Tag Archives: workplace

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personal boundaries

Navigating Personal Boundaries at Work

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Trampled on again. That is the feeling employees sometimes have after the water cooler encounter or the high anxiety staff meeting. Are you effectively navigating personal boundaries at work?

First, let’s frame the boundaries. Harassment, bullying, or mobbing is another different discussion. This is more of a, “How do I navigate difficult personalities?” or “How do I navigate the organizational culture?” discussion.

Personal Boundaries

There are several golden rules about boundaries. Boundaries are:

  1. an individual experience or perception;
  2. not the same for everyone;
  3. once set, they’ll likely be tested.

Personal boundaries are important for our success, mental health, and physical health. They’re also important for job satisfaction, career growth, and ultimately our pay grade.

People often describe boundary violations by stating that they feel disrespected, taken advantage of, discounted, trampled, used, ignored, overworked, underutilized, or completely overwhelmed.

Many boundaries are broken because someone doesn’t understand the boundary.

Not all resolutions are the same. People often state, “I know I need to set boundaries with my boss.” Yes, perhaps, but how, when, or even if that is the best move can be in question.

Being angry with your boss because he or she gives you grief when you’re chronically 15-minutes late is not the bosses problem, it’s yours.

Feeling underemployed and making waves about it when there are not more advanced opportunities at the organization will not create the opportunities you seek.

Taking Action

Appropriate actions require careful assessment. This is not a one size fits all. You’ll have to give it the reasonability test.

Here are a few questions to get started:

  • What is my role in this situation?
  • Are workplace politics, downsizing, or rapid growth fueling this problem?
  • Is the scenario I’m struggling with part of the organizational culture?
  • Is this problem connected to a personality conflict or just a misunderstanding?
  • If I make a move to set a boundary how will that be perceived?

Assertive professionals often hit obstacles and roadblocks when they want more than what the organization can offer at this time, when there is a significant organizational change, or both.

In other cases, a broken boundary may be a conflict with just one individual.

Some boundaries you can set and appropriately maintain. Others, well, it may mean to escape the problem you’ll need to escape the organization.

Culture is top-down, you likely won’t change it from the bottom or middle.

-DEG

Would employee training or coaching help? Contact me.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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workplace silence

Workplace Silence, Does It Change Anything?

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Have you ever thought about workplace silence? Have you considered the impact of silence in your communication, in your meetings, or as a cultural value?

What about words or noise, have you considered their impact?

I’m not talking about the noise coming from the production floor, the keyboard clicks, or the intercom page. It’s not the chatter at the coffee pot, the ringing phone, or the heels clacking on the hard floor.

Words or Silence?

Silence is part of our communication. Silence can command attention, it can be the pause before the punch line, it can also signal disapproval or frustration.

Words matter. Words can hurt, tarnish, and permanently disable workflow. So can the power of silence.

Noise can be a radio, it can also be in our head. Noise in our head distracts us, taking us away from the work at hand. So can silence.

Is there power in words? Yes.

Is there power in silence? Yes.

Can you use silence as a communication tool?

Workplace Silence

Silence to express disapproval may seem like a safe bet, but saying nothing may be considered acceptance too. When the vote around the room is cast, silence is typically counted as affirmative, not dissent.

Speaking to a crowd, a long pause draws attention, a great time to drive home the point. It changes the dynamic, the tone, and the atmosphere.

Silence can exist with a smile, or with a frown. It can signal emotions or create fear. We’ve been told, “No news, is good news.” In practice, no news is often viewed as bad news.

We spend a lot of time worrying about our words. The impact, the cost, and the change they’ll create.

Is there impact, cost, and change associated with silence?

Does silence really change anything?

Silence changes everything.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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Wrench

Can You Hand Me The Wrench Please?

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Tools make our work easier. They improve the quality, the volume, and the effectiveness. As you navigate your business, career, or life, are you looking for a wrench or trying to get by without any tools?

If we need a hammer, we may be able to find a rock. Lacking scissors, someone may try their teeth.

