Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Brannen’

The Employer’s Dilemma – Real Injustice or Perceived Injustice?

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Many years ago when labor unions came to be the real injustice they were addressing was easy to see and understand. Today’s employer’s have a larger dilemma as what is perceived to be unjust quite possibly is unknown to them or has come about because of the need to be competitive.

So how do employer’s find out what is on the minds of their employee’s and where they see injustice? Whether it is real or perceived it has the same negative effect on loyalty, attendance, quality, customer service, innovation, growth and more.

Usually the answer is an employee survey. The answer to every employer’s questions.
I would like to suggest that there is another more powerful way; real conversations, with real honesty and real listening. Everyone loves a survey because it is anonymous. There is a lot to be said for anonymity however there is also a lot to be said for meaningful dialogue.

Smart companies will use surveys to get to the heart of many things. Smarter companies also use dialogue that creates trust, expediency in communications, including those things that are perceived to be unjust. These dialogues give you timely, honest, and critical feedback to the success of your company.

Remember, it does not matter if the injustice is real or perceived, the emotion around it is the same and the negative impact could put important parts of your business at risk.

Do your employees a favor, learn how to create workplace dialogues, not a new idea, but an idea that has gotten lost in the “busyness” of staying competitive. Amazingly these dialogues will help you get there faster. These dialogues provide information of such great value that once you begin the process you will wonder why you didn’t start them sooner!

(For more information on how to set up workplace dialogues contact

What To Do When The Road Is Not On The Map

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Right now many business managers are struggling with how to deal with the 101 things that seem to be part of the fall out of the shootings in Colorado. These range from requests for time off and how that is to be charged, to emotions about the event in the workplace. Policy manuals are not written for this type of thing. No one can ever imagine this type of thing and each time it happens, whether that is 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, flooding or fires, they are all unique and require a thoughtful approach.

Know that people will remember, forever, how you reacted during this stressful situation. This will affect employee morale, how customers perceive you and over all whether you can stay productive.

Here are a few quick tips for you to help in this current difficult time:

Realize that people are sad and shaken on many levels. Some people have a direct connection to those killed or injured, others have indirect connections. In either case the mourning, some anger and sadness can all be present. In dealing with this in the workplace take a moment to realize what is really happening here.
o First, the loss of life and critical injuries are a hard thing, always
o Second, the loss of life in a senseless act makes the grief that much more difficult
o Third, there is a mourning going on here for the loss of a joy, a freedom, that is just part of young adult life in America. It could be a very long time and possibly never again that people will feel 100% safe at the midnight premiere of a new film, no matter what the film.

Do be sensitive to the variety of ways people are processing this. Be careful if there is strong anger or emotions about this in public areas. You do not know how everyone is feeling about the many complexities of this and making sure that these discussions are monitored is important. If you see some extreme anger or upset, talk to the individual privately about where and how that upset or anger can be appropriately processed.

Watch for upsets that don’t make sense to occur around your workplace. Often people hold in their thoughts and feelings about something like this and the next thing you know it is coming out in an argument with a co-worker or a bad attitude in a meeting.

If you have personnel directly affected, make some extra gestures for those who have lost a friend or relative that goes beyond your typical bereavement leave. Find a way to give these people the time and space to deal with the multiple complexities of this loss.

At the same time let them know you are there as a friend if they need to talk. They may not have the resources to process this that you think they might have. If your company has a formal EAP program, now is the time to offer information on that yet again.

Sometimes coming back into the workplace sooner is what they may need to heal. If they want to do that be sure to ask if there is anything colleagues can do to make that transition easier. Some people want to talk in the lunch room, some people don’t want to talk in the lunch room. Have a candid conversation with your employees about what is best for everyone.

Be watchful, aware and sensitive.
When you don’t know what to do, ask for help from someone who may be able to give you a better handle on the situation. In today’s world the workplace often plays a crucial role in the healing from these situations.

Do You Work or Create To Serve Or to Sell?

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Over the weekend I had an experience with an item that I had purchased where a great deal of “filler” had been added to the item, thus making it appear to be more than it was.

My mind immediately went to the mindset of the manufacturer of the product and what they were thinking when they put it together. If they put more of the items of substance in it would potentially cost more money to make. The “filler” allowed them to lower the price.

So I ask you, did they create this product to provide a service to me, or did they create it to make the sale?
Now before you say both, think very carefully about what was the primary motivation. To answer a need consumers may have for a quality product? Make an affordable product to answer a consumer need? To create something I will purchase repeatedly or just purchase once?

I can answer the question for me. It was a onetime purchase for me as the “filler” reduced the quality of the product to the point that it defeated the purpose of why I had purchased it, thus making the lower price irrelevant. It may be a different answer for others. How do you decide which direction to go?

In your what you do, do you work or create to serve or to sell?

Review, Revise, Remodel –How To Know When to Do IT?

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

There comes a point in everyone’s work or life when these questions appear. Should I review what I have been doing and maybe do something different going forward? Should I revise something I am doing and maybe change things up a bit? Should I remodel me?

How do you know when to do this or just stick with what you have been doing? The answer is simple.

When it isn’t working for you anymore!
We are the most stubborn when change really needs to occur, wouldn’t you agree? What are you clinging to for dear life that needs to be redone?

