13 posts categorized "WORK RELATIONSHIPS"

September 03, 2013

Labor Day…A Day of Acknowledgement


This past weekend, countless families across the country celebrated Labor Day. Labor Day is an opportunity for people to sit back, take in and be thankful for all the hard work the American worker has done to help create the country in which we live today. It’s a well-deserved pat on the back to all of us who have ever worked and/or will ever work in America.

I hope all of you were able to enjoy this day. From the stay-at-home parent who works hard to be a stable presence in the home, to the CEO who is running large businesses to further our economy, may you realize how your efforts have helped this country move forward. The stay-at-home parents of the world are a vital cog in the wheel of innovation, hard work and prosperity, as is the grade school teacher, criminal lawyer, janitor, life coach, business owner, President, etc. To all of you, I say a great big “Thank You” for all you do. 

Moving forward, my fervent hope is that we, as a country, learn to work as hard in our homes, raising our children and nurturing our families, as we have worked (and continue to work) out in the world making money, pushing faster growth, innovating more and being more and more successful. May CEOs appreciate the value of safe-guarding their employees’ time rather than burning them out. May fathers across the country realize that being the provider is never a substitute for being a present father.  And may working mothers not fall into the absenteeism trap that took so many fathers from their families over the years. May we all learn the power of shutting off the cell phones, closing down the computers and being present with family in our off hours. And may those off hours be the rule, not the exception.

We are a great nation that has come a very far way in our progress, mindset and evolution…and yet we still have farther to go.  May our future progress bring us to a place of greater collaboration versus competition, a wiser sense of “we” rather than us-versus-them and a more well-rounded view of success that goes well beyond financial gains, job titles and popularity. My hope is that we, as a nation (and as a world), grow to learn the power of mutuality, partnering and giving, on a level seldom imagined. My greater hope is that we actually become masterful in putting this mindset into practice.

To all the past workers of yesterday and the future workers of tomorrow, I applaud your contributions to our great country and look forward to new and inspiring contributions to our world.

Happy Labor Day.




November 12, 2012

Mean Girls at the Office: Your Silence is Acceptance.

IStock_00contemptllI was recently reading a book about how to handle mean girls at work. Much of the advice in this book was about how to placate, ignore and avoid upsetting these women (who were co-workers, not bosses). When all of the above failed, the book recommended handling your upset by going for a walk or exercising. I couldn’t believe it. I have to say I have not felt so angry at a book in a long time. I found myself writing such comments in the margins as: “Are you kidding me?” “Yuck -- this is more silencing!!!” “Conflict-avoidant.”  After a few pages of my responses I had to laugh at myself and show my husband my little rants. However, I wasn’t laughing at the content and advice in this book. I’m aware that countless women will be reading this book and trying to incorporate the author’s advice into their lives and I know they won’t end up feeling better about themselves.

This post is an attempt to get a different voice out to these women, because, frankly, another book telling women to silently accept mean-spirited behavior may just lead me to pull my hair out.

First off, when you are faced with a “mean girl” at the office, your first move needs to be to get grounded. Before you respond in any way, take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is about her, not about you. Even if there is truth in what she’s saying to you (i.e. you did make a mistake), you have to know that being cruel, shaming or mean-spirited is not an okay way to handle things. So, while the mistake may have been your fault, her mean put-you-in-your-place response is 100% about her. Know this, live this and be comforted by this. Hold yourself in warm regard despite your mistake and do not for a moment allow this woman to get you to think less of yourself.

Continue reading "Mean Girls at the Office: Your Silence is Acceptance." »

January 25, 2012

Do Apologies Belong In Leadership?

IStock_0apologyXSmallAs many people know, Corporate America can be an incredibly stressful culture in which to maneuver.  Today’s economy has only compounded this fact.  Leaders are stressed, employees are stretched to their limits and lay-offs are all too common in many companies.  As a result of these pressures, people’s humanity, and the always- changing demands of business, people are making mistakes.  Not surprisingly, some of these mistakes are being made by the leaders, managers and owners of companies.  Even those in charge are not infallible or perfect.

