How to Deal with Gossip at Work:
7 Steps to Dispel the Drama

03 thumbnail

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~

Client Jonathan Asks: Several of my co-workers like to spread stories without checking to make sure they are true. Recently, someone shared an inaccurate and favorable story about me. What can I do to mitigate the damage?

Coach Joel Answers: Everyone is susceptible to gossip stories at work. But what if the stories are about you? And, even more disturbing, what if they are erroneous and could harm your reputation? Chances are, this won’t happen to you. But, if it does, it’s important to take action.

Once unfavorable stories get created they often get cemented in as a permanent perspective of who you are. This perception becomes their reality and everything else you do reinforces how others see you.

You can have 50 examples of trustworthiness and one false representation and this one malicious example undermines everything else.

During your constant interactions at work it’s possible that things you do might get misinterpreted in a way that is not accurate.

For example, you might be seen as unreliable because you didn’t get something done ontime or be viewed as a loose cannon because you speak up and say things at client meetings that are not appropriate. Some of these stories might be true, but often they aren’t reflective of who you really are at work. The problem is one or two negative stories can cement a perception of you that is actually inaccurate.

Here is a seven-step process to help you deal with workplace gossip and change negative misperceptions into positive (or neutral) ones:

Step 1: Gather information about the unfavorable story.
Without getting emotional or defensive gather as much information as you can about the unfavorable story. This fact-gathering stage is key. You don’t want to fly off the handle, confront someone and make matters even worse.

Step 2: Dispel the unfavorable story.
Go to the source of the story – the person who believes or is communicating the misperception – and explain your situation. Discuss your perspective and what you felt actually happened. Provide enough information so the person understands exactly the truth from your perspective. You could say, “Hi, Carla. I hear you may have some concerns about what I said at the client meeting. Could you tell me about them?” And then, after hearing the other person out, provide your perspective of why you spoke out like you did.

Step 3: Ask about other misperceived stories.
Ask the person if they have any other stories that they would like to share. When you hear the new stories, explain what actually happened versus what was perceived. Provide greater understanding of how these stories could have been misinterpreted.

Step 4: Take responsibility for what you did.
Even though you may not agree with the misperception, you most likely can find some things that you can be accountable for. Show that you have learned a lesson and what you take from this situation. Come up with some examples of what you’ll do differently based on what you have learned.

Step 5: Share favorable stories.
When a person observes something unfavorable, this image gets stuck in their mind. Counter the negative perception by coming up with ways and examples of how you haven’t been that which they think you are. If they think you are untrustworthy, come up with three or four stories illustrating your trustworthiness. These other stories help balance out a one-sided and limited perspective.

Step 6: Ask the person to give you another chance.
Explain how you don’t want to be stuck in their view of something that happened in the past. You sincerely desire to be given another chance to prove yourself. It’s not fair for you to be punished by something that happened only once or it occurred years ago. Get the person to take a risk on you and let you try again. The risk is minimal with tremendous potential upside.

Step 7: Thank the person for their honesty and willingness to help you.
This is one of the best ways to enhance your reputation and clear up any misunderstandings.

Since your career advancement depends on other people’s perceptions of you, it’s important to take action quickly when negative stories about you surface. Get valuable feeback about the way you are perceived at work by completing the perception evaluation here.

Talkback: Have you ever been the subject of unfavorable gossip at work? How did you deal with it?

Image courtesy of solgas / iStockphoto.com

Are You Annoying Your Co-Workers?
Employees Share Their Biggest Gripes

2 Dilbert

“I’m aware that I can be annoying.”

~ Sandra Bullock ~

Client Eva Asks: As an HR professional, I hear a lot of petty complaints from various employees about their co-workers. Most of the time, the offending party has no idea that he or she is being annoying. How can I be sure that I am not inadvertently aggravating my own co-workers without realizing it?

Coach Joel Answers: Annoying co-workers are a common problem. Fortunately, most people realize that there are frustrating people everywhere, so unless the situation is severe, it is unlikely that they will leave over minor annoyances, especially if action is taken to correct the problem.

However, it is wise to be concerned about how your own behavior might be perceived. A survey conducted by Opinium Research asked people what annoyed them the most at work. Here are the top ten things that drive workers up the wall:

  • Grumpy or moody colleagues
  • Slow computers
  • Small talk or gossip
  • The use of office jargon or management-speak
  • People speaking loudly on the phone
  • Too much health and safety in the work place
  • Poor toilet etiquette
  • People not turning up for meetings on time or not at all
  • People not tidying up after themselves in the kitchen
  • Too cold, cold air conditioning

Now, you probably have little control over the speed of your computers, your office’s OSHA requirements or the setting of your thermostat, but you do have control – at least in terms of your own behavior – over seven of the top ten grievances.

