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Written by: Michael Timms
It’s one thing to have to deal with one person at work who uses passive-aggressive tactics, but what do you do when your workplace culture actually promotes this type of dysfunctional communication and behaviour? Do any of these situations sound familiar?
- Implying that someone is stupid without actually saying it, such as “You should know that by now.”
- Saying things about someone behind their back that one would never say to their face.
- Engaging in email wars.
- Frequently interrupting others.
- Being deliberately unhelpful.
- Ignoring or delaying responses to requests.
- And the granddaddy of them all… not giving an employee frank feedback, then allowing them to flounder until they’re fired.
As maddening as passive-aggressive behaviour is, the real problem is that it’s contagious. Passive-aggressive behaviour provokes a passive-aggressive response and brings out the worst in all of us. The irony, however, is that we rarely notice how our responses to passive-aggressive behaviour perpetuates a passive-aggressive culture.
Here’s how this dysfunctional behaviour spreads.
The Passive-Aggressive Cycle
When people don’t feel like they can be candid with others, sooner or later, they end up demonstrating passive-aggressive behaviour which provokes others to respond in kind. All the while, neither party knows exactly why the other is behaving this way. They both naturally assume that it’s because the other person is a jerk.
Have you seen this cycle play out in your workplace?
Can you see your part in perpetuating this cycle?
Breaking The Vicious Cycle
The linchpin of the Passive-Aggressive Cycle is the feeling that you can’t give someone candid feedback. Remove the fear of giving feedback and you break the cycle.
But before we go there, take a moment to consider how your behaviour may be contributing to the Passive-Aggressive Cycle in your workplace. Think of someone that you want to give feedback to but feel you can’t. Have you exhibited behaviour towards them that could possibly be interpreted as passive-aggressive?
Once you identify how your behaviour may be perpetuating the Passive-Aggressive Cycle in your workplace, decide now to stop that behaviour. It is just as important to determine what you need to stop doing as it is what you need to start doing.
Now, continue reading for some thoughts about how to cure a passive-aggressive workplace culture.
Why People Fear Feedback
Most of us have not had an overabundance of positive examples when it comes to giving and receiving feedback. In high school we received report cards but our teachers rarely reviewed them with us. In university we received letter grades but would be lucky to get a few minutes with the professor for some helpful tips on how to improve. And it doesn’t take long after entering the workforce before accumulating numerous examples of managers who delivered feedback poorly or simply didn’t provide any at all.
Unfortunately, outside of the cozy confines of our family, we don’t have many great examples of authority figures providing us with effective, helpful feedback.
Believe it or not, most employees want corrective feedback from their managers. In fact, 72% of employees believe that their performance would improve if their managers would provide corrective feedback. The problem is, almost half of managers (44%) fear giving it.
In addition to the dearth of feedback-giving exemplars in our lives, leadership development consulting group Zenger Folkman provides another reason why people fear feedback. Their research uncovered a strong correlation between a person’s level of confidence and his or her preference for giving and receiving corrective feedback. This means that confident people are generally more comfortable giving and receiving feedback, and less confident people are generally less comfortable giving and receiving feedback.
This finding should not be surprising. People who are more sure of their strengths are secure enough to shine a light on their weaknesses. And insecure people are generally less willing to say something that may hurt their likability.
Managers Set The Example of Giving Feedback
The very essence of leadership is to “go before” and guide others to a destination. The way managers guide others is by constantly pointing to the destination and providing frequent feedback about how well individual efforts are moving the team closer to the destination.
Let me be frank, if you are a manager and you avoid giving others feedback (or sugar coat it when you do), you are the primary cause of your team’s poor performance. Much of employees’ poor performance can be traced back to a leader’s failure to point to the destination clearly and frequently enough, and to provide enough unambiguous guidance on individual and team performance.
Unfortunately, most managers are delusional about how well they provide feedback. For example, I recently met with an employee who told me she had the distinct impression that her manager holds back and doesn’t really tell her how he feels about her performance. An hour later I met with her manager who declared to me that everyone on his team knows where they stand with him.