The fact that those in top positions in business, government and even the world make mistakes is not the problem—at least not to me.  It almost seems like a no-brainer that every human being in the world—regardless of age, income or position--will make mistakes.  Mistakes are simply a part of life and our humanity. 

Leaders, however, often think they should explain, rationalize or justify their mistakes instead of just owning the fact that they messed up.  It’s an interesting phenomenon to watch CEOs, politicians, etc., worm their way out of a poor choice.  Having the courage to own your mistakes and speak genuinely about them is a high-end leadership skill.  It requires self-reflection, empathy for others and accountability. 

These are the very skills that leaders strive to pull from their own employees.  Leaders demand that those they lead be accountable, know their strengths and work on their weaknesses and that they provide the kind of excellent customer service that requires empathy for the customer’s plight.  Why, then, do leaders not model what they ask their employees to master?  When leaders duck from taking responsibilities for their mistakes, they create a culture of ducking.  They show those they mentor that above a certain level you must pretend to be infallible even if you are not.  Leaders who dance around accountability as though it were a hidden landmine model characteristics that would harm any company.  The mistakes are not the most damaging aspect of business...the way those mistakes are handled often is. 

Continue reading "Do Apologies Belong In Leadership?" »

January 10, 2012

Honesty In Business—Is It Wise?

IStock_firingmallThroughout the years I’ve heard horror stories about lay-offs, firings, restructuring, and so forth.  Some of the more common stories include:
•    Company lay-offs being discussed for months among top management, but denied for just as long to the employees.
•    Sudden restructurings that require placing employees out-of-state with virtually no warning,
•    Security guards escorting long-term employees off the premises immediately following their lay-off.
•    Refusing to give employees any advanced warning about possible layoffs out of fear they may begin to look for another job.

I have no doubt that many people have either experienced these happenings first hand, know of someone who has or have witnessed these occurring.  Anyone who has been in any of the above situations knows they are quite painful.  Working with a company for many years only to be escorted out of the building following a lay-off is one of the most non-relational practices around. 

Many companies keep lay-offs secret and require security escorts because they think they are protecting their company.  They believe that being honest about company lay-offs is unwise.  They also believe that allowing an employee to remain in the building unsupervised for any extended time could be unsafe. 

Companies couldn’t be further from the truth, in my opinion.  The idea that lying to your employees is a wise decision is, frankly, crazy.  Running a business through fear is a losing proposition.  I believe that treating long-time employees as though they are suddenly unsafe to the company actually creates an unsafe environment—it fosters anger, shame and resentment. 

Continue reading "Honesty In Business—Is It Wise?" »

August 23, 2011

Characteristics of Ineffective and Harmful Bosses (Part I)

IStock_00angry boss I can’t tell you the horror stories I hear about work environments.  It’s shocking that so many people are working for such difficult bosses or in unhealthy work environments.  The bottom line, when it comes to work environments, is that the atmosphere always starts from the top and trickles down from there.  If you’re a boss running a company where there are mean co-workers, stressed out employees, ongoing back-stabbing, fearful employees and/or controlling managers, then you are not leading effectively.

