Opening up at the Water Cooler

Sharing the HR news for the week ending January 31st, 2013:

Truth to Power and Power to Truth

Openness in the workplace is a top priority and important consideration for us at TribeHR. It helps make employees happier, more motivated, and more engaged. And we’re not the only ones who believe that. This week, the Wall Street Journal offers tips on how to create a culture of candor: “insisting on candor comes as close to being an all-purpose problem-solver as any idea yet encountered.” Information should flow both ways—from employees to their bosses and vice versa. It can be a struggle, especially for employees who are not comfortable “speaking truth to power,” such as when a project doesn’t come through as expected, or they limit their point of view to what they feel their boss would like to hear.

Water Cooler Man on Psychiatrist's couch.

Let it all out, water cooler man.

Some managers might also be inclined to keep information as a source of power; they feel more valuable if they know something others don’t, or use it to their own advantage to reach goals. To overcome these challenges, high-level managers must insist on complete honesty, soliciting information from every one of their employees. They need to accept bad news with grace, and publicly recognize those with the courage to bring any issues to light. Constant encouragement and honest communication are sure paths to success.

Bad Tips from Good People

Employees may also need to be open—with the people hurting their careers, that is. Brazen details the five unexpected people who could be holding you back from reaching your full potential. It turns out that moms don’t always know best, especially when it comes to your capabilities. They might think you’re a writing genius when the ins and outs of adverbs are far from your specialty, or fail to see a Hemingway in the rough. Workplace friends are also great, but they may not be thrilled to see you move up and out. Finally, be wary of yourself. Sure the bully or the co-worker that leaves you hanging with a project isn’t a help to your career, but you alone are responsible for your own decisions. Make them wisely.

New Kids on The Block

Alright, you’ve taken your destiny into your own hands and finally have your first job. Now what do you do? You try you hardest not to screw it up. The pros at The Economic Times has a field guide this week on office types you (and your employees) should try to avoid personifying.

First up, repeat after us: thou shall not tell lies. Being a liar is a fast track to a fresh jobs search. Avoid becoming the “family person,” i.e. the employee constantly causing noise pollution with personal issues. Don’t become an “arm chair” expert either—no one wants to hear “in my experience” until you, you know, actually have some.

Stop Stressin’

Employees want to keep working productively, and employers (for the most part) want the same. One way to do that is to avoid workplace fear and stress. The signs that your employees are feeling both might not always be super obvious. The Huffington Post offers up five subtle signs of fear and stress and how to manage them. Becoming observant is key.

For one thing, take notice of issues being tolerated for too long. Pay attention to the “yes to everything syndrome,” the common people-pleasing reaction to stress. Furthermore, be wary of “all good news” as you monitor what’s happening on your team. It never hurts to simply ask your employees if they’re feeling stressed. Taking stress seriously and making an effort to respond to any issues that arise will help eliminate any unnecessary stress and build faith among your employees that you care about their well-being.

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