How often are you guilty of these minor annoyances? Do you come to work with an attitude? Try being positive instead.Do you talk about others behind their backs? Stop! Do you use phrases like “think outside the box” or “get our ducks in a row”? Skip the jargon and strive for clear and effective communication. Are you tardy at meetings? Meetings can be a great way to increase your visibility, but you won’t make a good impression by showing up late. Do you neglect to refill the coffee pot when you take the last cup? Be considerate of your fellow employees.

By changing these small and seemingly insignificant behaviors, you can go a long way to make your work place more civil and enjoyable, as well as earning the respect and trust of your colleagues (and boss).

Do you have a habit that your co-workers might find off-putting? Identify the changes you need to make and implement an action plan to help you improve the way you are perceived by your co-workers through Joel’s 7-step executive coaching model.

Talkback: Have you ever had an annoying co-worker? Tell us about him or her, but don’t name names!

Image courtesy of Dilbert / Dilbert.com

Be Advised:
More Employers are Searching Social Media Sites!

01 iStock_000024811894Small

“You are what you share.”

~ C.W. Leadbeater ~

Client Isaac Asks: I work in the IT industry, and I’m preparing to search for a new position. I know that some companies are using Google to check out prospective employees. Should I be worried about this, and if so, what steps can I take to make sure prospective employees don’t find anything that could hurt me?

Coach Joel Answers: Employers don’t just use Google to check out job candidates, they’re relying more on social networking. In fact, a study conducted by CareerBuilder found that 37 percent of employers use social mediasites to research potential job candidates.

Information technology companies are most likely to screen candidates this way. Some 63 percent of tech companies surveyed are scouring sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace to get an up-close, behind-the-scenes look at candidates they just can’t get from interviewing or reading resumes.

So if you’re in the job market – or may be in the future – be aware of what you put out on the Internet. If it’s out there – good or bad – it’s just a mouse click away from a hiring manager.

And the results can be catastrophic. CareerBuilder’s survey revealed that 35 percent of employers found social mediacontent that caused them not to hire a candidate.

With that in mind, here are some tips:

  • Google your name to see what content is out there on the internet.
  • Check out the other major social networks to make sure you have made the impression you want to make.
  • Identify the web pages where you have posted your resume or other work-related items and make sure they are up-to-date and reflect on you positively.
  • Remove any content that reflects negatively on you. You don’t want a bad reputation online.
  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs or information top the list of red flags to employers. When in doubt, take it out.
  • Create positive content about yourself and try to get it to be as high as possible in the search results.
  • Write and submit well researched, articulate letters-to-the-editor to the top trade publications in your industry. Focus on current, relevant issues.
  • Purchase your name as a domain name and create an active website that makes the best impression possible.
  • Post articles that you write that show your expertise on free publisher websites.
  • Write comments on other blogs that show your level of intelligence, expertise and experience.
  • Create a blog and write quality content for it.

Select two of the above tips and commit to working on them this week to ensure that your online presence gives a positive impression.

Talkback: Have you ever been denied a job or promotion because of something an employer found online? Tell us about it in the comments.

Image courtesy of hh5800 / iStockphoto.com

The “Swiss Army Knife” Tool for Optimum Leadership Development

Coaching Concept Vector Word Cloud on white background

 

“Using coaching instead of sending executives and managers to seminars two or three times a year can be more beneficial to ongoing career development, not to mention less expensive…”

~ PC Week ~

Client Fahad Asks:  There are so many programs out there claiming to develop leadership in people. It’s hard to know which are effective and which are money-stealers.  Isn’t there one tool that can do it all?  Can’t it be simple?

Coach Joel Answers:  Great question, Fahad.

When you’re looking for a tool, you want something simple, effective, and right for the job.  You want best value and precise results.  We all know what happens when we try to use the wrong tool for the job.  It can ruin things.

To answer your question, there is something that works for developing leadership in people. It works in all cases. Like the Swiss army knife, it holds all the implements needed to solve the problem at hand.

Let’s discuss how leadership coaching can be your tool of choice.

1. Simple. Rather than buying dozens of books or manuals, courses or online lessons, choose one qualified coach.  It simplifies the decision making process.

You don’t have to spend hours figuring out the trade-offs between programs.  With a coach that understands your business and your succession management, you have the best possible tool.

