A Mutiny Through Lack of Engagement – A Silent Rebellion

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A mutiny occurs every day in organizations all over the world. They don’t usually make headlines or the business sections of publications. They may not display visible signs of hostility. They may not involve physically taking over a facility and relieving leadership of its command. The approach is subtler but devastating.

A mutiny is defined as forcible or passive resistance to lawful authority (Merriam – Webster’s dictionary). The word and concept, I observed recently while watching Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard in the 1962 movie classic, Mutiny on the Bounty.

The mutiny, in our context, is a revolution where people withhold potential and productivity. They will not give 100%. People who hold back on their best effort or potential. The revolt is on the inside. For example, they may not be totally engaged at work. They may give a quality performance, but not the virtuoso performance of their best effort. Some employees will adopt an “Over My Dead Body” mindset (OMDB), which means they theoretically would rather die than give their total cooperation to an organization or manager that does not respect or trust them. Workers may decide that the company does not deserve their best, therefore their masterpiece ideas, solutions and discretionary effort will be withheld; an insidious mutiny against unsuspecting leadership.

Mutiny on the Bounty is a story based on an actual event. The HMS Mutiny Bounty sailed in 1787, under the leadership of Captain, William Bligh. He was a difficult leader, whose ruthless leadership style focused only on the mission and not his men. One of his famous lines from the 1962 movie was, “Cruelty with a purpose is not cruelty, it is efficiency.” Captain Bligh was overthrown by members of his crew, led by Fletcher Christian (played by Marlon Brando) after demonstrating heartless behavior which led to the death of several of his men.

How do you stop a mutiny?

How do you stop a mutiny before it happens? Selecting a leader with the right skills, reputation and temperament is a good start. Open lines of communication and an atmosphere of trust through transparency and fair play creates a climate of accountability. In the movie, the sailors did not have their captain’s superior or someone in the function of Human Resources to hear their grievances. An effective human resources department provides an avenue for people to express their problems with leadership. Many times, such a person or department is not on-site. However, the organization may have an HR department or someone in that function to contact.

The beauty of our current leadership/managerial landscape is that many organizations have ascribed to the notion of a healthy work environment. There are employee surveys, satisfaction surveys, and engagement surveys to take the temperature or climate of the company. These surveys can uncover problems and managers can be presented with data and held accountable for changing their environment. These surveys are strengthened with direct contact with management and human resources to ensure the environment is conducive for maximum productivity.

It is imperative as a leader to gauge how your people are responding to your direction and the culture in your environment. A worst-case scenario may develop where people mentally abandon the company, but stay on the job, because you failed to address a toxic culture.

Managers can evaluate their culture through The Know System™ which could provide a simplified look at their environment. The Know System™ featured in the book The Isle of Knowledge is a fable about making better decisions. The story helps the reader to find the problems, solve problems and make better decisions.

The Know System™ is easy to use and helps the participants gather information to enhance the quality of their decisions and discussions. Let’s begin with 6 words from the word Know and a few related questions that relate to company culture.

1. Won – What would a winning culture look like to you? What type of atmosphere, level of engagement and customer satisfaction scores would represent success to you?
2. Know – What do you know and need to know about your culture and the people in your organization? (This can be enhanced with the words who, what, where, when, how and why, if appropriate)
3. Now – What are you doing now to ensure a healthy habitat? Are you placing priority on the proper indicators?
4. No – What are you doing that you need to stop doing? What goes against your culture and stated values that you need to say no to? What do your people want you to eliminate or stop doing?
5. On – You must always be vigilant to monitor culture and maintain a proper cultural air quality. What are you doing to track leading indicators of a great culture? How are you measuring your work environment? Some companies use a stop, start and to stay approach. What should they stop doing (say no to), start doing and continue doing regarding their culture? This could involve training, new goals and diversity and inclusion strategies.
6. Own – Do you own the culture as evidenced by leadership behavior? How are you holding yourself and others accountable? How are you reporting your performance and interest in a strong culture to your people?

When the organization does not feel like a respectful place, people feel that the company let them down and cannot be trusted. Mutiny or thoughts of mutiny are indicators the culture has failed or is failing many of its workers. They may resort to subversive action and taking matters into their own hands.

In the closing scene of Mutiny on the Bounty, Captain Bligh, who was overthrown and placed in a lifeboat with a few men and rations, finally arrived in England. He was not blamed for the mutiny; but it was “noted that officers of stainless record and seamen decided to revolt against him” and a mistake was made putting him in charge of the ship.

A mutiny may be disguised by a series of resignations and requests for transfers. Your top performers or the most influential members on your team may leave, causing a chain reaction of departures. Management must be perceptive, accessible and periodically check the culture pulse of the organization. People must believe that leadership is authentic, transparent and sincere and practices their core values. Trust will be enhanced when people really believe that they are the number one resource in the organization. Otherwise, silent mutinies will go unchecked, unnoticed, and people will be unfulfilled, and the cost to business, substantial.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

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Work: A Love/Hate Relationship

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We have a curious relationship with work. We jokingly refer to it as something we just love to hate. We tend to gripe about work in our conversations which are often grounded in negativity. We often view work as a necessary evil, the daily grind or just a job and something to pay the bills. It is to be tolerated until we can do something about it or find something better. We view work with a captive mentality. It is something that we do against our will, as if someone’s forcing us to do it. We complain about work when we are hired, fired, quit or retire.