This disconnect between a manager’s perception of how well they provide feedback and reality is quite common. In a survey of over 11,000 direct reports, Zenger Folkman asked employees how effective their managers were at providing honest feedback on a regular basis. Only 7% gave their managers high marks.
So what’s a manager to do?
If you are a manager and know that you are uncomfortable providing corrective feedback, then you have three options.
- Take a hard look at your strengths and weakness, and if you think you can become better at providing effective feedback, include this in your personal development plan.
- Take a hard look at your strengths and weakness, and if you don’t think you will ever become good at providing feedback, look for a different career path. You don’t want to spend the rest of your career failing at one of your essential managerial duties while also contributing to a dysfunctional and frustrating work environment for your team members.
- Don’t take a hard look at your strengths and weakness—keep your head buried in the sand like far too many managers do.
(Take this survey to determine your preferences related to giving and receiving feedback)
Managers must set the example by improving their ability to provide honest, clear, and respectful feedback. When they do this, the rest of the organization will learn from their examples and fear feedback less. As more people become comfortable giving and receiving feedback, the Passive-Aggressive Cycle will dissipate creating an environment where a culture of accountability can flourish.
Written by Paul Wolfe
We’ve all heard of the term “job hopping” – when a person works briefly at various companies rather than stay at an organization long term. And there’s a certain stigma attached to those who have a history of job hopping. Oftentimes, employers perceive this behaviour as evidence that a person is disloyal, unreliable and disengaged. In fact, 27% of Canadian employers say that they have a negative view of people with a history of short tenure.
Canada’s unemployment rate has reached historically low levels, resulting in an extremely tight labour market. When it comes to job hopping, this raises the question: Can employers afford to skip out on talent due to a job seeker’s short tenure at previous companies?
Many of today’s workers regard job hopping as the new normal. It isn’t uncommon for people to switch jobs, companies and even industries multiple times throughout their career.
As shorter-term roles become a norm for today’s workforce, employers can no longer afford to discount potential candidates based on the length of time they’ve stayed in previous roles. Compared to how long they stay in a job, skills, aptitude and cultural addition are all better indicators of success in a job today.
There are varying sentiments around job hunting – some believe it helps their careers, while others believe it hinders them during the recruitment process. Indeed recently surveyed 1,001 employees and job seekers and 201 employers to get a better sense of the perceptions and assumptions made about job hopping.1 Here’s what we found.
How do employers view job hopping?
Over a quarter of Canadian Employers surveyed claim that they have a negative view of job hoppers. Yet, 73% (nearly three quarters) of respondents have chosen not to interview someone who has had short-term jobs at previous companies. This contrast suggests a potential unconscious bias. Moreover, it indicates that while some employers don’t necessarily perceive job hopping behaviour negatively, when up against other talent, it could be a factor that pushes candidates out of the rankings.
Employers regard job-hopping candidates as potential flight risks. And some are unwilling to take the risk due to the time and money required to replace employees. Over nine in 10 (94%) employers say that hiring a job-hopper, who subsequently left the company, negatively impacted their business due to increased training costs and lowered company productivity.
How do employees and job seekers view job hopping?
One of the key takeaways from Indeed’s study is that employees/job seekers and employers have a difference in opinion about job hopping, especially with respect to what it reveals about a candidate’s character.
While 20% believe that they have missed out on opportunities they were qualified for due to previous short-tenure roles on their resume, they don’t believe that job hopping is an indication of a bad employee. Instead, they believe it highlights positive attributes. Job hopping provides them with opportunities to cultivate a larger variety of experience and exposure to different work environments and people.
Nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents do not view job hopping as a sign of disloyalty in the workplace. Instead, 59% of job seekers say that switching jobs frequently has given them the opportunity to learn new skills. Moreover, 54% of job hoppers felt that frequent job changes showcases their ability to adapt in the workplace and be comfortable with change.
The survey also pointed to a discrepancy when it comes to what exactly constitutes job hopping. Employers surveyed believe that new hires should spend at least 16 months at their company before moving to a new role, while job seekers considered 11 months as an acceptable time period.
