace. Humility is admitting…right up front…that you made a mistake, that you are human. It is learning and moving on.

Truth and humility are inseparable.
Pretending to be humble is obvious by actions--the amount of space you leave in your life for others and the amount of space consumed with yourself. False humility is downplaying your talents and accomplishments to receive praise or adulation from others.

Some of the thinking that brought me to this topic
• To work in the communications business, you have to think of the audience, to recognize you are not the target audience.
• To work in teams, you have to recognize the synergy of ideas is better than yours alone.
• To work in an organization, you need to recognize there are many workers at all levels who deal with customers and you will create better communications when you listen to what all coworkers can tell you. You need to thank the person who did the work, rather than take credit for someone else’s work.

Rosa Say from Hawaii has an excellent blog entry on ‘humility in the workplace’. After working 24 years in Hawaii’s hospitality industry, she founded Say Leadership Coaching. Please, please read it.

The Humility Test from Queendom, the Land of Tests, out of Montreal. (You will get lost in all these tests with instant scores and comments.) Their credibility statement says, “Our tests are developed by a team of experienced developers led by Ilona Jerabek, PhD. Each test is well researched and developed according to APA (American Psychological Association) standards for educational and psychological testing.”

A humility test of 41 questions that has some merit in my opinion, posted on an Oklahoma City church Web site, http://www.tbcokc.org/brokenness1.htm

“The greatest friend of truth is Time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion is Humility”
--Charles Caleb Colton, English cleric, writer and collector of aphorisms and short essays on conduct (1780-1832)

February 22, 2007

What do siblings have to do with the workplace?

In the workplace, you deal with your peers. Who were your peers for the first 18 years or so of your life?
(You probably didn’t get any weekends or vacations away from them.)

Siblings are a life-time deal, unlike coworkers, friends and spouses. Researchers are studying how as young children we learn to negotiate, to get along with our siblings. And how that carries on in later life.

The cover story for the Time magazine of July 10, 2006 was “How your siblings make you who you are”

Here are some interesting workplace pieces of that story

“You learn to negotiate things day to day…Adulthood, after all, is practically defined by peer relationships--the workplace, a marriage, the church building committee. As siblings, we may sulk and fume but by nighttime we still return to the same twin beds in the same shared room. Peace is made when one sib offers a toy or shares a thought or throws a pillow in a mock provocation that releases the lingering tension in a burst of roughhousing. Somewhere in there is the early training for the e-mail joke that breaks an office silence…. "Sibling relationships are where you learn all this," says developmental psychologist Susan McHale of Penn State University. "They are relationships between equals."

“McHale studied a group of 384 adolescent sibling pairs and their parents. Overall, she concluded that 65% of mothers and 70% of fathers exhibited a preference for one child--in most cases, the older one.

Think you're not still living the same reality show?
Think again. It's no accident that employees in the workplace instinctively know which person to send into the lion's den of the corner office with a risky proposal or a bit of bad news. And it's no coincidence that the sense of hurt feelings and adolescent envy you get when that same colleague emerges with the proposal approved and the boss's applause seems so familiar. But what you summon up with the feelings you first had long ago is the knowledge you gained then too--that the smartest strategy is not to compete for approval but to strike a partnership with the favorite and spin the situation to benefit yourself as well. This idea did not occur to you de novo. You may know it now, but you learned it then.

“From the time they are born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales…They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them…..Our spouses arrive comparatively late in our lives; our parents eventually leave us.

“But as much as all the fighting can set parents' hair on end, there's a lot of learning going on too, specifically about how conflicts, once begun, can be settled.”

So what’s the lesson here?
Just be aware that our siblings helped shape us. And maybe it’s worth asking your coworkers about their siblings if you don’t know.

P.S. I’ll send my sister a notice about this entry so she can rant and rave once again about how mean I was. And I’ll remind her how tired I got of her being the cute little sister. And then we’ll go back to sharing e-mail jokes, the joys and concerns of life.