There are statistics and anecdotal comments that reflect our ambivalence toward work.  70 to 80% of people dread going to work every day. According to the Gallup Corporation, only 18% are fully engaged in the workplace. Conversely, if we find the job we love, we are told that we won’t work a day in our lives.

The Hate Relationship

When we speak of the things we hate about our job, it is generally focused on the manager or the fact that we are underutilized or in the wrong job. Leadership is responsible for the culture, with assistance from our co-workers. We may not think we are able to positively impact environment, unless we are a manager. Therefore, we may elect to put our head down, shut our mouths and do our job. These are survival and coping techniques we use when we cannot leave the job and must stay on board for the sake of our family and future.

The Love Relationship

There may be a love side to work that is often not discussed. Rarely do we hear people say, “I love going to work, it is so fulfilling, encouraging and allows me to grow my skills to achieve my dreams. I love my job because it completes me; I cannot think of any place I’d rather be than at work.” We believe that the right job with the right manager and the right company, that fulfills our purpose, is out there, but we haven’t found it yet.

We should focus our attention to the overlooked facts that point to an affection some of us have for our jobs. There may be positive attributes that are lost in the stress and struggles from working in a toxic environment. If we look beyond the haze, we may see that work can amaze and provide us the opportunity to focus on personal dreams and enable us to acquire marketable and transferable skills. The workplace provides the option to network and meet people who will help us in our career development. Our socialization may be comprised of people we see at work.

Gratitude

It would be helpful to make a list of the things we love and the things we hate about your work. Find a quiet place and create a chart on a piece of paper or on your computer or tablet. Be very truthful and objective, as you complete these two columns. The nature of the job may fit into your strengths and your passions. For example, you may enjoy your manager and co-workers

After you have completed this assignment, study the items you have listed. Ask yourself the following questions;

  • How is this item contributing to my feeling about work?
  • How important is this item in my overall perception of my job satisfaction or dissatisfaction?
  • What can I do to increase or eliminate this as a concern?
  • Who should I talk to and explain my position?
  • How can I make the most of this concern to improve the overall development of my skill sets and career?
  • Am I honest about my assessment of these love-hate attributes?
  • How can I ensure that my response is benefiting the organization and putting myself in position to achieve my goals and dreams?

Where is the Love?

Gallup’s research also notes that people who are engaged at work usually have a best friend work. Early in my managerial career I noticed that certain managers surrounded themselves with people with whom they had a history. These individuals moved together from job to job and invariably brought these talented people with them. Apparently, they had cultivated a bond with these coworkers because of their talent and trustworthiness. There is a lesson we can learn from these relationships. They were an asset to each other as they climbed the company ladder. Therefore, work developed friendships and strategic relationships can benefit our careers. These individuals become investments and when they change companies, they can pave the way for us to join another organization.

My wife commented on how the corporate training programs enhanced my development. She knew me before I started working for the company. She saw me before the experiences and training programs and witnessed firsthand, my personal growth, development and transformation. When discussing difficulties at work, she would remind me to be grateful and express gratitude for the blessings I received.

Many companies have a list of direct and indirect benefits that they provide for employees. These benefits may increase the likelihood that people will love their jobs. Additionally, successful companies try to match people with the jobs consistent with their skill or potential. The direct benefits are pay for education through tuition reimbursement programs. There are vacation days, paid leaves of absence, company matching as a part of their 401(k) benefits. We may argue that companies must offer these benefits to be competitive in today’s marketplace. Yet, there are positive programs that we can use to benefit ourselves and family. Taking advantage of these programs could increase our positive perception of the company. We have a greater chance of loving work when we take advantage of these benefits. If we play our cards right, we can use the organization to develop the necessary skills to achieve our life’s purpose.

However, benefits alone should not anchor us to an organization that is tearing us down and burning us out. I spoke to a vice president recently who stated that she stayed with a previous employer because of their benefits, when there were no personal growth and career development opportunities. She indicated that she probably stayed there four years too long, when she could have grown and been better off in another environment, enhancing her career.

We have a love/hate relationship work, but we should mine for the valuable opportunities, benefits and resources we need to grow our portfolio, relationships and life experiences. When we step back and are strategic and objective, we observe and anticipate chances for skill development and financial security. We can accurately project the company’s potential value to us. And when this happens our love for work may increase, along with our level of gratitude.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

 

The Black Panther Strikes

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The Black Panther movie strikes a chord with movie goers around the world. It is shattering box office records. It is catalytic in its messaging, story-line and visual excitement. People are using it to express profound pride, as it delivers lessons on universal themes, humanity, equality, diversity and inclusion, as well as the pursuit of excellence.

I have seen the movie 3 times, including 3-D and IMAX. Each time I walked away with greater insight. I read the comic book as a youth, so this is nostalgic and a long time coming.

Poetry and the arts allow us the opportunity to express ideas which are magnified with individual interpretation. When translated, transferred and transformed through the prism of our experiences, the results can be nothing short of amazing. Here is my poetic take on the Black Panther experience.

