I am asked on numerous occasions to respond to questions regarding mentoring, mentoring process and how mentoring can bring value to individuals and/or organizations. Here are some of those questions and my responses.
Q: How does one find a farming mentor?
A: I just did a search via Google and used the words “farming mentor”. There over 9M hits and some that are really good points of reference.
Take a look at some of the organizations that offer farming mentors and see if any of them meet your needs.
Industry experience is a nice to have - not a need to have. An extraordinary mentor would prepare themselves to work with you by researching the industry and to be familiar with some of the trends. Lack of industry knowledge just means that they will be asking lots of questions which stimulates your critical thinking, demonstrates their interest in you, your industry and helps to build a trusting relationship.
Q: If you were given an opportunity to help someone with communication skills, what would be the greatest words that you’d speak?
Q: How would a 17 year old find a mentor in real-estate investing? How can I go find people to get help from in LA?
A: I would suggest finding someone in the industry and asking them for their advice and guidance. You could say, “I am interested in working in your industry once I have completed my education. What would you recommend that I do?”
As with anything in life there are no quick wins financially so be prepared to work hard for what you will achieve. It is refreshing to see that you have a vision and are seeking guidance early.
Q: As a team leader, how do you deal with individuals who struggle with cooperation and interaction with other group members?
A: I will respond to this from the role of a mentor and a team leader could take a similar approach.
Remember that relationships are two way so the other group members may be part of the challenge.
Using mentoring techniques and concepts I would engage with each of the team members to build a trusting relationship. I would focus on their individual challenges on a personal and then a professional level. By approaching it that way we will identify any barriers or obstacles that are impeding their ability to cooperate and interact with fellow team members.
From there it is a matter of providing them with communication tools as well as relationship building skills.
One thing that works well for me when it comes to group challenges such as this is to facilitate group mentoring to get them working together to critically think their way through a problem that they have been trying to solve.
A team leader that has been provided with proper leadership training supplemented by working with a mentor will be able to work through this challenge with a high degree of success.
Q: What advice do you have for people who interview badly?
A: I work with a number of people as their mentor while they are job hunting. Preparing for the interview is one of those steps. Your resume and cover letter can be rock solid but if you are not good at the interview process then you won’t be successful.
Dee has referenced using the technique of mental imagery/visualization which I fully support. I worked with a person who hadn’t been interviewed in over 19 years and we prepared for two interviews using this technique. She crushed both interviews and was successful in being hired by one of the employers.
Wayne’s recommendation to get a mentor is another great recommendation. Mentor’s will guide you and support you but they will not do the heavy lifting - that is your responsibility. I don’t write your resume - you do that but I will make suggestions. At the end of the day you own the resume and have to defend it so having me write it isn’t the path we want to take.
Q: Is leadership quality in every employee of an organization important?
A: I think it is a most definite nice to have - but I don’t think realistically that it would be a need to have. The leadership talent shortage that we are experiencing globally tells us that it is important but we are still trying to figure out how to address it.
I am a firm believe that we can prepare future leaders for tomorrow through the mentoring process. I have worked with potential leaders and current leaders to gain/enhance leadership skills using the mentoring process. There has been behavioral changes that has resulted in their leadership skills rising to the top. It becomes infectious in that other employees want to emulate the same behavior.
We have work to do but without strong leadership there is untapped potential that alludes us and lost productivity resulting in a huge impact on organization’s bottom line.
Q: How do you demonstrate the pros to someone focused on the cons?
A: I have worked with someone that was just like that.
What we did was to focus on the positive and we used reflection as a means to see both the pro and the con of something. We were able to look at what we might do differently the next time to make it a more positive outcome.
What I have also done is to use the Socratic Method to ask questions that helped us focus on the positive. Example, “What could we have said differently that would change the outcome”. Another approach is to provide two or three alternatives and have them think which would be the better approach.
If they are focused on the cons - they likely have low self-esteem so you may want to start there.
Q: Why would a mentor teach someone specifically how to succeed?
A: We need to look at the definition of mentoring in order to answer your question. Mentoring is a two way trusted relationship where the mentor and mentee learn and grow together - personally and professionally.
