Once upon a time we pretty much all worked in an office. We would start the day at 9am and finish at 5 pm (or later if we did overtime) and we would take a 30 minute lunch break.
Once upon a time there was a ladder to climb and you started at the bottom and you worked your way up to the top. There was a hierarchy and we all knew who the boss was.
This was when we had very basic communication tools and the world was very big.
But the world has changed. A lot of people work flexible hours, they might work from home, there might be no hierarchy or a very even playing field for staff and nowadays it can sometimes be harder to work out who is the leader.
Sometimes now we have regional offices who, as a means of saving money and to show how well connected we are, report to a person in head office; that is, there is no one who is the leader of the regional office.
Sometimes we have teams where people are located all over the country; they may super flexible work arrangements and they only...
Last Sunday I decided to go into the office at 7.30 am to smash out some work without any interruptions (revisit Kate’s recent blog about working too much).
I had had a difficult week. I’d had a week dealing with a lot of upset people. One group of people had been particularly unhappy with some of my findings regarding their culture and the way in which they treated each other. They started slinging barbs at me too.
I was feeling battered and a bit vulnerable. I was tired and probably needed a day off; not a day in the office.
I parked my car by the back door of my office and there was a scruffy looking man sitting in a daggy van outside the building. I noticed him getting out of the van as I entered the building. I started to feel a bit nervous.
I work from a large co-working space and I was the only person in the office at the time. I had been working away for about 30 mins when someone started knocking on the back door. I couldn’t see out and check who it...
I get told over and over that the leader can’t be friends with their team. That they can’t address poor behaviour or make the hard calls if they have a drink with their staff outside of the office.
I recognise that some situations can be quite tricky. But as a leader it is vital that you have a good relationship with your team members.
Because the problems of our team members become our own; that is they impact on how our team performs.
We need to know what is going on with all the members of our team. We need to have a relationship with them.
This takes time. Lots of time. You can’t rush relationships. Saying hello in the morning and goodbye at the end of the day is not a relationship.
Those relationships are crucial when we have to give feedback.
It’s much easier to tell someone that there is a problem if you have a relationship with them. You will know how to start that conversation; you will be in a better position to manage that situation. You will be...
Today I drove into the big car park opposite my office. I was in a hurry (I am always in a hurry).
The driver in front of me was not in a hurry. They kept to the speed limit of 10 kilometres per hour - who does that?
I may have had some very bad thoughts about this driver.
I made all sorts of assumptions about him; that he was a bad driver, that he clearly didn’t work, that he was old, that he got his licence in a packet of Twisties, etc…
I knew nothing about this person; but in the blink of an eye and about four floors later he found his reserved parking space. He carefully and slowly backed into his park; something he has probably done many times before and I eventually got to speed off to go up one more floor to find a park.
As he got out of the car I saw that he wasn’t old and it did look like he also had a job. So my assumptions were wrong - again.
We have so many preconceived ideas. We can so easily assume a whole back-story for someone based on how they...
Are you a scary boss?
I once worked in a solicitor’s office as a secretary. Most of the lawyers were great. We’d chat about life, family and football as we made our morning coffee; they’d go out of their way to talk to the secretaries at Friday night drinks. Sometimes they might even take some of us out for lunch or throw us a special breakfast.
But there was one lawyer, one of the partners, who locked himself in his room all day every day. He would come out to give his secretary work and then hurry back in to his office. We didn’t know him.
What we did know was that he was intolerant of mistakes, had a very short fuse, that he didn’t seem to have a sense of humour and as a result we were all a bit scared of him.
Sometimes in the lift he would say hello or smile at you if you accidentally established eye contact; but that I don’t recall having many conversations with him.
I was a baby back then, in my early 20s. I was easily...
Being a leader is probably one of the hardest roles a person can have.
It comes with so much responsibility.
We are constantly challenged, tested, confronted. We witness behaviour that is not okay. We see mistakes being made. We have a responsibility to deal with it.
What message are we giving our team if we tolerate poor behaviour such as letting a staff member talk down to someone else; take credit for someone else’s work or totally dominating a meeting?
How can we say that bullying behaviour will not be tolerated in our office, if we in fact let bullying behaviour go unchecked?
What are the consequences of letting bad behaviour go unchecked?
Firstly, we lose the respect of our team.
Secondly, other staff take matters into their own hands. They find ways to punish the perpetrators; they go slow, they work to rule or less. They gossip.
Thirdly, our staff will stop telling us that there is a problem because really, what’s the point?
Fourthly, we will lose our best staff...
I have an admission to make. I am rude to telemarketers. Very rude. I usually interrupt them and say something like “I am not interested” and hang up without further discussion.
They often ring through on my work land line which is a silent number (for a Government contract) so I get very annoyed that they even have my number let alone know my name.
I can also be rude to people who come to my door during the middle of the working day wanting me to change my electricity provider or to sell me their super duper fresh food package.
So today I want to say sorry to all the people that I am rude to because
So you might be reading this thinking, yeah we’re all rude to telemarketers - it’s a thing. They’d have to expect it.
I have been yelled at a lot lately. I am working on some very difficult projects and emotions are running high.
I work in the world of conflict - what should I expect!
There are lots of loud voices. They yell and demand and accuse. They send threatening emails. They demand to be heard. Their opinion is so important.
They tend to have black and white thinking. It’s all or nothing. My way or the highway.
They can be very intimidating. It works. People do what they are told to do. They are scared of the loud voice in the room.
Sometimes, in the moment, I get intimidated too. I get scared. I doubt my own thinking and decide it’s easier to agree; not rock the boat. Just get me out of this situation. I am not feeling comfortable at all.
Then I breathe. Go for a walk. Talk to someone not attached to this issue. Recognise that I have just been triggered. That it is ok. I am ok.
I remember that this person is reacting to their own strong emotions. They are reacting to what they...
I work too much. My family will happily tell you that I work too much. I preach that people need to look after themselves but I still work way too much. (We teach the lessons we need to learn).
So I probably don’t have a leg to stand on when I am telling managers and business owners that they have a responsibility to ensure that they or their staff don’t work too much.
I have many friends out there who also work too much. I come across many leaders and managers who tell me that either they have to do all of the work because no-one else can do it (well not as well as them) or that their staff won’t let anyone else do the work.
Oh the need to be needed; the need to fill in every moment of every day. Our self worth being met by the work that we do; rather than the people we are.
So us over-workers hold on to all of the work for dear life. We have an excuse, a reason for needing to do it all.
It is sometimes the end of the world if someone tries to take the...
The other day I was on a plane to Melbourne. We were off to see our grandchildren and in particular our mission was to indoctrinate them into the Port Power family.
The weather was terrible. There had been storms overnight and it was very windy. The flight was slightly delayed. A young man near the front of the plane and just across from me kept asking the flight attendant questions. He was clearly agitated.
The flight attendant was fantastic. She stopped and listened to him. She provided him a lot of information about why the flight was delayed. She explained how planes take off in windy conditions and how they would manage the landing in Melbourne.
She checked in on him a few times during the flight. I could see that he kept checking on where she was. She was the person who was going to ensure that this was a safe experience for him.
She was never dismissive or condescending. She was respectful and calm. This young man took up quite a lot of her attention...