Below are five characteristics of ineffective and often harmful bosses:
1.    Immoderate leading.  Bosses go awry when they either lead with an iron fist or don’t lead at all.  Being a dictator is no more effective than being conflict-avoidant and hesitant.  Use your knowledge to skillfully lead without squashing the creativity, spirit or enthusiasm of your employees.
2.    Believing in the bottom-line at all costs.  When a boss is only concerned with the bottom line, s/he misses the mark.  Having tunnel vision around money leads to over-worked employees, high turnover and a stressed out work environment.  Focus your concern on developing a high quality product and creating a relational company that takes care of its employees and customers.  Nothing will increase your bottom-line more than these actions.
3.    Temperamental.  A boss who is chastising and yelling one minute and then cheering and bringing in food the next is crazy-making.  Doing a kind thing one day does not erase the punishing outbursts you delivered the day before.  Pull yourself together and stop being so temperamental.  You’re a leader, not a toddler.
4.    Turning a blind eye.  It is the boss’s job to notice the backstabbing in the office, rude comments in the meetings, hurtful gossiping or covert or overt undermining of individuals or groups within the work place.  Step up and step in when there are unhealthy interactions going on in your company.  You are responsible for creating a safe work environment and your employees are watching your example.  Don’t laugh off a rude comment by your favorite employee, a sexist joke by your top manager or a caustic dig by your vice president.  Healthy work environments are created by the moment-to-moment interactions of its leaders and employees.  Don’t duck.
5.    Egotistical.  The worst bosses are so full of themselves that they openly berate their employees for being inept while simultaneously pumping themselves up for being the sole smart one in the company.  Do not for a moment think that your company is alive and kicking solely because of you.  If all your employees are inept, it doesn’t say much about your leadership.  Why would you hire such incompetency?  Get off your high horse before you destroy your employees and your company.

If you are a leader in your company, remember to be the leader you would want to work for.  Don’t become the boss you used to hate having.  Become the boss you wish you had.  It takes very little talent to blindly lead through force and reactivity.  Be thoughtful about all concerned, not just you or the bottom-line.

Challenge: Look at the characteristics above and objectively rate yourself on each one. If you struggle in one area, work hard to change in that area.  Notice the shifts you see as a result.

May 19, 2011

A Letter to Men: A Lesson from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn

IStock_00harrassmentall In an article in The Huffington Post, regarding Arnold Schwarzenegger’s illicit affair with his housekeeper, http://tinyurl.com/3ktnywq, Gov. Schwarzenegger is quoted as saying, "After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago.  I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family.  There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused.  I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family.  I am truly sorry.“

Really?  Here’s my personal take on what Arnold might have said if he were truly being honest: “I waited until after I had left the governor’s office to tell my wife about this event…because then her reaction could no longer jeopardize my position as governor.  And because my housekeeper could tell the world at any time that I fathered her son, I thought it would be in my personal best interest to tell the story first. “ 

Arnold is apologizing because he got caught.  He’s apologizing, like so many politicians before him, because to not do so would be a huge political blunder. And please tell me that the power differential between the Governor of California and his housekeeper is not lost on the world.

This latest report comes after years of reports about Arnold’s grabbing women’s breasts, putting his hand up their skirts, groping them at his will and countless other abusive behaviors.  This comes after years of our culture accepting his outlandish minimization of these incidents by stating that sometimes he “behaves badly.”  It follows decades of those in the movie industry (producers, actors, directors etc.,), movie audiences, and voters bowing down to his enormous sense of entitlement due to his fame. 

Continue reading "A Letter to Men: A Lesson from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn" »

April 21, 2011

Women and Leadership: A Call For Change

IStock_0strong businesswomanlBelow is a post from my new blog http://lmerlobooth.typepad.com/straight_talk_4_women/ Enjoy!

I recently read an article entitled “Bad Female Boss? She may have Queen Bee Syndrome” (http://tiny.cc/wwz4c) and felt compelled to write this post.  In my work with more and more female leaders, I’m finding that many of them are struggling in their relationships with their employees.  Although these women are highly competent, intelligent and extremely hard workers, they are often difficult to work for. 

The article states that, “According to one group of German researchers, women who reported to female supervisors had higher cases of depression, headaches, heartburn and insomnia than if their bosses were men.”  Although the assumption has been that women will make more compassionate leaders, the reality has yet to play out that way.

Many of the female bosses I work with have had to fight their way through “good old boys” clubs, patronization, contempt and an overall hostile work environment for women leaders.  Many of these women responded to these environments by managing like men…or even tougher.  The article reports that, “The Queen Bee Syndrome is the alpha female who tries to preserve her power at all cost.”  Although I understand how women have gotten to this place, it is not at all the place where we want to stay.  Bringing more hardness into corporate America is the last thing I would like to see women doing.