P.P.S.You could be working with a sibling. (Brothers & Sisters on ABC—Writers blogs are quite interesting, if you get to the real comments on the writing http://blogs.abc.com/brothersandsisters/)

“I do not believe that the accident of birth makes people sisters and brothers. It makes them siblings. Gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood are conditions people have to work at. It's a serious matter. You compromise, you give, you take, you stand firm, and you're relentless...And it is an investment. Sisterhood means if you happen to be in Burma and I happen to be in San Diego and I'm married to someone who is very jealous and you're married to somebody who is very possessive, if you call me in the middle of the night, I have to come.”
Maya Angelou, American poet (1928-)

February 20, 2007

Roles and responsibilities

How important are they? Supremely important.

Several years ago I heard a speaker at professional development day talk about how you had to devote a lot of time to defining roles and responsibilities. It’s one of those few things remembered years after a conference. I wish I could remember more. Anyone still have notes you could share?

“Productive knowledge work is all about how we use each other’s time and attention as we try to get stuff done. Your worst competitor is day-to-day confusion—the time it takes everyone to figure out what to do and what not to do.”
--Bill Jensen, author of “Simplicity: the New Competitive Advantage in a World of More, Better, Faster”

Why is defining roles and responsibilities so hard today?
I suspect it’s a long list and much comes down to ‘change’.
Changing technology redefines what workers do, what machines do.
Downsizing eliminates jobs so others need to pick up more work.
Reorganization, mergers, leadership changes and changing and fluid reporting lines redefine the work group.
New goals such as recruiting students and economic development emerge.

And finally, in a rushed world, the changed and evolving roles and responsibilities are not communicated to those affected.

Tension and frustration build when workers lack clarity in roles and responsibilities.
Instead of working on results for the organization, workers are stuck with who is doing what, who answers to whom?

It takes time to define roles and responsibilities but without that definition there is lots of activity and we become enslaved by busy work. There is frustration all around. It’s easy for incivility to take over.

I think this is one reason I like project management so much. Roles and responsibilities are defined for a project. The work is divided and allocated. Several people are not unknowingly doing the same thing or competing to do the same thing. You have different responsibilities in different projects which is invigorating. You get to try something different, learn something new. It increases flexibility and enriches your work life, important elements of job satisfaction in this knowledge economy.

Defining roles and responsibilities gives workers authority.
It supports people working together because they can see what component is their responsibility, who is doing other work, how it all fits together.

I’ve been through a year of change. I’m energized by my new roles and responsibilities but I’m still asking the questions, working to define the responsibilities. I think the days of static responsibilities are gone so we have to work on defining them day after day.

It’s like an orchestra; not everyone can be first chair trumpet. It’s like a family; not everyone is responsible for paying the utility bills. If you don’t know your role and responsibilities, keep asking questions to define them.

Not terribly related:
I found this blog by a project manager in Sarasota, Florida through searching for ‘roles and responsibilities’. He frequently touches on civility, although he doesn’t name it civility.

February 13, 2007

Values to love

Many Yahoo! values were put into practice by two guys (David Filo and Jerry Yang) in a trailer some time ago (1994). Today Yahoo! has 11,000 employees worldwide.
Excerpts from Yahoo! We Value…
Excellence: We are committed to winning with integrity.
Customer Fixation: We respect our customers above all else and never forget that they come to us by choice.
Teamwork: We treat one another with respect and communicate openly.
Fun: We believe humor is essential to success. We applaud irreverence and don’t take ourselves too seriously. We celebrate achievement. We yodel.
What we don’t value…
Bureaucracy, broken links, decaf, arrogance, shoes worn at all times, micromanaging, bad grammar, ALL CAPS, one size fits all, typos…
© 2004 Yahoo! Inc.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in 1998. The company has more than 10,500 employees worldwide.
Excerpts from Google Code of Conduct
Our informal corporate motto is “Don’t be evil.”
The core message is simple: Being Googlers means striving toward the highest possible standard of ethical business conduct. …our most important asset by far is our reputation as a company that warrants our users’ faith and trust. …every Googler is expected to do his or her utmost to promote a respectful workplace culture that is free of harassment, intimidation, bias and discrimination of any kind.
Our Dog Policy
Google’s respect and affection for our canine friends is an integral facet of our corporate culture. We have nothing against cats, per se, but we’re a dog company, so as a general rule we feel cats visiting our campus would be fairly stressed out.
©2007 Google