The pickle jar lid is stuck. You have a couple of choices. You can figure out a tool, ask a friend, or just break the jar.

Timothy Leatherman had an idea. Put many tools in a single device. It is popular, and it works.

The Right Tools

Tools make life easier. They simplify the complex, save energy, time, and broken fingernails.

When we’re stuck, do we pick up a rock as a hammer, or do we get the right tool for the job?

In business or in your career, what are your tools? What have you used?

Too often people forget about the tool. They try to cut corners, open the plastic bag with their teeth, and stand on a chair with wheels instead of getting a small ladder. Risky, unsafe, and perhaps very costly.

Wrench Please

As a kid, I remember my job was to fetch the tools. I learned their names, the intended use, and the value of organization. I also learned that without the right tools the job took longer, had a higher rate of failure, and often became more expensive.

What are the tools you require? What will save time, improve quality, volume, and effectiveness?

In the workplace we need effective communication, trust, and sometimes we need someone to hand us the wrench.

We can blunder around without the right tools. Get it done with our bare hands, use a rock, or try it with our teeth.

That doesn’t make much sense though.

If you don’t have the right tool, you should ask.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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workplace problems

Workplace Problems You Are Proud To Discover

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Always important for the ambulance, hospitals, and firefighters. Planning for the unplanned. Addressing problems as they arise and being proud of the fix or resolution is important work, for some. Should you be proud of workplace problems? In general, probably not.

Several years ago, I facilitated an interesting business retreat. The leadership team wanted to understand how to communicate better, how to get unstuck, and most of all how to navigate the unsettling climate they faced as a team.

Get unstuck and work better together. It makes a lot of sense. In some regards, it sounds like it should be simple.

It should have been simple. Until I realized that they were proud of their problems.

Problem Analysis

Some people thrive on stuck. When things are stuck you need a hero to come bail you out.

Many management and leadership teams pride themselves on problem resolution. “Whatever happens, we’ll fix it.”

That is good to know. It is a reason to be proud.

It is a reason to be proud until that is the apparent reason for your existence. The Maytag repairman was lonely and bored. He may have benefited from a few more problems.

The manager who is needed every time there is a problem may feel valued and appreciated. His or her work counts, they are needed, and are the only one who keeps it all together.

I’ve heard it more than once. “All I do all day is fight fires.” Good and appropriate work if that is your profession. Not good and appropriate as a metaphorical expression of your job as a plant manager, office manager, or engineer.

Workplace Problems

Your job as the metaphorical firefighter may be important, but more important is having a strategy first and a tactical approach second.

Workplace problems arise. They happen, and they may be a sign of change. On the other hand, they may also be a sign of being stuck.

Know the difference between progress and stuck, stalled or stopped.

Be proud of progress not problems.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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scowl face

Scowl Face Won’t Create The Change You Seek

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People unconsciously become convinced that moods get results. Act out, act up, be unwilling to compromise or meet halfway, these are the tactics of children. Are you wearing a scowl face in an attempt to create change?

Sometimes children get their way with the scowl, arms crossed, and foot stomping. In the workplace, this still brings people to action, sometimes. If it is the boss, there may be a good chance.

Scowl face sometimes feels appropriate, but it likely never is. The impression created from childhood that this is the way for change is not so realistic in the grown-up world.

Change Adverse

Largely, people are change adverse by nature. Change makes them feel uneasy, nervous, and afraid.

It isn’t the way it was always done, it’s not the tried and true method. Change has failed before, the thought is, it will continue.

When we understand that people don’t like change, we can also understand that the change being sought may not be personal.

Changing the process, doesn’t mean it is a personal attack. A change to better connect with customers, it isn’t personal. Rearranging teams, employees, and altering policies, it probably isn’t personal.

Scowl Face

If we are leading change, or are a part of the change, or both, we’re not going to get very far with a scowl face. It may send a message, but it is the wrong message. It may create short-term action, but the long-term consequences are undesirable.

In the workplace, for the employees, for the groups, departments, and teams, don’t try scowl face.