As the mentor shares their lived experiences with the mentee they are also learning something along the journey. It may be about the mentee, their organization, the challenges they have or had but just as importantly about themselves as a person and mentor.
It is about giving back but there is also the element that I as a mentor am going to learn and grow as well.
Q: How does a mentor choose his mentees?
A: Sometimes it is the mentee that selects the mentor as a result of a referral. The mentor needs to make sure that they have the capacity to take on the mentee.
When I am deciding whether or not I am going to work with a certain mentee it is usually due to the chemistry and whether or not the person appears committed to the journey. I need to be able to build a trusted relationship and that requires two people to make it happen.
The mentee would need to understand the difference between coaching and mentoring and what the outcomes of a mentoring relationship could be. I always recommend that the mentee take a day or two to reflect on our first meeting and if they feel there is chemistry and want to proceed then we can set up another time to meet. This ensures that we are starting the relationship/arrangement with both eyes open.
Doug Lawrence is an extraordinary mentor and mentor certification trainer with TalentC and is the International Mentoring Community Director of Education.
Doug shows organizations how mentoring programs will influence a happy workforce culture (mentors), improve employee productivity (mentees), reducing costly employee high turnover (onboarding), improves the bottom line (organizations), which saves 150% to 200% of the annual salary of each departing employee. He provides one-on-one direct mentoring for individuals and groups, all backgrounds and industries locally and internationally.
Doug is an International Certified Mentor Practitioner (ICMP), an International Certified Mentor Facilitator (ICMF), and has obtained his Certificate of Achievement – Mentoring and his Certificate of Competence – Mentor from the International Mentoring Community (IMC).
Doug is recognized as a “Most viewed writer in the Business Mentoring and Mentors and Mentoring categories on the Quora website (www.quora.com).
An international speaker and author of The Gift of Mentoring (2014), Doug’s second book is set to publish in late 2019.
Do you have a workplace crisis or issue to resolve? Schedule a time to meet with Doug: https://calendly.com/doug-lawrence
Are you aware of Sir Richard Branson’s Center of Entrepreneurship Caribbean?
The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship Caribbean is a non-profit accelerator helping entrepreneurs to scale their businesses. They are on a mission to create dynamic Caribbean economies through entrepreneurship.
The “Gift of Mentoring” spans many industries and many continents. Understanding the power of mentoring is crucial to building sustainable organizations that will provide services to a global economy.
We at TalentC are delighted to report that our very own President, Doug Lawrence is one of only three mentors featured in the Branson Center of Entrepreneurship Caribbean’s 2018 Annual Report (page 33).
Doug Lawrence and TalentC are honored to be working with Sir Richard Branson’s team to create a dynamic Caribbean economy. We are collaborating with two phenomenal entrepreneurs, Christopher Boxe and Craig Hammond who are making a difference in the community they live in. Their accomplishments are a testament to the mission of the program that has been created by Sir Richard Branson and his team. Embracing the value of mentoring has helped them in their success story.
TalentC – People Services Inc. is an organization that is focused on providing mentor training, workplace mentoring programs, mentoring at all levels of an organization on an international stage and thought leadership in the mentoring space. Our services help organizations get the best from their employees through the “Gift of Mentoring.”
For further information on the Caribbean Entrepreneurship Program: https://bransoncentre.co/
To view the 2018 Annual Report: https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3Af21a2f08-fe72-4e55-bbd0-f759d7b7474d
Doug Lawrence is the founder of TalentC®.
Doug shows organizations how mentoring will encourage workforce culture to flow in harmony (mentors), improve productivity from employees (mentees), reducing costly employee onboarding improving the bottom line (organizations).
Doug is an International Certified Mentor Practitioner (ICMP), an International Certified Mentor Facilitator (ICMF), and has obtained his Certificate of Achievement – Mentoring and his Certificate of Competence – Mentor from the International Mentoring Community (IMC).
Doug is an international speaker and author about all facets of Mentoring. He published “The Gift of Mentoring” in 2014 with his second book set to publish in 2019.
Doug works with organizations to establish mentoring programs, influence mentoring as a culture, and provides one-on-one direct mentoring for individuals of all backgrounds and levels globally.