Tips to retain talent
In a candidate-driven market, employers should seek strategies to increase their pool of talent. Instead of losing out on skilled candidates due to their short tenure, employers may want to consider shifting their focus to hiring based on skills and prioritizing retention.
Oftentimes, employees are not turning their back on a company, but rather moving – or hopping – toward a better opportunity. And by doing so, they have acquired skills that could be beneficial for your company.
The best way to cultivate a great workplace is to have a solid understanding of what matters to the modern candidate and the reasons for which they decide to change companies. Based on a separate Indeed survey conducted to job seekers,2 we’ve pinpointed some of the best ways to retain talent as well as attract a stronger pool of talent.
1. Offer a competitive salary: 52% of job seekers say that higher compensation is the reason they’re searching for a new job. In a tight labour market, employees have options, so be aware of the salaries offered in your industry and geographical area to ensure you remain competitive.
2. Focus on growth and development: 30% of job seekers say they are looking for a new job because there is no room for growth at their current company. Invest in your employees by offering them training and development opportunities and give them an achievable path to advancement.
Ensure that managers have regular conversations with employees about their goals and how they can advance within the organization.
3. Offer flexibility: Now more than ever, candidates are seeking flexible work options. In fact, 43% of job seekers state that flexible time off is one of the most important factors when considering a new job opportunity. The best way to do this is by offer flex hours or creating a work from home policy.
4. Establish a supportive culture: Culture is important to employees. In fact, 55% of job seekers say that they have decided not to apply to a company because they didn’t think it was a good cultural fit. Moreover, 57% state that a company’s culture of inclusivity has a significant impact on their decision to accept a job offer. The best way to enhance your culture is to start at the top and incorporate changes into your companies hiring and management programs.
5. Reward employees for good work: Employees want to feel valued at their company. While 41% of job seekers say that performance bonuses are important to them when considering a new job opportunity, there are other ways to recognize top performers such as handing out outstanding achievement awards on a regular basis.
Regardless of how employers feel about job hopping, you shouldn’t disqualify skilled candidates solely due to short-term roles at previous companies. After all, if your company is committed to developing and executing an effective retention strategy, even a serial job hopper could be inclined to stay put.
This research was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Indeed among 1,001 randomly selected employed respondents/job seekers and 201 randomly selected employers in Canada between July 7, 2018 and August 1, 2018. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.
This research was conducted by Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed among 500 randomly selected job seekers in Canada between August 24, 2018 and August 31, 2018.
Written by: Meghan Holub
Work plays an important role in our lives. In addition to the income associated with work, for many cancer patients, our occupational role is an important part of our identity, and our workplace is part of our social interaction. Many people feel a sense of satisfaction in being productive and in contributing to a collective effort in the workplace. Taking time off work to care for your health and treatment can bring a range of feelings and reactions, as can the prospect of returning to work.
As a follow up to the webinar on November 17, 2018 on Cancer in the Workplace – The Gradual Return to Work Process, I wanted to address three important questions that were asked but unfortunately I did not have the time to answer.
If LTD is denied due to pre-existing condition clauses and the employee has maxed out employer-sponsored STD (e.g. 26 weeks), can they apply for EI Sickness Benefits or not because they already got a benefit longer than the EI benefit?
As long as the employee has not returned to work and they still medically qualify (e.g. they are still sick or injured) they can apply for EI Sickness benefits. As long as the employee has worked 600 hours in the last 52 weeks and they have made contributions to the program they would be eligible for benefits.
Employees often get frustrated with delays in payments due to doctors submitting medical forms late and insurance companies making decisions. What would you recommend to employers to best support the employee?
In helping to support your employees please discuss with them who the best medical physician or nurse practitioner will be for completing their medical forms. The employee can choose the medical practitioner in some cases – it does not have to be a specialist. Specialists usually have lengthy waiting periods to access an appointment. If the person is able to access their General Physician this may be the best route to pursue, as long as medical evidence can be given about the specific illness or injury.
What are your recommendations for employees who need medications that not covered by their benefits plan? Are there programs out that that support this?
