Category Archives: Esther Francis Joseph

Make Your Own Managerial Impact: Avoid Your Boss’s Mistakes

By Esther Francis JosephEsther Francis Joseph

After years of hard work, you’ve made your way through the company’s ranks and have finally received the recognition you deserve by getting the promotion you’ve been dreaming of. And after many years of being overworked and under-appreciated by managers, you vow, “When I become the boss, I am not going to make the same mistakes my supervisors made and treat my employees the way I’ve been treated.”

So, how’s that working for you now that you are in charge?

Fifteen years ago, Sheila was hired as one of many receptionists at a huge firm. She went from receptionist to secretary, and now, she has just been promoted to office manager, where she will supervise those she used to work with. Through the years, Sheila has had to take on duties that were outside of her job description, often serving as a personal assistant instead of a business associate. Having to perform and deliver under unreasonable deadlines and conditions, and often not receiving credit for the successful outcomes, Sheila now understands how the skills of lower level employees are under-utilized and undervalued in her organization.

Sheila wants to be the kind of manager that recognizes employee’s strengths and potential, applying them to benefit the company.  She doesn’t want to blindly follow her predecessor’s examples, yet she doesn’t want to entirely reject them simply to be different. She is determined to apply her own leadership strategies; techniques that will work for her entire team and the company as a whole.

Of course, we all want to avoid the managerial and professional mistakes of our predecessors, but sometimes that’s hard to do when organizational culture is entrenched. This would be especially difficult for someone like Sheila who has been with a company for a long time and is now the manager of her former peers.

Making those changes are important to Sheila, but can someone who is in this situation gain the respect of her coworkers; some of whom have been with the organization as long as she has and have become her close friends in the process? How can she do that without resorting to the old style of leadership her predecessors exercised? Can she balance the two, being an effective and impartial professional supervisor while maintaining friendship with her staff?

To Gain Change, Change Must Be Made: What Sheila must keep in mind during her transition from employee to supervisor is in order to gain change, change must be made. In her efforts, she has to lead by example and grow a thick skin. Sheila will have to accept that some of her former peers will understand these changes, while others will try to hold on to the old ways.  She has to be fully aware that her old friends will now look at her differently and possibly resent her, but she can’t allow this to deter her from her new managerial goals. Instituting a new office culture, where everyone is treated fairly, where managers do what is in the best interest of the whole company will be a trying undertaking for her. Sheila will have to be forceful, yet considerate in making her desired changes.

Office Friendships: The number one mistake that some bosses make is trying to be friends with their subordinates. They believe that if everyone likes each other, the office will be more cooperative and run more smoothly. However, it has the opposite effect. Friends are on the same level as one another, while managers and employees have a hierarchical relationship. Sheila will have to put aside many of her friendships since friends do not order each other around; therefore this method of management rarely works.

Sheila must set the foundation of her new relationship with her staff on day one, addressing the new situation in a staff meeting, openly sharing her new vision and expectations and outlining the new direction and policies she wants to establish moving forward. Sheila must maintain her new focus and disposition no matter what.

Transparency and Respect: At first these new changes might cause tension since there will be some who will test her new authority. Sheila must remain resolute and not falter in achieving her goals, while always remaining respectful. If she continues to behave fairly and openly with all her staff, insisting on being treated with the same respect and professionalism she demonstrates, her workforce will come to support her endeavors. They’ll come to realize that the changes she’s advocating are in their best interest since they would be the ones to gain the most from them.

Employees should trust their bosses and know that they can come to them for help, but as an authority figure and not a pal. Employees need to know that bosses are the ones who set the rules and standards and administer disciplinary measures. Both supervisors and employees need to set and abide by professional boundaries at all times.

Times have changed and so must the way businesses are run. Those in positions of authority need to be prudent. New managers should take the best of what they’ve learned along the way and reject what no longer works while injecting their own style and values, in an effort to create a respectful harmonious working environment that will achieve both the company’s mission and bottom-line.

Esther Francis Joseph is a personal coach and author of, “Memories of Hell, Visions of Heaven: A Story of Survival, Transformation, and Hope,” her personal story of survival and perseverance, despite a violent childhood. Growing up on the picturesque island of St. Lucia, Esther molded her literary talents with her childhood experiences as she continues down her path to leading a joyous and fulfilled adult life.

The 3 A’s: Ingredients for a Peaceful Office Life

By Esther Francis JosephEsther Francis Joseph

With many different personality types in an office setting, the workplace can either be a pleasant place to be or hostile territory. A lot depends on the dynamics and interactions between personnel. When a coworker has done something inappropriate in their role as a manager or as an employee, destructive emotions and reactions can arise. In either position the repercussions can affect the entire department and ultimately the company’s bottom line.

