How it’s easy to Criticise People Who are Busy Creating

We live in a world full of criticism. You see it on the TV. You see it in the Newspapers. You see it online. You see it in politics. You get it at work. Criticism can be especially difficult (at least for me) to deal with at times. This can especially in the case of difficult bosses, clients or co-workers you may have.

Now, I am not talking the other extreme where we are “So Damn Positive” that you make Stupid, Euphoric Business decisions without considering the consequences. I am talking about how people quite often are willing to criticise almost everything they see.

Criticism is very important as it’s a component of Critical Thinking – but when you take it to far, you can effectively:

– Been seen as “Negative”, “A Show Stopper”, “Uncooperative”.
– Develop a reputation as a “Control Freak” and even get labelled a “Non-Contributor” in your business or workplace.
– Slow down initiatives and change required to launch new products and improving what you do.
– People just stop listening to you and take you less seriously. Even worse, they just cut you out of as many business communications as possible out of fear of the criticiser disrupting their projects.

In one of my roles, I worked with a Manager that really didn’t have a good reputation with almost everyone. They were incredibility critical of almost everything they heard. That is, they really took this thinking to the extreme in that basic obvious “Business As Usual” requests would be nit-picked to death.

In fact, I remember developing a specific type of Promotion for them and having this odd conversation:

– Ed – Hi “Brian” as requested, I developed a promotion that we all agree with that should really drive patronage. We are keen to launch it with your approval as we believe it will work extremely well in the market.
– “Brian” – This won’t work. It seems not well thought out and you need to consider something else.
– Ed – Can I ask why?
– “Brian” – Well, it’s just not something I would do in this type of business.
– Ed – So what do you want to do?
– “Brian” – Come up with something intelligent that everyone agrees with.
– Ed – I have but you don’t like it. What do you want to do then?
– “Brian” – I have a meeting coming up, come see me later.

This was a standard conversation with this person and I wasn’t the only one that shared that opinion. The problem was that their “Default Setting” was to put everything down.

The problem this person faced was that as they were negative on everything – they couldn’t work in a fast enough time frame to meet the demands of the business we were in (causing even more problems, besides poor business performance).

Here is where it got interesting ūüôā

If it was someone else’s idea, it would “Be Wrong”, “Be not well thought out”, require “Further Discussion” etc. However, if it was their idea – well:

– They would think it’s perfect and the best most well planned idea on the planet.
– The ideas would generally have little relevance in the business and sometimes would often seem like a “Random Pull of a Straw”.
– Although they could dish out criticism, they would get aggressive themselves and hostile when receiving it.
– They would ignore key contributors to the business about potential problems with their own ideas. Then, when their ideas went “Pear-Shaped” they would lie and pretend it wasn’t their idea and then criticise something or someone else for why it didn’t work.

As you can imagine, things didn’t go very well for this company and it was riddled with not only disappointed Managers, but a variety of customers that weren’t happy with the company’s performance. ¬†This is the real thing that was obvious to me here, it is so easy to criticise ideas and people.¬†But when you have to come up with something that is going to work – that is much harder.

In fact, when I am talking to people that over criticise, I always love to put it back on them and ask their suggestions.

Bullies: Weak People That Pretend to Be Strong

One thing I have noticed in my life is that bullies are always weak people.

They may have a very strong attack and may be¬†viscous, but they usually don’t seem to be stable, focused and especially don’t handle things well when the “Shoe is on the other foot”.

For whatever reason, I have always come head to head with bullies. ¬†After being bullied for years as a child (especially about my Middle Eastern heritage) as I grew up in my 20’s, I made a strong mental note to stand up to them and more importantly; Stop them doing it to other people.

In my mid-20’s when I used to live in Hobart, I actually lived in this shared accomodation environment. ¬†It was quite odd – there was an older Mother & Father, and two kids (around the late teens mark) that for years have had up to 4 additional non-family borders at their house. ¬†It was a massive house / mansion that they lived in. ¬†Although it sounds strange, it was actually quite functional and I had some great times there.

When I started there, I really fit in well into this environment and had a good time. ¬†In fact, some of my fondest memories of my 20’s come from this place. ¬†One thing that I did notice though, was the “Old Man” there was quite a control freak. ¬†To me, that was okay for a while – as he was a bit over the top, but you know – “No one is perfect”.

One strange thing that happened over the next year or so, was the “Old Man” got worse and worse. ¬†That is, he went from “Controlling” to “Aggressive” very quickly and actually started yelling at people in the house (including me!). ¬†In fact, one time he did yell at me and I took it. ¬†This was a very big mistake on my part – instead of nipping it in the bud, I let him get worse and worse.

