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How to Build an Internal Assistant Network at Your Company with Guest Victoria Darragh | Ep 17

Internal Assistant Networks Can Help the Bottom Line Too. Learn how. (RT 57:43)

Internal Assistant Network discussion with Vic Darragh
Recorded on location in Johannesburg, S Africa at the Executive Secretary LIVE Conference, Feb 2016. From L: Bonnie Low-Kramen, Victoria Darragh, & Vickie Evans

She knew what she wanted to do with her life from the age of 12. Eager to start, Victoria Darragh began working as an assistant in the U.K. at age 16. Now, sixteen years later, she is CEO of her own company (EPAA) and traveling the world sharing her remarkable and inspirational story. How did she do this? Tune in to hear about the power of an internal assistant network and how it can transform your career and your company. Read more

NYC Student: Dyana Robenalt

Bonnie and DB NYC0414“What an AMAZING DAY!! OMG!! “Each moment was better than the last. World class training all the way. I knew this was going to be fantastic an this has far exceeded my expectations. Can’t wait to see what Day 2 will be !! GIDDY and blown away with all the time saving tips we learned.”
Dyana Robenalt, New York City, April 2014

 

 

What’s Really Holding Women Back In The Workplace?

WomenWorkplaceThe winds of change are in the air.

Sheryl Sandberg, 43, is the COO of Facebook and she has been shaking up the business world with what she is saying loud and clear about what women need to do and not do to succeed in 2013 and beyond. Her best-selling book, “Lean In” is causing whole companies to take a fresh look at the professional working relationships between women and men. Sandberg says, “A world where men ran half the homes and women ran half of the offices would be a much better world.” Imagine that.
We live in a world where this is possible. What it will take will be to sit at the table next to men, lean in, and speak up with confidence and ambition. What it will take to be heard and heeded is to fight the persistent stereotypes and perceptions which diminish women. One reason stereotypes exist and persist is because, as much as we don’t want to admit it, there is usually an element of truth in them. If something is perceived as truth, then it becomes real even if it really isn’t. Perception morphing into reality can be a self-fulfilling prophecy but only if we allow it. Here are two:

Perception #1 – Women don’t help other women.

Only you know if this perception is true in your office and in your life. Experienced professional women nod their heads when I talk about the need for women to help other women in the workplace. They agree it makes complete sense, but that it is a real problem nonetheless. The reality of our ever-changing workplace is that there is too much at stake to behave in an isolationist or contentious, competitive manner. Who has not been witness to the passive/aggressive behaviors between women? It is simply not possible to do excellent work when this dynamic is in play.
Women need each other in the workplace. Let me be clear. Women don’t need to be personal friends with everyone in the office. Women do need to nurture positive, respectful, and professional relationships with everyone in the office. Two heads are most definitely better than one. The LinkedIn discussion groups are a beautiful development for women. Sharing information in this non-threatening way is a win/win situation and everyone benefits.

Networking, building healthy professional relationships happens most effectively when we generously and enthusiastically help someone out. Then when you are looking for a new job or a solution to a time-sensitive problem, you have many people to call upon who are inclined to help you. Women remember those who help. Don’t you? Sandberg has brilliantly created www.leanin.org to offer women a fast-track to supporting one another.

Perception #2 – Women suffer in silence. We don’t speak up even when we know they should.

Psychologist Dr. Maddy Gerrish comments, “The major barrier stopping women from succeeding in the workplace and in their lives is the lack of trust in their own intelligence, judgments, and abilities. When women permit jealousy, competitiveness, and fear to immobilize their voices, creativity is stifled and the ability to act is thwarted. Conversely, when a woman trusts herself, the result is confidence, empowerment, and self-esteem. Women must be aware of these issues in play in order to make the necessary changes.”

Women are socialized as young girls to not assert themselves or be confrontational.