For example, John and his coworkers had been working on a project for one of their largest accounts for the last few weeks.  On the day before it was due to be presented to the client, John left work early with no explanation or forewarning.  Understandably, his coworkers were furious that he skipped the final preparations, and the company ultimately lost the account.  Now John is faced with working in a hostile work environment, knowing his coworkers are extremely upset with him.

If you are the person in the wrong, it is important to know what to do to resolve the tension you’ve created when seeking to improve office morale and return to a positive, productive workplace once again. A strong, respectful working relationship with bosses, colleagues, and subordinates can be achieved by utilizing these 3 A’s for a peaceful environment that everyone can enjoy being part of.

Apologize for a Peaceful Workplace: A disagreement among work staff can emerge from any number of situations.  An email that seemed a bit too harsh in its language, personal phone calls when that 5 p.m. deadline is looming; numerous other circumstances and reasons can lead to an interpersonal conflict that requires a subsequent resolution.

John knew that to successfully continue his work, he needed to apologize to his coworkers. John gathered them together and said, “I would like to apologize for leaving work early Monday, the day our project was due, without informing anyone. I realize my actions wasted weeks of everyone’s hard work, and cost us the account. You guys have every right to me angry with me.”

If you are the person who is at fault, whether you are an executive or staff member the first step is to apologize. For decision-makers this might be difficult to do, but for most people an apology is a powerful first acknowledgement of responsibility. No matter the title, it means that the individual apologizing understands his or her error and is not likely to repeat it. It helps to dissipate the anger and other negative emotions from other staff associated with the situation.

In terms of the act of apologizing, it is extremely important to be concise.  Frame your apology around the situation at hand, and do not stray from its focus.  Avoid long explanations and excuses for your behavior. Acknowledge what you have done and the impact it has had on others. Show that you regret your action and mention how you will act differently when faced with a similar situation in the future.  Perhaps most importantly, conduct your apology in a conference setting if possible, where there is an opportunity for further conversation from the offended parties.

For most people an apology involves a degree of embarrassment; one has to be humble to apologize. Humility often breeds compassion in others. This exchange of vulnerability and compassion is a necessary step in obtaining closure in many conciliatory situations, even in the office.

Agree for a Peaceful Workplace: It is equally important to simply agree with whatever feedback you receive from your apology if your goal is to restore that fragile working relationship with your coworkers. Agree with whatever your boss or coworkers have to say in regards to the circumstance. This act of agreeing emphasizes that you are willing to work through the situation, repair it and move beyond it.

After John apologized, he gave his officemates time to respond with their feedback.  Some expressed anger and disappointment but many expressed their anxiety over the real possibility of layoffs as a result of the lost account. Though it was hard, John listened attentively to everyone’s comments, only interjecting to say that he agreed with what they were conveying.

If you have apologized and shown remorse for your conduct, it is beneficial at this point to just listen to the input of others without offering any feedback of your own. By paying attention and accepting their contribution no matter what they might be, you are proving that your regret is truly heartfelt. Your office will see that and be more willing to forgive you. You’ll be perceived in a more favorable light.

Accept Responsibility for a Peaceful Workplace: Accepting responsibility for the situation is the third element in mending a workplace wrong you have committed. Be upfront and readily accept that the situation is, indeed, your fault. Any attempts to deflect fault will leave you appearing less than genuine. Readily accepting responsibility for both your successes and failures in the office shows that you are a mature individual and an asset to the company.

In his efforts to restore office morale, John finished with, “After listening to your comments and agreeing with everything that has been said, I’m willing to accept whatever reprimand is deemed appropriate. If necessary I am willing to offer my resignation to save another staff member their job. Once again, please accept my sincere apology; I promise that this behavior will not happen in the future.”

When implemented, these three important A’s – Apologize, Agree and Accept Responsibility – will establish more positive and productive relationships in the office. Everyone makes mistakes, and problems will arise in the workplace at one time or another. The ability to handle these situations effectively is the sign of a superior manager, employee or coworker.

Esther Francis Joseph is a personal coach and author of, “Memories of Hell, Visions of Heaven: A Story of Survival, Transformation, and Hope,” her personal story of survival and perseverance, despite a violent childhood. Growing up on the picturesque island of St. Lucia, Esther molded her literary talents with her childhood experiences as she continues down her path to leading a joyous and fulfilled adult life.

