Supervisors vs. Team Leaders

Supervisors vs Team Leaders.jpeg

Here is a comparison of the roles and responsibilities of supervisors and team leaders. 


Often there can be confusion over who is supposed to do what. 


This table should help clarify what supervisors and team leaders do in terms of strategic planning, work assignments, resource management, employee training, and performance management. 


I hope you find this a helpful resource, and that you can organize your staff more efficiently and productively 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Equality Is Human Rights

Equality.jpegEquality 2.jpeg

I was most impressed recently with the organization (including the marketing and branding) behind the LGBT movement. 


The new bumper sticker with the yellow equal (=) sign.


The people on the street in yellow “Equality” t-shirts wanting to talk and promote themselves.


The tablet computers they are carrying equipped with slide presentation on equal rights (and their association with the larger issue on their website for human rights).  


The on-the-spot electronic sign up for either monthly donations and/or petition for the Equality Act to amend the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation. 


Religious beliefs aside, and as long as you don’t hurt others, people are people and should not be discriminated against. 


All people should be treated fairly and protected from disparate or unfair treatment, bullying or worse. 

Equality really is human rights. 😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Are They Anything Without Him?

Sometimes, one person can be so instrumental to the success of an organization that they really are, for all intensive purposes, irreplaceable.

Leadership classes and anecdotes about great leaders tell us that one of leaders primary duties is a good succession plan.

But what happens, when a visionary place like Apple, loses their very special talent–someone that is truly their “secret sauce”–someone like a Steve Jobs–who you can’t just replicate or replace (easily or maybe at all)?

While Apple still makes great products, the jury is still out on whether they can truly innovate without Job’s vision, exacting attention to detail, and bigger than life persona.

Hence, the question, are they anything without him?

Perhaps, Apple can find the next Steve Jobs–who will bring new energy and talents and keep them a great organization–or perhaps not.

This new movie about Jobs–played by Ashton Kutcher will remind us of the magic that a truly special leader can bring to an organization.

If only there was a pill to swallow to make talented leaders–now that would be a job for Jobs. 😉

Don’t Let Them Fling It Onto You

Covered_in_it

So this guy has a job where he is at the front of a line of people passing buckets of sh*t to the next guy in the line.

A stranger comes along and asks him what he is doing–“what is your job?”

The man passing the buckets replies, “I am a manager.”

The stranger looks askew and quite puzzled, he asks, “What makes you think you’re a manager?”

The man at the front of the line answers “because I don’t take no sh*t from anybody!” 🙂

And so it goes, we work on “the line” whether passing buckets or pushing papers, and someone in the front thinks they are the boss or superior–and as someone from the military once told me, “I don’t take sh*t. I give sh*t!”

Unfortunately, for those of us who humbly go to work to do our jobs, the prevalence of workplace bullies–who push their weight around can make our (work) life very unpleasant and unproductive.

A Zogby poll in 2007 found that 49% of workers had experienced or witnessed workplace bullying–and this included all sorts of harassment such as verbal abuse, sabotaging someones job, and abusing their authority.

Workplace bullying is being called a “silent epidemic” with a full 37% or 54 million workers in the U.S. having suffered at the hands of a workplace bully.

The results, of course, can be devastating not only for the person’s job, but often they (45%) suffer adverse psychological and physical health impacts.

Further, as we know, when people suffer, their families usually suffer along with them, so the ultimate impact in terms of the number of people affected is disproportional to those those who experience bullying firsthand.

Aside from the people impact of bullying, the organization and its mission suffers in terms of elevated absenteeism, decreased morale, lower productivity, and stunted innovation.

This is why aside from the basic humanitarian aspects, an organization should be extremely watchful for and weed out bullies in the workplace.

However, when bullies, are front and center in the leadership ranks of the organization, the problem is all the greater, because others lower in the hierarchy, but also at senior levels may be hesitant to address the issue.

They are scared to confront the bully as perhaps they should be given the bully’s threatening posture and deeds.

But the answer is not to get personal, but rather to make it objective–know the laws and policies that protect you, document the events, identify any witnesses, discuss with organization representatives charged with investigating possible wrong-doing, and seek legal counsel, where appropriate.

Probably, the most important thing is to be clear that like the manager at the front of the line, you do not accept sh*t from anyone–that you and your family’s health and well-being deserve at least that much.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to EverJean)

Your Leadership Ticket Is Waiting

Ticket_office

A lot of colleagues tell me that they hate office politics, and for many it represents their one-way ticket to ongoing bickering, infighting, and a virtual endless cycle of unsatisfied wants and unhappiness.

 

Office politics is where the interests of multiple parties either converge or collide–where convergence occurs through feelings of interdependence (i.e. enterprise) and acts of teamwork, while collisions predominate by stressing independence (i.e. isolationism) and head-butting.

 

This is where good and bad leadership can make a huge difference.

 

– One one hand, a bad leader sees the world of the office as “us versus them”and fights almost indiscriminately for his/her share of scope, resources, influence, and power.

 

– On the other hand, a good leader looks out for the good of the organization and its mission, and works to ensure the people have what they need to get their jobs done right, regardless of who is doing it or why.

 

Thus, good leaders inspire trust and confidence, because they, without doubt, put the mission front and center–and egos are left at door.

 

Harvard Business Review (January-February 2011) in an article called “Are You A Good Boss–Or A Great One?” identifies a couple of key elements that inherently create opposition and competitiveness within the enterprise:

 

1) Division of Labor–This is the where we define that I do this and you do that. This has the potential to “create disparate groups with disparate and even conflicting goals and priorities.” If this differentiation is not well integrated back as interrelated parts of an overall organizational identity and mission, then feelings of “us versus them” and even arguments over whose jobs and functions are more important and should come first in the pecking order will tear away at the organizational fiber and chances of success.

