Tackling Touchy Subjects with a Powerful Person

dachshund and english bulldog looking at each otherRaise your hand if you have been in a situation where your boss, or someone else in power in your organization, expressed strong views about something political, religious, ethnic/racial, or otherwise potentially polarizing, thereby sending into hiding anyone with opposing viewpoints.  Wow, that’s a lot of hands in the air! Continue reading

When the Answer the Big Guy Wants is ‘Yes’

0513f6c3-d0f8-4f2e-95b0-2a300e74fc48Mark felt constantly backed into a corner; truthfully, more like backed into a cage.  The CEO had high hopes for a new product line, and Mark and his team were expected to both roll out the product flawlessly by an unrealistic date, and to meet sales goals for the new product that took his breath away.  It’s not the first time this had happened.  Everyone in the organization read – and even over-read – the CEO’s expectations, and tried to meet them, no matter how difficult or even impossible they were.  Saying ‘no’ was not a career-enhancing option.  “The Big Guy likes positive responses,” said Mark’s boss, “let’s make sure we give him what he wants.”  When Mark started to offer uncertainties, his boss commented further, “Mark, you give so many caveats that it makes you appear reluctant to make commitments to anything.” Continue reading

When the Cultural Norm Really Isn’t the Norm

Company culture word cloudCulture is one of those things that builds subtly over time.  Its subtlety makes it almost invisible in an organization.  It also makes it hard to recognize when culture has shifted.  Take two examples: Continue reading

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Typewriter What is Your StoryIf you ever spent any time with Andy Martin, you know his story.  “I get things done, no matter what the impediments.”  Andy talks proudly about the many times he’s managed to pull off big projects, in the face of internal political pressures, layoffs, mergers, and a changing competitive environment.

The stories others in the organization tell about Andy, however, bear little resemblance: Continue reading