To contact Doug: https://calendly.com/doug-lawrence
I am called on to respond to questions regarding leadership and mentoring on the Quora website. I wanted to share those questions and responses with you on a regular basis. Here is the first installment:
Q: Are you big on mentorship?
A: Yes I am. I have seen my own growth through the “gift of mentoring” and I have seen the growth of others through deeper, richer mentoring relationships. The business value of mentoring has been well documented. We must also remember the personal growth that comes from a deeper, richer mentoring experience. All of which are life changing experiences.
Q: How do I get great mentors?
A: There are mentors, great mentors and then extraordinary mentors. To understand what you want you need to understand what each can bring:
We have all had a mentor in our life at some time point. It could have been a family member, a teacher, someone in the workplace or someone that had been assigned to mentor us as part of a corporate mentorship program. Our mentor was a highly capable person that provided us with the answers to all our questions. There was a sense that they wanted to do more but did not have all the tools to be able to do so. When crunched for time a mentor will sometime lose sight of the journey and their role in guiding the person they are spending time with.
A great mentor is someone that you immediately think about when asked who your mentor is. They navigate effectively and efficiently through the mentoring process to guide and encourage the person they are spending time with to success. They have a good understanding of the concepts and are able to apply those concepts in a mentoring arrangement. They have had some formal training and take pride in their ability to continue to learn. They embrace mentoring and see it as a means to help people and organizations learn and grow. They see mentoring as a way of life.
An extraordinary mentor is the one person that we all seek to become “our” mentor. They have embraced effective mentoring and the mentoring concepts as a way of life. They are typically someone that has had formal training and is certified as a competent mentor. Their client base spans the corporate world, private sector and entrepreneurial space. They demonstrate that industry knowledge is a nice to have – not a need to have as they are comfortable working cross industry. They are humble and use story telling/story sharing as a means to share their experiences. They mentor in person and remotely using technology as a communication medium. They are a student of the mentoring process and strive to learn and grow as much as the people they are mentoring. They create that extraordinary mentoring experience.
Q: How does one become a paid mentor?
A: This is a question that I get quite often. A lot of people feel that mentoring should be free. I provide a blend of paid and free and most times it depends on ability to pay. My philosophy is that I would never leave anyone on the island by them-self.
I have gone through a training process that has resulted in being recognized as an International Certified Mentor. I am currently taking that certification to a higher level that is based on competence.
What I have found is that by having a certification I am more inclined to get opportunities that I might have not had because of the training and certification. I also offer instruction on mentoring that can result in certification by an independent body so I see not only what is taking place with my practice but also others.
To sum all this up for you is to become a paid mentor I would recommend taking some formal training. If you want to take that to another level then seek out a mentor certification. If you have any questions regarding any of this please feel free to reach out to me.
Fear can be a powerful tool that can cast a negative aura around all that it touches. Fear is something that we all face at various times in our life. Fear is something that we can manage or choose to let it manage us. Much the same as my position on stress.
In the mentoring process there is always the stigma of fear when we bring up the topic of addressing personal growth. For whatever the reason people want to shy away from speaking about their challenges on a personal level.
At the beginning of March in Victoria, British Columbia an absolutely wonderful person, Sharla Brown challenged those that attended the One Woman Fearless Summit to embrace empowerment and let go of the fear. Ten people shared their stories and how it had impacted their lives and the lives of those around them. Those messages resonated with all that were in attendance. For some, it was as though they had been placed right in the midst of the story being told as though it were their own.
Mentoring plays a part in facing that fear head-on. We sometimes discount what a lack of self-esteem or confidence can do to us on a personal and professional level. Fear becomes the mask that we hide behind challenging all that negativity within. An effective mentor will address that fear and its root cause allowing you to grow personally and ultimately professionally as well. This is why a women's mentoring program is made available for those who want to embrace who they are and face what they need to so they can get through it and move on. There are many programs out there that can elevate someone to achieve the best they can out of themselves.