 

2) Scarce Resources–This is where limited resources to meet requirements and desirements impact the various parts of the organization, because not everyone’s wishes can be pursued at the same time or even necessarily, at all.  Priorities need to be set and tradeoffs made in what will get done and what won’t. Again, without a clear sense of unity versus disparity, scarcity can quickly unravel the organization based on people’s  feelings of unfairness, dissatisfaction, unrest, and potentially even “mob rule” when people feel potentially threatened.

 

Hence, a bad leader works the system–seeing it as a win-lose scenario–where his/her goals and objectives are necessarily more important than everyone else, and getting the resources (i.e. having a bigger sandbox or “building an empire”) is seen as not only desirable but critical to their personal success–here, their identity and loyalty is to their particular niche silo.

 

However, a good leader cares for the system–looking to create win-win situations–where no one element is better or more important than another, rather where they all must work together synergistically for the greater good of the organization. In this case, resources go not to who fights dirtier, but to who will most benefit the mission with them–in this case, their allegiance and duty is to the greater enterprise and its mission.

 

HBR states well that “In a real team [with a real leader], members hold themselves and one another jointly accountable.They share a genuine conviction they will succeed or fail together.”

 

Organizations need not be snake pits with cut throat managers wanting to see others fail and waiting to take what they can for themselves, rather there is another way, and that is to lead with a shared sense of purpose, meaning, and teamwork. 

 

And this is achieved through creating harmony among organizational elements and not class warfare between them.

 

This type of leader that creates unity–builds enduring strength–and has the ticket we need to organizational success.

 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

No More Excuses, Please

Change

The New Yorker (24 October 2011) has a clever take on the urge of some–in this case, the privileged–to try and preserve the status quo. However, this can be applied more broadly.

While not an endorsement of any specific movement, this is an acknowledgement of the resistance to change by both organizations and individuals, and the many excuses offered.

Some typical ones we all have heard, in one form or other:

– It’s always been this way.

– We’ve tried “that” before and it didn’t work.

– Change is hard.

– Everything is fine just the way it is.

While change for changes sake is obviously pointless,change to adapt to new opportunities and threats is just good business sense.

Additionally, change to address inequalities on inequities is good moral sense.

Of course, we have to vet proposed changes and ensure they are constructive, the best option available, and really doable, so we are not just jumping into something irresponsibly.

When change meets the mark, then to implement it, we have to give it all we’ve got!

From our leaders, it takes vision, courage, and determination to see what needs to get done, get past the excuses, and inspire change.

From society, it takes sacrifice and hard work to get us to where we must go.

But if it’s a destination worthwhile, then we drop the excuses and move to action.

Hopefully, we can recognize when change is indeed, necessary, and not be blinded by our fears and self-serving resistance that hinders the greater good.

>How To Cope When The Boss Is A Bully

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We are living in tough economic times, and according to a recent news article, even those who have jobs are often feeling the pain.

USA Today, 28 December 2010, features a cover story called “Bullying in the workplace is common, hard to fix.

The subhead: “One in three adults has been bullied at work” – based on research conducted by Zogby International.

This reminds me of the poster “Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten,” since the old schoolyard bullying is faithfully carried over to the “adult” workspace.

How unfortunate for our employees and our organizations—because abusive leaders not only harm employees through ongoing intimating and demeaning behavior, but ultimately they bring down organizational morale, innovation, and productivity.

It’s like poison that starts with the individual bully and spreads—permeating from his or her human targets (our precious human capital assets) to chip away bit by bit at the core of organization’s performance.

According to the article, the bully often behaves in subtle ways so as not to get caught:

“Purposely leaving a worker out of communications, so they can’t do their job well

Mocking someone during meetings, and

Spreading malicious gossip about their target”

To further protect themselves, bullies may exhibit the pattern where they “kiss up and kick down.” Therefore, the higher ups may close their eyes to the abusive behavior of the bully—as far as their concerned the bully is golden.

By menacing their employees, bullying bosses spread trepidation amongst their victims and prevent them from telling anyone—because their targets fear that there will be “hell to pay,” in terms of retribution, if they do.

So bullied employees react by withdrawing at work, calling in sick more, and trying to escape from their tormentor by finding another job elsewhere in the same organization or in another.

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, “slightly more than 60% of bullies are men, and 58% of targets are women.” But generally, the sexes tend to prey on their own: “Women target other women in 80% of cases. Men are more apt to target other men.”

For employees who are victims, professionals offer four basic strategies, which are adapted here. Of course, none of these is ideal, but all of them give people a way to cope:

1) Talk It Out—it may be wishful thinking, but the first thing you want to try and do is to talk with the bully and at least try and reason with him or her. If that doesn’t work, you can always move on to strategies two through four.

2) Fight—document the abuse and report it (e.g. up the chain, to the C-suite, to internal affairs, the inspector general, etc.). Like with the bully in the playground, sometimes you have to overcome the fear and tell the teacher, so to speak.

3) Flight—leave the organization you’re in—find another job either internally or at another outfit; the focus of the thinking here is that when there is a fire, you need to get out before you get burned.

4) Zone Out—ignore the bully by waiting it out; this may be possible, if the bully is near retirement, about to get caught, or may otherwise be leaving his/her abusive perch for another position or to another organization.

Experts point out that whatever strategy you chose to pursue, your work is critical, but the most important thing at the moment is your welfare—physical, mental, and spiritual. And your safety is paramount.

As a human being, I empathize with those who have suffered through this. Additionally, as a supervisor, I try to keep in mind that there are “two sides to every coin” and that I always need to be mindful of others’ feelings.

Finally, know that challenging times do pass, and that most people are good. I find it comforting to reflect on something my grandmother used to say: “The One In Heaven Sees All.”