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Showing posts from December, 2013

I'm speechless.....

'Tis the season to be kind, and I would like to be, but in the interests of telling the truth, I wanted to share this less than kind thought.   I really do enjoy watching programs where people excel and achieve something that is beyond most of our wildest dreams, I just wish they didn't tell us they were speechless, split seconds before launching into a long speech.  

Words and expressions change their meaning over time, but this is one expression which clearly means that you are unable to speak, and should be one that people say about you ie "She is speechless", while you stand in stunned silence, so totally overcome that you literally can't speak.

I have no idea why this niggles every time I hear it, particularly as at least one thesaurus lists speechless as an alternative to overwhelmed!     I know that in the giant scheme of things, it is very petty, but I'm sure I'm not alone in having silly things drive me crazy.   So in the interests of my future…

Workplace Bullying (5) - Damage to Personal Brand

There is a difference between your personal and professional brand, although they are overlapping more and more, thanks to social networking.

Its one thing when you damage your own brand, but there is a form of workplace bullying that can impact on you personally, and it is critical to address it quickly, should it happen to you.

When your personal integrity is brought into question, the damage can be far reaching.   As a woman, it is extremely important to set personal standards and guidelines for yourself in the workplace, and ensure that the lines are not crossed eg inappropriate teasing and comments about your looks, sexuality, and personal life are not office material, so try to keep that door closed, if possible.   There is an enormous difference between a lovely compliment, and a comment about your appearance that makes you feel deeply uncomfortable.  Sometimes, it is not the words, but the way they are said, and where they are looking when they speak, that causes the discomfor…

Fake it till you make it....

We are getting lots of conflicting stories about the interpreter for the deaf at Mandela's Memorial Service.  He has, apparently, worked for government before, but deaf people, including a parliamentarian, were sending messages that he was making no sense.   Today, somebody phoned 702 and suggested that her organisation would offer to give him formal training.   Definitely in the spirit of Ubuntu.

This all made me think about the concept of "Fake it till you make it".   Back in the day, I met a guy who had come over from England, was living in a communal house with 4 or 5 others, 3 of whom were draughtsmen.   He was struggling to find a job, so his housemates gave him some basic tips about being a draughtsman, (and a few fake references, I think) and off he went and got a job as a draughtsman.  He was fired after a week!

Nothing daunted, he started afresh and got another position, where he lasted about two weeks, and so it went on.   After 6 or so months, he was offered …

President Obama's tribute to Mr Mandela

"He not only embodied Ubuntu; he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.  It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well; to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion, generosity and truth. He changed laws, but also hearts."

Like many, many people I was mesmerised by President Obama's speech at Madiba's Memorial Service.   For me, it was one of the great speeches.  Inspiring, delivered professionally with enormous passion, and deep emotion.   I believe we will be quoting from this speech for many years, particularly, "He makes me want to be a better man"  but for me, the words above, resonated most strongly.  The president thanked South Africans for sharing Mandela with the world, I would like to thank him personally for sharing his words with South Africa.


Workplace Bullying (4) - Overwork

What is overwork?   When is it bullying?    When does the job requirement tip from high expectations to unreasonable requirements?

Starting with overwork itself.    Is a 40 hour work week adequate in companies that are expanding or simply trying to keep their heads above water?   Should delivering great service mean that people have to work long hours?

One definition of overwork is "to force to work too long or too hard".   So with that definition in mind, when does hard work become too hard?  Obviously, the word force has a lot to do with it.  Many people in business are so passionate about their work that it is both their career and their hobby, and they consider every moment spent on the job a pleasure.   However, once overtime is not voluntary and impacts on the desire to have a happy personal life, it will be seen as overwork.  

There are also professions where, by their very nature, long hours are an expectation.  Medical interns, and the medical profession in general…

Nelson Mandela

: "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

In his own words, at the end of his trial.     

A man for all seasons.    A man of grace.   May his example continue to lead South Africa into a future that he would be proud of.

Workplace Bullying (3) - Exclusion and Language

The biblical story of the Tower of Babel has always fascinated me.   Not least because I have never been good at languages, having struggled with both Afrikaans and Latin at school, even though I come from a multilingual family.     Back to Babel, though, and the story that the people of Shinar built a tower to reach heaven, and the Lord came to earth, and saw that people with one language could be unstoppable in their achievements, both good and bad.   And so He "confounded" their language and "scattered" the people.

In South Africa, we have 11 official languages.   At +Accsys (Pty) Ltd I have done a rough count and have come to the view that we have around 20 languages either spoken or understood in the company.

When I put out the blog on exclusion being a variation of bullying, I started to receive feedback about people feeling excluded because of language.   While a number shared that they didn't feel it was malicious, just that people are more comfortable…

Workplace Bullying (2) - Exclusion

Workplace bullying is widespread, that is very clear from the research I have done over the past year.  I have also received mails and responses to my first article, which indicates bullying in the workplace is ongoing.   While there are many, many definitions, case studies and examples, Tim Field's (footnote) is a very clear one.
Being bullied is not about one isolated incident, it is about consistent negative behaviour that damages self image to a point where the bullied leaves, and the bully remains, sometimes with greater status.
South African business writer, Ian Mann, in his book "Managing with Intent" covers self image and how to manage people more effectively by taking their self image into account.  In a bullying situation, the opposite is often true.   If you have seen the Meryl Streep/Anne Hathaway movie "The Devil wears Prada" or the TV show "Ugly Betty", you will have seen workplace bullying entrenched into the business model.   Funny, but …