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The Importance of Workplace Feedback During a Global Pandemic

Uncategorized Oct 11, 2019

Several people have recently expressed concerns to me about the appropriateness of delivering feedback during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.  How can we frame feedback in an appropriate and sensitive way during this difficult time? Is it even okay to offer “constructive” feedback right now? Last week I facilitated a webinar on how to deliver feedback in a way that fosters connection and drives engagement in the virtual workplace.  Here are the top three takeaways:

  1. Offering regular, appropriate and sensitive feedback builds psychological safety. Many of us are familiar with the Google study, Project Aristotle, which concluded that the number one characteristic of effective teams is psychological safety.  Psychological safety means that “team members feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other”.  When we create a feedback rich environment in which managers and staff regularly tell one another how they are...
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Why the Valuable Message behind Gillette’s #MeToo Inspired Ad is Misplaced

current events Sep 13, 2019

Social media lit up last week with controversy surrounding Gillette’s recently released #MeToo inspired ad. The ad has over twenty million views and an astonishing one point two million dislikes. Why did this ad, which at its heart supports the noble initiative that men stand up against sexual and other types of violence, spark such a viscerally negative reaction in so many viewers? The ad has been described as “offensive”, "insulting”, “sexist”, “gender shaming” and “emasculating”. One thing is for certain, if Gillette wanted to create a buzz, they got what they were looking for.

As the former Training Administrator for the Peace Corps’ Sexual Assault Risk Reduction and Response Program, I support the idea the ad promotes, that we are all responsible for standing up for one another when we witness harmful behaviors like bullying and sexual harassment. Training in soft skills like how to initiate a difficult...

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Workplace Harassment: Using Military Grade Tactics in the Workplace

miscellaneous Aug 07, 2019

When it comes to preventing harassment, the U.S. military has used the proven tactic of bystander intervention for years. The concept is simple, speak out against harmful words or actions before they escalate to the level of unlawful harassment. Yet when it comes to putting this idea into practice, it's not as easy as it seems. The idea of saying something to someone who puts down a colleague or makes a derogatory statement about women can be daunting. The key, however, is to carefully select your intervention strategy. The framework for intervening the military teaches servicemen is based around the "Three Ds"- Direct (give commands or orders); Distract (draw attention away); and Delegate (appoint someone else to help). I propose a fourth "D" Delay, which means using one of the other strategies when the time is right.

 

When it comes to successful intervention, timing is everything. If you confront someone about bad behavior in front of a group of their peers, it's highly...

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Healthy Workplace Culture: All the Buzz, but What Works?

leadership's role Jul 24, 2019

Healthy workplace culture doesn’t just mean casual Fridays. A positive workplace culture is created when people know that their colleagues and supervisors respect them and that their work is appreciated. But how do companies demonstrate respect and appreciation? Leadership must walk the walk and talk the talk by showing employees that they respect them through taking time to check-in regularly about their physical and emotional wellbeing. When companies promote respect of ideas and people through offering opportunities for honest, open dialogue, issues that derail positive culture like harassment and discrimination will organically diminish. Here are four specific areas[1] that leadership should focus on to ensure creating a healthy workplace environment starts at the top:

1. Values: Many organizations have some form of mission or values statement that reflects their core values. Yet how many leaders can articulate the specific behaviors that are expected of employees to carry...

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Our Shared Responsibility: What We Should All Learn from Uncle Joe

current events May 03, 2019

I am grateful that Alyssa Milano, champion of the #MeToo, movement recently defended Joe Biden for his “overly affectionate” demeanor. Not because I think that Joe Biden’s invasions of people’s personal space isn’t a problem, but because Mr. Biden has been forthright about his willingness to learn. Milano attributed Biden’s overly familiar interactions to “cultural differences” that stemmed from his upbringing. She stated that he was raised in an affectionate household, so from his perspective this was normal behavior. Yet we also have to consider generational differences. Mr. Biden was born in 1942. He was a young professional in the early seventies, a time was smoking cigarettes at your desk and pouring some whiskey for a colleague at 3pm was acceptable. I am not saying older men should be given a pass when they do something inappropriate like whisper in a young girl’s ear making her clearly uncomfortable, like Biden did at a...

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Key Takeaways from Designing an Effective Communication Session, for Engineers!

training experience Apr 26, 2019

There’s a difference between “communication” and “effective communication”. Don’t worry, this isn’t one of my key takeaways. Last week I had the pleasure of delivering a workshop on “Effective Communication” to the staff of Senseeker Engineering, Inc. I have to admit that in planning this session, I felt a little intimidated. Their staff consists of highly accomplished and intelligent engineers with advanced degrees. I thought, surely if they’ve made it this far in their careers, they know how to effectively communicate! I wondered how I was going to keep them engaged but then I remembered that everyone, including PhDs, can use a refresher on how important it is to make sure you understand what someone’s trying to tell you by restating it back to them in your own words. It was fun to get the Senseeker staff practicing paraphrasing skills while at the same time getting to know one another by paraphrasing a story around...

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Boundary Setting in the Workplace

training experience Apr 17, 2019

I have been delivering a lot of training lately. Which is great! I have also been getting challenged in my training sessions recently as well. Which is also great. I love it when participants challenge me because it demonstrates that they are really engaged and thinking critically about my content. One of the core pieces of material that I teach around bystander intervention for harassment prevention is the human behavior continuum. The idea is that all of our interactions fall along a spectrum from respectful and professional, all the way down the line to the most egregiously bad behaviors of sexual violence, abuse and exploitation. In a session I delivered recently, someone said to me that they didn’t agree with the idea of the continuum because it is linear, this interpretation insinuates that we will all eventually engage in bad behavior. Another way of thinking about it, is that this continuum is like a slide, a slippery slope that we just can’t help falling down. I...

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