If you’re going to create the kind of change you need, you’re going to need everyone on board.

Creating action is sometimes the biggest illusion that you are creating the change you need.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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workplace emotions

Are Workplace Emotions Productive or Destructive?

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Workplace emotions are often regarded as inappropriate. Are emotions important for success or are they a distraction?

Perhaps most important is to remember that we are talking about people here. Living, food consuming, and carbon dioxide producing, people.

Engagement and culture are driven by emotion. Emotions are part of people, they come with the package.

Productive or Destructive?

If you’ve been told to remove the emotion be aware of how you’ll manage your future interactions. If you’re telling people to remove the emotion consider revising your approach.

Certainly, there are times to consider setting aside some of the emotion. Business decisions do sometimes need to be made with setting aside some of the emotional connection. Economic hardship, downsizing, or even organizational survival may come to mind. This is reality and a truth.

Sometimes counterintuitive is that one of the most destructive actions related to culture is removing the emotion.

Let me be clear what I’m talking about. This is not about the person weeping about the death of the window plant. He or she may need some additional help.

This is also not about acting out the latest SNL skit in the breakroom. Humor can be helpful in some cases, however, it is also very volatile. Humor, or the use of humor is a different discussion.

Workplace Emotions

What is important about workplace emotions?

Customer’s make decisions based on emotion. Employee’s make decisions based on emotion. Your culture is driven by emotion.

Psychologically when someone shuns another person in the workplace about emotion, the next time they are feeling something, they may disconnect. This includes passion, inspiration, or even kindness.

They’ll disconnect with the thought, disconnect with the moment, and disconnect with the flow.

Is engagement problematic? What about loyalty? Are you measuring employee or customer retention?

Suggesting on the removal of emotion may be one of the most destructive actions you can take. Do you want a team, a brand, and loyal customers? You’re going to need emotion.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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goals matter

Why Goals Matter For Interpersonal Workplace Change

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Change surrounds us, all of us, that is important to keep in mind. Are you convinced you need a change but you can’t get your arms around how to make it happen? Goals matter for change efforts. Do you have a goal?

Sound Familiar?

Nothing ever changes around here.

Here we go again. I’m so tired of this.

He or she will never change. 

Three popular versions of a never-ending story. Why is it never ending? Because there isn’t a goal, it is the wrong goal, or the pursuit is inappropriately or poorly executed.

Many people have a wish that their boss, their co-worker, a direct report, vendor, customer, or other stakeholder will change.

Breaking news, you most likely will not force them to change. It is nearly guaranteed.

The real effort needs to be a focus on what you can do to change your circumstances or your interactions with those people who you wish would change.

Simply put, you likely won’t change other people but you can change your reactions or interactions with them.

Goals Matter

Your goal will matter. Your goal cannot be to get someone else to change to accommodate your interests.

You can get started by answering three important questions.

  1. What do you need to be different or change?
  2. What role do your actions or behaviors play?
  3. Do you have boundaries identified and set?

Define what needs to change. This is really your goal. Sometimes it helps to state the future in the present. Establish the goal and be specific.

Next you need to understand your role. What behaviors of your own have invited this scenario or situation to start, continue, or grow?

The third important part of your change is to define the boundaries. In the workplace it may be things like the use of your time, your personal space, or even noise.

Unfortunately, many people expecting workplace interactions to change do not have any of these items defined. You can’t create change without them.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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workplace stories

Workplace Stories, What Is Your Story?

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Conversations are everywhere, even digital text-based conversations. Workplace stories are path setting. What is the story trending around the office, the plant floor, or the job site today?

Much of the World as we know it is based on a story. Not everyone believes the same story, but regardless there is a story.

There is a story behind our evolution, there is a story that grounds our universal coding for years (B.C. and A.D.). There are religious stories. Stories of great leaders, army’s, wealth, and devastation.

Story Incubator

In our workplace, any ordinary day may continue with the same old story. When there is a change, a shift, or the pattern of the environment slides the story may change.

