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Coach's Corner--May 5, 2008

To review, here's what we've learned

It's time to catch up on comments from Coach's Corner readers. Responses have been forthcoming for many columns, but none as much as last week's column about bully bosses. More on that later.

First, a quick roundup of comments about other columns:

Minimizing distractions:
One cube-dwelling reader noted that when he really needs to focus, he books a conference room for a meeting with himself. "I temporarily promote myself to someone who has an office by booking an unused meeting room to get some structured 'away' time from my desk, while blocking off my calendar so that people don't assume I'm free."

Coping after layoffs: One caller, who has experienced manufacturing layoffs, said: "It really depends on how the higher corporation handles it. ... The reality is that rarely are the layoffs done in an open and honest way. That's where I would say that you're wrong on your column. In truth, survivors will be ... angry, and no matter what you do ... if your company has been rude in the way they fired their people, it won't matter."

It's true; if executive leaders have botched it, middle managers just have to ride out the storm. However, the way they ride it out can make a big difference for their team's quality of life. Realistically, executive teams often don't adequately address the effects on remaining employees, so leaders lower in the company need to walk a tightrope, supporting the remaining employees while not undermining the corporate direction.

Being an introvert: Many readers commented about the validation the introvert column provided. One also noted that the introvert's preference for listening and the extrovert's for speaking gives introverts the advantage, because they are the ones who will be learning about others.

Now, the big one: Bosses who bully. Judging from your letters and calls, it's a jungle out there.

Here's one reply from someone who can relate: "I have tried talking, suggesting, coddling, commiserating, anything I can think of to help her understand that I am here to help her. Anything not of her choosing or her antiquated ideas are met with ... anger and refusals. ... I am tired of feeling like a failure, tired of constant stress, and tired of working for someone who believes all the employees' lives revolve around her, work and her whims."

Advice from readers to the client in the column included "to update her résumé and run, don't walk, away." In many situations, the best thing to do is find a new job before you're so beaten down that you've lost your faith in yourself. This column assumed that the reader may still have a chance to succeed in her current role. Once it's time to move on, though, do it in a way that takes you to something positive. You can still have control in your life that way.

Readers are skeptical about getting help from human resources, which they see as firmly on the side of management. As one said, "HR is not your friend." She suggests contacting upper management, skipping multiple layers if needed, because top executives are more likely than HR to take it seriously. My comment: This tactic could improve things. However, have your résumé ready to go, because it could take you on a fast track out the door.

This is a big issue. Watch for another column concerning this topic in the next few weeks. Thanks to everyone who has called or written, and keep your comments coming!

Liz Reyer, President RCC - Posted May 5, 2008
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