The Black Panther Strikes

The Black Panther strikes;

The images inspire imagination;

Invite, excite and ignite

The embers of genius

Until we remember with fascination

The universal themes and memes

That elicit dreams of excellence

That stream a new ideology;

That emphasizes and empathizes

To aspire desire,

To fire a higher reach,

Through awe and technology.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

As a cultural phenomenon,

For those among us who’d like an icon;

A super hero with super powers

That look like us with a face like ours;

To build confidence and regal speech,

To show what is possible,

When obstacles are breached;

When an illusion is legal,

But is shifted

And confusion is lifted

And giftedness is the new twist

To enlist us in the new success,

Which is true success.

 

The Black Panther strikes;

To the heart of the marginalized;

The underserved and disenfranchised;

The heirs, apparently in poverty,

Seeking their cultural identity;

Phenomenally packaged in energy.

They speak seeking a symphony,

In harmony and synergy.

 

Empathy and intellect can remove

Barriers, as we get involved

And agree to work to solve

The problems that surround us

And have bound us.

We must lift every man,

Woman and child to a place of forgiveness,

Where we can be reconciled;

To share, prepare and repair;

To lift each other from despair.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

Directly to community;

Inciting citizens in unity;

And stirs the blending of generations

Through tribal traditions

And pageantry.

We show young people

Who they can be

And celebrate their ancestry;

Seeking challenges to prove they’re free.

Science, technology, engineering and math;

Can help us blaze a wider path;

To channel the rage

And engage on a stage

That is larger than we

Intended, but to accept

The mantel and comprehend;

What we should support,

What we should defend.

 

The Black Panther strikes

To protect the family

And project the family,

As the center of cultural identity;

The truth is, we are all related,

Although our lineage is debated.

We have the capacity;

To help others improve their lot.

We can’t afford to hoard

Resources, when we’ve got

The power through distribution,

To offer solutions.

 

The Black Panther strikes

A story to which we can all relate;

To entertain and educate

And inspire action

Through universal mores

Of dignity and deliverance,

Eloquence and excellence;

Leadership and tough decisions;

Technology executed with precision.

Ancestors deserving a connection;

Connective tissue is in each of us

Enabling us to adjust,

So that we love and trust.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

Through imagination and truths,

From elders down through our youth;

For Millennials and women have value,

The men and young boys have talent

And though steeped in the values of tradition,

The motives that drive ambition;

They are inspired through art and technology;

That transcends pathology;

And through mythology

Explore new pathways

Beyond injustice and inequality.

 

The Black Panther strikes,

So close to home.

There are delegations of youth

At the screenings;

Reporters postulating the meaning,

As millions with African descent,

Extoll the messages and what they represent

And seeing it as a rallying cry;

A cry to honor our first investors

To honor our elders and ancestors;

Imploring us not to forget,

Their sacrifices, wisdom and toil,

For roots and foundation

Enrich the soil.

 

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

The Core of More™ – Be Awesome from the Inside Out

There are crucial components to your development that must be examined to accelerate your progress. There is a core set of skills, values or principles which can be debated, but factually, these key ingredients build on your present state.

Let’s place four elements in this Core of More™. These elements confirm there is more in your core than you can imagine, yet you periodically ignore one or more components. They are Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go. These ingredients will enable you to gain rather than regress and achieve surplus, that is not necessarily excess.

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Let it Glow

Your light, however you define it, must be allowed to shine. Your talent, skills, abilities, capacity and resources must be a beacon of hope, a living positive example. Your light must be an indicator of your presence, purpose and performance. As we sang in Sunday School, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.” When it shines, it has a glow, a luminescence that grabs people attention, pinpoints your location and potentially influences your behavior.

Let it Grow

Skill level and impact will expand and enlarge your contributions. Influence grows as your abilities are refined and increased. You will devote the time, effort, energy and insight received from teachers, mentors and coaches to improve knowledge and the quality of your work.

You will become a continuous learner and communicator, passionate about getting better in the priority areas of your life. Your light will get larger and brighter and more will take notice of you and more will be expected of you, as more are influenced by your presence. Your abundance will become a windfall to others, as you realize you are slated to get better, so others can benefit from your brilliance.

Let it Flow

As it glows and grows, it will flow in the execution of your skill set and in helping other people. Work will become easier and more natural. Executing your tasks will appear effortless, mainly because you are in your sweet spot and you are letting it flow. It is captured in an acronym SMILE (So Make It Look Easy). An athlete will comment that they let the game come to them or the game slows down for them as they improve their craft.

When you let it flow, you remove the barriers to your performance. Your actions are as a well-trained athlete, gliding through the race; a musician who makes playing the instrument look easy; a world class professional speaker in their comfort zone, delivering a powerful message. You are caught up in the flow.

Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , has a concept of flow which is defined as follows, “In positive psychology, as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity”1. It is a state where skills are consistent with the challenges presented to you. In the state of flow, you lose track of time and you are consumed in passion”2. Simon Sinek says, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”3 When you Let it flow, your passion shows, as you let it flow.

Let it Go

Along your journey, there are nouns you must displace. There are people, places or things that are excessive weight that must be discarded. As a hot air balloonist will tell you, if they want to increase their altitude, sand bags must be cast over board or they will hamper your ascension.