We are trained to be conciliatory, pleasers, “good girls,” and peacemakers, almost at any price. Women have strong intuitions, but are not encouraged to act on those instincts. Women of all ages openly say, “I will do almost anything to not have to confront someone.” This deeply rooted societal training creates a system, an environment ripe for disrespect, people taking unfair advantage, and at its worst abusive behavior. If women permit themselves to be treated badly, however it manifests itself, the first thing that is sacrificed is self-esteem. Women justify silence by saying, “I can’t afford to lose my job.” I say that you cannot afford to lose yourself.

It is not possible to erase socialization, but it is possible to manage it and not be victimized by it. Positive confrontation is a learned skill. It’s about choosing your battles and your words carefully. Thoughtfully taking the risk to speak up can have surprisingly positive results. One of them is your own professional growth and respect from your employer and peers.

The Fear Factor

The fear factor cannot be underestimated when it comes to the problem of women speaking up to anyone, but especially to colleagues and employers. I have colleagues who have been assistants for 25+ years and are serious, dedicated, and experienced administrative professionals. It is important for us to notice that even they, with all their years of “been there, done that” experience, are sincerely reluctant to speak up in many situations. The fear is about stepping on toes, overstepping boundaries and the resulting negative repercussions. They choose to stay silent and engage in time-consuming, energy-wasting underground complaining and worrying rather than take the risk to speak up. In light of all of this, speaking up still feels too dangerous and filled with potential for failure and backlash.

The fear is about the all-too-possible reactions such as: “What are you trying to pull? Are you trying to make me look bad? Are you angling for my job? Do you think you’re smarter than me? Do you think you’re better than me?”

I understand this dynamic because early in my career, I was silent too. My former employer and mentor of 25 years, Oscar winning actress Olympia Dukakis reminds me that when we first started working together (I was the PR director at the theatre she ran in New Jersey), I did not speak. It’s true. For the first few months, I was afraid to appear uninformed or unprepared. I thought it was safer to watch and learn. Olympia recalls that she would say to other staff members, “When is the tall one going to talk?” I learned from Olympia that it is important to speak up and say the hard things in a way that people can hear. Time and again I’ve witnessed the relief in the room when Olympia says the thing that everyone is thinking but no one wants to say. I had to learn this lesson in my personal life as well. In most cases, speaking up makes things better.

Success Story

Things did get better for Susan (not her real name) one of my 40-something students in a “Finding Your Voice” workshop which took place on a Saturday. Susan has a boss who humiliates her in staff meetings and yells a great deal. After hearing stories from others and learning about proactive strategies, Susan decided that she would no longer hold back and suffer in silence.

On the Monday morning following our workshop, her boss began to berate Susan at the staff meeting. As the tirade began, Susan did something she had never done before. She calmly stood up and left the room. Her boss followed her and Susan told her that they needed to have a conversation alone and not in front of everyone. A week later, they had the one-on-one and Susan told her boss how these rants made her feel. Her boss said that she doesn’t “mean to be like that or ever wants to yell.” They cleared the air and the relationship is now changed for the better. Mainly, Susan has reclaimed her self-respect by standing up for herself.

Paying it forward

A few days later, Susan wrote me to say that she talked with her 70-year old mother about what she learned at the workshop about speaking up. When her mother was confronted by a verbally abusive relative on the phone, her response was, “If you keep speaking to me that way, I am hanging up,” which she promptly did. Then she said, “I’m doing what Susan told me she learned to do.”

As Susan found out, there are positive ways to assert which keep the lines of communication open and hostility-free. The trick is to not wait until little problems escalate into a big one. Directly asking, “What are you worried about?” or “I see you are concerned. Tell me what you think.” The result is an ongoing dialogue and an effective use of time since no one is staying silent out of fear. Lack of silence equals minimal surprises and reduced stress.

Reality Check: Women can’t do it alone

Rebecca Shambaugh’s book It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor explores the idea that women hold themselves back both intentionally and not intentionally. She outlines how women sabotage themselves. She echoes Sandberg’s message that our lives as working women are profoundly complicated with balancing our children and families with our careers. These problems are real and valid and almost impossible to navigate without involvement from our employers, families, friends, and colleagues. The women’s movement told us that we “can have it all.” Yes, that’s true. We just can’t do it alone.

