Keeping your head at work in spite of challenging colleagues is a key part of career success. Tom Washington reviews four books that aim to guide you through the chaos
01 Am I the Only Sane One Working Here?
101 Solutions for Surviving Office Insanity
Albert J. Bernstein
McGraw Hill $29.95
Cranky clients, unreasonable managers and
backstabbing co-workers can drive even the most
level-headed employee to tear their hair out. If it’s not
a teammate letting you down it’s corporate bullies
giving you a hard time.
The office can be a treacherous place for
someone’s health, so even if controlling other
people’s madness proves an impossible task,
stopping the madness getting you is paramount.
In this book, Albert J. Bernstein delves into the
world of workplace psychology by presenting the
reader with ‘Survival Scenarios’. First up is the story
of Chris, the golden boy in sales who makes
promises to customers he can’t deliver, meaning
more work for others. The ‘Survival Solutions’ detail
how to deal with his dishonesty, from predicting his
future behaviour to ensuring you’re removed from
any awkward fall-out.
The scenarios Bernstein presents are all familiar
and the solutions are practical. He is also amusingly
blunt, picking apart pathological liars and ‘people
that aren’t as smart as you’ with intelligent wit.
There are so many scenarios (101, surprisingly)
that any reader will be able to find something
relevant to their workplace; this book should be kept
on every desk just in case one comes up.
02 Surviving the Toxic Workplace
McGraw Hill $29.95
Another book aimed at helping readers survive
hellish workplaces here. We don’t think it’s all that
bad, especially if HR is doing its job properly, but it’s
a sad truth that some people find themselves
spending their days in a ‘toxic workplace’.
Surviving the Toxic Workplace promises to teach
you how to deal with difficult bosses, defang
poisonous co-workers, defuse explosive situations
and handle confrontations.
Renowned psychologist Linnda Durre presents a
step-by-step guide on how to diagnose and treat the
problems encountered in the workplace to help
ensure the health of your career and your sanity.
The ‘Staff Infections’ section describes how deal
with Ben the Brownnoser, Lenny the Ladder Climber
and Bobby the Boss’s Relative – all caricature but
ultimately people you come across in real life.
Guidance is given in the form of thought streams:
‘Bobby, I realise that you’re the boss’s nephew, and
I understand you think he probably won’t ever
reprimand you… (but) I won’t cover your work for
you when you’re late.’
Readers of this book might well find advice to
get them through the day, or if they’re lucky enough
to work somewhere harmonious, there will always
be a friend to impart the knowledge onto.
03 Bully Blocking at Work – A Self-Help
Guide for Employees and Managers
Evelyn M. Field
Australian Academic Press
Dealing with annoying colleagues at work is one
thing, but unfortunately many people suffer a far
worse fate: bullying.
Author Evelyn M. Field has worked as a
psychologist for more than 30 years, working on
issues from schoolyard bullying cases to dealing
with victims of critical trauma. She clearly has a real
empathy with such cases and a deep understanding
of what causes them.
This insightful, heartfelt book aims to remove the
shroud from workplace bullying, uncovering the
reasons for its occurrence and attempting to provide
practical avenues to resolution. It covers work-
related bullying, personal attacks, social isolation,
verbal threats and rumour spreading.
Employers reading this book will find useful hints
to spot workplace bullying, who might be potential
targets, and of course the aggressors themselves.
There is also some sensible guidance on keeping
both mind and body healthy and ensuring the
workplace is comfortable.
As sad as it is that some businesses foster this kind
of bullying behaviour, there needs to be this kind of
literature to hand for employers and their staff.
04 One Page Talent Management –
Elimination Complexity, Adding Value
Marc Effron & Miriam Ort
Havard Business Press - $55
All HR professionals know that surviving and winning
in today’s marketplace requires top talent. Not only
has this talent got to be recruited and retained, but
managed successfully. This is often easier said than
done, as employers wonder why all the time and
resources invested in talent isn’t positively impacting
the bottom line.
In this book, talent management experts Marc
Effron and Miriam Ort argue that companies
unwittingly add layers of complexity to their talent-
building models – without evaluating whether those
components add any value to the overall process.
This leads to frustratingly long-winded and
headache-inducing processes for things that should
be kept simple.
This is a powerfully simple (and not too long)
approach designed to help an employer’s ability to
develop leaders faster. The style is straightforward,
with easy-to-use processes that streamline processes
down to what really adds value to an organisation.
For those readers for whom talent management
is like pulling teeth, this book could be the antidote
and provide inspiration for keeping things simple –
just how we all like it.