Of course, anyone can write wonderful value statements, and they do.
Yahoo! and Google have multitudes of people who want to work for them. Google's hiring process is grueling and extensive. Newsweek Dec. 2, 2005: "Virtually every person who interviews at Google talks to at least half-a-dozen interviewers, drawn from both management and potential colleagues. Everyone's opinion counts.." http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10296177/site/newsweek/
(Very interesting article. I recommend you read it.)

Their workforces expect civility. Their values and codes are written in the language of the people, easily accessible. Google's code is more than nine screens long. "Employees who are found to have violated this Code are subject to discipline up to and including immediate discharge."

You can google...and find people who were not impressed with the hiring process, people who think they'd not want to work at Google.

I am impressed that they value people who work well with others to learn, to solve problems for the good of the company. There's some humility. There's democracy. Definitely esprit de corps. Isn't this a circle? People want to work for them because it's a good company. It's a good company because only people who live the values are hired and survive.

“Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world.”
-- Sergey Brin, cofounder of Google (1973- )

Blogs by Google employees, http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/02/happy-v-dayfido.html
Yahoo! Blogs, http://yodel.yahoo.com/

February 09, 2007

Pay attention

This is rule #1 in P.M. Forni’s book “Choosing Civility, The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct.”

Forni says attention is a tension that connects us to the world around us.

“Only after we notice the world can we begin to care for it. Every act of kindness is, first of all, an act of attention. We may see a coworker in need of a word of encouragement, but it is only if we pay attention that we may do something.”

Think about how you don’t visit the local tourist attractions until you have a guest to entertain. Paying attention is like that. We get caught up in our own work, ignoring the obvious around us.

I find meetings can be one of the most important places to pay attention if I will just do it. A recent example:
I was leading a meeting and at “other” on the agenda. (“Other” is a very civil agenda item to let those attending bring up matters they may have thought of due to discussion in the meeting or they didn’t think to put on the agenda.) A coworker brought up a problem that I didn’t really see as a problem. Others expanded his point. My job was to pay attention and guide the discussion to a solution.

“When we pay attention, when we are alert to the world, we improve substantially the quality of our responses and therefore the quality of our lives and of the lives of those who touch ours,” Forni writes.

When you talk to a colleague, it’s not a colleague but a particular individual. How does his or her work touch yours and what has this colleague told you about his or her life? It is very frustrating to try to communicate with someone whom you realize is not present in the conversation; their mind is somewhere else. There is no value to the communication.

So pay attention at work: observe, listen, be courteous and considerate and then respond.

Pay attention outside the workplace…to your spouse, to your children, to your parents, to old friends, to new friends, to relatives…

A week ago when the tornado hit Florida, my husband and I were watching the news of it. We wondered if the area was close to where a first cousin of his now lived in retirement. This cousin and his wife had done an exhaustive tour last spring to visit every close relative…I was in awe of that effort. We searched MapQuest.com and discovered the cousin lived in the path of that tornado.

I encouraged my husband to call. “What can I do when I’m in Iowa and he’s in Florida?” was his answer. I told him… you call to show you care. He called. His cousin was a mile or two beyond the tornado’s path. He and his wife were trying to help others. The next day we got an e-mail “We thank so many of you who have called and/or e-mailed your thoughts, concerns and prayers for us and for the victims of the horrible tornados that we experienced.”

