Maybe It’s Time To Bully The Bully

If you’ve been in the workforce for very long then you have probably had to interact with a supervisor that is a borderline psychotic, excuse me, I meant to say that seems to derive pleasure from being a bully. They are the ones that work hard to create a hostile environment in the workplace. They will do this through intimidation, threats, insults, vulgar language, slamming doors, throwing things or by just screaming at everyone. Regardless of which one of these actions they use, they make life miserable for everyone else in the office. It’s like walking on Legos, you try to step as quietly and carefully as possible so you avoid as much pain as possible.

It’s almost as if the Bully plans out the day with ways that they can make life miserable for any and every one they interact with. For them, life is all about chaos, creating tension in the workplace and generally making life suck for all their employees. You arrive to work in the morning and start counting the minutes until you can leave for lunch, take a break or clock out for the end of the day. While the Bully is thinking he is making you work harder and being more productive, in actuality you do less work and make more errors.

So what’s the answer? How do you turn things around so that you can be productive and start enjoying life again? It’s not easy and can be close to impossible, especially if the Bully is in a position to terminate your employment (even though they are the ones that need to be terminated!). There’s really only one answer, you have to bully the Bully. But not in the way you are thinking. You can’t fight fire with fire, all that will do is make the environment hotter and more unbearable. You have to bully the Bully with kindness, compassion, calmness and prayer (there’s that not Politically Correct word again).

To bully the Bully you can try several things:

  1. Don’t participate in their ravings and screaming. When they start down that road of chaos and destruction just put out your hand and stop them (politely) and say “excuse me, but this is not getting us anywhere and I cannot not sit here and listen to your abuse.   I am going to go back to my area and will come back when you’re ready to discuss this in a calm manner.” Now this will do one of three things, either get you fired, make them stop and think about what they are doing or they will call you back in a few minutes and start all over again.
  2. Share your concerns with management. If the Bully is the boss, then share your feelings with other employees. There is strength in numbers and if everyone is being treated the same way then maybe it’s time to get together as a group and address the situation.
  3. Find the person that the Bully relates to (and I assure you there is someone that they go to and “dump on”) and explain your issues to them. I am sure they are aware of the situation and maybe, just maybe, they can provide some insight into what is going on. It’s also possible that they may have suggestions on how to be more effective in dealing with the Bully.
  4. Leave. I know in this day and age with the proliferation of companies laying off workers and cutting back on expenses, this is not what you probably want to hear. But sometimes, it’s just not worth the stress, headaches and pressure of putting up with the abuse. Depending on the age of the Bully, it is highly unlikely that they will change. It’s also very likely that they know what they are doing and either get a “kick” out of being abusive, think everyone is out to “get them” so they are justified in being a Bully or they can’t help themselves. In this case, psychological help is definitely recommended.
  5. Pray. I know, this is not a politically correct word to use in the workplace but it is always the best advice that you will ever get. Positive prayer will help you to understand that sometimes life is out of your hands and being controlled by someone greater than you. Acceptance of this concept will assist you in learning how to cope and deal with issues in the worst circumstances. I did not say that prayer will take the situation away, but it will help you to survive. Sometimes God is simply saying “wait”. We have to remember that our thoughts are not His thoughts and our ways are not His ways. It is not up to us to understand, only to accept that He is in control.

So, where does the concept of “Bullying the Bully” come in? In reality, it doesn’t. You can’t stoop to their level and still feel good about yourself. You can only adjust your attitude and refuse to participate in their chaos. Life goes on and how you respond will affect others as well as yourself. So, Bully the Bully by covering him with prayer and let Someone greater than you deal with them.

Let’s Party!

Now before you grab your party hats and horns, let me explain. Think about a recent party that you attended where everyone had a great time. What made it successful? What did the host do that made the event fun and exciting? I think there are several things that make a successful party.

