Saturday, February 27, 2010

Challenging Workplace Relationships

There are many energy vampires in the workplace. People who run around like Chicken Little proclaiming, “The sky is falling!” Whiners who incessantly complain about how they’ve been wronged by a boss, co-worker, or family member. And yet, they attempt no constructive solutions. Chatterboxes who talk incessantly and say nothing because they are anxious and don’t know constructive ways to bind their anxiety. And then there are bullies. And it makes matters much worse when those bullies are bosses. These "leaders" have managed to bamboozle someone higher up about their qualifications to lead. And where they exercise their “leadership” the most is in creating a highly toxic environment.

Toxic bosses regularly set team members up for failure, blaming them when they can’t accomplish the impossible. They empower people, who are already difficult enough to work with, to become impossible.

And yet who can simply quit their job in this recession?

Many times, people want to help make the situation better, but they don’t know how. This is particularly true when they are not in a position of power on the job. These employees must grapple with questions such as:

• What happens when you have a big blow up with someone you work with, but you have to continue working with them? How do you do that? Is it even possible?

• What about having ongoing tension or conflict with someone you work directly or indirectly with. How do you manage that?

• How do you collaborate if you're being forced into a situation where you have to work with an old nemesis? Do you set aside old grievances and the knowledge you have about this person to start over again for the good of the team? Is that even possible?

It can be precarious to blow the whistle to upper management. But there are times to do so and clearly, there are times not to do this. But how does the average employee know which is which? How can they be constructive without jeopardizing their own job?

Today, I have started a discussion group on LinkedIn to tackle workplace issues such as these called Challenging Workplace Relationships. Please join me in reading the comments and adding your own questions and opinions. Let’s make this a useful discussion group for folks who are struggling to connect with those who have constructive suggestions and solutions.

And please join me on March 8th on “Relationships 101” on when I interview Roger Hall, an executive who literally spent his career traveling the world helping companies to neutralize their toxic, conflict-ridden work environments. We will specifically focus on coping with bullies in the workplace.

You won't want to miss these interesting and essential conversations.

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