The wind is changing. Can you feel it?
Original article published August 5, 2013 by Bonnie Low-Kramen http://bit.ly/1kbATDG

 

Hire the Attitude, Train the Skills

Man jumping for the long shot Attitude is one of the most important criteria if you are thinking about  hiring someone. Sure, skills are important, but hiring the right skills with the wrong attitude will result in a lot of headaches. So hire someone who lacks some skills but has the right attitude, and you can grow together. My credo is ‘Hire the attitude, train the skills’.

And this weekend I rediscovered why.

Almost every Sunday evening, I have a drink with one of my colleagues. While enjoying a glass of wine, we look at the planning for the coming week. We go to the same pub every time, and the staff know us by now and often strike up a short conversation.

This weekend, my colleague arrived a few minutes before me, and when I entered he was talking with a waitress. I walked into their conversation and heard her say: “Oh, you are such a pessimist !” Pessimistic isn’t how I’d describe my colleague, so I started following their conversation.

Turns out the notebook my colleague had on him, saying “The world is filled with Mondays” on the cover, was the conversation starter. Our waitress couldn’t believe that anyone would want such a notebook to work in and moreover, that someone truly loved Mondays as she hated them. He explained to her that Mondays are the best day of the week since they are always full of new opportunities, that they always feel like you are getting a chance to start over. She didn’t agree, she found Mondays boring and depressing because you have a full week of work ahead. And she repeated that several times.

 

And the only thing I could think was: “Can you imagine having someone like that in the office?” Of course you can’t expect everyone to be cheerful all the time. Sometimes people are tired or preoccupied or simply in a bad mood. This happens to me too. But if you have someone walking around that is annoyed every Monday because he or she just doesn’t like that day of the week, there is no way that won’t affect the general atmosphere. To be honest, even that short conversation with the waitress infected my mood.

What about you? Are you a ray of sunshine every Monday? Or do you have experience working with people showing this attitude at the beginning of the week? And how do you handle that? I would love to get your tips!

Link to original article by Inge Geerdens http://linkd.in/1dvPSXB

Incentives for Men, to Help Women to Work

WomanConstructionsite bossBy Catherine Rampell for The New York Times, April 2, 2013

As I wrote in an article appearing this week in The New York Times Magazine, if you want women to be bigger participants in the labor force, some expansion of work-life accommodations (parental leave, flex work, telecommuting, etc.) is probably desirable, particularly relative to the barren landscape of work-life policies in the United States.

But without careful design, expanding work-life accommodations can unintentionally reinforce archaic gender roles and lower the glass ceiling, Temple of Doom style. That’s because women are much more likely to take advantage of these policies, and employers know it.

If you want to create policies that promote women’s labor-force participation without curbing their career achievements, you also have to address why family-friendly policies aren’t being used by men.

True, women earn less than men in most countries, meaning that there’s less of an incentive for women to stick with their jobs. Which is sort of a tautology, or at least a self-perpetuating cycle of women who underinvest in their skills, thereby landing in jobs that pay less, thereby giving them a reason to underinvest in their skills, and so on.

To a large extent, though, those nebulous things known as social norms are probably to blame for the trivial rates at which men take advantage of leave and flex-work policies. These norms are enforced both by workers and their employers, who might look askance at a father who wants to take time off for a birth or a ballet recital.

So, how do you change norms?

In a word (economists’ favorite word, to be precise): incentives! And it looks as if the most promising place to dangle those incentives is in paternity leave, as some other countries are discovering.

Sweden and Norway, for example, have recently set aside some weeks of paid parental leave that are available only to fathers. (Like most parental leaves, they are paid by social insurance rather than directly by the employer.) In Germany and Portugal, a mother gets bonus weeks of maternity leave if the child’s father takes a minimum amount of paternity leave.

The share of men who choose to go on leave has grown sharply in these countries.