One thing that I have noticed though in a lot of mentoring programs is the reluctance or perhaps fear of addressing the challenges contained within the personal side of a person we may be spending time with in a mentoring relationship. People become quite reluctant to want to broach the topic and as such it gets left untouched and the relationship suffers. The belief in the "gift of mentoring" begins to decline and what we had hoped for as a positive outcome doesn't materialize.
The two references below speak to that very topic – the topic of personal growth and how mentoring is a key to meeting that fear head on. The majority of the people that I spend time with in a mentoring relationship know that we are going to talk about that first before we even begin the journey of their career development. The entrepreneurs that I work with know that we are going to make sure that we believe in who we are and what we are providing as a service before we look at how to move the company forward. If you don't believe in what you offer how can you be of service?
Mentoring can make a difference in your life. It can help you face fear head on. It can help you become empowered and it can help you grow personally. Don't waste another moment – embrace the "gift of mentoring" and face your fear head on.
When you look around you and see all the businesses that are there to provide you service and meet a need you have for products/services you likely take things for granted. As one of those business owners you likely have that feeling of immortality – my business will go on forever. Somehow we think that the business can and will operate on auto-pilot after we are gone. Let me paint a picture for you.
Approximately 90% of the businesses globally are small to medium sized. 71% of the owners of those organizations are preparing to exit the business in the next 10 years. Only 7% have a succession plan.
Most business owners are not ready to move forward with the decision to sell their business and have not examined the possibilities. Are we going to sell to a family member(s), to our employees or to a third party, to name a few options? Are we going to take help from business sale brokers to find a suitable party to take over the business, or are we going to do it independently? Have we prepared ourselves for what happens next after the business has changed hands? The feelings we are experiencing are strange and actually somewhat foreign and we ask ourselves if we have become soft – after all it's just a business.
All of these thoughts and feelings can weigh heavily on you when it comes to selling your business, and how it when it should be done. Your legacy is important to you and it should be. You have poured all those years, all that wisdom into building an organization that you are proud of. You got caught up in the emotion of it all and forgot one thing – you need to prepare someone to take control of the helm sooner rather than later.
There are resources out there that walk beside you on your journey to sell your business. SuccessionMatching is one such organization. (http://www.successionmatching.com/?p=2) If you are wondering where do I go next, check out what they offer as it will definitely give you confidence in moving forward.
Here are some things to consider. Am I ready personally to begin the journey of selling and creating that legacy? If I have some doubts how will I work through those doubts and then move forward. I want to share with you a potential solution to that problem.
Mentoring or better yet – effective mentoring is a powerful tool that can facilitate personal and professional growth in a person and an organization. Mentoring can help with the challenge of knowledge transfer from you to the new owner of your organization. Mentoring can help in providing the soft skills to enhance your employees making your organization more productive and more attractive to potential buyers. It will also be the light at the end of the tunnel in preparing employees to assume ownership of your company ensuring your legacy lives on.
Effective mentoring and the skills required to do so are transferable skills. Skills such as relationship building and effective communication are skills that we use in our family, in the community in which we live and in organizations that we are part of. Working with a trained mentor can ensure that you recognize the path to achieving these skills and then put them into practise. A trained mentor knows when to guide and when to listen as you talk your way through decisions. They know the right questions to ask to help you see the path that you may follow. They become a person that you trust and who you build a trusted relationship with.
Take the first step and reach out. You don't need to go on this journey yourself. Take advantage of the resources that are available to you. Selling the business that you have nurtured and grown over all these years is not an easy decision. Embrace the "gift of mentoring" – can you afford not to?
Doug Lawrence, President TalentC® - People Services Inc. presents Kevin Junek, Senior Technical Account Manager, Microsoft, Canada with the International Certification for Mentoring (ICM) professional designation and pin as a Certified Mentor Practitioner.
Kevin is actively involved in sharing the “gift of mentoring” with others.
