Category Archives for "Workplace Conundrums"

Signs You Can’t Trust Your Boss – as Quoted in Reader’s Digest & MSN!

Trust is a cornerstone of business relationships between customers and suppliers and between bosses and subordinates.  It’s even more complicated in day-to-day working relationships.  Between roles, responsibilities, work product, team dynamics, it can get confusing.  I like the age old rule of:

  • Fool me once, shame on you.
  • Fool me twice, shame on me. 

Here are two clear signs that the boss-subordinate relationship is broken:

  1. Sniping Publicly.

If your boss is sniping at you publicly or making an example of you in team meetings, this is a sure sign, something is up and you can’t trust in him or her right now.  If it’s because your boss is annoyed with you, doesn’t really matter what you did or didn’t do, he won’t be your best ally right now, so don’t trust him (or her). Although some of the remarks and comments may be issues you have discussed in your evaluations or one-on-one meetings, if it’s happening publicly, even under the breath, first priority is to stop trusting and figure out a plan of action to address the situation.

  1. Explanations are not Forthcoming. 

Of course, your boss does not report to you and as such doesn’t need to check in and tell you what they are doing.  However, as your superior in the organization, the boss is responsible for keeping you informed about policy, programs, changes in plans overall company strategy.  If your boss stops telling you the why, behind assignments, plans, meetings and other office issues, it’s a clear signal, that may have nothing to do with you, although now has everything to do with you.  Your manager’s key job is to provide staff the tools, resources and direction to staff so that they can perform their job.  If your` boss stops providing these things.  Stop trusting.  

Read the full article with my quotes (slides 6 and 7) in Readers Digest- 9 Clear Signs You Can’t Trust Your Boss.

Have you ever been in a situation where you aren’t sure who to trust in the workplace?

3 Playing Favorites at Work Secrets You Never Knew – With quotes from RBJ!

Is playing favorites ever a good idea?

There are always two sides (or more) to a story and in each situation we may not have the whole picture. Short answer – playing favorites is never a good idea.  True answer – someone will play favorites and it will impact the team dynamic.  The question “How to handle this?’

  1. Give Up Figuring Out Why. You will probably never know why certain people are treated as a favorite.  It’s a waste of time and energy to dwell on it.  Once designated a favorite, it’s an uphill battle to dethrone them.  It doesn’t really matter how they are connected, prior work, school, church, family, community or serendipitously (route to work, lunch place, etc.).  It may be a moment in time connection, the boss was impressed by them or they may have had an opportunity to be useful on a professional or personal level and it’s being rewarded.  They may also just know the right way to manage up and be noticed.  It doesn’t matter.  Acceptance is the answer.
  1. Determine if its Righteous Indignation. Being treated with fairness and equity is a basic human driver.  Everyone wants to be noticed and appreciated.  The team leader should be brutally honest and ask, does it just bother me or are other people truly aware and annoyed or aggravated by it.   Do I notice it more as the manager or is it that obvious to everyone? 
  1. Use Tangible Evidence at Your Own Peril. – if this situation is truly impacting team productivity and effectiveness, the work product and the bottom line, document tangible evidence.  Show the quality of their work, such as a poorly written report to the senior manager and let him/her know that the way this individual is treated by them, particularly in front of their peers makes them unmanageable.  Explain how this compromises the work quality and your ability to lead the team.   And make the direct link, if possible quantified, that it’s hurting the company.  You do this at your own peril, even with the best intention and documented proof, it may not change the situation.

Actions to take as a Manager:

  • Ask Sr. Management if you as team leader can have input into special assignments since it’s your job to know the strengths of your team members. Be prepared to provide insight into good project fits as well as address any cascading impact of workflow and schedules.
  • Find out what went into a decision that seemed like a favorites situation. Have a conversation with your manager to better understand Sr. Management’s needs and skill set being pulled out for special projects.
  • On a  day-to-day basis, as the manager, continue to support your whole group, not hold grudges against the “favorites” (especially if they are doing a good job) and find ways (projects, reports, briefings, face time) to support those you feel are overlooked by Sr.  Management.  

Do you read Kathleen Driscoll’s column in the Rochester Business Journal? You should.  I have a huge affinity for Rochester NY.  Home of the lilac festival; the Center for Governmental Research (GCR), whose Board of Directors I sat on for years; two of my nephews attended RIT;  friends, Patty, Marianne and Rich who did or do call Rochester home; and creator of the “garbage plate” (if you are a foodie and don’t know just ask!).   Rochester truly is a microcasim of any city USA – so pay attention.  The business cycle has a tendency to repeat itself.  

You can read Kathleen’s article that I am quoted in (yes it’s all about me) by clicking here.

Do you have a story about a time that Sr. Management played favorites? Please share — now it’s all about you!



The Hidden Mystery Behind the Workplace Martyr (full article on

Are you one of those people who come to work early, leave late, answer work emails constantly from home at all hours and rarely vacation?

Individual work styles evolve for a variety of reasons.  Regardless of the driving force, be it cultural, emotional or economic, what matters is how you as an employee acclimate to your current company culture. 

In this fast pace — remote — always connected business cycle, depending on your position and the workload, it may actually be a necessity to never let your emails go unanswered.  The key is to know how to unplug when circumstances warrant it and not to bully others into your work cycle.  A good step is be honest with yourself about the expectations your behavior sets for yourself and your team.  If your intent is to be noticed and appreciated, and you remind people of that constantly, chances are you are the workplace martyr.  Alternatively, you could just be obsessional or a people pleaser.

I’m quoted in this article in Are You the Workplace Martyr?

Let me know if you are the Workplace Martyr or you have one on your team.  I’m here to help!

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