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A USDA employee stunned the agency by publicly admitting that sex was used as a commodity used when promotions were being considered. This sickening behaviour occurs far too frequently - both subtly and overtly. People with power and control give favourable treatment to those who ‘accommodate’. 

To gain a deeper understanding of this disgusting behaviour and to see just how endemic it is in the workplace, one should read the new report that exposes the National Public Radio’s news chief for continuing inappropriate behavior despite repeated warnings. The NPR’s responses are typical of how most organizations deal with harassment and abuse. This is yet another example of the complicity of Human Resources.

People may think that these are extreme instances in the way organizations respond to harassment and abuse allegations. However, that is simply not the case at all. These responses have become more the norm than the exception.

Abuse and harassment incidents are atrocious enough acts; however, what is even worse is the culture where this is allowed to happen or is even encouraged. When are executives going to respond the way they should and stop protecting the bully. Abuse is terrible; but, turning a blind eye is deplorable!

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Jocelyn Morffi was one of the most popular educators at a Catholic school in Florida, students’ parents said. She was terminated less than a week after her wedding, as Christina Caron describes in this article in the New York Times.

Firing an effective and popular teacher because she had the audacity to marry someone she loves; and threatening to retaliate against those who support her, adds to the appalling positions of a Pope who continues to support perverted pedophiles. This sick institution has zero moral authority to continue to preach Christianity. 

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Every one of us, whether we are a sibling, parent, teacher, spouse, friend, coach, teammate, boss, co-worker, mentor, or community leader has a responsibility to nurture others.

The word nurture comes from the Latin term to feed and to nourish; and in the late 18th century it was expanded to mean, “to promote and develop”.

Had the definition not changed, my Mother, who passed away in November, would not have qualified to be called a nurturer, she was a terrible cook, and thanks to my Dad’s culinary skills, my four brother’s and I did not starve.

Under the ‘new’ definition however, Mom was a remarkable nurturer of my brothers’ and countless other young people’s minds, souls, and spirits. In my eulogy to her, I tell the story of her life in the context of how wonderfully she nurtured us.

Of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, only the basic needs of physiology address the origin of the word nurture; the other three - safety, love/belonging, esteem and self-actualization address the expanded definition “to promote and develop”. These “promote and develop” needs relate to everyone. To fully understand this, I suggest you, as I did in recognizing my mother as a nurturer, reflect on how you were nurtured, remembering that those you have any responsibility for need to be nurtured, too. 

Much of what you do to nurture the “promote and develop” needs of others require human interactions. Unfortunately for a variety of reasons, this is outside of most people’s comfort zones.

We are living in an age where technology has changed the way we live, learn, work, play and even worship. There is no question that advance of technology has many positive aspects. However, what overshadows the positives is the diminishment of the human element, particularly as it pertains to people’s ability to and comfort in having civil critical discussions.

When we add to this the command and control approach embraced by people in leadership positions, people who need to have the “promote and develop” nourishment are left to starve.

In a recent Mental Health America survey, sponsored by the Faas Foundation, called Mind the Workplace, we found that two thirds of North American workers cannot rely on their supervisors for support when things go wrong. Furthermore, almost the same numbers of people have the same feelings about their co-workers. A recent USA Today survey found that 80 percent of employees, including managers feel they could do their jobs without managers. Given that the primary role of a manager is to nurture, these statistics speak volumes about the lack of nurturing occurring in the boss/subordinate relationship.

J.R.D. Tada addresses this when he wrote, “No institute of science and technology can guarantee discoveries or inventions, and we cannot plan or command a work of genius at will. But do we give sufficient thought to the nurture of the young investigator, to providing the right atmosphere and conditions of work and full opportunity for development? It is these things that foster invention and discovery.”

The research I conducted for my book, ‘From Bully to Bull’s Eye - Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire’, indicates that for most people, the only communication that occurs between a manager and subordinate is the dreaded annual or semi-annual review, or when things go south. This dynamic is not exactly nourishing, nor does it encourage psychologically safe workplaces.

As an expert in organizational dynamics, I can assert what is being fed to these people is more poisonous and toxic than nurturing, which kills the motivation for development and aspirations. What it also kills is the motivation to nurture others - kind of an ethic of reciprocity in reverse.

The Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence, in a survey of 20,000 high school students, found that 70 percent of the respondents were tired, bored and stressed. Doing a deep dive on this, they found that the main reason for this was standardized testing. At some point in time, the curriculum has shifted to the extent that proportionately more time is spent teaching kids how to pass tests than teaching them how to learn, leaving these students starving for their “promote and develop” needs. In the words of Dolly Levi to her suitor Horace Vandergelder in ‘Hello Dolly’, “Money is like manure, you have to spread it around to make young things grow.”

Here are some tips on how to nurture: 

. Understand your “promote and develop” needs.  This understanding of your sense of self, positions you to understanding the needs of others. Also this will give rise to nurture yourself.

. Reflect on how your “promote and develop” needs were nurtured by others. These examples will help you apply with others.

. Understand how people you have a responsibility for feel (and why they feel the way they do). What makes them  - happy, sad, angry, frustrated, fulfilled, motivated, depressed, anxious, satisfied etc. What you will likely find is these emotions will reconcile with yours.

. Teach rather than lecture.

. Other than sending information, communicate person-to-person, ideally face-to-face

. Make those you nurture comfortable in having critical discussions, reinforcing ‘it’s ok to disagree’.

. Be open, honest and direct in your communications.

. Be empathetic.

. Practice active listening.

. Allow those you nurture to nurture you.