Over time, he just got worse and worse and even his own family members were growing sick of him.  We were all tired to death of him and quite a few of the borders I was with had already left the house often citing bad experiences.

I was in the progress of starting to look – and I was honestly getting fed up (but still, I kept my mouth shut and kept taking it). ¬†The “Old Man” would complain and even yell about minute things. ¬†Someone would leave a box of tissues on a different table and he would just accuse you of it and tell you off about it. ¬†He was also a largish and tall man as well – so he actually could be physically intimidating as well (especially if you were younger as well).

What broke the last straw for me, was that there was this very nice and friendly 19 year old girl living in the house. ¬†She was incredibly Good Natured, peaceful and I don’t think would even squish a fly inside a book she was reading (where I would).

One time, the “Old Man” yelled and yelled at here and she was teary and this pulled me into action. ¬†I jumped in to defend her and the “Old Man” and I had a screaming match. ¬†He even tried to invade my personal space to physically intimidate me and because I was so appalled at his behaviour I just thought:

– “You know what? I don’t care if the police come – this is going to end one way or the other”.

So whatever he did, I doubled.  He yelled, I screamed.  He entered my space by an inch, I would move in two inches.  And have a guess what?  What do you expect bullies do when they seriously get attacked?

He totally caved, turned bright red and got all teary and then just “Asked me to leave the house”. ¬†I thought, well – you attack people all along, but you can’t even play the same game?

I then moved on over the next few weeks, but this “Old Man” never ever raised his voice (at least when I was around to anyone) and he wouldn’t even look at me. ¬†It was fair to say that he was scared of me!

I was actually quite¬†disappointed! After taking this man’s rubbish and watching all my friends get abused, I was finally ready to settle the score with him. ¬†And guess what! Now, I was not “Weaker than him” he didn’t want to play any more.

Such a typical bully in that, they only attack people weaker than them.  Where is the honour in that?

I thought this was incredibly strange and it took me a few years to really understand what happened. ¬†In addition, my good friend Bec (who often comments on this blog) who is a psychologist explained to me that these type of people can’t really take it when the tables are turned.

It really appears that many bullies we see today are often “Weak People” pretending to be “Strong”. ¬†After all, some of the most “Strongest” and “Successful” people I have known, are actually very calm, focused and slow to anger type of people. ¬†I think that many “Bullies” for whatever reason, just feel so bad about themselves they have restored to dominating others to try and “Feel Better”. ¬†But then, people who fight back just make them feel worse, so then it feeds their addiction to dominating people etc.

You can’t help feel sorry for bullies sometimes when you understand what is going on with them, but at the same time what they can do is often very unethical and harmful to others around them.

One thing I have noticed is that if you don’t stop bullies, they will go and beat up someone else. ¬†They are weak predators in the sense, that they will always go after weaker people and only hurt those that they “Know” they can get away with.

So, if you see bullying come up either to you or someone else – make sure you stop it!¬†I have learnt the hardway is that you can’t ignore these type of people. ¬†They just get worse and worse and nothing will change unless you do something about it.

I don’t know about “Bullying Bullies” though – is that ethical?* Thank you to Thomas Ricker from Flickr for the great pic.

Feeling like a “Loser” at times: It’s Not Just You!!!

Okay, Okay РYou Got Me.  I will admit it.  I am a competitive schmuck.  I hate coming in second.  I hate people beating me.

I hate feeling like a “loser” and others getting the drop on me. ¬†I rarely feel anything against the people that “Beat Me” as I usually take it out on myself.¬†What really riles me is that when I try my best and I don’t get the results I am expecting. ¬†It really bugs me and sometimes I honestly get “Bummed Out” when I go out to achieve something and I don’t get it.¬†I really enjoy Currency Trading, in that you basically take short-term speculations and capture profit that way. ¬†Being a form of “Professional Gambling” it works by that you have the edge in your favour – you have wins and losses, but your profit is ahead.

I have been working consistently at this for about 3 years and so far I am consistently profitable.  Over the past year or more, I have only been doing it on a very slow part-time basis but am nicely ahead.  I am getting there, but I am still not where I want to me in terms of my competence and skill. Many people never get this far at it, some lose fortunes and from what I can gather it usually takes people about 4 Р8 years to get it right and become a competent trader (assuming they actually make it Рmost drop off).

