Monday, December 14, 2009


There are plenty of laws and HR guidelines that dictate how one should legally and ethically behave during a religious celebration. The laws are there to respected and follow. But let us not forget that common sense is always the best defense to avoid conflict in the work place, particularly during "the holidays" (We all know how I feel about that blanket statement so I'll spare you my soliloquy).

All the corners of the world have entrenched beliefs, cultural traditions and religions that they celebrate at one point or another during the year. One big difference between most of the world and us is that we've become sissyfied. And by that I mean that, in most religions, be it of the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or any other tradition, there is a pride and inner peace with one's beliefs. Of course, radical or extremist groups aside.

Recent polls show that 92 per cent of Americans believe in God (or a 'higher power'). We are a nation that has been born in the Christian tradition. Our very foundation is that of one country under God. I don't understand how we are steadily losing respect for what we have the right to celebrate and cherish.

At one point we are all going to be so consumed by worry about offending someone else that this in itself will be found offensive by a sue-happy employee. I can almost hear it happening: "Do you think I am so weak that you need to baby my every feeling? I resent that."

So what is there for a team leader to do? Well, just like in the movie clip below, take a metaphorical step outside the door, take a good look at any situation as an outsider, and analyze it with a critical eye. Let common sense reign, don't make anyone feel forced to partake on any religious celebration or feel ostracized by it. Respecting other people's beliefs goes without saying, of course. And just as important, know the laws that apply in your state to help keep employees engaged and your business away from law suits.

Let's hope for a de-sissyfication of America for this Christmas, no more double standards, and overall respect for what each of us believes in.

Here is a good link to learn more about religious freedom in the workplace.

Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

≡ FLUFF? ≡




What do these words evoke in you as you sit in your office up to your neck in deadliness and unreturned phone calls?

How about these words?




Do the latter sound more realistic and business-like? Am I hitting a nerve? Am I reminding you of something? Or are you already in tune with the softer side of you?

What prompted all this fluff? You may ask...After all, this is a business-related blog, right?

It all started when a friend was telling me about a bad event at his workplace and he finished the narration by saying "And to do such a thing during the Christmas season! How could they?"
Or as the politically correct would say "And to do such a thing during the Holiday season! How could they?" I am not politically correct so Christmas stands in this story.

At any rate, allow me to politely disagree with every cell of my being at the allusion of any festivity as the basis for us being more human and kind-hearted. After all, if you think about it, at any point during the year it is someone's time to celebrate, whether it be Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Earth Day. So why let outside events dictate who and how you'll be, how you'll lead your team and when you will deal with a bad situation?

"Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." -Mark Twain

And more importantly, where did we get the notion from that we have to be more humane during a common celebratory time? Why not behave humanely all year round?

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle."--Plato

A long time ago, while working for a large brokerage company, I attended a training where we all had to take part on role-play exercises. One person was the client the other the broker. Different scenarios played out for the entire team to see and evaluate. Scenario one: client wanted to understand his holdings and accounts and get some guidance on saving for his child's college. Scenario two: wife lost his husband and called to straighten out all of the brokerage accounts. Scenario three: son of a client was excited about opening his first account and wanted some educational help.

One thing immediately jumped out from all the scenarios. The tone. The broker's tone and inflexion when speaking with the widower was warmer and it addressed best the client's need. To which the trainer, arms up in the air, suddenly embodying an old Baptist minister & yelled out: "DOES SOMEBODY HAVE TO DIE FOR US TO BE EMPHATIC & KIND?"

That always stuck with me. A death is a sad, sad thing and it requires a special touch...but then again, don't we all go through small deaths and meaningful successes, rebirths if you will, through our days that we wish others were more in tune to?

Here are some simple practical applications for your work place:

  • Listen & ask questions
  • Be genuinely interested
  • Drop your crown-- if you go get yourself something to drink or eat offer to bring it to somebody else as well.
  • Offer to help someone who is in a bind or a tight deadline
  • Bring someone their favorite snack and put it on their desk without them knowing
  • Give that sincere compliment you've been meaning to for a while
  • Criticize behind closed doors
  • Take an interest in learning more about who the people you work with are
  • Avoid gossip, or anything that might be perceived as such
  • Have an accountability partner, someone whose feedback you trust
  • Be a mentor
  • Cultivate good motives in everything you do

As you carry on with your week, please remind yourself that tuning into your soft skills does not equal you becoming weak or wimpy. Au contraire, mon ami: ""Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair but manifestations of strenght and resolution." --Kahlil Gibran.

With these ideas in place watch your metrics be outstanding, your productivity soar and your deadlines be advance.
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