Big whoop if men spend a few weeks with their newborn, right?

But it turns out these few weeks can change gender roles in households and workplaces for years. That’s according to a new study by Ankita Patnaik, a Cornell graduate student. It found that several years after the introduction of a paternity-leave quota in Quebec, fathers spent more time in child care and other domestic tasks, and mothers spent more time in paid work. (Other studies on use of or exposure to paternity leave in other countries have found similar results.)

Why might that be the case? The birth of a newborn is a crucial time for renegotiating a couple’s division of labor. Having men spend some time at home after the birth seems to alter (1) expectations and habits; (2) fathers’ comfort and skill level with taking care of a child (economists would say there’s a “fixed cost” to learning how to change diapers); and (3) potentially the bond between father and baby.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that men (with or without children) might have another reason to start requesting more flexible work schedules: their aging parents.

“Elder care is such a growing issue in terms of labor-force attachment,” said Heather Boushey, chief economist at the Center for American Progress (a liberal research organization) and a visiting fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research in London.

As Nancy Folbre has written, women are more likely to be caregivers for elderly parents, but there are likely to be more men who will face this task, too.

“A lot of men no longer have a wife at home who can care for his parents,” Ms. Boushey said.

Original article by Catherine Rampell  http://nyti.ms/MQmZdZ
Photo courtesy of www.wimcanada.org

6 MANAGEMENT LESSONS FROM VISIONARY WOMEN LEADERS

6 Management Lessons From Visionary Women Leaders   Fast Company   Business   Innovation

 From GM’S  new CEO Mary Barra  to Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer, it’s been a good year for women in leadership positions.  Here, we’ve gathered advice from six influential women to inspire your own success in the new year.

It’s been a big year for women in leadership. Mary Barra just ascended to the throne of GM, becoming the first female in history to lead an automaker. Angela Ahrendts announced her departure from luxury British brand Burberry to head up Apple’s retail division. Marissa Mayer continues to apply an intrepid shoulder to push Yahoo’s comeback strategy forward. Others like Jenna Lyons, keep their focus on what they do best to drive their companies to greater heights.

We took a look back at our coverage of women in power and pulled together a select compendium of their best advice for either gender to lead a charge, in work and life.

MARY BARRA ON THE POWER OF REALLY LOVING YOUR WORK
For Barra, a second generation GM employee, the success of the company is “in her blood.”

I have had many experiences that helped me grow and take with me a fundamental understanding of the industry and our challenges. I attacked each new position like I was going to do it for the rest of my life.

If you don’t address problems head on, they don’t go away–they get bigger. Get the right people together, address the challenges, and keep moving forward.

Every time I approach a new business opportunity, or a new activity, or a new role, I approach it as an engineer, as a professional, as a leader. My gender doesn’t really come into it.

ANGELA AHRENDTS ON THE POWER OF TRUST
Ahrendts presided over sweeping changes at Burberry that not only restored the brand’s luster, but propelled it into the Millennium with a series of successful digital strategies. She’ll be taking her philosophies with her to Apple, where she’ll lead retail starting in 2014.

When we sat down and said, “How have we created this energy? How do we keep 11,000 people so connected, so united?” And 90% of it is trust. There is an innate trust that I don’t second-guess anything [creative director Christopher Bailey[/creativ does, never have. And on business, he doesn’t second-guess anything I do.

We’ve never been finance first. We’ve always been instincts first.
My dad used to always say he can teach you anything but he couldn’t teach you to feel. And so that’s the hardest part when you have 11,000 people: How do you teach them to feel like we feel?

