Category Archives: Co-Colours Life

Co-Colours Life is your wake up call rolled into realistic every-day work place situations (cartoons) in a company called Co-Colours.

Situation 45: Second guessing one self

In a face-to-face meeting Boss is requesting Betsy to replace Mansy during his leave of absence. Betsy is obviously flattered by the request but also doubts whether she is ready for this responsibility. She asks whether maybe Billy would be a more logical choice.

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A great leader:

  • Is self-confident and readily seeks and accepts new challenges;
  • Looks for opportunities to grow and develop her capabilities;
  • Seeks help from others to enable her to succeed.

How to best handle the situation:

If you are invited to step up and take on new responsibility, this is because you are seen as someone with the capabilities required to succeed at this level. Of course, it may also be a test to see how well you perform in new situations, however, this is borne out of a belief that you have potential. If you are ambitious and want to move up in your career you should welcome the new challenge with open arms.

Treat this interim assignment as you would any new job: understand what the expectations are of you in the role, be clear on the goals, objectives and priorities you need to deliver on, meet with key stakeholders in your new capacity. It is probable that you will be working with the same people as you did before this assignment, so it is vital that you act at your new higher level and communicate to your colleagues that you are in a different role with different demand than previously. Take the time to establish new working arrangements with your colleagues and any direct reports you may now have.

It can be daunting stepping into a higher-level position, so it is worth enlisting some support – a coach or mentor – who can help you navigate the new complexities of your role and transition to act at the level commensurate with your new responsibilities.

Schedule some 1:1’s with your (new) line manager to review your progress and take steps to ensure that you stay on course.

Learning suggestions:

  • If you are seeking promotion, people are more likely to award that to you if they already think of you as operating at that level. Take time to know the accountabilities of the role(s) that you aspire to and start to assume/volunteer for some responsibilities related to these.
  • Observe how your seniors, particularly, those whom you admire dress, talk, behave etc., and try to emulate them.
  • Get exposure to more senior levels in the organization to learn about how work gets done, the decisions that are taken etc. – request shadowing opportunities, volunteer to sit on cross-functional steering groups, contribute to discussion groups and fora etc.
  • Work with a mentor, who is a seasoned professional, whom you admire, to learn more about your area of expertise and the organization and develop your capabilities to a higher level.

 Femchallenge:

  • Volunteer to join a high, visibility project or sit on a committee that gives you a different perspective of your organization.

 Femcommunity tips:

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.

Find more on our website Femflection.com

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Situation 44: inappropriate behavior, sexual harassment

Femsy and Mansy are still sharing the office together. The working relationship has stabilized over time. Lately, however, Mansy starts to make sexually tinted comments to Femsy and is touching her when she is passing.  Femsy reports the incident to Boss.

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A great leader:

  • Takes notice of her feelings during interactions with others and responds to them rather than ignore feelings of discomfort;
  • Sets and communicates clear boundaries of what is and is not acceptable behavior to her colleagues;
  • Confronts colleagues who act disrespectfully towards others;
  • Acts with integrity and regard at all times to her colleagues;
  • Is a role model to others.

How to best handle the situation:

Continue reading

Situation 42: Unpopular tasks

A special project team, under supervision of Boss, is working on a business critical project. One of the project members is not pulling his weight and Betsy is gradually picking up more of his tasks. Boss praises Betsy for her flexibility and dedication to the project. Boss decides to take the project member concerned out of the project team. He discusses with Betsy how to best approach this sensitive situation since, according to him, she has very well developed interpersonal skills. Before Betsy knows she is the one who has to break the bad news to the project team member.

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A great leader:

  • Provides support and guidance to build other’s capabilities without taking away responsibility;
  • Is assertive and expresses her needs in a calm, clear and professional manager;
  • Is courageous and willing to challenge authority to ‘do the right thing’.

How to best handle the situation:

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Situation 41: work area versus personality

Mi An’s office is highly cozy: lots of photos of her family, flowers and a huge collection of porcelain dogs and cats in all kind of sizes. Mansy advises her to re-consider the office decoration.

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A great leader:

  • Is comfortable with herself and has high self-esteem;
  • Is authentic in her dealings with others, demonstrating clear values, a clear purpose and strong work ethic. She is not afraid to show her true personality at work;
  • Conveys her professionalism in her actions and interactions with others.

How to best handle the situation:

We spend a lot of time at work and research has shown that people perform better when they work in a pleasant environment, clean offices, with natural light, plants, comfortable furniture etc. (see, for example, http://smartbusinesstrends.com/tips-creating-healthy-efficient-positive-work-environment/) and are able to customize their work space to some degree. In fact, we see a lot of firms (Hubspot, Dropbox, Skype, Evernote, AirBnB etc. http://mashable.com/2014/01/09/playful-workspaces/) that design work spaces that reflect the company culture and often provide ‘play’ areas as well as quiet spaces to give their employees the freedom to move between different work environments that suit their needs and moods.

It is important that you remain true to yourself when you are at work rather than hide your true personality to fit a work ‘ideal’. If you are a warm, homely person it is fine to convey that to your work colleagues. However, be aware that your style may not come across well to everyone you meet and that some people may overlook you if they do not see you as leadership material or capable of working on special assignments. Tune in to how others behave towards you and continually sense how you are coming across.

Study how other people decorate their offices; do they personalize them with photos of loved ones, drawings by their children, art, etc. or do they stick to company-supplied pictures and posters, business awards or nothing at all? If most people tend towards a more neutral, business-like environment then you might consider toning down your own office décor without eliminating all traces of your personal life. If you are unsure, ask a trusted colleague for his/her honest opinion.

Learning suggestions:

  • How you decorate your office does say something about you and can be a conversation starter when unfamiliar people visit you, so it is worth considering what subtle messages you want to convey and the topics you are happy to discuss with strangers.
  • It is good to have individuals within an organization who are different from the norm since they can provide refreshing perspectives and challenge the status quo and ‘groupthink’. If you are individualistic and happy to be out on a limb, celebrate and remember the value that you bring by being different.
  • Reflect on your personal values; what is important to you? How well are you living your values at work? What areas, if any, do you need to change so that you are acting in congruence with your values?

Femchallenge:

  • Embrace your own personal style and ways of expressing yourself – the way you dress, your office décor, how you communicate etc. – whilst remaining within the bounds of professionalism.

Femcommunity tips:

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.

Find more on our website Femflection.com

Situation 40: Standing your ground

Femsy presents a proposal in the Management Meeting. She knows her material inside and out since she spent a lot of time researching the feasibility and its impact on the company. As soon as she is questioned during the meeting she backs into “Maybe you are right”. As a result, no decision was taken about the proposal during the meeting. Boss calls Femsy into his room furiously: although Femsy was absolutely right she created a situation where it would be very hard to get the team believing in her idea.

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Situation 39: Nasty office gossip

Mansy heard through the grapevine some interesting information about “Boss”. He is discussing it with his colleagues. When Femsy enters the room, Mansy invites her into the office gossip. Femsy “neutralizes” the situation.

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Situation 38: Annual Achievement review

It is time For Femsy’s annual performance review. Boss schedules a one-hour meeting to discuss performance. Femsy believes she had a very good year with significant achievements. She is not convinced that Boss is fully aware of all her accomplishments. Femsy believes she deserves a pay raise. She hopes Boss will bring this up.

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