There are personal situations that try to hold you back and hold you down. In earlier articles I refer to them as the Hindre™ a person or spirit of negativity that attempts to hinder or restrict your progress. They must be released if you are to soar to the rightful heights of your achievement. You may know these impediments, or you must be open to people giving you a second opinion on people who are plotting against you.

You must let go of destructive habits, attitudes, the wrong crowd, the wrong mindset or other roadblocks that are impeding your progress.

Let it glow, Let it grow, Let it flow and Let it go, are part of the Core of More™. Apply these principles to help you achieve success in the professional and personal realms of your life.

Copyright © 2018 Orlando Ceaser

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)
  2. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1998). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement With Everyday Life
  3. wordpress.com/2014/08/24/working..

 

The Power Of Paying Positive Attention (POPPA)

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I admire people who have a reputation for making people feel noticed and special. Presidents have been lauded for their ability to remember people’s names and making them feel as if they were the only people in the room (John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton). Others also, they have the keen sense to recognize and comment on any changes in a person’s appearance or behavior. You may be such a person. You have an eye for detail. You know the right questions to ask, and the appropriate comments to make. These individuals have the power of observation and paying positive attention.

Additionally, individuals have a knack for always pointing out when something is wrong. But, we will spend time focusing on the people who have the power of paying positive attention to something that is right. These individuals may have the gift because it comes to them naturally, so they have the knack for it. Or they may have acquired the knowledge of the impact it has on people. They have the knack or the knowledge. Therefore, they have the intuition or received instruction on the value of paying positive attention to others.

We could describe this skill with an acronym (Power Of Paying Positive Attention). It can have a profound effect on productivity, performance, productivity and relationships.

When you watch something carefully, continuously over time, you formulate a mental baseline of how things are. This is cemented in your memory. If something changes, alarm bells signal a deviation from the norm. You may not know what changed immediately, but you are aware that something is different. Observation and perception notify the brain.

POPPA is a great skill to demonstrate in the workplace, home and school. It helps to establish and strengthen relationships. The power of paying positive attention causes you to focus on people and every aspect of their beings. You look them in the eyes. You notice them and ask questions about the quality of their work. You remember their names. You ask questions about the pictures in their workspace and other symbols in which they have pride. You may comment on their backgrounds, families, education and interest as appropriate. They feel important. You value their contributions at work and are authentically concerned about them as individuals with families and a life outside of work. You see the employee, peer or classmate as a total person with long term professional and personal interests.

If you treat people as if they matter, they may ultimately live up to your projections and live up to and exceed your expectations. If you treat people as if they exist and make them feel important, and did not invisible, you will ultimately reap the benefits of an engaged and inspired person.

We are equipped with our 5 senses, highlighted by the senses of sight and hearing to enhance our powers of observation. It does not cost us anything, but a small investment of time to notice someone. If the average human being could walk around with a fictitious cartoon bubble over their head, it would say, “Notice me” or “Please see me.” They want to feel significant, special, substantial, loved and connected.

While observing a sales representative making a presentation a manager noticed that he was obviously preoccupied. There were points in the call when additional information was needed and he was usually very adept at picking up signals and following through with the right questions. After the presentation, rather than point out the obvious oversights, he asked if everything was alright. He discovered that he had personal matters that compromised his thinking and performance. The manager adjusted his coaching accordingly.

A District Sales Manager working with a star performer was confronted with the following situation. During one of her presentations, there was tension in the air on. The sales representative was noticeably reluctant as she was visibly holding back when a strong challenge was required. The company’s reputation was being assaulted and her usually strong personality folded in the moment. The manager asked, “What would you have done if I was not present with you today?” She outlined her strategy and why she did not pursue a more aggressive stance. She told him what she would have said ordinarily if he wasn’t there. She did not want to challenge the doctor in the presence of sales management, so she was reserved.

The manager gave her the following advice. “When I work with you I want to see reality. If I coach behavior that is not your usual behavior I leave feeling that I had a productive day. But my comments would have been a waste of time. You would leave feeling that the words were meaningless because they did not apply to you. If you don’t want me to waste my time, show me what is real and trust the process that I will handle each moment as a teaching and growth opportunity.” The power of paying positive attention allowed him to recognize a change in behavior and to coach to improve performance.

Lastly, there are times in our lives where we give routine responses. We are simply going through the motions in our very busy days. We feature the same words, whether it is in a greeting or part of the key messages delivered in a conversation or presentation. It is important to get these words right, but do not become bored or distracted with repetition. This may cause you to lose focus and fail to pay attention. You may miss an opportunity to connect with someone on a different level and strengthen a relationship. Watch the person’s face and body language to detect the messages they are sending to denote interest or a reaction to your words.

Our interactions in the workplace, at home and in school are environments where we should engage with other people by showing them that they matter. As a species, we want to be recognized and respected, belong and accepted. If we positively and authentically comment on their appearance, behavior, and performance, the compliment will inspire them to work harder to become more competent, which will have a profound impact on their confidence and they will complement your work culture, family, team, and organization.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Lessons in Handling Differences

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We are often started with the commercialization of Christmas. We are reminded to not lose sight of the reason for the season. This is valuable advice for Christians and others during this reverent time of year.