I don’t want to be sold to when I walk into a store. I want to be welcomed. The job is to be a brilliant brand ambassador. Everybody is welcome. Don’t be judgmental whatsoever. Look them in the eyes. Welcome them. ‘How are you?’ Don’t sell! NO! Because that is a turnoff. What we have wanted to do is build an amazing brand experience and an amazing way that people can engage with the brand. Then it will naturally happen. And then I don’t care where they buy. I only care that they buy the brand.
MARISSA MAYER ON THE POWER OF GOOD PEOPLE
Marissa Mayer’s cool confidence has inspired investors to get excited again. The company’s stock price has nearly doubled since her arrival in July of 2012 and the $7.6 billion Yahoo earned from selling half its investment in Alibaba helped fund the acquisitions of Tumblr, Qwiki, GoPollGo, Milewise, and others. So it makes sense that one area she’s focusing on is hiring. At one point, Mayer said Yahoo was getting about 12,000 resumes a week, roughly the same number as its current staff.

Hiring the right people, using them to build products consumers love, using those products to bring in traffic, and using that traffic to grow revenue says Mayer, “are a chain reaction, and they work somewhat like a funnel.”

I have said it would take multiple years…for the growth to be the way we wanted it to be. Having the right people and products and getting to the right traffic. People, products, traffic and revenue.

ANNE WOJCICKI ON THE POWER OF INTEGRITY
The FDA leveled a blow to Anne Wojcicki’s genetic testing startup 23AndMe last month, when it ordered the company to stop marketing its $99 DNA test kits. In just a few weeks, the “most daring CEO in America” and the FDA became adversaries. As the dust settled, Wojcicki took the stance of cooperation–while sticking to her company’s mission.

The great loophole in all of health care is that you own your own data and ultimately you can direct your care. We’re direct to consumer not because it’s easy, but because that’s how you create a revolution.

I am highly disappointed that we have reached this point and will work hard to make sure consumers have direct access to health information in the near future. Our goal is to work cooperatively with the FDA to provide that opportunity.

We also want to make clear that we stand behind the data we have generated for customers.

This is new territory for both 23andMe and the FDA. This makes the regulatory process with the FDA important because the work we are doing with the agency will help lay the groundwork for what other companies in this new industry do in the future. It will also provide important reassurance to the public that the process and science behind the service meet the rigorous standards required by those entrusted with the public’s safety.

I am committed to making sure that 23andMe is a trusted consumer product. I believe that genetic information can lead to healthier lives — a goal that all of us share.

SHERYL SANDBERG ON THE POWER OF KEEPING IT REAL
Facebook’s COO and the author of Lean In continues to press hard to make sure Facebook doesn’t flame out. For the woman who once said, “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There’s work, there’s life, and there is no balance,” is also famous for leaving the office at 5:30 p.m. to spend time with her family.

Likewise, she keeps it real with her boss, Mark Zuckerberg.

We sit next to each other, we Facebook message each other a lot. We give each other feedback every Friday. Remember that when I took the job, I was going to work for a 23-year-old with a $15 billion valuation.

JENNA LYONS ON THE POWER OF NURTURING CREATIVITY
Annual revenue in excess of $2.2 billion and expansion into Europe is only part of the story of J.Crew, the preppy retailer that’s been elevated to cult status with its clothes on the backs of Anna Wintour and Michelle Obama. Behind the reinvention of the brand is Jenna Lyons, who holds the dual role of J.Crew’s executive creative director and its president. “No financial decision weighs heavier than a creative decision. They are equal,” says Lyons. She works hard to encourage the creative side among her staff.

When something hasn’t been as beautiful as it can be, the reason is always bigger than the thing. At this stage, I’m like a glorified crossing guard. It’s like, try to keep people motivated, keep the traffic moving, keep people from getting stumped or stopped by a problem.

When someone creates something and puts it in front of you, that thing came from inside of them, and if you make them feel bad, it’s going to be hard to fix, because you’ve actually crushed them.

Managing creative people–not so easy. A lot of emotion, a lot of stroking. Some people need tough love. Some people need a lot of love.
Nevertheless, she’s capable of cutting to the chase as denim designer Adriano Goldschmied discovered. “Jenna, every time you talk to her, it’s always a Yes or No, never a Maybe,” says Goldschmied. “I love people who have opinions.”

