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How to Handle Workplace Bullying

frustrated employee

Today’s modern, dynamic, rapidly-moving workplace comes with many advantages. We benefit from agile organizational structures with an atmosphere where anyone can shine. Or, at least, that’s what we like to say. And while these benefits make a big difference in employee’s lives, the changing modern workplace has also changed what bullying looks like, transforming it from open abuse of power into something that tends to be quieter, manipulative, and more insidious.

With open-faced bullying seen as totally unacceptable, workplace bullying often instead takes the form of competitive employees defaming others, attempting to manufacture situations where they’ll look like the hero. For example, a common tactic employed by this kind of toxic personality is to claim credit for co-worker’s key deliverables. Then, they’ll use those same deliverables as evidence of why they’re a better performer than their ‘target’. When conflicts invariably spring up from these lies, if management isn’t careful, workplace bullies will tend to have the edge in the ‘he-said, she-said’ conflict due to focusing more on telling executives about the work ‘they’ did rather than actually doing the work.

Handling Office Conflict Responsibly

Needless to say, workplace bullies can destroy a team’s cohesion and productivity, and it’s essential for leadership to detect and remove these kinds of people ASAP before they can gain power in the office. That being said, rushing to fire someone who exhibits bullying behavior is not always the correct move! There are a range of reasons why an employee might engage in bullying; including personal insecurities or even mental illness. 

While stopping bullying is critical, it’s also important to understand motivation for an effective response. That might include sensitivity training sessions, a recommendation to see a therapist, or simply termination from the company. As a leader, it will ultimately fall on you to decide which approach is right for your situation.

Common Patterns of Workplace Bullies

It’s also important not to misconstrue or hastily judge the situation. Behaviors that appear to be rooted in bullying may in fact stem from deeper, institutional issues within the organization, such as cruel or over-competitive traditions. To help distinguish, here are some common patterns of legitimate bullies in the workplace:

  • Consistently redirecting conversations about team efforts to focus exclusively on their personal contribution
  • Displaying a lack of empathy or care for the feelings or workload of others
  • Highly judgemental, and willing to delay or jeopardize projects over minor personal issues
  • Takes poorly to any kind of criticism, even constructive criticism, often viewing it as insulting

How To Document and Report Conflict

These traits all but guarantee someone is a bad fit for any workplace. If you start to notice them, there’s a real chance that you have a workplace bully on your hands! And if you’re an employee stuck in a situation with a bullying co-worker or even boss, make sure to document a pattern of behavior before presenting to Human Resources. Not only will it help you construct a case, but also allow you to examine your relationship with your co-worker. A detached perspective will help you understand if it’s actually a case of workplace bullying or something else entirely. No matter the case, your office will feel the positive impact of removing toxic influences. And you might be surprised how fast things change when you take action!

Check out PerkSpot’s Five Focus Areas for Building a Better Workplace for more advice on building healthy, sustainable long-term culture at your organization.

Turning Your Objectives into Real Results

idea wall

Anyone who’s ever been part of a strategy meeting knows that coming up with objectives is always the easiest part. Managers and entrepreneurs especially can relate to that nagging feeling of “too many ideas, too little time’. Coming up with amazing ideas might not be easy, but turning a great concept into positive metrics is the real challenge.

In many ways, bridging the gap from idea to result is the core responsibility of any team leader, as nearly every team – no matter how talented and happy to be in the organization – depends on you to ‘steer the ship’ and productively direct their efforts.

That being said, you’ll have a much easier time acting on your ideas with a supportive, engaged, and satisfied team to carry out action plans. But even the best team needs direction and guidance to turn those concepts into something tangible. So, without further ado, here’s three concrete tips to keep in mind as you build your next big campaign!

Set Deadlines and Keep To Them

Remember when you’re setting up your deadlines that unexpected roadblocks can always cause delays. Building a reasonable deadline means accounting for the possibility of delays – so take the time to think about them beforehand! Keeping to your deadlines encourages employees to closely follow your campaign plans and fosters a culture of not only trust but also mutual accountability  – making it far easier to transform those objectives into tangible results!