Walk With Me – Day Two Musings – Geese, Gas and Goodness

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

The walking continues………


The geese were everywhere this morning on the ponds and islands of the golf course I walked by. It is incredible how much noise they make. Our lives are very, very, noisy these days; probably noisier than we can ever imagine. Between Facebook, Twitter, our computers, Email, iPods, Smart Phones and the usual suspect television, there is a lot of noise coming our way. The question is, “Do we ever sit in silence to hear what is really going on in our head, our heart and our spirit?” In this silence is there some peace we are seeking?


When our cars run out of gas we head to the gas station. What is the gas station for you when you run out of gas at work?


Have you ever noticed how good people are? Have you ever had the nerve to tell them that? “I enjoy going through your check out stand, you make me smile!” “I enjoy how you served us today. Thank you for the attention, you made the meal so much more pleasant.” Goodness, it’s everywhere.

Walk with Me – Day One Musings -Dawn, Ducks, and Dogs

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

There is something looming in front of me that I think requires that I be in much better shape than I am today. To that end I decided to follow the routine of a man that I greatly admire and walk every morning, without fail, for as long as I can maintain it. Dawn is such a beautiful time of the day, full of hope and beauty and that is the time I have chosen.

All of this is in response to my constant moaning and groaning for the past two years about what terrible shape I am in, the weight I have gained and the clothes that don’t fit. Well of course they don’t fit, because I’m not fit!

So each day for the next couple of weeks you will read about my musings on these walks. I’ll keep them short after this. Come walk with me………..

As Nike says, “just do it!” That’s what got me out of bed today to walk. How many of us are failing at life because we just won’t do it?

Earlier in the week I received an email that made me crazy. It doesn’t take much to make me crazy, just people not thinking before they take off, half cocked, on something and that is what this one was. After I fussed and fumed over it I had a chance to think more about their perspective on my walk. Perspective, what a great gift of Play and my walking. By the time I returned home my perspective had changed. I think stopping to pet, “Nana,” a rescued dog I met along the way showed me there is always another way. Perspective.

You know those dopey party, corporate training games we all hate? One of my least favorites is “If you could be an animal, what would you be?” I think over the years I have been everything from an Elephant to an Eagle. Now, after my walk I know what animal I want to be! A duck. Ducks fly. I love flying. Ducks float on the water and swim underwater to fish. I LOVE being on and in the water. I want to be a duck! Oh, and Ducks have a layer of fat that keeps them nice and warm.

Are People Able to Be Happy at Work Without it Being a Fable?

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

When I wrote “Office Peace” several years ago it was in its final edits when one of my proof readers sent me an email saying, “This will say ‘fable’ on the front, right?” Strangely, although the story was fiction it never occurred to me to put “fable” on the story.
One thing about fables for me is that they most likely are never true, but told to make a point. What was my point?

I was pained to think that this story could never be true. Was there no workplace where this was happening?

In the definition of fable it is often characterized as a story that carries a moral. Once again I asked myself the question; Is there a moral to this story?

As you go through your workday today I put this challenge forth to you, is it a great place? Is there no diminishment, trust, all ideas are received as having some merit, people are appreciated, there is playfulness and joy, everyone knows how they are contributing, people avoid being judgmental, people look for the lessons in the unexpected and you make money because you do the right thing?

Tell me this exists and it’s not a fable that I wrote.

Ask Me – Please!

Friday, August 19th, 2011

In a world where pace and haste seem to be the name of the game, first to market, quick to respond and so on, we need to be careful about where not to be too hasty.
Employees, friends and family appreciate it when you ask their opinion, incorporate their opinion and value their opinion.

You have heard this before. We would all like to think that we do this. But way too often the pace of our work and our lives causes us to forge ahead like a rocket, literally burning their opinions with the blast. The kids had an idea, but we didn’t ask them. The employee’s wanted to say something, but we didn’t ask. Your friends wanted to help, but you didn’t ask for help.
Think about three things you need to do that involve others this week? Where would it be worthwhile to ask for another opinion or some help? Where would it serve you, and the world, to incorporate some ideas from others? How would it make things better, for everyone, if you asked?

Hear Me – What Employee’s Want

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

When was the last time someone really heard you? You know, understood what you were trying to say? Was really interested in your point of view? Allowed you have a point of view? Wanted your opinion?

People talk all the time, but are they heard? We talk over people, we do email while they talk, (by the way they have proven scientifically that you are not listening at full capacity even though it may feel like you are hearing everything), even text or watch TV while others talk.
“I hear you.” Can we say this with integrity? Did we hear them as they wanted to be heard, (both what they said and the emotion in the words)? Did we compose our response while they were still talking? Did we dismiss their opinion and drop in our own?

To really hear others we have to shut down the yammering monkeys in our head. We have to try.
Here’s a thought; for a week try to give the gift of listening. Think of this effort to hear others as a gift and give it every day for seven straight days. Let us know what you find out!

See Me! An Employee’s Lament

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Have you ever felt invisible? You know the feeling, you walk into a store and every clerk seems to have something better to do than help you.

Invisibility is reaching epidemic proportions in our world. Check this out in your day. How many places will you go where people will go out of their way to avoid contact with you? When and where will you do it yourself today and why?

What are we afraid of? When I asked someone I respect that question yesterday he said, “We’re just too busy in our heads with our own stuff, and now that you asked me that, I think that’s sad.”

Some of the other reasons we avoid eye contact is that we don’t have time, they might try to sell us something, they might say or tell us something we don’t want to hear, all valid comments, but how often is this the case versus just not being present for those around us.

One of employees complaints in surveys is “they don’t seem to know I’m here, which makes me think that maybe I don’t matter.”

Make it a goal to let everyone know they matter. Even if they are trying to sell you something.

See me, please.