 

Original link: http://www.fastcompany.com/3023488/dialed/6-management-lessons-from-visionary-women-leaders
Photo courtesy of Flickr user: Britt-knee

“Be the Ultimate Assistant” 2014 Workshops! Choose your favorite city!

★ ONLY 4 SEATS LEFT for TORONTO ULTIMATE ASSISTANTS! Claim your seat and own your career on Jan 17 & 18 at our 2-day workshop. http://conta.cc/18zXl3c Register now and learn to be the best of the best. Instructors: Bonnie Low-Kramen & tech expert Vickie Sokol Evans plus guest speakers including recruiter Ann Binstead, Pres of Executive Assistance.

“Not only are Bonnie and Vickie both ‘must have’ speakers at our Behind Every Leader events, I personally have attended 5 (maybe even 6) of their Be the Ultimate Assistant workshops. Wow.”Victoria Louise Rabin CEO Founder Executive Assistants Organization (EAO)

“Be the Ultimate Assistant” is a two-day master training workshop for Executive and Personal Assistants with me – Bonnie Low-Kramen – and technology expert Vickie Sokol Evans. The transformation is real and happens before our eyes. That’s what learning does and it will happen to YOU. http://conta.cc/18zXl3c

Are you looking to find your voice in a room of 30 high-achieving assistants from all around the world? Do you want to open your mind to the newest ideas about how to take your career and your life to places you don’t even know about yet? If the answer is “yes,” your seat at our U-shaped table waits for a highly  interactive networking and learning experience that has assistants coming back again and again. Our students learn cutting edge skills and reclaim their careers.

Members of professional organizations receive the lowest price of all!

Join tech expert Vickie Evans and me in Toronto Jan 17 & 18 http://conta.cc/18zXl3c, Seattle at Starbucks HQ! Feb 8 & 9 http://conta.cc/12iSdiO, or Los Angeles Mar 8 & 9 http://conta.cc/16ZX8qK

For the full tour schedule: www.betheultimateassistant.com

Thank you for paying it forward by sharing this information with your colleagues who would benefit!

Keynote Speaker Bonnie Low-Kramen Pulls Back the Curtain

I’d love to speak at your event.

I feel privileged to be traveling the world speaking at Conferences, meetings, and training inside companies to groups of assistants and managers. My goal is to affect positive change in our workplace.

Audiences can’t get enough of Bonnie’s stories and photos from her 25 year career as the Personal Assistant to Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis. Her deep passion, candor, and humor will not only move your heart, but move you to take action in your work and in your life. Profound insights for today’s workplace. www.bonnielowkramen.com

 

 

 

How to Conquer 6 Common Workplace Fears

How To Conquer 6 Common Workplace Fears

By Bonnie Low-Kramen for Glassdoor.com  Jan, 2014

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me?” -Ayn Rand

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” -Georgia O’Keefe

FEAR (definition): A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.

As I train assistants from San Francisco to South Africa, I am struck by the common themes that burst forth – and usually within moments and with stark honesty. One of the most loaded themes is fear. That is why it did not surprise me when I read that Spencer Johnson’s (“Who Moved My Cheese?”) quote, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” hangs prominently on the office walls at Facebook which employs some 4,000 people.

The evidence is clear and indisputable. Even the smartest and most successful among us allow fear to slow us down and sometimes stop us dead in our tracks. Apparently Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg know this and have decided to openly encourage their staff to face their fears and take the risks, even if it means making mistakes. Very smart.

Here are the top six workplace fears and how to move past them.

1. Fear of losing your job

2. Fear of looking stupid or being wrong

3. Fear of being yelled at

4. Fear of stepping on toes

5. Fear of appearing a know-it-all

And the biggest fear of all…

6. Fear of speaking up

But first, a success story:

Susan decided to finally face the fear of her CEO boss by breaking the pattern that had been in place for over a year. She now says, “I wish I had acted sooner. Everything has changed.”

