Archive for the ‘Bad Managers’ Category

Your Innovative Voice

 

It’s been a few months since I have last posted. I had been in a writer’s deep dive immersion exploring, synthesizing, and calibrating my innovative voice. Now I am thrilled to reveal what I have learned about my process with the hardworking men and women that desire a solution to their doubt and fears.

The Harvey Weinstein scandal has been currently front page news for a few days. This scandal reminded me years ago when I was 19, I worked as a waitress. I remember I had to fight to be heard when a restaurant manager would put his hands on my body even after I told him no, chased me into a freezer to try kiss me, and stalked me outside of the restaurant. I complained loudly and fiercely to the owner, promised the manager that the police would be called if he didn’t stop, and eventually he was fired.
I was also told by the owner I was too dramatic because I complained too much. Come again? I stopped a predator and somehow this is my fault? This is another reason why some women and men don’t come forward because we often put other’s needs before ours. We learn from experiences that “teach” us to be more compliant in the workplace, demand cool and calm professionalism (never get excited if a crime is in the process of being committed), and you can always quit if it’s “too bad.”

I was very clear at 19 that no man had the right to touch me, my father was at home dying of terminal disease, and my mother lived in another state. My co-workers simply avoided the conversation and said to just stay away from him (the manager).
How long could I really be invisible at work? How long can anyone avoid a predator they work for? That’s not realistic. That’s not a plan and it’s by no means an innovative solution. I didn’t exactly have an ideal support network, there was no human resources, no advocate, and no mentor.

However, I did know that what he did was wrong and it was up to me to take care of myself. The owner seemed unconvinced in the beginning, so I convinced him. Did I forget to mention the manager had a sexual assault conviction and he was out on probation? We (the hostesses, waitresses, or kitchen staff) the women of the restaurant were never told before he was hired. I was told 6 months later after he was arrested for violating his probation that he had harmed another woman. I took no joy in hearing that news.

Brené Brown, author & researcher reminded us that the base for the word of courage is Coeur or Heart and in order to live courageously it means to live wholeheartedly.
I have learned to stand up myself and sometimes in very dysfunctional professional settings in my career. I also earned the reputation of a loose cannon, a drama queen, or a noisemaker in those arenas. Why? Because if the squeaky voice gets the grease it also gets the blame.

I’ve learned to address my tone so it’s more professional (who hasn’t had to improve their sense of professionalism and communication). I’ve also learned what my triggers are before I become “upset.”

Lastly, most importantly I’ve learned to value and appreciate my voice, my whole voice. My voice is courageous, kind, wise, and encouraging. I also accept full responsibility for my actions and apologize when necessary. That is difference between a loose cannon, a drama queen, or a noise-maker vs. a professional. A professional seeks improvement and doesn’t complain because it’s fashionable. This is where my innovative voice has been integrated in my mind, my body, and in my life.

My innovative voice happened because I was able to calibrate my mind to my heart and the results are amazing. I no longer struggle with guilt, old tapes of good girls stay quiet and don’t raise their voices, or feel powerless like nothing is going to change.

Innovation is often seen as a new way to solve a problem that is remarkable and simple. Yes! I quite agree my innovative voice knows what it wants to say and how to say it! I no longer struggle with how I can make everyone like me when I have unpopular news? How can I defend myself when someone tries to gaslight me or bully me?

I now understand that I struggled with two issues 1) what I know needed to be said and 2) how could I effectively be heard and seen? I learned that the sound of my voice as I have been told is comforting, delightful, and thoughtful. I have also been told I am enthusiastic, hilarious, with a keen intellect. Lastly, I celebrate that I am courageous and innovative enough to find my balance.

Let all of us seek our balance so we do not swallow our pride, hide out of fear, and believe that we must endure what’s clearly a problem.

A Manager’s Guide to Empathy vs. Sympathy

Whining Employee

“The first criteria of being a leader is to practice empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Simon Sinek

I have worked with several stressed out and overwhelmed managers that try to figure out how to help their troubled or distressed employees. Instead, they seem to get out of balance as a manager.

This is never good because leadership is a requirement for healthy managers.

A healthy manager knows their limits with an emotional employee.

Here are the mistakes an overwhelmed manager makes when trying to “help” an emotional employee.

  • They pity their employee.
  • They can feel in their gut something is wrong but keep wishing it would go away.
  • They do not openly ask their employee on specifics about their job performance.
  • They listen to feedback from others at work and do not allow it to be absorbed.
  • They avoid crucial conversations.

Years ago, I worked with a manager that came to me upset that they were told that they weren’t sympathetic enough to an employee’s issue. The employee’s spouse had been checked into alcohol rehab and as a result their work was falling behind. It had been 6 months and the manager had been informed by their team and by their management that the employee’s performance was failing.

What could they do? They didn’t want to be labeled a witch and yet their efforts at leadership were showing abysmal results. Do you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you must make a decision and none of them seem right?

Here is the secret sauce about empathy vs. sympathy. Empathy is about seeing the person and you can feel or see their pain, but you are not responsible for an answer. Sympathy is feeling someone else’s pain because you can see the tragedy and you are unsure on what to do next -except feel bad for them.

I spoke with the overwhelmed manager and asked why they weren’t seen as sympathetic. It turned out everyone on the team including their management kept seeing the overwhelmed manager making grimaces when asked about the employee The manager was unaware and admitted they had an alcohol history in their family and they way it was dealt with was to ignore it.

Even though the employee wasn’t drinking but having them acknowledge an alcohol problem in their family, take time off, and openly grieve their situation caused this manager to feel stressed out and overwhelmed.

The manager as much as they tried to grant the employee time off, they ignored their feelings and how they would affect them. In turn, they appeared less sympathetic to the employee, not a healthy management result.

What makes effective management empathy?

  • Offer condolences to another for their situation.
  • Offer resources to the employee, PTO, FMLA, Flex-Schedule, & EAP.
  • Knowing your limits so you don’t feel drained.
  • Meet with their manager or HR for additional guidance.
  • Look at team building ideas like a group lunch to help promote teamwork and less focus on stress.
  • Meet with your support network if you are feeling overwhelmed
  • Review job descriptions, performance evaluations, and work quality for objective measures before communicating to employee about their performance.
  • Ask the employee what they need?
  • Ask yourself what do you need from the employee?

The good news once the manager was able to feel “sorted out.” The complaints stopped, the employee was given a performance improvement plan because the employee requested it (accountability honestly felt like caring from the manager), and there was less stress on the team.

I coach women daily on how to cultivate their enthusiasm and desire so they can find their strengths, use their talents and gifts at work and in life.

If you would like a free 30-minute consultation please feel free to connect with me at http://jeanniedougherty.com/contact/.

 

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