Keeping an Intergenerational Office Copacetic

By Esther Francis JosephEsther Francis Joseph

Today’s complicated office structure is made up of several different generations of employees, yet there are two that can be radically different: Baby Boomers (approaching retirement; born between 1946 and 1964) and Millennials (entering the workforce; between the ages of 18 to 30). Each age group is distinct in its own way. When the groups are balanced they bring value, but when at odds, they can make the workplace an unpleasant environment for all. The workplace is destined to remain this way for some time since today’s economy has dictated that more people continue to work instead of retiring. What that means is the workplace is staffed by intergenerational employees and the office space confronted with problems caused by the age differences between those groups.

Some of the common intergenerational workplace problems include the following:

Problem 1: Older workers treat Millenials like children. Millennials who want to come to work in casual clothes are sometimes the subject of discussion and disrespect amongst Baby Boomers in the office. Older supervisors frequently micro-manage Millennials, especially their computer use. Baby Boomers believe that Millennials waste company resources by socializing, and spending too much time on social networking sites and emails and keep a tight rein on how Millennials use their work time. Millennials feel like they are treated more like the Baby Boomers’ grand-children rather than their coworkers.

Younger staff members need to understand that Baby Boomers are often heavily invested in their work. They are efficient, and focus on quality rather than quantity, and plan for their retirement. Their preferred form of communicating is via telephone or in person. They often consider reliance on technology and social media the juvenile behavior of children.

Baby Boomers are rule followers; they step into their role at work and adapt to it.  Millennials feel that their job should be flexible and mesh with the other aspects of their lives. This creates a disparity in the way these two age groups regard their duties at the same workplace. By understanding and respecting each other’s point of view, coworkers can make necessary compromises in attitudes and behavior to make their office fitting for all age groups. Millennials would be well advised to follow guidelines considered “hard and fast” by their more seasoned counterpart. At the same time, Baby Boomers and Generation X employees would do well to allow Millennials some leeway in situations that do not affect work quality in order to keep the younger generation motivated.

Problem 2: Lack of workplace etiquette in younger employees. A common complaint from older employees is that the younger staff shows a lack of protocol in the workplace. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • No notice from younger employees who decide to change jobs
  • Unprofessional emails
  • Texting during meetings
  • Inappropriate dress

Baby Boomers must realize that these actions may not be an intentional lack of disrespect, but a hallmark of the generation. Millennials are a multi-tasking group that communicates primarily by social media, and their texting is sometimes work-related. Unlike their older counterpart, Millennials celebrate diversity, value friends the same as family, live for the moment and thrive on a flexible yet supportive structured work environment.

When younger people find themselves in intergenerational offices they should learn and respect the office policies of the company for which they work. This does not mean giving up individuality but rather a presentation of workplace courtesy. Giving adequate notice when leaving a job; being professional in all forms of communication; abiding by a company dress codes; and learning the guidelines for texting in the office are simply good manners.

Problem 3: Lack of respect for young management from older employees. When an older worker moves to a company with younger management, they can feel out of place.  When a younger coworker is promoted, older workers may find it difficult, and resist giving the proper level of respect to the newly promoted person. While management cannot make older workers feel comfortable working with younger coworker or force respect from older to younger employees, they have the duty to set the tone that they want their employees to follow

Often giving respect earns respect. It is one of the core values that motivates the Baby Boomer generation. Younger management should make an effort to communicate and improve the tone of the office, they will often find that respect will come with time and results. When Baby Boomers see that younger managers are effective, respect follows.

Problem 4: A work environment that suits one generation but not another. Many different work environments exist today. An established law firm with a strict dress code and rules could be a difficult fit for a Millennial, but without the expertise of a younger workforce, firms such as these would find it tough to compete in today’s market. Companies such as Facebook and Google who are managed by younger, creative managers could be a hard adjustment for older employees. However, without the experience and expertise of older staff members, companies could make costly mistakes.

Before accepting a job offer, Millennials need to know what the office rules are.  Older employees should seek out guidelines concerning expectations for the job in a younger office setting. Baby Boomers must let go of pre-conceived models of what is right and wrong and must adapt to the new workplace, while still holding on to their traditional work ethics. All the age groups should strive to fit in and be productive members of their work team, while staying true to who they are.

What Business Can Do: Businesses can facilitate the challenges of their intergenerational staff in a variety of ways, such as creating a forum in which employees can discuss challenges, instituting a mentoring program, and offering communication training. Strategic interpersonal communication methods can help ease the challenges different generations will face as they work together. The current job market and workplace demand that companies foster the positive characteristics of each age group if they are to prosper in these trying economic times.

Esther Francis Joseph is a personal coach and author of, “Memories of Hell, Visions of Heaven: A Story of Survival, Transformation, and Hope,” her personal story of survival and perseverance, despite a violent childhood. Growing up on the picturesque island of St. Lucia, Esther molded her literary talents with her childhood experiences as she continues down her path to leading a joyous and fulfilled adult life.