There is the story of who will be promoted and why. The story of the philosophy of the new boss. And even more personal drama such as workplace romances, who is getting divorced, or who has trouble at home.

Any business that has been around for a while may have cyclical shifts in revenue. Some expected, and some perhaps a surprise. In a downturn, there will be stories about what is happening, who is to blame, and the tribe will start discussing who should go.

Many organizations set out to squash the story. Stop the discussion. They’ll attempt to break up small groups and they will disperse hoovering supervisors.

The challenge really isn’t to stop the discussion. The challenge is to change the story.

Workplace Stories

Certainly, there may occasionally be some misfortune, some economic hardship, or drama fueled rumors. There also may be growth and expansion rumors, who is getting promoted, who is getting hired, and who just got a raise.

There is one thing true about all stories. Stories drive our actions and behaviors.

Today, tomorrow, and for the legacy of your career or the organization, have you thought about the effects of the stories you tell? Keep in mind, you’ll be remembered and identified by your stories.

What is your story?

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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trusted truth

Trusted Truth Is The Path For Consistent Success

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Persuasion seems to happen without purpose. People talk about what they like, what they saw, and how it felt. Are your messages trusted truth or just your opinions?

You have probably heard to be cautious when dealing with the used car salesperson. The used car salesperson is a stigma, a stigma often associated with getting you to buy in to just about anything that is being said.

Opinions are Slippery

In everyday life people typically speak through opinions.

We ate at the best restaurant.

We watched this movie last night, it was the best movie ever. 

I don’t go to Starbucks. I go only to Dunkin Donuts their coffee is so much better. 

In the workplace it takes on a different form.

The staff meetings are always boring.

He never completes his work on time and is always late.

I know the boss hates me. She criticizes everything I do.

All these statements may be far from fact. Are they trusted truth? Unlikely.

The best restaurant is an opinion. Words like always boring, never on time, and criticizes everything are probably nothing more than an opinion.

One of the biggest challenges for all this rhetoric is that those who are not really listening treat it as trusted truth.

It gets even worse when interactions are so opinionated that it is a truth when the message is delivered by one party, but another different party is shamed to not have any credibility with a similar message.

Trusted Truth

When you really want to make a difference in your conversations. When you want to bring trusted truth to your meetings and other workplace interactions you have to deliver facts.

Facts are much more consistent and reliable. Your operation, values, and beliefs when based on facts have greater merit. Operational systems work better and produce consistent results. Outcomes are more predictable and qualified.

Nearly always, your opinion cannot be a trusted truth.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten RespectNavigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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personal frame

Personal Frame and Where We Belong

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We tend to put everything in a frame. Our favorite pictures, a diploma, and even our capabilities. Others put us in a frame too. What is your personal frame and does it help or does it somehow make you less?

Work Frames

We attend meetings at work. The entire meeting and its associated outcomes are often conditioned by a frame. Some like the frame, some strongly dislike it.

The frame helps give it all structure. It may speed up processing and at the same time it may limit positive change and prolong problem resolution.

The people within the frame, are framed.

After working with others for some time we tend to have a feel for what they’ll say and how they may say it. We have an idea how they’ll interact and where they will stand on a subject.

This too, is both good and bad. There are positive and likely negative consequences.

While you are inclusive in the frame, you also have your own frame. A place they have placed you. Psychologically, they have given you a label. Smart, silly, bossy, quiet, big ego, or even a push over. People believe they know what they’ll get.

The real question then becomes what frame have you placed yourself in?

Personal Frame

Do you believe you belong in the meeting? Are you good enough, too good, or growing into it? Are you more of an observer, just wanting to have a seat at the table to keep a pulse on the action?

You’ve given yourself your own label. It is the place where you fit. As part of the group you know the ebb and flow, you will likely follow it, always.

It may be confidence, or a lack of it. Your personal frame will guide everything that happens next.

Avoid labeling yourself as not good enough, inferior, or not belonging. Chances are good you’ll live up to your own expectations.

-DEG

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+


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