Solutions and connections happen when you pay attention.

“The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.”
Tom Peters, American author and expert on business management practices (1942- )

February 03, 2007

Sticks and stones

may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Totally untrue, says Gary Namie, co-author of “The Bully at Work” and co-founder of the national nonprofit Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, WA.

Bullying is in Iowa headlines because there’s a legislative bill to ban bullying in schools. That, combined with the recent training on discrimination and harassment makes me ask…What about bullying in the workplace?

The institute defines workplace bullying as
Repeated, health impairing mistreatment comprised of one or more of the following:
1. verbal abuse
2. threatening, intimidating conduct
3. work interference

Consider the research.
• Bullying is three times more prevalent than illegal, discriminatory harassment.
• Women harassing women constitutes 50% of the bullying.
• One in six employees directly experience workplace bullying.
• 71% of bullies are bosses.
• Seven out of ten who are bullied will leave their jobs or be forced out of jobs they love.

Bullying is far worse than incivility or rudeness.
Namie says the industries most prone to bullying are health care and education. Why? There’s cut-throat competition and the workplaces are political.

Giovinella Gonthier, author of “Rude Awakenings: Overcoming the Civility Crisis in the Workplace”, says bullies thrive on creating fear. They engage in hostile behavior such as criticizing the work and accomplishments of others, threatening job loss, yelling and screaming and making derogatory remarks.

Why do bullies bully? Namie says it’s a simple list.
1. Workers are pitted against workers; one way to advance is to exploit others.
2. Ambitious, zealous, Machiavellian types who manipulate others to reach their own goals are tolerated. It may be the definition of success.
3. The employer supports aggression with promotions and rewards.

Who is the target of bullying in the workplace?
The self-starter who is feisty and independent
A person who is technically more skilled than the bully
The target is more emotionally intelligent and socially adept than the bully; the target is well-liked
The target is ethical and honest to a fault
The target is not a confrontational person. He or she does not respond. Frankly, the target is stunned and bewildered. The target is convinced he or she can overcome this. It’s all shame-based; the target feels shame. The target comes to believe he or she is incompetent. It’s a disassembly of the target’s personality.

Don’t worry about the bully’s motives. Take action.
1. Name it bullying. It’s not discrimination of a protected class. There’s no law against cruelty. There’s a person that is the source of the bullying.
2. Take time off to do four things.
a. Check your physical health; often it’s a physician that will name bullying—you have high blood pressure, clinical depression, panic attacks or shingles.
b. Check your mental health.
c. See if there’s recourse within the company; consult a legal professional.
d. Build the business case that the bully is too expensive to keep. What is the financial impact to the company? Document the cost of turnover, absenteeism, health care needed. Bullying interferes with productivity. It causes a serious disruption to the flow of work.
3. Expose the bully. Take your documented business case to the highest level in the organization you can.

Be assertive.
While you’re working on the three steps, Namie says relieve stress by changing the work environment. Ask to transfer jobs or tap the power of your coworker group. You need the social support of your family and coworkers. Coworkers abandon the target because they’re really glad it’s not them. Ask for their support; ask “did you see what happened to me?” Bullies are narcissistic. A bully is insecure and afraid of confrontation by a group of coworkers or peers. Nurses in an operating suite encircle the bully surgeon and demand an apology.

Workplace bullying is a lot like domestic violence. The bully creates a toxic environment. In other countries bullying is the subject of workplace policies. The United States needs to take a lesson.

Workplace Bullying Institute, http://www.bullyinginstitute.org/focus.html
Workplace Bullying from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workplace_bullying
Bullying in the Workplace on Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/bullying.html
Bullying in the Workplace - An acceptable cost? Dissertation by Andy Ellis, Ruskin College, Oxford, UK, http://www.workplacebullying.co.uk/aethesis.html

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and injustice."
--Robert F. Kennedy, U.S. attorney general and senator (1925-1968)