Don’t Delay Moving on your Action Items

It’s rare that any project will have total smooth sailing without any unexpected hurdles along the way. The best way to prepare for delays is to get started on your project plan immediately! The power of getting started promptly is often underestimated, but hitting the ground running sets the tone and pace. If a lethargic start can lead to an underwhelming project, an enthusiastic one can set the stage for greatness. Demonstrate that you’re serious about turning your ideas into action by tackling execution enthusiastically right off the bat!

Lead by Example – Show, Don’t Tell

Most important of all is to be directly involved in the process. You can help through personal, visible contribution on key items, or by providing a clear and reasonable roadmap to the team that breaks down the wider objective into bite-size elements matching individual talents. Translating your ideas to results is often a matter of initiative. Big ideas are never easy! And sometimes, they can look harder when you get to documenting every step you’ll need. But by providing clear direction and quick, steady movement on each point, you can get the results of your dreams! For many top-level objectives in Human Resources, PerkSpot can be a part of the solution, providing actionable benefits that impact your organization’s turnover and retention rate. Reach out now, or learn more about how PerkSpot can help you reach your goals!

Two Major Signs of Micromanagement

workers discussing micromanagement

The dreaded micromanager is the bane of any productive workspace. We’ve all been there – the manager who needs to be CC’d on every email. The boss who demands reports so often that you can’t get any real work done. Even the coworker who nit-picks everything you do. It’s no secret that micromanagement in all its forms is one of the biggest contributors to employee disengagement and ‘quiet quitting’; a 2014 survey from Accountemps reported that 59% of employees have worked for or with a micromanager, and the percent of workers who reported micromanagement hurting their morale – 68% – has only gone up in recent years, with a recent survey from Trinity Solutions reporting a whopping 85% of respondents citing micromanagement as a personal morale-killer.

Micromanagement is both one of the most common and most bothersome of workplace ills because it is difficult to identify, and even more difficult to adequately address. But the first step of handling micromanagement is to recognize what’s going on, and to differentiate micromanagement from attentive management! Below are some common traits of micromanagement that can help you identify it at your workplace.

Excessive Amounts of Reporting

Reporting is a crucial part of understanding and improving campaigns. Still, a manager who requests excessive reports on projects can serve as more of a detriment than an incentive. Daily check-ins on the same task, for instance, tend to increase stress and decrease productivity. If a manager is hanging over their shoulder, it’ll leave employees thinking more about their check-in meeting than the project itself. An organized routine for project check-ins on a weekly or biweekly basis can go a long way in cutting down micromanagement.

Hyper-Focus on Details at the Wider Project’s Expense

Detail-oriented management is a great trait, especially for managers who need to oversee complex projects with many moving parts. But sometimes, a focus on detail can slip into minutia, where workers start spending unproductive time addressing minor details at the manager’s request. It can be tricky to differentiate between detail-oriented style and genuine micromanagement, so to tell the difference try asking yourself: “Is this feedback rooted in industry best practice, or is it a personal preference?” When small details are being changed, backed up by data that shows it’ll improve the project, then you have an attentive manager; but if small details are being regularly changed for no clear reason other than personal preferences, you may have a micromanager on your hands.

The best way to deal with micromanagement is to help your manager realize that they don’t need to. Every worker is an individual who handles tasks in a unique way. Encourage them to be open to employees trying tasks in new ways, rather than always having to get their way. Personal solutions founded on good, mutual communication are the best solution to micromanagement, as they are for a great number of major HR stressors – take it from the personalized benefits experts! Discount programs like PerkSpot only work due to providing meaningful, individual solutions – the kind that you should be encouraging micromanagers to take, rather than zooming in on the little things.