We grew up with Gene Autry Christmas classic of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. It is a delightful song, but also delivers a powerful message about encountering and handling differences. This song could start meaningful conversations about accepting others.

The song begins with a reference to the reindeer popularized in Clement Clarke Moore’s, “The night before Christmas”, also known as “A visit from St. Nicholas.” It begins with a roll call of Santa Claus’ reindeer that of course omits the name of Rudolph. As you recall, Rudolph was different from the other reindeer because of the luminescent quality of his nose. His nose was so shiny that it had either reflective qualities or it glowed like a light. This was enough to make him the object of ridicule and ultimately ostracism by the other reindeer.

This lack of acceptance is seen when children and adults are confronted with someone who is different from them. Our initial response is to make fun of the person and then to isolate them because of their characteristics, traits, heredity or idiosyncrasies. Many of us recall when we were young and begged for approval. Even to this day, there is something about us that makes us stand out from the crowd and the crowd lets us know it.

At work or is school, simply being the new person, the new kid on the block, the person who is an unknown, becomes a source for teasing or isolation. We often wondered,” if they would only get to know me, they would see that I’m just like them. “Rudolph was a reindeer, so he surely had a similar appearance, except for his nasal peculiarity. But suppose he was of a different color, from a different region of the country or had a different ability.  He would have manifested a difference that would have caused him difficulty until he was accepted. We usually ask the different party to fit in, when the real focus should be on them being accepted by the group.

Bullying is also a response shown toward those who are different. The song the does not indicate that Rudolph was bullied, but we can only assume that preventing him from “playing in any reindeer games” was not always accomplished in the most delicate manner.

The song does not tell us what Santa Claus was doing during the hazing or if he even knew about it. But, as a good leader, he engineered a very strategic response. He knew the talent and value of all of his reindeer. He evaluated the weather system for his next journey and realized he was going to encounter numerous blizzards. He knew that the solution to his problem existed among the ranks of his reindeer. He knew he had one reindeer that could help navigate the wintry delivery of toys to boys and girls around the world. This opportunity would be well received it if every reindeer benefited from his gift.

We can give Santa credit for waiting for the appropriate time to unveil strategy. He could have given the reindeer the opportunity to work it out amongst themselves, as so many people do in similar situations. They say such things as,” kids are just being kids, learning to navigate difficult situations will only make the recipient stronger and teach them valuable life skills and that which does not kill them will make them stronger, to paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche the philosopher. Maybe the reindeer performed similar initiation rites to others in the group that had other distinctions from their peers. Maybe they solve their treatment of Rudolph as being harmless and natural.

The defining moment came,” one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say: Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Many managers, leaders and parents look for the opportune moment to use the skills of their people. The right moment to show the world and the individual, that they recognize their true value and wish to share this value with every member on the team. We can only assume that in the fictitious conversation, Santa’s encouraged Rudolph and told him about the value of his difference. He made him feel that he was something special and should never feel that he was not important and did not have a place. I’m sure he made him feel like an important member of the team. He validated his value by asking him to lead the team by moving up to the front of the line.

You remember the happy ending to the song. “Then all the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with glee, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history! We know that in real life, responses to differences may not always lead to a happy ending. Sometimes the individuals have lingering insecurity, damage to their self-esteem and underlying resentment from the initial exclusion. But, so often when the difference that is ridiculed or denied is used for the benefit of the group, the organization, institution, group or community becomes stronger. The people learn a valuable lesson about inclusion. We are hopeful that when the person is accepted they don’t become complicit and act in the same manner when they encounter other people who are different.

If we remember the Rudolph days of our lives and commit ourselves to prevent them from happening to others, we will maximize their future contributions to our teams, families, organizations and communities. We will perform a noble act when leading by example with the lessons learned from Rudolph the red-nose reindeer.

Please look forward to reading more about differences in my new book due by June 2016, Unlock Your Diversity Greatness. It is based on the premise that your uniqueness is not a weakness and contains strategies to utilize your talents, skills and abilities. More books in the Unlock Your Leadership Greatness series can be found at www.OrlandoCeaser.com or www.amazon.com.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

Eight ways to alienate and frustrate your people

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Inclusion is a key desire of all members of the human race, even in the workplace. We want to be included and welcomed into the inner circle, where we can enjoy all of the rights and privileges. Acceptance is another objective of the human heart, closely linked to inclusion. We have a desire to draw into the in crowd, where we are told that we belong. We want to be accepted and inclusion becomes the vehicle that can enable us to achieve a state of connectedness that makes everything worthwhile.

It is generally more productive to discuss how to become a better leader rather than focusing on the negative aspects of leadership. People want to know what they need to do, instead of what they need to stop doing. However, I would like to deviate from this pattern and construct a composite of everyone’s leadership nightmare. I wish to discuss the leadership attributes that cause followers to lose sleep at night, walk around in uncertainty during the day and distress about their future.

I began by exploring common pet peeves and comments made by people during my coaching sessions. It is not unusual for me to walk up on people who are complaining about leadership or lack of leadership within their organizations. These are the topics discussed at the water cooler, provided it is located in a safe location. The same conversations can be heard at the health club and where ever people congregate.