Continue reading "Women and Leadership: A Call For Change" »

March 28, 2011

The Balance of Work and Home

IStock_00distractdcouplell People often ask me how to balance family and work.  There are so many individuals who are self-proclaimed workaholics that they and their families are struggling to find the balance.  We need to pay our bills, want to advance in our careers and want to have a stable family.  Is it possible to have it all?

I truly believe it is possible to find balance in work and family.  A successful balance, however, is not easy to create.  A healthy balance starts with setting our priorities right -- family and relationships first, work second.  Choose any other order and you are unlikely to have that stable family you had hoped for. 

For all the workaholics in the world, though, making this shift in priorities and then aligning your life with that shift, is a smaller change than you might think.  The hardest change is being deliberate about your choices and your actions.  The concrete action steps are surprisingly easy to implement once your mind is on board with your purpose.  Below are several tips for creating balance between home and work.

1.    Listen: When you’re home, listen to your children and spouse as though you care about what they are telling you.  This is true regarding their sharing the story of their day as well as their complaining about what you’re doing.  The best way to know if your work is out of balance is through your family.  They will say: “You’re always on the phone/computer.”  “You always work.”  “You never play with us.”  If you’re hearing these phrases, you are out of balance.  Listen before you lose your family.
2.    Be conscious: Pay attention to all the ways you tune out and -- stop it.  Do you shake your head to pretend you’re listening while you’re checking your texts or e-mail?  Do you say hello when you enter your home or just unconsciously enter and go about your business.  Do your loved ones greet you or not even notice you?  Take a moment to demarcate the shift from work to home—actively greet your family.

Continue reading "The Balance of Work and Home" »

December 16, 2010

Life-Changing Mentoring (Part II)

My previous post talked about five tips for becoming a life-changing mentor.  Below is the second half of the list.  Enjoy:
1.    Be open to the learning.  If you think you know it all, realize that you have so much further to go.  My supervisor once said that she loved master level clinicians so much more than bachelor level ones.  Her reason was because bachelor level clinicians thought they knew everything, whereas master level clinicians knew they had so much more to learn.  As mentors and leaders, there’s always more to learn.  Every time I think I have it down, something happens to put me back in my place and show me I have more to learn.  Embrace learning as an ongoing process that has endless roads and no end in the destination.
2.    Plug in accountability checks.  To be a great mentor we need to put in a system of checks and balances.  Meet with your mentee monthly or more to discuss how the mentoring is going and what would be more helpful.  Don’t tell them how they’re doing—ask how you’re doing.  Be open to their feedback, suggestions and requests.  There is nothing like learning from our students how to better teach—be daring enough to be curious. 

Continue reading "Life-Changing Mentoring (Part II)" »

November 28, 2010

Is It Okay To Stand Up to Your Boss?


I often talk about the importance of standing up for yourself when others are treating you poorly.  It’s important to stand up at home, with your friends, your children and, yes, even with your boss.  People often struggle, however, with standing up to their boss.  They think that what their boss says or does is somehow off limits.  They worry that if they do speak up, they’ll get fired.  Many people believe they have to take whatever their boss throws at them.

In my experience, the more poor treatment people take from their boss, the more poorly their boss will treat them.  Just because your boss is in a higher position than you at work does not mean they have the right to treat you poorly.  It means they are in a higher position—that’s it.  That position never gives them the right to be disrespectful or -- at the extreme end -- verbally abusive.

Basic respect is about basic humanity.  Everyone deserves basic respect.  Your boss has the right to give you critical feedback, give you directives to complete, supervise your work, tell you when they are unhappy about something you’ve done, put you on suspension and even fire you.  S/he does NOT have the right to yell, scream, intimidate, belittle or shame you in public or private. 

Continue reading "Is It Okay To Stand Up to Your Boss?" »

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