By Warren Shepell
A newly hired business graduate, predicted by senior managers of a major bank to have significant potential, left the organization after one year.He sued for harassment and bullying, saying among other things that he had a manager who set out to prove he had limited potential and frequently assigned him impossible tasks and deadlines, shouted at him and shamed him in front of co-workers for inconsequential matters.The graduate spoke to his manager’s boss on three separate occasions, but the issues he raised fell on deaf ears. After severe anxiety and depression set in, he felt he had no choice but to leave and sue for harassment. The case is now going through the court system. In another situation, a senior finance manager attended a conference with his assistant in another city. On the first evening, he got cosy with her, stroking her hand over a glass of wine and talking about a promotion for her. He promised her the promotion would move along quickly, if she was “good” to him. She managed to excuse herself. The next night, he invited her to his room. She has since launched a lawsuit for sexual harassment.
A significant skills gap
Such examples demonstrate that many people in positions of power haven’t developed the filters and communication skills they need in the workplace. Often, those who find themselves the target of harassment lawsuits are to blame for their own follies.
But their managers and the organizations they work for are also at fault. No longer can they protect employees with interpersonal styles that fail to differentiate how they relate to others in their personal life from the ways they interact with their co-workers. A new workplace order is necessary.
Civility in management and communication is absolutely essential. Although employees bring their individual differences to the workplace, including their cultural backgrounds, gender, sexual orientation and age, managers and co-workers must learn to see beyond those characteristics and focus on work, achieving tasks, collaboration and motivating people to attain results.
To create a better workplace environment, managers should emphasize work-related tasks and activities by using phrases such as:
• “Over the next few days, completing this work assignment will require more effort and focus than usual. I need your help in getting it done.”
• “There is a convention in another city that I would like you to attend.”
• “You have been coming in later than our starting time recently. How will you change that?”
On the other hand, it’s important to stay away from interactions unrelated to work that stray into personal comments:
• “I love the colour of your blouse.”
• “People of your religion have too many holidays.”
• “It looks like you go to the gym a lot.”
Other behaviours that can damage employees include: banging the desk; pointing fingers; raising voices; and shunning people.
The push to do more
The provinces, meanwhile, are taking action by introducing legislation to address harassment issues. In Ontario, Bill 132 (which amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act) requires any employer with five or more employees to train all staff members on the requirements of the legislation; provide a written program setting out how the organization will implement it; and create a safe person or team separate from the immediate manager to handle all harassment incidents. Other provinces are enacting similar or even stronger laws.
Organizations need to go further, however. Managers and employees need to recognize what constitutes harassment and develop the workplace and people skills that are key to fostering civility and eliciting lasting change.
There’s no room for managers or co-workers prone to biases, prejudices or personal attacks. The goal is to create a workplace where people aren’t afraid to go to work and, more importantly, they actually like to work.
By Warren Shepell
July 28,2017Quotes capture a moment in time that others have had an insight that was helpful for them and reflected their "take" and perspective on an event, issue, feeling, or experience. They have taken everyday words and put them together in a way that gives us a different and, many times a most helpful and useful perspective. In the quote they have captured a view that had not crossed our mind.Over the years that I have counseled many people, couples, and families, as well as conceived, developed, and managed one of the first Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) in Canada, my clients identified stress most frequently.Stress needs to be re-visited regularly and people need to be reminded that a stressed-out life need not be so! I thought it would be most helpful to pull together some quotes on stress, including some of my own, that can help you look at stress differently, and hopeful start you on a journey of living a life at work and at home with less stress and more calm and harmony.
- "Attention to self-care is how you take your power back." - Lalah Della
- "Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it." - Kahil Gibran
- "Life is ten percent what you experience and ninety percent how you respond to it." - Dorothy M Neddermeyer
- "Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future." - Deepak Chopra
- "You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do." - Eleanor Roosevelt
- "Anxiety's like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it does not get you very far." - Jodi Picoult
- "When you find yourself stressed, ask yourself one question: Will this matter in five years from now? If yes, then do something about the situation. If no, then let it go." - Catherine Pulsifer
- Worrying is a waste of time; it changes nothing." - Robert Washington
- "Every time you say yes to something, especially when you are half-hearted in agreeing, you add stress to your life." -Philip Veng
- "You don't have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you." - Dan Millman
- "When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened." - Winston Churchill
- "When you wake up each morning take one or two minutes to think of a positive action or even of just a positive word, and ways you can express it during the day that is about to begin; then do it." - Warren Shepell
- "One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important." - Bertrand Russell
- "Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight." - Marcus Aurilius
- "Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." - Confucius
- "When you find yourself saying have to and need to, say want to and then decide if you still want to do it." - Warren Shepell
- "It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out; it's the grain of sand in your shoe." - Robert W. Service
- "Living life with a sense of relativity makes life easier; what was one day a negative event can quickly turn into a good thing it happened event." - Warren Shepell
- "There is more to life than increasing its speed." - Mahatma Gandhi
- "It's not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it." - Hans Selye
- "Don't let the past control you." -Deepak Chopra
- "Make it a point to express and show gratitude each day. Appreciation of a thought, an experience, or a person takes you to a calming place" - Warren Shepell
- "People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them." - George Bernard Shaw
- "The time to relax is when you don't have time for it." -Sydney Harris
- "Our culture encourages us to plan every moment and fill our schedules with one activity and obligation after the next, with no time to just be. But the human body and mind require downtime to rejuvenate. I have found my greatest moments of joy and peace just sitting in silence, and then I take that joy and peace with me out into the world." - Holly Mosier
I hope that one or two of these quotes have resonated with you and you start to lower your stress levels in ways that are meaningful and helpful for you. You are worthy and you deserve it.