These are perilous times as evidenced by a comment from one of my neighbors. She said she would stare into her husband’s eyes when he arrived home each night to determine if this was the day he would lose his job. During his work day I’m sure he was dealing with some of the eight ways outlined below that leaders use to alienate and frustrate their employees.

My premise revolves around eight ways that a leader can really get under your skin, on your last nerve and drive you out of your mind. The curious thing is these attributes may not always present with the leader. Given the day-to-day stress and pressure of the job many leaders have transformed into the person they never thought they would become. If you were to ask them to list eight things that they could do to alienate and frustrate employees they would probably list some of the items presented.

Ineffective leaders display two or more of the eight qualities. They are so caught up in survival mode that they may not care that they are alienating and frustrating members of your team. The team members are the very ones they need to have fully engaged to accomplish their objectives.

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These eight ways are extracted from my book Unlock the Secrets of Ozone Leadership. The main character is about to experience a mutiny because his people have had enough of his fatalistic leadership style. This style had been very helpful in moving him up the corporate ladder, but at the same time leaving alienated and frustrated bodies in its wake. Finally, he has poisoned the atmosphere so badly it is about to be his downfall.

When the heat is intense, leadership must become as the ozone layer for its people. It must filter the non-essential and non-productive heat, so that the necessary warmth and energy is generated to achieve success. I used to say that I am an environmentalist, not that I wanted to save the spotted owl, but I wanted to create the climate where maximum productivity and people development occurs. The eight ways to alienate and frustrate your people are listed below. Please identify the ones in your current leadership team and decide which of these attributes apply to you. If they apply, you must immediately begin a course of minimization and elimination.

8 Ways to Alienate and Frustrate Your People*

  • You are unapproachable and unavailable, when they have a problem
  • You are intimidating and use threatening language and they are in constant fear of losing their jobs
  • You play favorites and have certain employees who receive preferential treatment, which includes special attention, assignments and favors
  • You do not offer career advice, unlike other managers who groom their employees for promotions
  • You are selfish and take credit for their ideas and successes
  • You seem more concerned about your career than theirs
  • You tell them what to do rather than teach them what to do
  •  You micromanage and are never satisfied with their performance and always find a way to say something negative
  • *Excerpt from the book, Unlock the Secrets of Ozone Leadership by Orlando Ceaser

These are at least eight surefire ways to cause people to be disengaged and paranoid in the workplace. If you want to ensure that the workers you hired or inherited are pushed to the edge, include as many of these dysfunctional practices, as you feel is humanly possible into your workplace.

Employees understand that corporations are in difficult circumstances. They want to play a role. They want to be an integral component in the partnership that enables an organization to lift itself from the quagmire of extinction. Companies are fighting for survival. Companies are competing to service their customers and to meet the needs of their clientele better than the competition. Allow employees to help the organization succeed.

Dedicated individuals are committed to help you achieve your objectives. They deserve the opportunity to contribute at the highest level. They deserve the best leadership has to offer. When they are inspired through effective leadership; when Ozone Leadership is put into action, they will have the necessary direction and energy that will allows them to do their best work. Success becomes an inevitable result of strong leadership at the right time with the right people.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser

HR is the new ER

DodgedaBullet

The Human Resources Department in this one organization was reminiscent of a trauma center. Its personnel were extremely busy handling emergencies. People were not necessarily in the facility, but they were backed up on the phone lines and in the e-mail system. HR technicians were anxiously utilizing their expertise to treat each employee for their affliction. When the scene was extremely hurried, calls were routed to the answering service and placed in a queue until the messages could be returned. They often stated that they will get back to you at the earliest convenience. When contact is made, there is the nebulous comfort of knowing that your call is being monitored for quality purposes.

At times the department could have been labeled ER instead of HR. With the ER standing for employee retention, employee recovery, employee replacement or employee rescue. The counselors were there to listen to the grievances, perform attitude adjustments, and recommend strategies that would benefit the patient as well as the organization. Sometimes they had to perform surgery to extract misunderstandings and misinformation and settle claims that could resort from managerial malpractice.

One employee at an insurance company described a situation that reminded me of a trauma center. It was as if she was in a combat zone with warring factions all around her. Some people kept their heads down and continued to fight through the workload. Others went AWOL and left the organization. The climate was similar to a MASH unit. This terminology is familiar to those in the military who fought in combat situations. MASH was also the name of situation comedy which was very popular years ago. MASH in our HR situation stands for Managers Are Stifling Hope or Managers Are Spreading Hostility, as their employees are demoralized and afraid to resign. The tragedy is that these Managers Are Sacrificing Heroes, when they really need their people to deliver heroic efforts beyond expectations in a competitive marketplace.

The ER department’s data bank reveals that many employees have problems with their manager. Their managers are unable to function in a stressful environment without taking it out on their people. They were not given stress management courses in leadership school. Employees are complaining about the way their managers treat them and speak to them. Employees cite circumstances where they feel threatened and intimidated. They describe wounds to their egos and blows to their self-esteem. There are complaints of verbal bashing, name-calling, being betrayed and stabbed in the back by lies and innuendos. The manager’s actions created a hostile work environment that borders on harassment at least in the minds of these individual.

