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Erika Andersen responds

Leading So People Will Follow
In this much-anticipated book, respected leadership coach Erika Andersen explores the six leadership characteristics that inspire followers to fully support their leaders. Using Andersen’s proven approach, new leaders and veterans alike have increased their capacity for leading in a way that creates loyalty, commitment, and results. Step by-step, Andersen lays out six key attributes (farsightedness, passion, courage, wisdom, generosity, and trustworthiness) that offer people, at all levels within an organization, the tools to think and behave as fully accepted leaders. Erika is also the author of Being Strategic and Growing Great Employees.

“Erika has a wonderful gift and talent for taking the essence of things and expressing them in a simple, yet powerful way.” – Peter Block, Author of Flawless Consulting and Founder of Designed Learning

Erika Andersen is founder of Proteus International, where she has served as consultant and advisor to CEOs and top executives around the world. Erika and her colleagues at Proteus International, the company she founded in 1990, offer practical approaches for individuals and organizations to clarify and move toward their hoped-for-future. Much of Erika’s recent work has focused on vision and strategy, executive coaching, and culture change. She has been invited to share her insights about managing people and creating successful businesses by speaking before a number of organizations, including corporations, non-profit groups and national associations. Her books and learning guides have been translated into Spanish, Turkish, German, French, Russian and Chinese.

Erika has served as consultant and advisor to the CEOs and senior executives of corporations like MTV Networks, Molson Coors Brewing, NBC Universal, Union Square Hospitality Group, and Comcast Corporation. Erika is an inaugural author of the Penguin Speakers Bureau, and she has been quoted in national publications, including the New York Times, Industry Week, Investors’ Business Daily, and Fortune.

Erika’s OfficePolitics.com responses:

I thought I had an OK work relationship but

I’ve come to the unhappy conclusion that I have become the scapegoat, or disliked co-worker, for this group of people, and I’m pretty upset about it…. Erika Andersen, Author responds: “It sounds like you’re really at a loss about how to establish better relationships with your colleagues. I have some advice for you – but you may not want to hear it. So, take a deep breath and jump in…”

What does she do all day long?

Recently one professional revealed that the other professional has been making negative remarks about me, comments such as “what does she do all day long?” Erika Andersen, Author responds: “First, I very much appreciate your professional maturity in being able to recognize the good points of the person who’s been making negative comments about you. That can be a difficult thing to do…”

Are you the best person to be the manager?

Recently, a team member questioned some things I had done and, indirectly, my lack of experience as team leader. Erika Andersen, Author responds: “There are a couple of things I want to suggest, but I think your first challenge is an internal one. Along those lines, let me ask you a question that may seem odd: Are you sure you’re the best person to be the manager of this team?”

How do I get my loudmouth coworkers to be quiet?

I work as a Graphic Designer and while I love my job, I hate my work environment. They scream constantly… Erika Andersen, Author responds: “I feel your pain! I was just sitting in a coffee shop today, working on my computer, and there were two people in the corner yukking it up and talking really loud. It was frustrating and hard to concentrate — and I wasn’t even at work! So, what to do?…”

The new guy I hired is HATED

I recently received a promotion and hired my replacement; however, everyone who now reports to him hates him. Erika Andersen, Author responds: “This is a tough one. It’s always hard to let someone go; it’s much harder when you’ve hired the person – and harder yet when you’ve hired him or her to replace you.”

My coworker is hogging information…

I am fighting frustration and anger each day at work dealing with a colleague who hogs information on work related issues. Erika Andersen, Author responds: “Very frustrating! Being left out of the loop on important information can feel like an insult or a power play – and it definitely makes it harder to do your job. Let’s start with the ‘why’…”

Kitchen Sink Politics

My partner leaves dishes in the sink and insists that our receptionist clean up after her and get her coffee, etc. I am from the other extreme… Erika Andersen, Author responds: “Your partner is operating under the expectation that it’s perfectly OK for the receptionist to clean up after her. You’re operating under the expectation that everyone is responsible for cleaning up after him or herself.”