So from that perspective, of the people that make it in trading – I am with the class. ¬†In fact, one of the top traders I know took about 10 years to get there (after losing tens of thousands of dollars before hand). ¬†I am certainly doing better than that!¬†But here is what I don’t like. ¬†Some people I know, have just picked it up in like 1 – 2 years.¬†That is, they have just powered through it and are doing amazingly well in this time, while I am still uncertain and although consistently profitable – no where near their performance.

At university I got a HD average and am very used to being a top performer. ¬†But in this case, I am really a “C – B” level student – and I hate it. ¬†Whenever I hear of the people doing well, I don’t feel anything against them – but I get all tense and just think “What am I doing wrong?”¬†So in other words, my trading is going at the speed of most people who make it – but I constantly feel like a “Loser” and “Bad” about all the “Time I have wasted”. ¬†This is okay to motivate, but it’s a problem for me in that it’s blocking me truly nailing it and slowing me down.

In fact, my own psychology about trading and my own fear of “Failing” is slowing me down! If I just could’t have got over it sooner, I would have been miles ahead. ¬†There you go – I am even beating myself up while writing this blog!

This is I accept a weakness that I possess, but when I have discussed this problem with other people РI am hardly alone.  I noticed many of my friends and colleagues feel exactly the same way at times.

Be it in different areas, I have friends with similar examples including:

– My own business example – “Shirley, Mike, Jarratt and Andrew can Trade better than me. Therefore I suck”.

– My old desperately trying friend – “I really try my best to meet my future husband and I am a good honest person. I work out and make the first move – but men just want me for one thing”.

– An old colleague not reaching their career goals – “No matter how hard I work or what I achieve, I still don’t get the pay of others – nor any recognition from head office”.

– My good friend who got retrenched from his job – “I have been too so many interviews and no one wants to take me. I don’t think anyone likes me and it hurts to see other people get hired before me”.

– My good friend from an older company – “I have been working for years in this industry and people just don’t take me seriously. I really know what I am on about and I am sick of people disregarding what I am saying”.

– A friend who wasn’t fat at all – “I feel so fat and unattractive. No matter what I eat it really shows and I just can’t control myself”.

– An old uni friend who just couldn’t do exams – “For me it’s lambs to the slaughter. I just freeze up exams and I am just a loser at this uni course”.

I can come up with dozens more and I realized that the way I feel is very common for almost anyone. ¬†That is, it’s easy to pick an area in your life and just feel like you are “Inadequate”, “Hopefully”, “Suck”, “Stupid” or just “Have No Idea”.¬†I think at times we all feel like this, especially if you are a driven individual looking for something new.¬†A little bit of “This Feeling” is good, because it gives you drive – but an excess of it can really destroy performance.¬†Well – at least it shows that you are care! ¬†But still, if ¬†you are like me in this regard – I ask you to try and stop “Beating Yourself Up”. ¬†Just think about what you need to do to improve things.¬†Both my own trading mentors Jarratt Davis & Vic Noble say exactly the same thing that I think makes perfect sense:

– “Run Your Own Race”

Certainly can’t disagree with that!¬†* Thanks to Alex Proimos from Flickr for the statue image.

“Nice” people that are out to get you!

In our world there is a lot a nice, good-natured people who would no doubt help an old lady across the road, put $2 in the Salvation Army Tin, treat co-workers well and even not even beep their horn at you if you stall taking off when the traffic light turns green.

These are the type of people that really make contributions and are often a pleasure to have around.

Then, you get the “Other” type of people. ¬†You know who I mean, I mean the people that can be¬†selfish, manipulative and who are out purely to protect number one. ¬†These people can be experts at “Pretending” to be Good Natured or nice. ¬†That is, some of these people know when and how to turn on the charm to get what they want (often with little regard for others).

I remember that I once worked with this person. ¬†They were very “Friendly” and “Nice” on the surface, but I heard from other people in the office “Watch Out” for this person. ¬†I didn’t have a problem with this person directly and in fact I seemed to have a reasonable rapport with them.

However, this person would often complain about other people, say how bad things were for them and really appeared to “Enjoy” back-stabbing others. ¬†In fact, beneath the “Nice” exterior, really appeared to exist a twisted individual, who would get a thrill from controlling, manipulating and hurting others. ¬†There were dozens of examples from this person as to this type of behaviour.

They would always “Smile” and also be so “Charming” about it.