Some of the key mentor relationships he is involved in include:
- Ignite Adult Learning – 2 apprentices to date
- Paul J Hill School of Business – 2 apprentices to date
- Microsoft – several mentees, most notably Julie No, a 2-year mentee as part of Microsoft’s MACH program (MACH = Microsoft Academy of College Hires - http://careers.microsoft.com/careers/en/sg/mach.aspx
“I am truly honored and blessed to have earned my ICM Level 2 Certified Mentor Practitioner designation. Mentoring for me has been an incredible journey, both in the mentoring I have received from others as well as the mentoring I have done for others. I have recognized tremendous value in the mentoring I received over the course of my career; so much to the point that I would not be the person I am today without the wonderful gifts I received from mentors who took the time to work with me over the past 20 years. Mentoring has been such a critical part of my life that it was natural that I wanted to become one myself, to leverage the skills and learning's I’d developed over the years to give back to others. This designation is another step in that journey of giving back – a validation of the skills and abilities I’ve accumulated over the course of my career that I can now use to help others. I am truly blessed to be a part of the Mentoring community and a proud partner of TalentC®, and am looking forward to continuing my mentoring journey by giving back to others “the gift of mentoring”!” – Kevin Junek.
The International Certification for Mentoring provides for a professional designation as a Certified Mentor Practitioner through a combination of academic and practical learning's and a lifelong commitment to growing as a mentor. The governing body – Certification Subject Matter Experts -http://csme.us/hr-certifications provides the rigor and governance to ensure that this professional designation meets the standards as defined by the International Standards Organization (ISO).
Relationship building is an important element in effective mentoring. We sometimes take it for granted and we sometimes don’t really care about it. Today I was told a story that once again saddens me as it was clearly not effective mentoring and it was clearly not relationship building at all.
There can be a number of barriers in the mentoring process that typically arise when mentor training has not taken place. Gender differences can present a barrier but does it really have to? In the story that I was told this morning it obviously did as the mentee had indicated that they did not have a great mentoring experience. I can only imagine the thoughts that went through their mind when the opportunity to participate in a mentoring program this year was presented. They had some reservations to say the least.
Another barrier that we see and this obviously was one in the story I was told is cultural differences. What I am seeing is that without some form of training that addresses the need to be prepared for your mentoring experience you will struggle to build that trusted relationship. With the number of people that I am blessed to spend time with there are cultural differences and my job as an effective mentor is to understand what those differences are and respect them. That should not be something that deters our relationship from moving forward and it should move forward in a positive manner. If it doesn’t then I need to evaluate what I am doing.
The other day I spoke to a group of mentees that were preparing to embark on their mentoring journey. I had asked each to provide one or two things that they hoped to take away from their mentoring experience. One of the mentees when asked to respond to the question asked for additional time to respond which I honored. When we did come back to her she had a response that caused me some concern as I detected a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. I spoke with her separately at the end of the event and determined that she did in fact suffer from self-esteem/self-confidence. When asked she admitted that she struggled and did not know how to deal with this issue. My only hope is that her mentor is able to work with her to address this and help her become more positive and believing in who she is and what she is capable of doing. This particular person is an international student who is trying to assimilate into a new culture and obtain her education on top of it all. I spoke with a colleague of mine who was in a similar position a while ago and she confirmed for me that she too went through much the same thing during her early stages of cultural assimilation. She struggled with self-esteem and self-confidence and was withdrawn in a lot of situations. You certainly would not know that she was the same person today! She is very articulate and is someone that I work with and learn so much from in our mentoring journey. Part of our success in our relationship is the respect for each others cultural differences and working within the confines of those differences. That respect is extended to what each brings to the mentoring relationship.
My colleague and I discussed what is important to her in the relationship building process. She indicated that building a trusted relationship is crucial but creating that safe environment as part of that trusting relationship is also important. We have deep and meaningful conversations that she does not have with anyone else. We look forward to those conversations.
The story that I referenced earlier in this article is one where there was no trust, there wasn’t a safe environment and there was no relationship. As a result, the person did not receive the benefit that mentoring can bring. Imagine what would have taken place had the mentor had some form of training?
Relationships are crucial to the success of your mentoring journey. Take the time to build those relationships properly. Respect what each other brings to the relationship. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn and grow personally and professionally. Share the “gift of mentoring!”