I rubbed my new boss the wrong way

Somehow I have managed to rub my newly appointed manager the wrong way. I’ve made a few mistakes (common mistakes all my coworkers make as well), but my partner and I are the only ones who get called out on these problems… Erika Andersen, Author responds: “When people treat someone differently – less favorably – than they treat others, it usually means they’ve come to some negative conclusions about that person. Unfortunately, those negative conclusions are often based on little or no data; they’re almost never stated out loud…”

I’m accused of stepping on toes…

Recently, it seems that decisions I have made or questions I have asked are viewed as “stepping on others toes.” My supervisor vacillates between telling me all decisions must go through him to just make the decision… Erika Andersen, Author responds: “Let’s talk about “stepping on toes.” People use that phrase a lot – and rarely explain what they mean…”

Jekyll & Hyde coworker like Russian roulette

Jolynn is a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character if ever there was one — half the time she is in my office joking around, confiding in me, complaining about our boss, complimenting me and my work, etc., BUT, the other half, she is nasty and negative. Erika Andersen, Author responds: “My heart goes out to you. Having a colleague like Jolynn can feel like playing emotional Russian roulette.”

Part I: Clique fuels behind-the-scenes sniping

One member of this clique in particular has a past history of behind-the-scenes sniping and negativity, and I’ve met with her previously to discuss this with what I thought were positive outcomes. So it’s very difficult to address as a manager… Erika Andersen, Author responds: “These nearly invisible interpersonal dynamics are sometimes the most insidious in their power to erode the trust that’s essential to high-performing teams. I believe your instincts are sound…”

Staff won’t obey rules… I feel like a dictator.

I’m having some trouble getting employees to follow some simple procedures without turning the office into a police state. Erika Andersen, Author responds: “Getting people to change their behavior is tough – especially when they’ve been doing things a certain way for a long time and, from their point of view, it’s working for them. Basically, you’ve got two choices: you can make it more appealing to change, or less appealing to continue to behave in the same way.”

Coworker pointing out flaws in our finished project

A coworker, who wasn’t even part of the project is suddenly picking it apart – pointing out little flaws that everyone on the team is already aware of… Erika Andersen, Author responds: “What I’m going to advise may sound counter-intuitive, but bear with me: I think your best next step is to 100% listen to him.”

Part II: The Lazy Manager

I just don’t understand how a company can hang onto someone who doesn’t pull their weight. Please advise. Erika Andersen, Author responds: “Sadly, you’ve stumbled into what has to be one of the most frustrating situations of modern work life: working for someone you don’t respect. We want to work for people who are good managers and leaders: we like having bosses who are the leaders we want to become. On a more mundane level, we like working for people who do their work, so we don’t have to do it!”

How do I manage people remotely?

I have never directly managed people before, and now I will be supervising as many as 5 people, all of whom are situated in other states. Erika Andersen, Author responds: “First, let me congratulate you on your good natural management instincts: I think your automatic impulse to meet face-to-face with your folks is spot on…”

Part II: Nice to a fault

I’ve cried over this torment as it hurts my feelings and it has made me feel less of a human being… I’ve never been anything but friendly and nice… Erika Andersen, Author responds: “Oh boy. It sounds like you feel completely trapped in this situation. So let’s start by just doing a bit of a reality check, and assessing your options. You really only have four choices…”


What problems are you grappling with?

Is a co-worker making you want to tear your hair out? Did the Boss call you into his/her office and then pull the rug out from under you! Did you snag a fired co-worker’s furniture, only to have it stolen by someone else? We’re here to help… Office-Politics draws on experts in the areas of executive coaching, leadership development, dispute resolution, employment law, PR and ethics to answer the letters submitted to the site. See who the Advisers are. Check out the full listing of our letters. Submit your 100-400 word dilemma to ceo@officepolitics.com (Please put Office-Politics in the subject line.) We will keep your identity a secret. Read the Terms of Submission.

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