Andrew Faas is the author of ‘From Bully to Bull’s Eye - Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire’, and is a Public Voices Fellow at Yale University.

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There is clearly a need for a substantive change in how politicians demonstrate leadership because the underpinnings of our democratic system are in real jeopardy. This is a recurring theme historically, as explained in this insightful opinion piece by David Brooks in the Globe and Mail. This lesson is particularly relevant today, not just as it relates to Governments, but to organizations in general.

The British, during the period of upheaval in the mid-nineteenth century, did not consider Irish Catholics as human beings. Today we live in a period of time where far too many people are being dehumanized.

For reflection on this important subject, I refer you to the article and informative graphs by John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker illustrating by country the percentage of people that believe that there’s too much immigration - the US at 48% and 35% in Canada.

Let us all learn from this not only to value one another, but let us all learn that we actually need each other.



In the weekend edition of USA Today- USA Snapshots there is an interesting article - “80% of all employees including managers themselves, feel they could do their jobs without their managers.” I highly recommend reading it.

This astounding statistic reaffirms for me the need to re-evaluate the role of managers, particularly when this is reinforced by a Faas Foundation/ Mental Health America study called ‘Mind the Workplace’ found that 2/3rds of North American employees feel they cannot rely on their supervisors for support when things go bad.

These stats reinforce my belief based on extensive research that most managers are restrainers vs. enablers – very indicative of a culture of fear.

In my experience, where managers are emotionally intelligent, organizations can decrease the ratio of managers per employee and increase performance, engagement, innovation and creativity. 

Illustration: Dureall Ramsdell

I REPEAT: Is Your Organization Sitting on a Ticking Time Bomb?

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With the recent White House bombshell exposing Rob Porter, it is obvious, once again, that no one is immune to abuse - sexual or otherwise. The White House’s tardy and disingenuous response speaks volumes about just how serious this matter should be to all of us! Why else would Trump, who I believe is fully informed, continue to protect the people in his inner circle who he considers to be a star?

This misuse of power extends far beyond the acts themselves. Leadership is sitting on critical information and trying to sweep it under the rug until it is quietly forgotten or until the problem disappears. This behaviour simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Politicians are scrambling to protect their own butts for one of two reasons. Either Trump has some information about them that they want kept private, or they don’t care what principles or morals they stand for as long as they protect their position. Some Republicans are jumping ship in record numbers before they get caught themselves. Others with some sense of decency still in place can’t stand the craziness anymore and are returning to life outside of politics. Who can blame them?

So, I repeat – Is Your Organization Sitting on a Ticking Time Bomb?

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A #MeToo Backlash is Inevitable

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There is no question that #MeToo movement has raised the level of awareness and outrage on harassment. However, the backlash to the movement as described in the Washington Post should not be ignored because there is some validity to what is being challenged. My advice to the #MeToo movement is to proportionally balance the outing of the abusers of the past and to focus on those who continue to abuse with impunity. Another suggestion is to penetrate sectors beyond media, politics and entertainment. Based on the extensive research I have done, abuse and harassment is as prevalent in every sector. 

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As is outlined in this New York Times article, The Federal Reserve Board has turned the screws considerably tighter on Wells Fargo as punishment for the scandal that swept the headlines as early as 2013 in this Los Angeles Times article

I have cited the Wells Fargo scandal a number of times as an example of boards who are either inept or liars about what they knew and when they knew it. I applaud the Fed for the position they have taken here; and I am appalled by Wells Fargo’s piddling response.

Every board member who was on board at the time this first broke needs to be replaced and publicly shamed. Remember when this first came out, they sent all of the employees who work in retail banking to ‘ethics training’ only to have them return to work under the same pressures to meet quotas, which could only be met by creating fraudulent accounts.

When this hit the media Wells Fargo fired 5,300 employees for violating their ethics policy. At the time the board and most if not all of the executive committee who should have been fired. 

Take note that this same dynamic is in play with current University of Michigan Gymnastics scandal. The response by the board of directors is typical, where boards hide behind claims they were not aware, not realizing, given the fact this went on for years, it validates gross incompetence.

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I take the opposite view from this article by Jo Ellison in the Financial Times, insomuch that for far too long we been apathetic to wrongdoings. We have been conditioned to normalize the abnormal. Perhaps the best example is what went on at Michigan State and the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team.

Most of the #MeToo movement’s exposures have been ‘open secrets’ for years, and some for decades. Most of the wrongdoings I have reported on have been ‘open secrets’ for years and some for decades.

My question is WHERE WAS THE OUTRAGE????

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The values and principles that Amazon touts are in stark contrast to the reality of what employees there experience. Remember the scathing 2015 New York Times exposure of Amazon’s culture and Jeff Bezos incredibly stupid response “That’s not the Amazon I know” and his witch-hunt with Jay Carney to find employees who leaked information on this to the New York Times. 

I have spent considerable time in Seattle interviewing former and current employees of Amazon. Their reactions to these values and principles are pretty unanimous in that they echo Bezos’, “That’s not the Amazon I know”.  A number of those indicated that the Amazon name reflects the culture there - “It’s a jungle where they eat their young”.

These values and principles are an example of weak words developed by the neutered Human Resources people, who are masters of their own gobbledygook. As Leslie Hook discusses in her Financial Times opinion piece, it never ceases to amaze me how these masterpieces of nothingness get plastered throughout organizations, yet bear no resemblance to how those organizations actually operate.

It’s about time for leadership in all organizations to revisit their stated values and principles and reconcile them with their reality.

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