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Mindful : April 2013
Avoid the Office Minefield “If you bring your full care and attention to each conversation, you’ll begin building the bridge to span the gap.” Pam Weiss Scenario Huge generation gap between employees and management at a creative star t-up. (Read: Different working styles, different work ethic, different idea of what a workday consists of.) Category Workplace transformations Advisor Pam Weiss The key here is to open up to learn about your employees. Not just to understand their views and opinions about work, but to discover what they really care about. What’s appealing and engaging to them? What are their dreams and aspira- tions? What do they love doing? Who do they want to become? One of the things social science tells us about younger generations is that they tend to be less inspired by ex ternal rewards and punishment and more by what author Daniel Pink calls “intrinsic motivation”— the passion and fire that come from within. Scenario A boss who talks negatively about members of staff with other members of staff without regard to reporting struc ture. (Read: My boss gossips about me with people who report to me.) Category Managing up Advisor Michael Carroll It’s tough to “manage up,” to help your bosses be better at what they do. This is a precari- ous situation that’s likely to in- volve an awkward conversation if you choose to speak to your boss. But doing so with care is the brave thing to do. It’s also the most helpful. When you head into the corner office for this tête-à -tête, be honest. It’s key to address not only the boss’s recklessness but also how you are feeling when bringing such informa- tion to light. Try something like: “Jennifer, I have to tell you, bringing this issue to your attention is ver y distressing for me. I’m feeling quite ner vous and a little worried. But I also think it’s impor tant for you to hear this....” Openly expressing your anxiety and unease up front achieves two power ful things: it instantly makes the moment less organizational and more human, which can sidestep a possible workplace confron- tation, and it improves the chances that you’ll genuinely be heard. ● Michael Carroll is the author of The Mindful Leader: Awakening Your Natural Management Skills Through Mindfulness Meditation So listen with an open mind. Be curious. Be surprised. If you bring your full care and at tention to each conversation, you’ll begin building the bridge to span the gap. This kind of listening illuminates connectedness—there are differences among generations, but we’re all dealing with the same challenges, stressors, ambitions—and it opens the possibility of discovering options and oppor tunities we might never have imagined. Pam Weiss is an executive coach and founder of Appropriate Response Two mindful business advisors answer your questions April 2013 mindful 67 in practice at work