What HR Professionals Can Learn from Powerful Women

March is Women’s History Month, so we’re taking a good look at some powerful women – past and present – who can teach us important lessons about how to be the best HR professionals we can be.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg & Ethics

You may know her as Notorious RBG, or that really fit Supreme Court justice, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg is best known for her strong beliefs, which she holds while serving as the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court. When you think about Ginsburg, ethics is one of the first words that should come to mind. Similarly, it’s a quality often associated with HR professionals. Many like to say HR professionals serve as the conscious of their company, and that isn’t far off the mark. It is your responsibility as an HR professional to uphold your company’s values and policies, and to make sure each employee practices them properly – much like Ginsburg does each day she dons her Supreme Court justice robe.

Serena Williams & Confidence

The field of HR is bound to challenge you at many points throughout your career, and there’s one thing you’ll need to get you through it: confidence. That is something Serena Williams knows a thing or two about! Williams is a record-breaking tennis star, mother, and businesswoman, and she is unapologetically proud of all of those accomplishments. But that confidence is something many women struggle with. Yet, as HR professionals, it’s absolutely vital. During the course of your career, you will experience things that will test you. Maybe your company is taking a risk with a new venture, maybe you’ve just accepted an exciting (but scary) promotion, or maybe you’re creating and implementing a brand new program that will shake up how things are run in your workplace. Whatever challenge you’re facing, channel Williams’s inner confidence and believe in yourself and the work you’re doing.

Madeleine Albright & Conflict Management

One of the most important qualities in any position, especially that of an HR manager, is conflict resolution. No one knows this quality better than Madeleine Albright, the first woman to serve as US Secretary of State. During her tenure, she became a renowned negotiator and conflict manager. To do so, she placed a strong emphasis on putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, a lesson many HR professionals should take to heart. Whether your responsibility is to conduct conflict resolution between two fellow employees or negotiate a specific policy or contract, understand what your peer wants as well. Once you reach this understanding, you can find a solution that satisfies both parties.

Oprah Winfrey & Development

As an HR professional, you should always be seeking out new ways to learn and develop, both for yourself and for your employees. Developing personally and professionally will allow you to continuously grow in your career. Who better to learn this important lesson from than Oprah Winfrey? Born in rural Mississippi, Oprah began co-anchoring the local news in Tennessee at 19 and took a low-rated Chicago talk show to number one by age 29. Two years later, The Oprah Winfrey Show, an hour-long talk show, was being broadcast nationally. But Winfrey never rested – she went on to be an actress, producer, author, and philanthropist. She is the epitome of someone who is never satisfied. Take a page out of Oprah’s book and begin focusing on new ways you can develop yourself!

These women are all incredible examples of people who worked hard each and every day. They are the embodiment of some of the crucial qualities any HR professional should possess. What powerful women inspire you? Leave a comment and let us know!

A Fresh Take on Smart Goal Setting for HR Managers

Have you already set your goals for 2019, either personal or corporate? This year we’re taking a fresh look at goal setting for HR Managers and giving some new tips on making the most of your professional development plans.

We’ll discuss:
• What is Goal Setting?
• Why is Goal Setting Important?
• How to Create Meaningful, Effective Goals

What is Goal Setting?

Most people think about goal setting in terms of professional success. What am I hoping to achieve and what kind of results do I want? While these are worthwhile questions, author James Clear offers a fresh perspective. He says you should ask yourself one question before setting your goals: “What kind of pain do I want?”.

Clear goes on to say, “It’s easy to sit around and think what we could do or what we’d like to do. It is an entirely different thing to accept the tradeoffs that come with our goals. Everybody wants a gold medal. Few people want to train like an Olympian.” When determining your goals for the upcoming year or quarter, ask yourself what you’re willing to sacrifice.

Why is Goal Setting Important?

Have you ever decided to find your own way to a location only to realize you didn’t actually know where you were going? You step outside and start confidently walking in one direction, but a few minutes later you’re in unfamiliar territory and you’ve walked five blocks in the wrong direction. These moments are frustrating, not only because you now have to retrace your steps, but because by simply taking the time to map your course first, you could have saved yourself a lot of extra time and effort.

