Friday, 1 June 2012

Newsletter Issue 218, June 2012

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 218, June 2012
Hi guys,

All tied up with nowhere to go? I go for a little surf around Corporate Dress

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Workplace Bullying - It's Not OK Either

In the past few years we have had a major focus on driving out bullying in schools. However, bullying is not only the prerogative of school children, and it certainly doesn't only happen in the playground.
Last year, Gary and Ruth Namie published a book entitled "The Bully-Free Workplace: Stop Jerks, Weasels, and Snakes From Killing Your Organization", on workplace bullying. They estimated that somewhere around 14 million US workers are being bullied, and of those, women are more often targeted than men.
In New Zealand, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) says bullying is "something that someone repeatedly does or says to gain power and dominance over another, including any action or implied action, such as threats, intended to cause fear and distress" (The Independent, 2006, as cited by Allwright, 2011).
In 2011, Michelle Allwright, a student and now lecturer at NMIT, delivered a paper on workplace bullying at the NZ Applied Business Educators Conference. Her research has shown that bullies tend to display characteristics of arrogance and coercion, manipulation of protocols for self gain, denial of failings and creating a culture of blame. Bullies also display immature behaviours, and usually have poor etiquette and interpersonal skills (Allwright, 2011).
Bullying is a serious health and safety issue globally: it has come from being something just not talked about - the elephant in the room - to one of the key issues for HR action. With the economic down-turn, the drivers of bullying increase. These drivers include increased productivity pressure, increased financial pressure, more work-related stress, workers feeling economically trapped in poor workplaces, tighter controls, blame, scape-goating and a climate of fear (Russell, 28 May 2012; Allwright, 2011; Namie, 2011).
Aside from the terrible impact on the workers being bullied, workplaces also suffer. A poor culture often results from bullying that has gone untreated - effectively condoned - by organisational leaders. A poor culture will build until there is a climate of fear. When you have a climate of fear, you lose innovation and creativity (Daft, 2009).
Allwright (2011) found that in New Zealand, our managers still largely manage via authoritarian characteristics; those of arrogance, rigid protocols, lots of use of positional power, and fear of close physical contact. In other words, New Zealand's general management style and bullying behaviours were remarkably similar. No wonder there is such a groundswell of bullying claims here in New Zealand.
I personally remember a marketing manager, in the corridor of a previous workplace, having an absolute tantrum about his dry cleaning - Armani suit, of course - being inadequately pressed, screaming at the person who had picked it up. He regularly so intimidated other staff that they would be in tears. When I, although largely unaffected by his behaviour, complained to his manager, absolutely nothing was done. The great New Zealand attitude of 'ignore it and hope it goes away' was liberally applied.
To confront bullying we can't ignore it. To combat it, we need to have managers who are well trained in modern leadership and management theory, who know how to apply that theory to the workplace, who understand that command and control need to be replaced with empowerment, delegation and collaboration. That transformational leadership practices will create a culture of respect. We need anti-bullying policies and training to ensure all staff are aware that this is not OK; along with absolute c-suite commitment that there is a zero-tolerance policy. Introduce staff to Goleman's Emotional Intelligence (1998) ideas with training and mentoring. There need to be ways that staff can safely report issues without fear of reprisals - such as a contracted person or hotline that is independent of the organisation (many accounting firms are now offering 'whistleblowing' services).
Additionally, we need to TALK about how we feel, and make bullying not OK.
It is the responsibility of all of us - acts of leadership - to create respectful cultures, regardless of who we are and what we do in our workplaces. Until we update our management style and catch up with the rest of the world, we are likely to continue to lose employees offshore, lose productivity and lose kudos. We are failing in this regard.
Time to wake up!
  • Allwright, Michelle (2011). Workplace Bullying: Structures and Human Resource Management Issues. NZ: NZABE Conference Proceedings.
  • Daft, Richard L. & Pirola-Merlo, Andrew (2009). The Leadership Experience (Asia-Pacific Version 1). Australia: Cengage.
  • Goleman, Daniel (1998). What Makes A Leader. USA: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation Ltd. (pp. 1-11)
  • Namie, Gary & Namie, Ruth (2011). The Bully-Free Workplace: Stop Jerks, Weasels, and Snakes From Killing Your Organization. USA: Wiley
  • Russell, Joyce E. A. (28 May 2012). Career Coach: Dealing with bullies in the workplace. USA: The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 May 2012 from


To Tie or Not to Tie

Richard Branson wrote recently that he saw some school children in uniform recently, wearing school ties - or what was left of them. He said "[m]ore than half the kids had cut their ties so that only three or four inches remained below the knot. Intrigued, I asked the teacher [...] 'So what happened to the ties?' He chuckled and said, 'Well, the kids hate wearing them, but school rules say they have to. What the rules fail to specify, however, is how long they have to be -- so, snip-snip!' ". What great lateral thinking on the part of the students!