Today was an awesome day! I met with my Apprentice from Ignite Adult Learning Corporation. I along with a number of truly blessed volunteers are mentors for Apprentices that are part of the Mentor Program that Ignite has in place. I am inspired by the challenges that my Apprentice is dealing with and the manner in which he is tackling them keeping his eyes on the goals that he has set for himself.
In our conversations today he shared his love of writing poetry with me. I was truly inspired by his gift and encouraged him to share his message with others either through a blog site of his own or perhaps in the creation of a book. I thought that it was only fitting to share with you one of his poems:
with all the emotional Impact
while knowing strength on earth is long gone
I weep silently at the fact its difficult to hold up strong
The help of family pushing a worm through a rotten fruit
Happiness smothered with crystal tears
nothing but the desert of devils route
the last of its kind in the clear
pits of hell approach like memory
flames reach stab and wound
fragile sorrow's rage endlessly
full evolved butterfly still cocoon
when all hope was lost in a place so black
A soul of angel crossing the wrong path
the flows of the heavens light
once a crazy carnage now the givin life from the lords might
1. Anthony Geddes - Ignite Adult Learning Corporation Apprentice, March 21, 2014
Mentoring Mental Health: Helping Employees Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance
The work-life balance. It's an equation we often hear given as the key to a happy, healthy life. Essentially it is about finding a balance between your job priorities and finding time to indulge in life outside of work such as hobbies or time with family and friends. For anybody living the life of a nomad digital, work can be done anywhere and doesn't tend to interrupt life too much. However, for most workers it means not staying at the office late into the night all week or coming in on weekend at the expense of pursuing non-work interests. While this means less hours spent at the office, it does not necessarily follow that it means less worker output. Many studies have found and many companies believe that workers with a good work-life balance are more productive overall. Further, mentoring young promising staff on a work-life balance shows your business thinks of them as more than just cubicle drones, which can help increase employee engagement. This is particularly important somewhere such as Canada where the only 27 percent of the workforce are engaged, while 50 percent remain moderately engaged and 23 percent not engaged. Employees who are not engaged can derail an organization and its employees, spreading negativity, so reversing this remains important. Yet, deciding to pursue a work-life balance is one thing. Defining and achieving it is another altogether, and this is where the right mentoring can be essential.
Why a Work-Life Balance is Good for the Company
The benefits of teaching employees how to live balanced lives go beyond their personal happiness. Multinational companies as huge as BP (allows flexible working hours) and HSBC (provides creches) recognize the benefits a company reaps from employees with work-life balances. Some companies even argue that not having a work-life balance hurts the bottom line, and enforce strict working hour caps. The idea is that working fewer hours but being smarter and more engaged while doing it increases productivity. For example, something as simple as taking a break from your work and engaging in life and hobbies and family allows an employee's brain to relax and refocus itself, in fact, some believe weaving short breaks into a working day can even help. Conversely working long hours, nights and weekends can burn people out, which at its worst can lead to mental health problems such as depression or alcoholism. Burn out costs in Canada are estimated to hurt businesses to the tune of at least $12 billion a year in health claims, lost productivity and absenteeism, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, and that doesn't even include the cost to employees who need to seek help such as alcohol addiction recovery. Speaking of alcohol recovery, this is where companies such as Pacific Ridge would come in handy when it comes to finally get your health back on track and be free from alcohol addiction. If you would like to learn more about your options when it comes to alcohol addiction recovery, you could visit https://enterhealth.com/. A study in Australia by think-tank The Australia Institute and mental health advocate beyondblue found a quarter of 'overworked' employees felt anxiety and half wanted to spend more time with their families. These parallel statistics – surely closely mimicked in Canada – show how too many hours in the office and away from the family hurts employees, leaving them homesick and stressed. The groups launched Go Home on Time Day in an effort to help Australia's workforce balance its time better.