Then, when there were problems in the business – the dirty politics came out. ¬† This person would “Knife” others in the back, criticise others and never took any real personal¬†responsibility¬†for what they were doing. ¬†That is, they really pointed the finger at others in a harmful way – without taking any real accountability themselves. ¬†This person managed quite a few people and a lot of their direct-reports had similar problems.

Later on, although I did my best to work with this person – they started trash talking me to others. ¬†I really did learn that if you meet someone who “Back-Stabs” everyone to you, you can safely bet $100 they trash-talk you to others as well. ¬†Then as some problems in the business increased, this person’s dirty ethics got worse and worse – and even some of their lies came up as “Feedback” into my next performance review! ¬†Even though this individual’s results were extremely poor!

This person was very manipulative and the good news of it all was, that about 1 – 2 years later – I heard from an old colleague that this person was demoted. ¬†This person was just a power junkie and I could imagine that this would have been a tough blow for them. ¬†It really appeared that with declining results, this person couldn’t lie, cheat, or manipulate their way out of this one.

Unfortunately in some workplaces, we see people who aren’t necessarily competent get promoted or keep positions purely for the fact that they have mastered¬†politics¬†and not their actual jobs. ¬†It’s a tough situation, as you can get good honest,¬†hard-working¬†bosses that¬†accidentally¬†hire people who are good at “Snow-Balling” them as such.

The good news is, that in many workplaces with clever objective management, these people often are detected and it’s great to see them get what was coming to them. ¬†If you are an employer or an employee – it’s really important to find these people, coach them out of the bad behaviour and hold them¬†accountable¬†for their actions.

Unfortunately, there are always a few sharks in the fishing tank!¬†* Thank you to “Dave” from Flickr for the great Lucky Charms Pic.

No Results, but I am sooo Busy and Important!

“Work Smarter and Not Harder”, “We are highly efficient here”, “Time is Money” are cliches that probably all of us have been¬†bombarded¬†with over the years. ¬† In fact, I have seen many companies which have really taken this to heart and practically integrate it a functional part of who they are.

And then I have seen companies that haven’t. ¬†In fact, I have seen many Managers and Workers throughout my time value “When you start”, “The length of your breaks” and of course “When you leave” far in excess to the contributions that an¬†individual¬†makes the company.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I am not suggesting a ridiculous extreme of only working 1 hour per day from your laptop on Bondi Beach or being lazy and delegating everything – I am talking about companies and managers that have an unhealthy¬†obsession¬†with when people start and finish compared to what they achieve and how they work with others.

In fact, I remember one company which I worked for.  I used to spend a great deal of time out on the road with clients and the head office was about 1 hour and 15 minutes from my house.  Quite often I would visit clients nearby my house at 7AM in the morning, but when I went to head office it could quite easily be at 9-9.30AM.

Instead of them looking at my workload, and what I actually do – a Manager and another employee used to¬†publicly¬†pick on me for “Being Slack”. ¬†I originally took this in a satirical context, but with repetition I could really see they actually meant it.

Even though I did actually work long hours, achieve my targets and have customers speak highly of me – they were so obsessed with judging my total performance just by the time I started.

I then did some tests, I came in early (i.e. about 7.30AM before they did) and the Manager started responding positively. ¬†In fact, then I watched this Manager closely I noticed he was obsessed with when people started and finished – and seemed strangely detached from what was being achieved. ¬†They just loved whoever started early! Their own sense of “Politics” strangely seemed to subtract from their own “Common Sense”.

This taught me a key lesson – you can convince yourself you are “Busy” all you want, but at the end of the day – if you aren’t achieving what you have to, then you have¬†got big problems!

Make sure what you are doing is logical and the most smartest way of achieving a your objectives.  By all means work hard, but make sure what you are doing is sensible!

After all, if you want to run on a treadmill – get a Fitness First Membership! ūüôā

“Me, Me, Me”: Some should just Marry themselves!

When I was much much younger I used to have this friend, that although wasn’t mean or anything – they really did “Love¬†Themselves”.¬†Now, I don’t mean this in a genuine respect for themselves or some “Spiritual Manner”, Oh no – I mean that their #1 Topic in conversation would be one of the following:

– How great they are.

– How much they know about the world.

– How their views are correct.

– How stupid others are.

– What problems they are facing.

Although I quite liked this person, whenever I introduced them to other friends I would usually get something like “Awww, do you have to bring X with you next time?”, “Does X ever talk about anything but themselves?”, “I just don’t like talking to X” (+ many more).¬†I would sometimes think, “Man why am I around? They obviously like¬†them selves¬†more than me, so can’t they just talk to a mirror or something?”