The CEO is a “yeller” and regularly berates Susan in their weekly staff meetings. The next time it happened, Susan decided that she was going to take action. As the tirade started on Monday morning, Susan did something she had never done before. She calmly stood up and left the room. Her manager followed her out of the room and asked why she left. Susan told her that the yelling had to stop and that the two of them needed to have a conversation alone. A week later, they had the one-on-one and Susan told the CEO how these rants made her feel. Her surprised boss said that she “had no idea” the behavior was causing a problem but appreciated the clarity. They cleared the air and the yelling has stopped. Susan has reclaimed her self-respect by facing her fear and standing up for herself. Fellow staffers have noticed the difference in both of them.

One of the main points about this true story is that sometimes people are oblivious to their own behaviors and will only know if someone tells them.

The most talented staffers can be undone from fear. Many fears are irrational but even so, are made real if we make them so. Fear can cause feelings of helplessness, depression, worry, distraction, sadness, resentment, and panic, just to name a few. Is it possible to produce excellent work if you are feeling any of these things? No, which is why there are many more pros than cons to facing your fears.

Let’s take them one at a time.

1. Loss of job. Nine times out of 10, it won’t happen. If you are viewed as someone who is working for the good and profitability of your manager and the company, you won’t be fired. If you address issues proactively, calmly, and with fact-based solutions, you will be seen as an asset and not a liability. Be the one who walks towards a problem rather than away from it and you’ll be the one who is still employed.

2. Looking stupid or being wrong. Make it your business to read the same publications/websites and watch the same news programs/shows as your manager. These include your company’s website, social media posts, and the Annual Report. Doing your homework will not only alleviate your fears but also makes you more relevant and valuable to your manager. Even so, know that you may still end up being wrong from time to time. Who isn’t? Own it, learn from it, and move on.

3. Being yelled at. All of us seek approval and acceptance. Being yelled at can undermine any good will developed in the workplace. Any effective leader will not tolerate yelling. If and when it happens, it is important to address it immediately. One strategy is to stand up, say “This is obviously not a good time to talk,” and leave the room. This sends a strong message that this is not okay. Another strategy is to look the person straight in their eyes and say, “In order for us to work together, we need to show respect for one another.” Another way is to say, “Ouch.”

4. Stepping on toes. The best way to combat this fear is to not assume and directly ask, “Would you like my help on that project?” or say, “I have some ideas about how XYZ can play out. May I share them with you?” or “Would I be interfering if I did ABC?” You don’t know if you don’t ask. Most people appreciate being asked questions and offered choices so they feel a measure of control. No one likes surprises of this nature.

5. Appearing like a know-it-all. Many staffers downplay their abilities and accomplishments because of the fear of coming across as a know-it-all.  Approaching others one-on-one to offer an empowering suggestion can be very potent. Avoid constructive criticism among colleagues unless asked specifically for it. The irresistible flip side is when you can offer a colleague a solution which will save them time or money or angst or better yet, all three. Again, always ask. “May I tell you what I see?” and wait for the go-ahead. When you help others be successful, your co-workers will be seeking you out for guidance and advice.

6. Speaking up. This is the #1 challenge in the workplace today. Bullying is epidemic and it is due, in large part, to the reluctance and inability to speak up. Managers and company leaders are reluctant to address the bullies, HR feels helpless without support from the leadership, and the staffers are suffering in silence because of the fear of confrontation. The irony is that most bullies fold when directly confronted.

Susan’s CEO boss was seen as a bully and changed her behavior when challenged. There are many more success stories like Susan’s. Breaking bullying patterns is important to jolting the attention of the bully.

The fact is that staffers are paying a serious price for tolerating bullying. High absenteeism due to stress related illness, depression, and obesity are just three. Silence is the enemy.

Ask yourself what is the worst that will happen if you speak up? Practice saying the words with a trusted friend so that you are prepared.

Wonderful and positive things can happen as a result of pushing through your fears, saying the things that need to be said and doing the things that need to be done. It can change your whole life.

So, what would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Link from Glassdoor.com: bit.ly/JGegta

 

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