One individual from an insurance company described a toxic climate where the following statements were said to her.

  • “Someone is going to lose their job and it won’t be me.”
  • “If you don’t like it you can leave. There are plenty of people ready to take your place.”
  • “I know I shouldn’t be saying this. And this could get me fired, but……..” (She continued with her inflammatory remarks against her employees)

Veterans of the workforce have commented that they don’t recall seeing things this bad. They are astonished by the lack of trust that exists between employees and management. Some are pessimistic about change in the immediate future. However, some are optimistic and say this is part of a cycle and improvement will occur when business performs better. As sales go up, people perform better at every level and much of the tension is removed from daily interactions between employees and supervisors.

I look forward to the world pictured by the optimist. It will be comforting when people are more engaged and the culture improves at work and at home. I will probably receive fewer telephone calls from people who feel threatened on their jobs and are very nervous because they fear being unemployed. There is hope now that the job market is getting better, but jumping ship is always a nervous thing to do. To the workers who are losing sleep, unable to eat or eat too much and drink to calm their nerves, they want relief. They want the resilience of those who are exercising more to increase the ability to handle the stress until the world improves.

Managers have different ways to handle pressure and stress associated with it. Those who are very skillful and competent, recognize that intimidation is a short term means of getting results. At some point this approach will become counterproductive when the manager really needs his people to deliver their maximum levels of engagement and results. It is easy to say that an employee should control what they can and work to become an indispensable member of the organization. Individuals with superior skills can generally land a job in any economic environment. But employees still need the ER to help them through the tough times.

Periodically, it is important to assess the injuries that are being treated in the Human Resources Department. Responsible leadership should evaluate these cases and the use these data points, along with employee surveys and focus groups to determine the health of the organization.

The question is what can be done to prevent the assault on HR from wounded employees who view it as their Emergency Room where Employee Restoration is practiced before returning them back to work? What can be done for the manager to remove the incentive to intimidate others? How can we turn HR into the ER which is the engagement room, or the empowerment room, where people are revitalized, and energized and anxious to go to work?

The Human Resources Department performs a vital role in the health and well-being of any organization. Its ability to ensure that the company’s greatest asset, its people, are hired, trained, developed, and placed in situations that are best for the individual and the organization, will have a profound business impact.

Organizations must work to ensure that if HR becomes the ER, it is a positive place where people receive the treatment they deserve. If HR becomes a MASH unit may it be because Managers Are Sanctioning Hope. Where the treatment they deserve empowers them to be more engaged, more productive and committed to exceeding the objectives that will make the organization and its members successful.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser

Informants in the workplace

Hammer

Information is an essential ingredient in the leader’s decision making arsenal. There are many established, credible resources at their disposal. There is everything from company databases, computer files, the Internet and consultants to the minds of employees. The information available in the minds of employees is critical. However, there may be situations where employees are reluctant to disclose relevant information for a number of reasons.

If the environment is not perceived as safe, people are reticent to step forward with their information. There may be employee surveys and numerous forums within an organization where data is accumulated. But, there is still a need to decipher the data and provide additional perspectives. These translations and interpretations can be provided by informants in the workplace.

An informant is defined by Webster’s New Riverside University dictionary as, “one who discloses information and one who furnishes cultural or linguistic information to a researcher.” Oftentimes, informants volunteer their services. They may be guided by a number of motives. One such motive may be a genuine desire to improve the culture of the workplace or team.

Secondly, informants may be driven by ulterior motives, hoping to be rewarded in some fashion. A pharmaceutical company discontinued their bonus program which disappointed a number of their representatives. A group of employees got together and complained and expressed their dissatisfaction. The most vocal member of the group became an informant and notified leadership of the various opinions expressed. The other members were chastised and eventually the informant was promoted. The moral of this story is to express your opinion in a situation where your insight is appreciated and the person can do something about it.

Thirdly, a leader may ask everyone to be an informant. They would like to create an environment where everyone can step forward and let them know the climate of the team. The leader would like to receive the word on the street regarding a new policy or procedure, directly from the employees.

Fourthly, there are situations where a leader may select a particular person or a small group of people, who have keen insight into the workplace. They may have the ability to articulate the feelings of the team.

Lastly, there are situations where a team may identify someone as a spokesperson, a group sanctioned employee. This person is an approved voice of the people.

There is crucial information that the company must provide to the employees or members of a team, in order for the company or team to be successful. This data is around the vision, mission and the type of organization they are trying to create.

There is also crucial information possessed by the employees. The employees have the perspectives and relevant data obtained by being closest to the customer. They must share or release this information to leadership, in order for leadership to recognize the impact of their programs and strategy. The release of this information from the employee may be through the informant.

There were numerous occasions in my career where I used an informant to improve the success of a strategy, program or my leadership effectiveness. In one situation I did not realize the tension that existed between my District Managers. One manager called me and asked if I noticed the discomfort in the room. Armed with the information from her call, I scheduled a team building session where they were able to play together and resolve their differences.