This is why goal setting is so important. Without a clear course mapped out in front of you, you might end up wandering aimlessly and struggle to hit your target. Don’t let arrogance or even prior knowledge influence your decision not to set goals. With proper goal planning, you’re more likely to take the most efficient, effective route.

How to Create Meaningful, Effective Goals

Step One: Goal Selection

Inspirational speaker and author, Seth Godin says “You don’t need more time, you just need to decide.” When we think about our ambitions for the year, we don’t always think about the sacrifices we need to make to get there. Often it’s not about choosing to do more, but choosing to do the right things. Make goal selection the first step in your process. Determine what’s realistic for you to accomplish and what you’ll need to give up in order to get there.

Step Two: Make SMART Goals

Unless you’re living under an HR rock, you’ve probably heard of this before. That’s because setting SMART goals is an essential part of making a successful development plan.
Specific – What do you want to accomplish? Who does this include?
Measurable – What metrics will you use to define success and determine when the goal is complete?
Achievable – Do I have the necessary resources to accomplish this goal? What will I need to give up in order to achieve this? Why is this goal important to you?
Relevant – How does this goal align with my overall success or vision? Why am I setting this goal now?
Timely – What is my deadline and is it realistic?

After answering these questions you should be able to articulate your goal and understand what needs to happen in order to achieve it.

Step Three: Take Baby Steps

If you go on to read James Clear’s advice on goal setting, you’ll find tons of great, actionable methods for achieving goals. One of our favorites is to “Stack Your Goals”.

Research has shown that you are 2x to 3x more likely to stick to your goals if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behavior. For example, in one study scientists asked people to fill out this sentence: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].”

We love this advice because it’s such an easy rule to follow but helps break down goals into actionable, everyday elements.

Step Four: Check Your Attitude

Our last step in the goal-setting process isn’t really a step at all. It’s just a gentle reminder to stay positive! Chances are you will get discouraged on your journey. Try writing out your SMART goals and reasons why you’ve chosen to tackle this particular objective. Put it somewhere visible as a tangible reminder. This will help you stay positive and motivated when the going gets tough.

What goals are you setting for this year? Use these tips to make the most of your goal-setting process, either for yourself or your team.

Should HR Make Friends at Work?

Human Resources and friendship have a complicated relationship. If you come from a more corporate environment, you may be thinking that HR professionals should keep employees at arm’s length. On the other hand, a more informal environment like a tech or start-up company may view HR as just another one of the crew. So, what’s the right choice? Should HR make friends at work… and how?

The answer is… there is no one answer that’s right for everyone. At PerkSpot, one of our core values is “We Value People”. Our culture naturally lends itself to a strong sense of community, so for us, the answer is yes. However, we know this may not work for everyone and that’s ok, too.

If you’re an HR professional thinking about embarking on friendships at work, here are three main things to keep in mind:
• Choose Your Friends Wisely
• Don’t Play Favorites
• Know Your Culture

Make Friends, but Make Them Wisely

HR can absolutely make friends at work, but these may not look like the best friends you’ve had all your life. Work friends generally know a little bit about you, but they aren’t the ones you’d call up when something goes terribly wrong. They may even be more of an acquaintance than an actual friend. However, finding someone who shares similar interests, that makes you laugh, and all-in-all makes work more enjoyable is extremely valuable for all employees, and HR is no exception.

Make Friends, but Treat Everyone the Same

One of the dangers HR can run into when having friends at work is being accused of favoritism or bias. It’s important that even if you “click” with someone at work, you treat others fairly and kindly. You should make each employee feel valued in their own way. It’s only natural to connect with some more than others. However, that should never affect how you interact with them professionally.

Make Friends, but Know Your Culture

Every workplace is different so it’s important to know what’s appropriate for your office. At PerkSpot, we are fairly casual so it would be of no surprise to see our head of HR mingling with a beer during our Friday afternoon cheers. This is appropriate because it’s a part of our culture and helps to create an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect. However, this is unique to PerkSpot and one size definitely does not fit all. Find ways to gain the trust and respect of your coworkers in a way that’s appropriate to your culture.