As I grew a bit older, my tolerance and patience for this person decreased and decreased to the point where we had a big falling out. It was quite a relief! I was sick and tired from years of listening to this persons inflated ego and them dumping their problems on me.¬†Now, I am not saying that you don’t tell people what you are up to or hold everything back.

I am just saying to the people in the world who talk about nothing but themselves:

– Come On?

There was a point in my life where I got very insecure, and in a pathetic attempt to “Make myself feel better”, I would talk about myself a lot of the time. ¬†And guess what? It was probably the most¬†loneliest¬†and depressing time of my life. ¬†No one simply liked me and I interestingly became what I disliked the most.¬†I eventually got the message and understood that by “Being Interested, You Become Interesting!”

After all, we all have our own problems and when someone takes “Genuine” interest in us, it feels good! ¬†In fact, we probably start associating positive feelings to that person and they become a pleasure to have around (hence a friendship may easily form).¬†I like the good old saying “Misery Attracts¬†Company”.¬†Just make sure don’t become the “Company”.¬†* Many thanks to Jurvetson from Flickr for the great pic of Al Gore.

Workplace Politics: Watching Weasels Avoid Accountability

I don’t know about you, but in my Corporate Career (especially as I moved higher up the Corporate Ladder) I have seen more and more unfortunate office and workplace¬†politics.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I respect that Politics plays a very important part in our society and especially as a Senior Manager one has to be very sensitive and aware of political scenarios, what you can say, what you cannot say and of course the feelings of your team and key stakeholders that you work with.

But I am talking about something totally different in this article. ¬†I am talking about the “Lazy Political Weasel” as described quite brilliantly in “Dilbert And The Way of the Weasel”. ¬†If you haven’t got this book, please go and check it out – it’s very satirical, politically incorrect – but extremely accurate at some points! (Check out Dilbert’s Site).

Of my working career I have worked with a range of people.  Some are extremely competent, trustworthy, passionate, intelligent, caring, self-improving and accoutable people.

Some are just simply not. ¬†You often hear lines in that “We Assess On Results”, “Everyone is Treated Equally”, “Everyone is assessed on the same KPI’s” – but come on – you know and I know this isn’t always true?¬†Haven’t you seen in perhaps at least one workplace these two extremes:

– A hard working, passionate, accountable and honest individual working for a good wage who get’s dumped on by everyone.

– A political Monster / Weasel who screws things up, doesn’t get results, blames everyone else and just seem untouchable or gets promoted quickly?

Almost everyone I talk to has a story about this and I have a few myself. ¬†Love it or hate it, some people who lack substance really know how to “Manipulate¬†& Play The System” to get what they want.¬†Unfortunately in some companies these people survive but in some cases there is nothing better than seeing these people held accountable for their actions.¬†Many years ago, I worked with a certain manager that honestly sounded like a¬†politician.

They really had a good relationship with the boss and were able to play them like an¬†accordion. ¬†If anything, this person reminded me a bit of President in the Obama in the respect of “Mastered the speeches and the words” but when you look at tangible results they were always “Delayed due to other person / factor X” , “Results are on the way” or I am still fixing up “The problems caused by the last manager”.

Even though this person had it good for a while, they eventually were “Weaselled Out”, was forced to leave their job and could never get back in at a similar level.

It was actually quite sad, even though this person did get what was coming to them – if only they focused more on delivering results compared to manilpulating others they would have had a much more fulfilling life based on “Integrity / Results” and not “Hype / Lies”.¬†My lessons from this are very simple – treat everyone fairly, assess on results and hold people accountable.¬†If anything, it looks like the American Public are going to hold Obama to account. ¬†After all, if you rally up everyone for “Change” and bag the last¬†administration, you better get some results!

* Thank you to David Allsopp from Flickr for the great pic.

Some Staff Can Do What They Want: Why?

In one of my earlier roles, I had this fantastic employee that I directly managed. We got along like a house on fire, they were professional, hard-working, took responsibility and really cared about their quality of work and the overall performance of the business.

Then after time, this person decided to move on to work on their own business. Great – so after their resignation – as you do, I went to HR to commence the new advertising / hiring process for a new staff member.

Things started to get a little strange about here, when I asked for a commitment to get the Ad in the Paper I was getting some very “Wishy-Washy” type of answers. As I was running a pretty serious Marketing Department, I need all the staff members I can get – so getting this person placed was a priority for me.

