Sometimes sexism hides behind the words and apparent compliments that women hear from their colleagues, supervisors and managers. This can be a slippery slope, where the rules of the game often depend on the cultures involved, and the players’ actions may be said to be defined by their own perceptions and reactions.
“We have a great team! Three girls and two men working on this project”… Girls??? Who are you calling “girls”? Do you mean your female colleagues?
Confidentiality, impartiality, informality and independence: these are the guiding principles of the Ombud role. However, in order to have the best possible chances of a positive outcome, another important ingredient is needed: early action. Do not wait until a situation has deteriorated so far that it becomes unbearable – set the Ombud clock ticking and enlist support as soon as you begin to feel that things are not going well…
“When feedback is specific and timely, and also accompanied by a genuinely positive intention, it may be considered to be a gift”. This was the concluding message of the article in the last Bulletin. But how can negative feedback be perceived as an appreciated and useful gift?
Dealing with feedback is an essential part of any learning process. Taking into account other people’s perceptions of what we do or say can be a very valuable insight into ways in which we can develop and improve our performance. However, knowing how to give feedback does not come naturally, and we can all gain from developing this skill.
Patents, copyrights, trademarks… there are many ways to protect intellectual property and yet, despite these precautionary measures, it seems that colleagues sometimes still slip up: plots done by one person are used in another’s presentation without being appropriately credited, citations are wrongly assigned, references are inaccurate…
Can a world without lies exist? Are there different types of lies, some more acceptable than others, or is that just an excuse that we use to justify ourselves? What consequences do lies have in the working environment?
A few weeks ago, I overheard a conversation in the cafeteria where a colleague was asked how it was that he was always smiling… his answer was immediate - “That’s easy”, he said, “I work in such a great place – great science, great people, great opportunities…”. Amidst the general laughter and acquiescent nodding that followed, I found myself musing on this response and thinking about all the different services that play their part in achieving the mission that inspired this sentiment.
The perception of unfair treatment in the workplace can often lead to conflict and a sense of demotivation, which ultimately leaves us feeling discouraged and helpless. What are some of the strategies that would allow managers to prevent or limit the risk of allowing these situations to develop or, on the other hand, as colleagues facing these circumstances, to cope with these feelings and to move on?
Spring is here again, and once again it is time for the annual conference of the International Ombudsman Association.
Do you have a tendency to switch off at meetings every time a particular colleague starts to speak? Is it obvious to you that your colleagues will never accept a peer as a project leader? And doesn’t that candidate from your own alma mater clearly have a definite edge over the others?
How do we come to these conclusions and what can we do to ensure that our decisions are based on objective criteria alone? Can we always be sure that we are not influenced by pre-conceived notions or prejudices that may unconsciously bias our thinking?