However, Richard then went on to talk about business dress in general, and about why men should NOT continue to wear suits and ties. Virgin is currently rebranding their newly-acquired banks (Virgin Money, once Northern Rock) and one very clear directive is that there will be a very relaxed dress culture within the business. It provokes fewer barriers and makes customers feel more at home. They are then more likely to spend.

It is an interesting point: why should men have to wear ties, suits and business shirts for work? Why wear such drab colours? What is wrong with a jersey or a tee shirt? Suits are certainly not the norm in the provinces, but I definitely note the entire ensemble including ties and jackets prevail when I go to Auckland and Wellington.

This business dress culture, however, is not one that women have really had to face in a such a confined way as men... which must be about the only place that women have a real advantage! Most women have ditched wearing pantyhose. Some women still feel confined to wearing skirts when they would rather not, or dark colours when they would rather not, or make-up when they would rather not. The rest of us have said "What the hell" and just worn what feels right to us :-)

Regardless of gender though, I suspect that there is a wholesale change of corporate dress culture coming, which will soon sweep away the once no-brainer choice of what to wear to work into the dark ages rubbish bin. I think the internet is about to breed an office revolution. Richard Branson has, "on behalf of the oppressed tie-wearers of the world", appealed "to those corporate despots who still force their male employees to put nooses around their necks every day: Please think again". Perhaps Virgin Business-a-Ware might be next?

Reference: Branson, Richard (30 May 2012). Richard Branson on Office Ties and the Company Dress Code. Retrieved 30 May 2012 from

AutoOpen Your Excel Workbook

TechRepublic have just published yet another handy tip for Excel: this time how to open a particular spreadsheet when you start Excel. This is really useful for people who tend to do more or less all of their Excel work in a single workbook.

How to? Just store the workbook in the XLStart folder, by specifying that folder in the Save In control. Depending on your version of Windows, you will probably find your folder in the following directory:

  • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\user name\Application Data\Microsoft\Excel\XLStart
  • Windows 7: C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office

Once saved, whenever you open Excel, this workbook will open instead of a new spreadsheet.

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) for you:

  • Ecopreneur, an ecologically aware entrepreneur!
  • HRIS, Human Resources Information System. The computer package that covers most HR functions, usually including payroll, leave entitlements, training and performance review data.

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys

This time we look at all you can do with arrow keys in Help:

  • Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Word "Go to next page when working on the Internet or go to a previously viewed Help topic" Alt & Right Arrow
  • Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word "Go to previous object or display previously viewed Help topics while using Office Assistant" Alt & Up Arrow
  • Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Word "Go to previous page when working on the Internet, or go to a previously viewed Help topic" Alt & Left Arrow
  • Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word "Next Object or display more Help topics in Office Assistant or open a selected drop-down menu; works within a dialog box" Alt & Down Arrow
  • Access "Move down one line, or extend a selection to adjacent rows in Datasheet view, or move to the current field in the next record or from the datasheet to bypass the subdatasheet and move to the next record in the datasheet, or scroll down in small increments or scroll through the items in a drop-down or help list from top to bottom, or select the next book or Help topic, or move down one line in a Combo box, list box or Database window, or with the menu or submenu visible, select the next or previous command or view the next page (when Fit To Window is selected)" Down Arrow
  • Access "Move up one line in a combo box, list box, database window, drop-down list, or move to the current field in the previous record or scroll up in small increments or scroll toward the beginning of a Help topic or select the previous book or Help topic or view the previous page (when Fit To Window is selected) or extend a selection to adjacent rows in Datasheet view, or move to the current field in the previous record when navigating in Datasheet view, or use from the datasheet to bypass the subdatasheet and move to the previous record in the datasheet" Up Arrow
  • Access "Open a combo box or display more Help topics; works when using Office Assistant, open a selected drop-down menu (works within a dialog box) or expand a list inside a table while working in a Database Diagram" Alt & Down Arrow
  • Excel, PowerPoint, Word "Go down one line in a document, row in a table, end of a help topic, next book topic or select the next command in a menu or sub-menu" Down Arrow
  • Excel, PowerPoint, Word "Move up one line, or move to previous row in a table, or select the previous command on the menu or submenu or scroll toward the beginning of a Help topic or select the previous book or topic in Help" Up Arrow

Hot Linx

Tony Smale from Forte Management has just written up a very cohesive piece on why New Zealand is falling behind economically. Read all about it at

It is something I am sure we have all done, but beware gradable use of absolute adjectives... a little bit pregnant? If you have no idea what I am talking about, OED will enlighten you at

HBR's stats on the cost of US motoring: 51 cents per mile (.41NZD per km). Read on at 

For those of you who know what pintrest is, Forbes writer Meghan Casserly suggests that it could also be a mechanism for gaining your next international role on your career journey at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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