A central purpose. People come together for a specific purpose – to have fun, learn something new, meet new people or just enjoy each other’s company. If everyone is able to achieve their goal, then everyone leaves happy and the party is a success.

A good host. The main job of the host is to plan the party, get people involved, keep things moving and at times even be a cheerleader. They have to be a great organizer and constantly on the move. A great host floats throughout the party making sure the needs of others are met.

The right mix of people. A place that is too small or too big can ruin a party and make it miserable for everyone. No one wants to keep bumping into people or have to shout across the room to get someone’s attention. The appropriate amount of space is critical. You also have to have the right mix of male and female to keep everything flowing, unless it is a party for the same gender.

Weeding out the bad eggs. Bad party goers can sour a party very quickly. These are the people that criticize everything or they may try to be the center of attention and wind up being overpowering. This type of behaviour becomes a distraction and may cause people to want to leave early rather than tolerate the person.

Now, apply the concept to your workplace. You will quickly see that these ideas can apply to your own job. You have a central purpose – to be the best, meet the needs of others, provide a specific service, etc. all while making a profit. To your customers, you are a host and it is your job to float, mingle and meet their needs. You have to keep the right mix of people working together– sales, finance, customer service, management, IT – so that you can continue to prosper and keep the party going. Sometimes you need to weed out the bad eggs – unfortunately, your business is not for everyone so sometimes you have to change personnel around to keep the party fresh and moving. Implementing all these concepts will help you to maintain a positive balance and be successful.

So, grab your party hat, confetti and noisemakers and the next time someone asks you where you work – tell them you work where the party never stops!

An Interview With Wesley Winnebago, One of “Those” Employees

What is your job title? I am the Director of Fiscal Irresponsibility, Nonfinancial Planning and Guesstimations.

How long have you been with the company?  I have been here 45 years, 10 months, 3 weeks, 5 days, 6 hours and 25 seconds.

 Tell us a little about yourselfI have been married 21 times, engaged 3 times and am now single and living with my mom in her Cadillac underneath a bridge. I went to college on a javelin catching scholarship (I can catch 8 out of 10 javelins thrown at me), graduated Suma Cum Laude from Hail Mary University with a degree in motivational speaking and went straight into the banking industry as a Maintenance Engineer. I am a world class sprinter (I once outran Mercury Morris in the 40 yard dash), hold the world record in speed macramé knitting and am currently working on my Anthropolgy Sociology degree. I love to cook and my specialty is sweet bread smothered in butter and Sriracha sauce. I invented the pet rock but sold the idea to a friend for a case of Budweiser. I have been there, done that, bought and sold the t-shirt.

 What are some of the things that you are doing to improve a customer’s experience with our company? I try to keep the parking lot clean, yellow lines painted and employee cars lined up in order by shape and color, however I am also color blind so that tends to give me trouble sometimes. Still, I do my best to make sure everyone stays happy.

What is the single biggest challenge you face in doing your job? Trying to stay focused, I was hit in the head a couple of time in college during javelin catching practice and I tend to drift off every once in awhile and forget what I was talking about. I tend to drift off every once in awhile and forget what I was talking about…what were we talking about?

What are some of your personality traits that contribute to your on-the-job success? I am lazy, ambitious, love to gossip, a great listener,  like to roam throughout the building, try to bug everyone I can as much as possible and love to pester my peers with never-ending, pointless questions. However, I do show up to work on time, every day and I never take time off. I love my job and this company.

 Tell us one thing about yourself that would surprise us. I am a figment of Ken’s imagination. The only reason my story is here is because he wants to make a point about “that employee.” I am not sure what his point is or who “that employee” is or even what he means by that.

Ok, so Wesley is not a real person, but I hope you get my point. We all have “that employee” in the workplace. He/she is the one that always has the off the wall question about the subject you just spent 22 minutes discussing, is the first one to arrive and last one to leave the party, makes sure he/she speaks (annoys) to everyone, always does just enough to get by and never enough wrong things to get fired, is an expert on everything and always has an opinion to share but is always at work on time.