Once a condition is diagnosed the person is now viewed as having a pre-existing medical condition. I often suggest Alberta Blue Cross Non-Group coverage. This is guaranteed coverage – meaning that the person applying for coverage does not need to submit medical information. I would suggest for anyone looking into this type of coverage that they look through the drug formulary list to ensure that the specific drugs they are needing are covered before they begin paying premiums.
Returning to work is a complicated process so the more information that employers and employees have the better. Please always refer to the disability policies (STD/LTD and Extended Health Benefits) for specific information.
Written by: Deanna Brousseau
Did you know that almost 70% of adult Albertans with disabilities participate in the workforce? Physical disabilities only represent a fraction of the overall population. Invisible disabilities such as chronic pain, diabetes and depression exist in most employee’s everyday lives.
Many employers are making a claim that they support diversity and inclusion in their workplace. However, behind these claims there are varying levels of commitment. As an employer, are we actually walking the talk? Here are a few reasons why employers should aim to become more inclusive in supporting employment for persons with disabilities:
1. Good for business
Benefits include better job retention, higher attendance, lower turnover, enhanced job performance and work quality and better safety records. Other advantages of accessible employment practices include access to this untapped labour pool and large consumer market, enhanced disability management, improved brand image, and broader community/societal benefits.
2. New Accessibility Legislation
As an employer, you have a legal obligation to be inclusive and as well as a duty to accommodate. In addition, the federal government is expected to implement legislation designed to increase accessibility nationwide. This bill will aim to remove barriers in federally regulated sectors such as banking, inter-provincial transportation, telecommunications and government-run services such as Canada Post.
3. More Innovative
Research suggests that more diverse work teams create a wider range of solutions to business issues, and are often more innovative and creative.
4. Disability affects all of us
Persons with disabilities include our family members, friends and ourselves. At any stage in life, someone can develop a disability that may impact their employment. By fostering an environment of inclusion in our workplace, we can support, train and develop employees to reach their full potential.
Written by: Vanessa Salopek
“What people call “weird” comes part and parcel with people who are brilliant in some way. So embrace your weird. Embrace your eccentricity.” – Elleen Anglin , Life Coach
No matter what industry, position, or place you work in, I’m sure we all have that one co-worker who is singled out as the office “odd ball”. Perhaps this unique person is even yourself, and you are constantly finding it hard to sustain a positive working relationship with your fellow co-workers. Eccentric is defined as “a person or their behaviour being unconventional and slightly strange”, however where one might see these creative minds as “odd”, I see true brilliance in their “kooky” ways. Sure, eccentrics don’t come without their challenges and these original people are often arrogant, blunt, erratic, and moody, but they can be oh so wonderful and offer an extraordinary value to the employer who can manage their unique personality properly.
Research has found that eccentrics stem from having an overly gifted and high intelligence. Some of the most brilliant and inspiring individuals have been eccentrics like Nikola Tesla, Edgar Allan Poe, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Charles Dickens, and William the Conqueror. I’ve found that the best way to manage an eccentric, is to let them do what they do best, and help keep them on-track and stimulated throughout their journey within your organization.
Here are some examples on how do you engage, utilize and retain these creative, questing souls!
- Give creative meaningful work. Creatives often think about the bigger issues in life, the forest as well as the trees. Only give them interesting, challenging projects and clients. Give them hard stuff.
- Trust them. Assuming they are ethical and diligent, let them create procure their own way to success. Give creatives the freedom and flexibility to flourish. Don’t force them into excessive structure or quotas. It obviates the very reason you hired them.
- Be flexible. If new hires excel, let them do it their way. If they create superb results working five hours a week in their underwear at home, when you are paying them for 40 hours in the office, who cares? As long as they are meeting the tasks and deadlines successfully.
- Give them a sense of ownership. Ask their opinion and take their advice seriously. Make them feel valued, an essential part of the organism that is your company.
- Don’t expect to motivate them through money. Of course pay them fairly, but research indicates these out-of-the norm individuals may actually be discouraged and perform poorly when they are rewarded just for completing a task. Mihaly Czikzentmihalyi, says in his classic book, Flow: “The most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake.”
With so many different personality types working under one roof, its important to know how to embrace uniqueness and play to their strengths to ensure the organization as a whole flourishes.