2. Effective. Rather than programs that give a blanket approach, your coach offers leadership development keyed directly to the individual. The give-and-take feedback allows for optimum growth. People can solve their concerns, increase their skill levels, and be prepared to rise to the top.

3. Best Value. Leadership coaches can address the issues faster and more directly than any program or training series. Instead of wasting money on generic training that only is partially effective, use 100% of your funds on meaningful achievement.

Coaches can focus on the specific areas that need improvement and bring fast results.

4. Precision Results. The shot-gun effect of most training programs may leave some of your potential leaders still searching for answers to their problems. It may be they just have a few questions that could be simply addressed.  But those questions are unique to them.

When you have a live coach and the give-and-take feedback, these concerns can be addressed quickly bringing instant results. Rather than taking a course to accomplish the job, a coach may build the leadership of your people very quickly.

5. Right for the Job. Because every individual is unique, the tool to help them needs to be individualized. To insure your leadership development is exactly fitted for your people, you need a leadership coach.  They will adapt and fit the needs and goals of both your employees and the management.

They can offer specialized and unique training that exactly fits the needs of your rising stars. They understand the value of company culture and can work directly with management to formulate training that gives maximum results.

Fahad, you ask a good question. Rather than waste time and energy on expensive training courses, focus on individual coaching to give you effective, precise results. You’ll find that as you develop a relationship with that leadership coach he or she will be able to give you stronger leaders who are immediately effective.

If you’re seeking to develop great leaders and want a leadership coach who can give powerful, prompt results, contact Joel.

Talkback: How have you found leadership coaching effective for you or your company?

Image courtesy of Fotolia.com

Business Leadership Program – 6 Skills you MUST Teach

Text education over white

“Promotion means finding new ways of being successful- and walking away from the old ways that defined success.  A leader who tries to be the same leader across all levels is not going to be successful at all.”

~ Matt Pease, DDI Vice President ~

Client Jamie Asks: There are many people in my organization that could benefit from increased executive presence. What should I look for in a business leadership training program? What skills can I expect my people to gain from such a program?

Coach Joel Answers: This is an important step. Your executives and those you are grooming for leadership need to have a whole company perspective. To be successful they must move from a tactical day-to-day approach to a more strategic overview. Here are six skill sets you’ll want your business leaders to develop.

  1. Step away from the day-to-day. There’s a saying: When you’re up to your ankles in alligators, it’s hard to remember you’re here to drain the swamp. Executives face many compelling day-to-day problems that can eat up all their time. Help your executives learn how to set aside a specific part of their day to reflect on ways they and their team can contribute to the company’s bottom line.
  2. Look at the big picture. It’s no longer enough to excel in your area. You need a clear view of how your work contributes to the overall success of the company. Get your program to help your leaders elevate their sights.
  3. Gain self-confidence. This is a mind game, but it’s based on past performance. People need to know they are doing a good job. A key training program will help your leaders assess their past ideas and work. This builds self-assurance which will give then that executive presence that makes people want to follow them.
  4. Do the work. Find a program that focuses on teaching skills that give real, measurable results. People need to deliver on the high profile jobs they are given. When they manage every project so their work shines, they demonstrate their abilities to co-workers and supervisors. And it gives your people confidence they have the necessary skills to perform at that high level.
  5. Recognize and seize opportunities. Part of situational awareness is looking beyond current tasks. What else needs to be done? Is there a gap that someone is not filling? Can you take the initiative?  Successful executive training courses help with the mind shift necessary to look beyond the average and take those opportunities.
  6. Focus on solutions. Far too many people spend lots of time discussing the problems. They may lament the shortcomings or complain about the problem. Good leadership seminars will show people how to find solutions.

Jamie, you are wise to look at training your leaders from within. You already know their work ethic and they know the company culture. But leaders don’t just grow on their own.

They need extra and different skill sets. They need a professional to coach and train them to perform at their optimum level. The abilities that have grown them to this point are not sufficient to get them to the top. Unless you train them in those new ways of thinking and acting, you will not help them acquire that executive presence.

Of course you and I both know it can’t be a façade. It can’t be for looks. That leadership, that executive presence has to be backed by a history of success and by skills and vision.

If you need one or two people to gain these skills, I recommend individual coaching. If you want a group of people to grow, a business leadership course can be brought to your executives and tailored to their challenges and the needs of your company.

For more information on how Joel can help your leaders gain that executive presence, contact him.

Talkback: Have you found programs that were successful in developing your leaders?
Image courtesy of Fotolia.com