What makes the grunts disgruntled?

One of the long-standing conundrums of life in the workplace is the gap that exists between managers’ perceptions and those of their employees. Some middle-managers also find themselves having to act as buffers between a 'bad boss' and the staff who report to them. Middle-managers may not be natural born tailwaggers, but they do share something with puppies: treat them badly for long enough and they’ll stop loving or respecting you.

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#ouch – or when to think before opening the door

For individuals in their daily lives, the worst outcome is usually not as hideous as it might be: while we might find ourselves weeping into a ludicrously over-catered buffet while our ‘friends’ wash their hair or text flimsy excuses for their absence, our audience is normally restricted to our nearest and dearest. (Although these might not be the comparative adjectives we feel like using about them at the time.) For an organisation, attempting ‘open house’ on a medium like Twitter is a rather different matter. Despite the lack of catering, there is considerably more scope for ‘egg on face’ moments and for them to be conducted with the blinds open and the neighbourhood's cameras focused on you.

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Populating the tent

Promoting other people in your own image not only says something about your preferences, it says something – and not something particularly healthy – about your own self-image. Leadership depends not just on developing self-awareness, but on maintaining it – staying aware of your impact, of the impression you create, and your relationship to the changing world around you. (If you want a truly ghastly analogy here, consider the scene in Behind the Candelabra where Liberace produces a photograph of himself as guidance for the plastic surgeon hired to ‘re-model’ his partner. If you want to be adored, try being adorable. It’s cheaper and it leaves fewer scars – on everyone – although it does mean finding out what other people find attractive.)

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Not on your own shoes, please …

The harder challenge, perhaps, is to identify when it is us that are being unreasonable, and starting on a journey that may well end in conflict. Stark questions-to-self along the lines of “Have you remembered where your salary comes from?” are much clearer and easier to answer than “Is my opposition or antipathy to this issue ultimately constructive?” or “For my own longer-term satisfaction, might I do well to consider starting to plan either a change of position or a change of behaviour?” Organisations find it difficult to notice and monitor the early signs of possible dis-engagement, and their eyes are on the larger agenda: individuals are likely to find this harder.

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Challenging or Competing? Taking issue with Gavin Kilduff

By its very nature, the whole concept of ‘fierce rivals’ implies an absence of loyalty, other than to the notion of defeating your opponent at any cost. Having constant competition (albeit that it is not quite synonymous with rivalry) could foster greater in-group cohesion if the group has collectively bought into the notion that they are competing intentionally and that a collective benefit can be gained (ie they relish the competition). The critical difference is of intention.

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Generations at work: The other ‘squeezed middle’

Barclays Bank recently commissioned research into the appeal of benefits packages offered by employers to different generational groupings within the workforce. Someone with a keen interest in pop culture – albeit not very recent pop culture – may have chosen the report’s title: Talking About My Generation. Looking at coverage of the report since its publication, other Who singles might have spoken more clearly about the findings: I’m thinking, for example, about The Seeker, Let’s See Action or the inevitable Won’t Get Fooled Again.

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