Do you think HR should make friends at work? We’d love to hear what you think!

Managing Up

This summer, we’ve held weekly “Lunch and Learns” with our interns where one of our executives chats with us about their career journey: their current role, their past mistakes and everything in-between.

Yesterday, our VP of Sales shared some great advice about “Managing Up”. He spoke to the importance of aligning your projects with your manager’s goals. No matter if you’re an intern, a Human Resources Manager or a VP of Sales, this advice rings true for all of us.

Let’s unpack what “Managing Up” looks like:

Know Your Mission and Values

A great way to know if your goals are aligned with your manager’s goals is taking a step back and focusing on your company’s mission and values. Examine if your priorities reflect your business objectives. If it’s not, it might be time to re-evaluate.

Your Manager is a Person, Too

Sometimes it can be easy to think that your boss is a cog in the machine. But your manager is a real person with real life stressors and emotions. By understanding even a small portion of how they tick, what’s happening in their personal lives, or even their educational or professional background, you’re more likely to develop a positive working relationship.

Know Their Goals, Anticipate Their Needs

This is both spoken and unspoken. Ask your manager what their priorities are for the next month, 3 months or 6 months. Make sure your goals are aligned with what they’re trying to accomplish and touch base to see how you might be able to problem-solve or push past obstacles that are standing in their way. This is a great way to take ownership, prove your dedication and show your initiative.

Teach Them How to Manage You

Your manager will never know your hopes and dreams unless you tell them. Dying to work on that project? Tell them where you can add value. They’ll be thrilled to have someone fill in gaps and work on tasks they may not have time to do. You’ll get the experience you’re looking for all while adding value and marking things off your boss’s to-do list. Win-win.

Whether your boss is amazing or a textbook micro-manager, “Managing Up” can do wonders for your career and help you maintain a great working relationship as a direct report.

Building Your Network

If your January was anything like ours, your resolutions might have already gone out the window. But wait. Take a deep breath and start February off on a better foot.

You might have a million goals you’re hoping to accomplish this year, but there is one thing we’re putting at the top of our list. So, if you do nothing else this year, do this.

Network, Network, Network

Too often our goals revolve around being more productive, finishing a project, or asking for a promotion or raise. While all great things to reach for, there is one thing that can set your career off on the right foot like nothing else can – meeting new people. More importantly, meeting the right people. In fact, 80% of professionals, according to a LinkedIn survey, said that networking is important to career success and another 70% were hired at a company due to their connections.

Whether you’re hoping to move up the ladder or find a new position elsewhere, here are five ways to conquer networking this year:

1. Get over yourself.

Yes, networking is awkward. Yes, you’re going to be tired and not want to put on your happy face. But chances are you’ll never regret bumping elbows and learning something new. Some people struggle with the idea that they’re inconveniencing someone, but remember that most people are GLAD to help and will be flattered at your outreach (if you do it the right way – here are a few tips).

2. Be genuine.

Don’t just go into every conversation thinking about what you can get out of it. Remember that these are real people and engage them just like you would at any other social event. Be personable and authentic, asking them questions and… LISTEN. Absorb what they’re saying and repeat it back to them. Plus, if you do it right, you might even make a new friend along the way.

3. Follow up.

This is key to making the most out of every connection. Send a follow-up email. If they were interested in an article you referenced, send them the link! Or maybe they told you about a friend who was struggling with something similar at work… ask them to connect you! If they were helpful in person, they should be more than happy to follow through, so don’t be afraid to ask. And of course, don’t be afraid to help either. Find ways to thank them for their time or assist them in something you may have discussed over coffee or a drink.

What are your favorite tips for networking? We’d love to hear from you!

How to Be Assertive (for Introverts)

There are occasional advantages to being more outgoing at work. And while this post doesn’t assume that all extroverts are assertive and all introverts are not, it’s safe to say assertiveness does not often come natural to those of us who tend to keep to ourselves. In fact, research shows that 4 out of 5 introverts believe that having more extroverted traits would help them advance in the workplace.

assertiveness for introverts

Introverts, there is hope for you yet. It’s very possible to stay true to yourself and still assert yourself in the workplace. Here are a few pointers.

