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?
Have you ever been surprised by a negative reaction to an e-mail that you believed to have been efficient, helpful and to-the-point? This happens more often than you may realise, as communication is about what they hear, not what you say.
Are you able to assign tasks to your staff and then let them get on with them… or do you tend to hover over them to check on their progress? Observing and controlling supervisees too closely can be counterproductive, as it is often perceived as micromanagement and results in stifling employee decision-making, leaving them with the feeling that their manager does not trust them.
As a boss, do you unconditionally stand by your line management when they are involved in potential conflicts with their supervisees or do you take a stand and look into the issue yourself?
Marc goes to see Anna, his Group Leader, because he feels his team is being treated unfairly by his direct supervisor, Luke.
Conflict happens, and in a large international organisation like ours it is often inevitable. Indeed, when it happens in the context of a confrontation of different ideas, opinions or methods it can be considered to be a healthy component of effective collaboration. Yet, when conflict becomes personal, when it is underpinned by unethical actions and hostile interactions, these interpersonal differences can rapidly deteriorate into moral harassment or bullying behaviour.
About one year since I last covered the topic of sexual harassment, I am returning to this theme again as it continues to be raised in the Ombud office. This trend is likely to continue as long as everyday sexism and harassment remain hidden and our workplace culture persists in turning a blind eye to these issues…
Mindfulness in the workplace: what possible relevance could an ancient Buddhist practice have in today’s busy professional world? And yet, the notion seems to have caught on in many organisations as more and more people are finding it to be an effective way of dealing with the complexities of day-to-day working life…