Many conflicts between people could be avoided or resolved if both parties could understand the situation as if they were in the other’s shoes. Putting oneself into another’s position, either consciously or unconsciously, is called empathy. Empathy should not be confused with sympathy, which involves condolence or pity for the other; empathy is a neutral process, leading to the inner knowledge of another person. Individuals differ in their level of empathic ability.
Management is quite adequate and most important for projects, budgets, milestones, and scheduling, for instance. However, when we are talking about people, about how to communicate and interact with them, how to motivate them so they are enthusiastic and give their best, and how to drive them to be fully responsible and accountable for their mission, one would then prefer to use the term leadership than management. What is the difference?
In 2011, the Canadian HR Reporter published several articles by Sharone Bar-David on workplace incivility (I would encourage you to read them here). These articles can shed some light on an internal issue here at CERN: what happens when there are violations of the Code of Conduct that we may face every day? Such incivilities can fly under the organizational radar and are not up to the level of any administrative or disciplinary action foreseen in the CERN Staff Rules and Regulations.
Due to his technical expertise and a mastery in his domain of activity, Jim* was nominated supervisor of his Unit at CERN. In fact, he was considered perhaps the only person who could face, along with his team, the great challenges of a very complicated technical development, and succeed in overcoming all the difficulties.
Happy New Year 2012 to all!
At the beginning of this New Year, I would like to draw your attention to two important features that appeared from the statistics on the numbersand classes of visitors who came to the Ombuds during the first year of operations. The number of women was by far superior to the number of men who visited the Ombuds, when compared to the actual CERN percentage in such categories. The number of people visiting the Ombuds holding a Limited Duration contract was surprisingly lower than the number of visitors with an Indefinite appointment.
No story this week, for a change! But I would like to convey to everyone a simple message: whatever issues you are facing, the Ombuds is here to listen to you; the Office is open for you. From time to time I hear that someone had to leave his/her workplace due to an overwhelming stress or even a depression. To get to such a point takes time and I always wonder if these people have actually looked for help, and if not maybe this increased their isolation. At CERN, several Services are available to give valuable help, including the Ombuds.
Jack* is a new staff member. He joined CERN after having worked successfully in industry, where he had been given considerable responsibility in projects as well as in human resources, despite the fact that he was still young. After a few months, given his expertise, he found himself in charge of part of a project, technically, and also responsible for a few collaborators. That did not present any difficulty for him given his past experience where he was used to handling business in quite an independent way.
Don* is a CERN staff member with an indefinite contract who has been working for some years on an important technical project. As the project is large, it involves pooling the efforts of many people from different Departments. Walt* is one of the Project Leaders, and is not from Don's Department. For a long time, their working relationship was quite pleasant. Walt was satisfied with Don’s work, and on several occasions shared his appreciation with his hierarchy.
Phil* was a candidate for a position in a different group from the one he had been working for. After his board had taken place, Phil asked for an appointment with the Ombuds.
Greg* is a student at CERN doing his doctoral thesis. His thesis adviser, Wilbur*, resides in a remote university and does not come to CERN very often. As a result, he and Greg interact mostly by phone or e-mail. Greg only gets the chance to speak to Wilbur face-to-face when he flies home or when a general meeting for the project is held at CERN. At CERN, Greg is under the supervision of a Section Leader, Phil*, who is responsible for the overall part of the project for which Greg is working.