Who is “that employee?” He/she is the employee that you love to hate, but you can also always count on them being at work and on time, regardless of the weather. He/she is the one that annoys the crap out of you, but is always available to lend you a hand when everyone else is running out the door. “That employee” is the one that keeps the business running. They may be a Mr. PIB (Pain intha butt) but they are your Mr. PIB and I daresay you can’t get along without them. So what do you do?

Work with them, teach them, reward them, keep smiling and remember – you’re the manager. It’s your job to turn all their idiosyncrasies into positive attributes so they can be a productive employee. So, get to work.



It’s Time to Fix Stupid

I am a firm believer that regardless of how some people say that “you can’t fix stupid”, it is fixable and can be very rewarding if done right. That being said, I will admit that I have seen some people do some pretty stupid things over the years. For example, I have seen:

  • A customer tell a quick lube technician that he thinks he has a gas leak around his engine and would the technician mind seeing if he could find it. The technician (having just attended a seminar that emphasized customer service) eagerly agreed to do what he could. After placing the vehicle on a lift and walking under it, he took out his trusty lighter and began to flick it so that he could have a little more light to see. Luckily, someone stopped him before the lighter (and probably the technician) found the leak and burst into flames.
  • A construction worker in the attic of a new home, trying to complete the finishing touches before the final walkthrough by the homeowner, decided to take a shortcut. However, in his haste, he slipped and fell between the ceiling studs. Unfortunately, the new owners were ahead of schedule and as they opened the front door, the worker’s leg came crashing through the ceiling! Not a good way to make a great impression!
  • A technician completing the install of a new door on a bank vault (yes, a very large vault, not a small safe), set the combination and then closed the door so he could test that it worked. Unfortunately, he had left the new combination on the inside of the vault! The company was forced to cut through the side of the vault to gain access to the inside so they could reset the combination.

Were these stupid people? No, these were intelligent people, trying to do the right thing but going about it in the wrong way. They allowed the situation to control them, rather than them controlling the situation. These situations could have been prevented very easily if the right steps had been taken or the proper groundwork set. In each of the cases above, management reacted quickly although not necessarily properly. Let’s take a look at each situation.

  • Gas leak. This could have been prevented very easily if the technician had been trained in safety and not just customer service. The shop was gung-ho to stress customer service first and foremost, but had failed to train staff members in the basics of safety. The technician had a goal, but failed to grasp the basic fundamentals needed to reach his goal in a safe manner.
  • Hole in the attic. The worker was so focused on completing his task that he failed to consider the possible consequences of his actions. If he would have stayed on the proper walkway rather than trying to take a shortcut, his situation could have been prevented.
  • No combination. Since the safe company did not have a well-defined protocol or procedure of how to install a combination lock, the technician was left to his own initiative of the best way to complete his job. Unfortunately, he was fairly new to the job (less than a month) and this was his first solo installation.

All of these situations occurred because of one of, or a combination of, the following issues:

  • A lack of understanding of how to evaluate the goals or how to reach them,
  • A lack of understanding how to eliminate unnecessary goals or ideas,
  • A lack of education on the subject, and
  • A lack of motivation.

These are all a direct result of a failure in management. One of the main duties of management is to protect your employees. This requires you to have an “all-seeing” frame of mind so you can prevent problems by constantly being aware of your people and their capabilities/shortcomings. By keeping your “mind on the mission” you can hopefully prepare and implement a plan to prevent situations like those listed above. What was the final result in these situations?

  • The technician was fired, creating additional issues for both the shop and the employee.
  • The company took the time to properly train the worker on safety and he became a valuable asset and long term employee.
  • The technician called his office and explained the situation, then walked out the door. He never returned to the company, instead he mailed his uniform and tools back to them and went to find another job.