After a few more “Just Wait Ed’s” from the HR Manager, then all of a sudden this “New Staff” member appeared out of the wood-work. Even though I was their Direct Manager, I strangely didn’t even meet them before they were appointed. The HR Manager promised me they are a great person and I can’t go wrong.

Well – okay. I think as the Line Manager I should have met them – but okay, I am a flexible guy after all and let’s work with this.

Then, over the next few months I found this staff member was totally incompetent, lacked the patience, had minimal technical skills and had a poor attitude to the company. I tried discussing this with the employee and got nothing but cheek and attitude. Then (as you do), I discussed things with the HR Manager before taking any serious action.

Now, the HR Manager for some “Odd Reason” totally defended the persons actions and condemned my actions. I was like – What? I have been managing people for years!

Anyway, things got worse and worse and this person who just hated their job – was completely untouchable. The HR Manager was blocking me and protecting them.

Then it got really bad and things came to a head – this employee was backstabbing me (I caught them) and just not doing their work. In addition, other managers in the office complained about this employee. I then took the matter to the MD (which I directly reported to) and then things started happening.

But this was strange, never in my years of management did I ever see an employee:

– Get hired without consultation of the Line Manager.
– Be so technically incompetent yet survive.
– Get over protected by Human Resources.
– Get away with inappropriate behaviour for so long.
– Strangely enough, I then found out through the grapevine that this person’s partner was actually considering investing the company I worked for!

Ha ha – no wonder they were protected and someone as incompetent as that was allowed to work in the company.

This was a case of “Positive Discrimination” in that, this person due to their relationship with the company was given far more benefits than anyone else. I have seen plenty of unfortunate “Negative Discrimination”, but this was my first case of the opposite.

I found “Positive Discrimination” seemed to have extremely bad impacts on our office. That is, as a result of the poor management of this case, it created situations such as:

– Frustration – Not just on my part, but other managers. No Manager in their right mind likes the idea of a subordinate doing the wrong thing consistently.
– Poorer Quality of Work – As you can’t hold certain members accountable, others have to “Carry more weight” resulting in poorer quality of work, more errors etc.
– Loss of faith by Employees – As other employees can see some staff “Milking” the system, they easily lose faith in management and their own motivation takes a fall. After all, if you have to work your butt off and the person next to you doesn’t – would that make you feel inspired?
– After I moved on from this company, I heard through the grapevine that this individual had a big falling out and moved on.

What is sad, is that this could have easily been prevented. By simply treating everyone “Equally & Fairly” this person could have been pulled into line earlier on -making life easy on everyone. It also, would have helped that individual – saving them lots of their own personal issues.

One of the best General Managers I worked with, used to say to be “Ed, always be Firm – But Fair”.

This makes perfect sense as after all – any form of discrimination (be is Positive or Negative) can only lead to trouble!

Job Interviews – If you don’t like me, just ask me to leave!

Some years ago, when I was relatively new to Sydney I did what most people do – update the resume, put my tie on and go and squeeze some palms to get my name out there.¬†I must have been to at least 50+ interviews and had anything from people who don’t like me, to people that love me – to people that lead you on to the last minute and hire someone else ¬†I remember one key role for a National Company. ¬†I went for this role and had just an excellent first interview. ¬†I went in, we got along like a house on fire, they were friendly, I was friendly and both parties were keen to go the next level.

In addition, the line manager that interviewed said me they needed someone very quickly and liked the idea of us working together.

So great, what can possibly go wrong?

I ended up meeting with two General Managers that looked after the company.  One was the basic Expansionist / Operational Manager and the other one of the Finance / IT type of Manager.

With the Expansionist Manager, we hit it off. ¬†It went really well and I thought “Wow – I stand a very good chance here”. ¬†Now, the Finance Manager – just hated my guts! From the moment I walked into the interview the Finance Manager:

– Interrupted me.

– Wouldn’t let me answer questions.

– Tried to pick holes in my resume.

– Put me down by saying strange lines such as “You seem to have a lot going on upstairs, you look very impatient?”

– Wouldn’t give me their full attention.

– Generally showed a disdain towards me.

Anyway, when I got out of the interview, I spoke to the recruiter (who set me up there and was really astute) and told them the honest truth.¬†Fair enough, some love you and some don’t? No – this isn’t the ending here.¬†The recruiter then rang up and the Company wouldn’t answer his basic questions and just held out on things. ¬†As a job seeker this is very annoying when they drag you on! Either hire me or don’t!

They then stretched and stretched things out for 10 weeks until they told me they are no longer interested in me.

