I was facilitating a retreat last week and Nida, a participant, told me that her manager makes her absolutely crazy. As Nida described her manager, Adam, he did indeed sound like a jerk.
Adam sent directions for all of Nida’s tasks via email. Even when starting a new project that would last for months, Nida learned about the project via email. This would have been understandable if the two were across continents or time zones; in actuality, they sat across the hall from one another.
But that’s not all. Adam never recognized Nida; he didn’t tell her thank you for her work. As I questioned this, Nida twisted her computer screen so I could see it. Just as Nida said, there were a slew of messages from Adam, yet none of the completed tasks received a thank you…not even a “thx.”
Nida shared all the injustices with me. Adam piled on the work. He didn’t care about her as a person. He never offered appreciation. He didn’t recognize all the work Nida was performing. He didn’t want the office coverage to suffer so he never allowed Nida to take a Monday or Friday off; those were the days Adam saved for himself.
After listening and verifying Nida’s impressions with others in the organization, I learned that what Nida was alleging was true, or at least nearly true.
Nida said to me, “Can you fix Adam? After all, that is what you do, right?” She continued, “Can’t you write him up? Can’t you get him fired?”
Actually, I had to tell her, “No, I cannot.” One of my coaching colleagues says often, “There’s no law that says managers need to be considerate or kind. While it is the best practice, what’s acceptable in one organization may not be tolerated in the next.”
While I do try to help every level of employee to be more relational, more appreciative, and more collaborative, unless the organizational culture supports and sometimes demands a collaborative work environment, little if any change will occur.
When we stay in toxic environments, most of us become toxic ourselves. I know that has become true for Nida. She complained a lot, moved from task to task slowly, and completed her work always doing the minimum.
How about you? If you are so miserable, why are you still there?
Do you know what restaurants do at their weekly leadership huddle? I didn’t know until I started attending some of my client’s weekly meetings. Each Tuesday I join them in sampling a new recipe or food. One Tuesday at 9:30 in the morning, I also found myself sampling a daiquiri. The next month, a vegetable paté (I didn’t like it and neither did many members of the team) and a pumpkin soup (amazing!).
And then there was the day that we sampled a new slider recipe. The manager, Bob, said loudly, “Of course Saheed won’t have this. He won’t sample meat. He’s too good for us.”
Everyone, including Saheed, laughed.
And then Bob continued. As the team discussed whether the sliders had enough seasoning and flavor, Bob said, “Well, it doesn’t have to be too spicy. The Indians won’t be eating it anyway, will they Saheed?”
Again the group laughed, a nervous laughter, and everyone looked around to see each others’ reactions.
After the meeting, I spoke to Bob. “You know, singling out Saheed based on his dietary choices creates tension among the team, and I wonder how Saheed feels?”
Bob said, “Oh, I am just teasing him.”
I continued, “I am concerned that your intentions are not creating the impact you would like. I found the comments offensive.”
“Well,” Bob retorted, “you need to get a sense of humor and lighten up.”
“Teasing” is often a form of microaggression. Instead of creating inclusion, it magnifies differences.
Now I fully understand why the staff complains to me of trust, openness, and acceptance in this organization. How would you or your organization handle these situations?
What you think about me is none of my business.
What I think of me is ALL my business.
How I think about both is good for our business.
Last week I met with a CFO for her sixth executive coaching session. Each time we meet, we discuss a variation of the same topic: her role as a practiced fretter and worrier. She worries about what everyone says about the organization, about her boss, and about her colleagues. She worries about what everyone is feeling and about how the employees and her peers perceive her. She worries that she worries so much!
Two weeks earlier, in a meeting with another CFO at a different organization, I noticed a different personality trait that pervades his entire workplace; he is so brash that he alienates everyone. No one includes him in their project meetings because he is so harsh, even though having an ally close to the budget would be helpful. Rather than take on anyone’s issues and help solve them, he actually creates more, and as a result, everyone avoids him.
And yes, I do know one baby bear CFO, Lenora, who is “just right.” Lenora might not be perfect, but she is highly competent and her co-workers seek out her opinion and advice. Best of all, Lenora goes home from work, most days, without being a bundle of worries.
The emotional health and balance of the senior executive team creates the workplace culture. What is your organization doing to promote a healthy leadership team?