Additionally, there were another time when individuals were poisoning the environment I was trying to create. There was a time when I served as a healer to address a dysfunction within a team. I brought the team members and their manager into my office for a debriefing session. After the meeting was over, I received a telephone call from one of the participants. She stated that before their drive to their territory, she heard my voice in the back seat of the car. Apparently, one of the representatives had taped my entire session with the team. This informant made me aware of either the insidious nature of the team member for their lack of trust. I was able to satisfactorily handle the situation because of the courage of my informant.

Leaders have told me of situations where members of their team smiled to their face, but tried every effort to undermine their efforts, behind their backs.

The leader must create the environment where people feel comfortable enough to tell management what they think. The manager must create a culture which is an OASIS. The OASIS (Open And Share Information Safely) is an acronym describing a concept that I introduced in my book Unlock Your Leadership Greatness (available at www.OrlandoCeaser.com and www.amazon.com. This environment will have a direct them on the number of formats available in the organization.

Informants are critical in the lives of leaders who are new to an organization or new to the role of leadership. It is comforting to have individuals who can share with you and serve as a barometer for your policies and procedures. They can also let you know how your personality comes across to the group.

Informants do not necessarily have to be spies who infiltrate an organization to gather secrets. They can be legitimate information merchants dedicated to helping leadership make better decisions.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Lessons in Handling Differences

We are often started with the commercialization of Christmas. We are reminded to not lose sight of the reason for the season. This is valuable advice for Christians and others during this reverent time of year.

We grew up with Gene Autry Christmas classic of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. It is a delightful song, but also delivers a powerful message about encountering and handling differences. This song could start meaningful conversations about accepting others.

The song begins with a reference to the reindeer popularized in Clement Clarke Moore’s, “The night before Christmas”, also known as “A visit from St. Nicholas.” It begins with a roll call of Santa Claus’ reindeer that of course omits the name of Rudolph. As you recall, Rudolph was different from the other reindeer because of the luminescent quality of his nose. His nose was so shiny that it had either reflective qualities or it glowed like a light. This was enough to make him the object of ridicule and ultimately ostracism by the other reindeer.

This lack of acceptance is seen when children and adults are confronted with someone who is different from them. Our initial response is to make fun of the person and then to isolate them because of their characteristics, traits, heredity or idiosyncrasies. Many of us recall when we were young and begged for approval. Even to this day, there is something about us that makes us stand out from the crowd and the crowd lets us know it.

At work or is school, simply being the new person, the new kid on the block, the person who is an unknown, becomes a source for teasing or isolation. We often wondered,” if they would only get to know me, they would see that I’m just like them. “Rudolph was a reindeer, so he surely had a similar appearance, except for his nasal peculiarity. But suppose he was of a different color, from a different region of the country or had a different ability.  He would have manifested a difference that would have caused him difficulty until he was accepted. We usually ask the different party to fit in, when the real focus should be on them being accepted by the group.

Bullying is also a response shown toward those who are different. The song the does not indicate that Rudolph was bullied, but we can only assume that preventing him from “playing in any reindeer games” was not always accomplished in the most delicate manner.

The song does not tell us what Santa Claus was doing during the hazing or if he even knew about it. But, as a good leader, he engineered a very strategic response. He knew the talent and value of all of his reindeer. He evaluated the weather system for his next journey and realized he was going to encounter numerous blizzards. He knew that the solution to his problem existed among the ranks of his reindeer. He knew he had one reindeer that could help navigate the wintry delivery of toys to boys and girls around the world. This opportunity would be well received it if every reindeer benefited from his gift.

We can give Santa credit for waiting for the appropriate time to unveil strategy. He could have given the reindeer the opportunity to work it out amongst themselves, as so many people do in similar situations. They say such things as,” kids are just being kids, learning to navigate difficult situations will only make the recipient stronger and teach them valuable life skills and that which does not kill them will make them stronger, to paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche the philosopher. Maybe the reindeer performed similar initiation rites to others in the group that had other distinctions from their peers. Maybe they solve their treatment of Rudolph as being harmless and natural.

The defining moment came,” one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say: Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Many managers, leaders and parents look for the opportune moment to use the skills of their people. The right moment to show the world and the individual, that they recognize their true value and wish to share this value with every member on the team. We can only assume that in the fictitious conversation, Santa’s encouraged Rudolph and told him about the value of his difference. He made him feel that he was something special and should never feel that he was not important and did not have a place. I’m sure he made him feel like an important member of the team. He validated his value by asking him to lead the team by moving up to the front of the line.

You remember the happy ending to the song. “Then all the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with glee, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history! We know that in real life, responses to differences may not always lead to a happy ending. Sometimes the individuals have lingering insecurity, damage to their self-esteem and underlying resentment from the initial exclusion. But, so often when the difference that is ridiculed or denied is used for the benefit of the group, the organization, institution, group or community becomes stronger. The people learn a valuable lesson about inclusion. We are hopeful that when the person is accepted they don’t become complicit and act in the same manner when they encounter other people who are different.

If we remember the Rudolph days of our lives and commit ourselves to prevent them from happening to others, we will maximize their future contributions to our teams, families, organizations and communities. We will perform a noble act when leading by example with the lessons learned from Rudolph the red-nose reindeer.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

More works from Orlando Ceaser in Unlock Your Leadership Greatness and Unlock the Secrets of Ozone Leadership available at amazon.com and http://www.orlandoceaser.com.