So anyway, I thought “What a nasty company” so no problem. ¬†But then 6 months later I see that actual role advertised again! Then 1 year later it’s advertised again! Didn’t they need someone quickly?¬†In hindsight I was very glad to not work with this company in that, if this is how they hire people – their decision making processes must be very scary and tricky. ¬†If anything I feel really sorry for the first person that interviewed me – they were extremely busy and needed help but didn’t get the support they needed from above.

The lesson learned for me in this situation was that it’s important to be direct with people and don’t drag people with you. ¬†That is, if you are a job seeker or if you are an interviewer – if you don’t like the other person then politely wind things up and move on.¬†At the end of the day, no one wins from wasting time and we all have better things to do!

Are Beating Up Bullies Ethical?

Coming from a Middle Eastern heritage and growing up in Regional Victoria – I was picked on a lot for my race. ¬†There was even a point where I was getting into a fight every week – I won more than I lost – but all I have today is “Boxers Nose” to show for it.

I remember one strange experience, where I just started at this high school – the “School Bully” decided to pay me a visit and prove himself in front of a cheering crowd of people saying “Get the Iranian Kid!!”

Anyway, I took 2 hits to the head and really didn’t want to fight at all. ¬†I eventually realized that I had no choice (and also had a Blue Belt in Karate) and jabbed him in the nose. ¬†It was very strange, blood everywhere and he went down and begged for mercy. ¬†Then the crowd cheering went very quiet and the bullies gang all dispersed.

It was the biggest anti-climax of my life, a big honest thrill – but I was expecting the combat to last at least a few rounds!

Now moving onto the workplace, I have found this strange parallel. ¬†Whenever I have stood up to workplace bullies (or people just unfairly pushing me around if “Bully” is a too stronger term) I have many of them to get really angry and say something they regret or some to even break down crying and go on sick leave. ¬†Some have even “Dobbed” on me, only for us to go head to head in front of the HR Manager to either watch them get overtly aggressive or even use the “Water Works” as a means of making out “The Bad Guy I Am”.

In simple terms, like my school yard experience – I have found Bullies are often very good attackers, but very weak defenders. ¬†You stand up to them and they may blow up, but then they usually back off – or even suck up to you! ¬†The words “Bullies” and “Integrity” don’t belong in the same sentence!

This really fried my brain in that, I always though “Good Attacker, Good Defender”. ¬†Wrong! I have found that generally the people who attack the most are generally the weakest and even at times, I have had the pleasure of watching these people leave the company or incur the wrath of a well trained HR Manager.

One of my big mistakes though has always been standing up to these people too late! Instead of “Nipping it in the bud” – I would always take late action when I am tired and sick of them.¬†So my advice to you? If you are being “Bullied” or perhaps a softer word “Pushed Around Excessively” – my suggestion is to really think about why you are letting people do that.¬†My fault has always been “Others are better than me, therefore I have to take it”. ¬†When I got out of that thinking, it made “Bully Beating” easy and even fun at times!¬†But be careful though! The solution for hate is certainly not more hate!

So if it’s your co-worker, boss, staff member, partner, family member or whoever – my suggestion is to stand your ground.¬†No one respects a wimp and “Doormats” are only used for people to wipe their feet on, no?¬†* Thank you to “Greencolander” from Flickr for the great image.

We Hate Our Top Performing Employees

In my years of Corporate Experience, I can summarize many of my co-workers and bosses into 2 Main Categories:

– Team Players – They take responsibility for their own decisions, support you and believe in you. They share responsibility for your wins and for your losses.

– “I” Players – They will selectively take responsibility and support you at certain times of their choosing. They take responsibility for your wins and blame you for your losses.

During one role, I had a fantastic boss who was a real team player.  They were sharp, objective, fair and very firm.  It was challenging working for them, but a good positive experience that really gave me some great skills.

Then, there was a boss that was the direct opposite, emotional, blaming, accusing and went from one extreme to the other:

– They go through phases of ignoring you completely.

– Then when things go bad, they micromanage you like hell – and because they don’t know what you do exactly or how the business works (because they ignored you previously) they just can’t get their act together and can often make the problems often worse.

In one company, I was hired with a very specific purpose. ¬†I had to go into a company with an objective to turn around the business. ¬†Very kindly (even in the job interview) my future Boss made it clear to me that some individuals were “Hostile” and that I have to be thick skinned to get some Leopards to change their spots.

After 6-12 months when I had a good track record, some wins and more credibility my Manager was fantastic in the respect of acknowledging that and increasing my relative Responsibility and Decision Making Authority.