Young Employees: Where Mentoring is Key
The difficulties of implementing a work-life balance is especially true when dealing with young ambitious people, who enter the workforce motivated to achieve and who often represent your next batch of leadership hopefuls. To them being at work and achieving are often inseparable. It takes time to learn that sometimes doing less can mean achieving more. They are willing to do the long hours as they seek to achieve the best results, and forgo holidays and weekends in order to rise up the corporate ladder. While this can be great in the short term, it is not long before they can start to burn out. A year or two of long, hard hours with little or no respite will burn out even the most ambitious workers, ultimately costing business productivity and results, and potentially costing it a rising star. As such younger workers who are picked as potential leaders need mentoring on the importance of resting and maintaining their work-life balance. If you've had to train new staff before, you'll realize that there are a number of mentoring tactics that you apply to help make this more enjoyable and a lot less daunting for them, as we all know how it felt to be the new person in the office. Teaching them of the impact of their non-work lives on their work lives can accelerate a learning process that otherwise takes years to master. Mentoring them on small things such as eating lunch away from the desk, learning how to manage overtime and book vacations can go a long way to improving health for their entire working lives. Young hopefuls living a healthy life are in a far better position to contribute more to a company for longer time then those who learn too late.
Our sincere thanks to guest author Julie Fenwick who has contributed this article.
When we think of bullying, more often than not our minds are cast back to the schoolyard. Everyone knows someone, or has been themselves, a bullying victim. Canadian schools are no exception when it comes to this problem, with recent measures being taken by the Upper Canadian School Board in regards to a number of suicides related to bullying in their schools. Bullying in the workplace may not be something that comes to mind – however it is a very present problem in a number of Canadian workplaces.
Although we may think that we are familiar with the signs of bullying, they are often quite subtle and may be hard to spot for someone outside of the situation. Again, we often assume bullying to be associated with physical abuse, and while this can often be the case for children, there are many more forms it can take, especially when taking place in the adult world, and especially the workplace. A recent report suggests that around 40% of Canadians are victims of or have experienced bullying at work. There are a number of tell-tale signs however, and these should be looked out for by all members of staff in any business, whether the offender is a director or clerk. Verbal aggression and gossiping can often be the signs of bullying. Gossip is a common occurrence in the workplace, and can quickly turn malicious, causing a spread of bullying among employees. This is especially true if a suspected bully continually brings up the person they are targeting to every group they speak to.
The Cost of Bullying
Aside from the fact that no one deserves to be the subject of abuse at work, bullying can have a very real cost on a business. Bullying might affect not only the morale of staff but also the atmosphere in the workplace, which can in turn lead to high turnovers, reduced productivity, resentment and bickering among staff that need to be working as a team, and can cause staff to become disengaged. These can all impact a business in a very real way, eventually cutting into productivity and profits. A organization's approach to dealing with these issues has to be firm. By simply allowing these actions to take place or turning a blind eye, businesses are in effect building a culture of bullying. Most of us want to enjoy our work, and most members of a workforce will leave if conditions are unpleasant, and they are able to find an alternative. In addition, there may be a real talent in the workforce that is not being allowed to reach potential because of bullying. A positive and supportive environment will allow and encourage employees to grow to their full potential, and this can only benefit the business as a whole. Who knows, you may well have the next big innovator on your hands who will go on to sweep up a variety of accolades both internal and external helping to boost the reputation of your company.
Solutions to Workplace Bullying
One fundamental approach is to make it clear to all employees, no matter their level of authority, that abusive or bullying behavior will not be tolerated, and consequences will be enforced. If a workforce knows a company is serious about these claims, then it can often go a long way to stopping this kind of behavior, and by taking action when it does crop up, ensuring that it is ended before any real damage is done. One common problem is the difficulty in drawing a distinction between authority and abuse. Sometimes those in positions of authority may think they are simply being professional or assertive, and may not be fully aware of the damage and hurt they are causing. This is in fact a common problem, and one that can be easily resolved through the use of mentoring – by having the knowledge and correct skills, management can do a great amount to increase morale and positivity in the workforce without causing distress to those they manage. Of course, there will always be bad eggs, but by using good practice and skills that come through coaching and mentoring, these can be identified a lot quicker, and the appropriate actions can be taken. However we approach the issue, it is one that any business has to tackle head on, especially as more and more light is being cast on this unpleasant aspect of human behavior. By taking advantage of mentoring and specialists in this field, there is no reason why the majority of workplace bullying can be a thing of the past in the future.
Our sincere thanks to guest author Julie Fenwick who has contributed this article.