1. Listen and prepare.

One super strength of introverts is that they are more likely to listen first, then speak. Take advantage of this strength and prepare for your next meeting or project. Nothing will help your confidence levels like a well-researched plan, so take time (alone! yay!) to think through possible questions that might come up and rehearse your responses.

2. Be mindful.

Have to give a presentation but feel like puking? Take a moment to center yourself and release any doubts that are passing through your mind. Or, do a power pose in front of the mirror before you step into the conference room. Yes, we’re being completely serious. This can boost your confidence levels and give you a rush of adrenaline that you might need to conquer your next task or difficult conversation.

3. Explain your needs.

Whether you’re communicating with a coworker or your boss, learning to explain your needs can seriously impact the efficiency of your communication. Don’t expect them to read your mind. Clearly communicate which needs are not being met and how they can fulfill them. If you’re struggling to get to this step, make a list and think through possible scenarios before you meet with the person. Again, preparation is the key to confidence.

4. Use a communication method that works for you.

Some of us need to look the person in the eye when we’re dealing with a conflict. Others of us would prefer the written word. Whatever your style, just make sure you’re communicating clearly and appropriately. If you’re upset, write it out and wait before you hit SEND. Come back an hour later and revisit your draft. If you decide to meet in person, give the other party a heads up that you need to talk to them about something important. That will give them time to prepare and they’ll appreciate not being bombarded with a conflict.

5. Ask for advice when you need it.

Enjoying alone time doesn’t mean we should work like we’re on an island. This isn’t good for you or your team. Remember that you have resources all around you to tap into. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

For more advice on assertiveness, here’s an awesome read.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I was chatting with a couple of friends the other day and each were sharing their unique experiences at work. There was one thing they each shared, however, which was their struggle with comparison. Each of the girls have just started new positions in the last year and as they strive to prove themselves at work, the natural tendency to compare themselves and their work to those around them has slowly creeped in.

But they are not alone in their experiences. Social comparison is so common that there is even a theory based around its effects.

stop comparing yourself

Whether you’re starting a new career or you’re a veteran in your role, here are a few ways comparison can rob us of joy and how you can counteract these feelings:

Comparisons do not show the full picture.

You might have heard the expression “You have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce”. While true and motivating, Beyonce was also blessed with opportunities that many of us will never have. Comparing yourself to others is unfair because we each have unique backgrounds, skills, and passions.

Gratitude reveals the whole story.

Instead of comparison, consider ways you can be grateful instead. Make a list every day of five things you are thankful for. Whenever you start comparing yourself to others, reach for the list and remember that what you have experienced serves to make you the person that you are and put you on a career path that’s uniquely yours.

Comparisons put the focus on the wrong person.

“He’s so smart.” “She’s so successful.” “His life is perfect.” Notice the subject of these sentences is not YOU. Comparisons have the power to put your focus on other people instead of on your own accomplishments.

Pride redefines the meaning of success.

Instead of focusing on what other people achieved, consider your own successes. It can be as small as finishing a report to larger achievements like a promotion or a raise. No matter how insignificant, tracking our achievements can be a great way to put the focus back on ourselves and our goals.

Comparisons build resentment.

One of the most harmful effects of social comparison is the resentment that can build over time. We can not only become bitter about our own shortcomings, but also resent others’ success, harming our relationships and creating walls between us.

Humility brings happiness.

This is probably the most difficult to achieve, but when we turn comparison into admiration, the results can be extremely beneficial. Instead of harboring feelings of jealousy, ask questions of the people you respect. Determine how they got to the place that you admire. You may find that things are not quite as simple as they appear, or find ways to reach your own goals that you might not have thought of before. It might not be easy to put away those jealous feelings, but in the end, you’ll build stronger relationships and learn a lot along the way.

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.” Don’t think about what the other flowers are doing… just bloom.