No one said being in management would be easy. It is challenging, heart breaking, stressful and not very rewarding at times, but it can also be the most fun you will ever have if done right. If it isn’t fun, then get out and do something else.

You Can Fix Stupid

Keep your mind on the mission!

You can’t fix stupid! There is a popular comedian that has made his living speaking on this theme. It has become so popular that many in the general public have made it a catchphrase as well. However, I don’t agree with this philosophy or even the idea that things can’t be fixed. I believe that you CAN fix stupid by following a few simple steps.

The concept of “being stupid” is really due to one of, or a combination of, several issues:

  • A lack of understanding of how to evaluate the goals or how to reach them,
  • A lack of understanding how to eliminate unnecessary goals or ideas,
  • A lack of education on the subject, and
  • A lack of motivation.

The first step is evaluation. This is understanding and acknowledging the who, what, when, where, why and how of the goal. Before a project can begin, we have to understand what we want to accomplish as well as the assets available. The goal has to follow the SMART outline so that the project will be accepted by the staff. I believe that many businesses are believers in this management style, however they fail in the implementation step. My goal for this step has always been to evaluate how the staff should be involved in reaching the next step and then insuring that we continue to advance towards the goal. Once the mission is identified, we can’t afford to have anything stand in the way of it being accomplished.

Second is elimination. This step involves identifying any excess baggage and areas that are slowing or hampering the progress of reaching the goal and eliminating the problem. This includes systems, people, protocols and even unnecessary mini-goals. I am a firm believer that a goal should be a “living document”. This simply means that while the overall goal would be constant, implementation would continually be changing and adapting as new ideas, laws and technology evolve.  You must maintain an attitude of awareness and adaptability due to the frequent changes in technology and laws. An example of this is the issue of law firms being owned only by attorneys. There is a movement by some attorney groups to change the laws so that law firms could be publicly traded or, at a minimum, have additional owners that are not attorneys. I believe this concept will gain ground over the next several years and firms need to be prepared to address this issue.

Education is the third step. This is one of the most important steps. A lack of education creates ill will, discourse, rumors and misunderstanding. A lack of understanding creates a “what’s in it for them,” attitude that can be difficult to overcome. With the proper education, acceptance is created and with acceptance comes assurance and the inclination to share with others. A sharing attitude is exactly what you want the staff to possess. The staff has to be educated sufficiently in all the benefits that the project can provide until they reach the point that they are motivated enough to share the brand with others, that this is the” place to be”.

Fourth and final step is motivation. How do we keep the project interesting to everyone involved? This can usually be accomplished through education of the goal and helping the individual to understand “what’s in it for me”. This step requires constant contact through every avenue available so that the brand is at the forefront of every staff member’s mind and thought process.  My vision would be that every staff member would always be thinking about how they could improve and enhance their current projects while strengthening the brand.  Motivation is a lot easier to accomplish when you believe in your product and goals and will do anything to see them succeed.

These steps are most effective when performed in the sequence that I have laid out. However, they are also continuous in nature. You are always going to be educating staff members as new technology and programs are implemented. In addition, you will be in a constant state of evaluation/elimination of programs figuring out what works and getting rid of what doesn’t.

Being a leader requires a lot of the characteristics and talents portrayed in the old movie, The Wizard of Oz. You have to be prepared for anything and be able to think on your feet. Leadership takes courage to implement new ideas; intelligence to be able to think critically, analyze problems and come up with solutions; a heart so that you can connect with people to understand their passions, fears and desires; commitment to persevere to the end; and unlike the Wizard, the ability to be genuine and trustworthy so that when the curtain is pulled back, people can see you for who you really are. It will require the ability to be forward thinking while keeping the big picture in mind.

Keeping these steps in mind, while staying in a constant mindset of being aware of new solutions in technology, using social media to promote the brand and leveraging programs designed to bring ROI to the company will help you to “fix stupid” and be the type of leader your people need and deserve. Keep your mind on the mission.