Some managers were copping a lot of flak for their areas non-performing and my manager was really holding them accountable. When they saw my status go up in the organization, some really turned nasty on me!

This is the bit that fried my brain, I was doing an excellent job, getting clear revenue growth, good feedback from customers – but no matter what I achieved some of my peers just wouldn’t work with me? My Manager was frustrated as well, and kindly explained to me that the company had been like it for years – and that some fresh blood was great.

After I left this role, it took me many years to really understand what actually happened.  I was being friendly, professional, courteous Рand yet in this company I was the subject of ridicule, contempt and even some clear bullying.

Then it finally occurred to me and I saw this happen to other co-workers in other environments. ¬†If you have the wrong mix on your management team or even just a few members with an “Empire Building” mentality you can be in a lot of trouble. ¬†That is, in it’s most basic form you can get these type of workers:

– Business Builders – Individuals focused on results, team work and improving commercial performance.

– Empire Builders – Individuals focused on their own gains, ensuring the team works in their favour and ensuring others “Stay out of their turf”.

This company’s management had several “Empire Builders” on the team. ¬†Well, if one of your peers is an “Empire Builder”, what do you think happens when you get some wins (and even worse greater recognition by your Manager?):

– They get insecure.
– They panic.
– They get worried.
– As they can’t win through “Honest Results” they use any dirty tactic to get even and get on top of the pack again.

And this is what happened to me.  It was very tough and being a young man Рthis experience honestly did upset me.  After a few years though it started to make sense.

It’s amazing what some people will do when they feel¬†threatened, in that “Ethics” can often take a back seat to “Survival” (or at least “Survival” of a fragile ego).

This experience really taught me how change (be it positive or negative) can bring out the best and worst in people.

All I can say is be thick-skinned and don’t let those bastards pull you down!! ūüôā

“If you ask for more money, it will be offensive”

“If you ask for more money, it will be offensive” were key words uttered to myself and my co-workers in one company I once worked for. ¬†On the surface it may sound a bit odd, but there was some very reasonable context for it.

The company I was working for really enjoyed dominance in it’s marketplace for several decades but like many other companies – if they don’t readily change and keep up they can see their market position (combined with costs rising) dwindle till it’s unprofitable (or at least not meeting their targets).

As with this employer, it really didn’t move with the times – and unfortunately a lot of “Catching Up” had to be done with a fairly¬†viscous¬†restructure combined with extensive retrenchments and “Squeezing Out” of unwanted individuals.

During this time, the phrase above “If you ask for more money, it will be offensive” was banded to us by senior management. ¬†This was imposed on “Everyone” with 2 year wage freeze. ¬†They made it clear that “It would apply to everyone with NO EXCEPTIONS”.

As the company was in a bit of trouble (which was obvious), although it does leave a bitter taste in ones mouth – I am a commercial man and could accept what happened. ¬†In fact, I am all for wage freezes when companies are in trouble (i.e. it’s better to earn less and keep everyone in a job).

About a 1 year later (with my pay really starting to lag behind industry average especially compared to some of my peers) I overhead chatter and found out that some people in the company were actually getting pay rises.  One was a friend of mine, that actually went to resign Рthe company offered them an extra $10K and they chose to stay.

Wow did I see red! I confronted Management immediately and was very upset at the deception and they didn’t deny it – but they could work out who told me. ¬†That person that told me was completely¬†berated! ¬† I then went and asked an explanation as to “Well, I am earning my targets – I do 60 – 70 hours per week – why can’t I get some?” and was given the answer of “We can’t do that in your case and if you tell anyone, we will take action against you”.

This was a very unethical move – they all openly lied to us and when the truth of their deception bubbles to the surface they then bullied & threatened me back into line.

I actually didn’t have to tell anyone anyway, as people started figuring it out and it became common knowledge fairly quickly.

On a funny ironic note, I got a far better job and when I went to resign they tried to “Talk me out of it” and my manager at the time threw cold water over the opportunity (which was great I may add) that I was moving too.

This was a tough lesson and certainly taught me about being¬†naive! I believe in hard work and putting in your personal best – but always keep an eye out and ensure your employer is doing the right thing by you! ūüôā

I have found in my experience some companies are great and really value their staff, but unfortunately you get some companies or individuals that see employees as they would a piece of machinery (and would easily discard you as one would throw out a broken Kettle).

* Thanks to Jason Scragz from Flickr for the great picture of the Gun & Money.