FROM around the globe, office politics still ruin the day for most people at work, says Bob Rosner, internationally syndicated columnist and author of best sellers “The Boss’s Survival Guide” (McGraw Hill 2001) and “Working Wounded: Advice That Aids Insight to Injury” (Warner Books, 1998). With honesty and humor, Rosner answers a few questions from People at Work editor Regina Reyes through email right before he leaves for Manila. He will be conducting two presentations tomorrow, “12 Steps to Better Bossing” and “Managing Against the Odds: Advice for the Working Wounded” at the Santiago Hall, Mezzanine, Equitable PCI Bank Tower 1, Makati Ave., Makati City.
PaW: You’re been receiving a lot of mail from around the globe from your Working Wounded column. Are there commonalities in the problems that people at work bring to you? If so, what are these?
Bob: What I’ve found is that most of us at work today are wounded. It doesn’t matter if we are bosses, employees or entrepreneurs. Work is tougher than it’s ever been. Sure there are specific concerns that each group has-for example, employees who feel that they aren’t paid enough. But there are also many concerns common to all groups-too much politics, too little loyalty and that it’s tough to keep up with all the changes in today’s workplace.
PaW: Do solutions to work problems apply across cultures? How do you give advice to your letter senders across cultures?
Bob: I’m very careful to avoid giving “advice” whenever possible. My goal is to ask great questions to the person can figure out the best solution on their own. I try to help them to identify the big issues, explore a variety of options and then develop the best plan for their circumstances. At the same time, most people in the world view the US as being a leader in the way that business is practiced (although recent malfeasance by a number of corporate executives that challenged this notion). So I do try to offer strategies that I’ve seen work here that are relevant to the circumstances facing the person with the problem.
PaW: How about management problems and solutions to management problems? Are these similar across countries and cultures?
Bob: A few weeks ago I got a letter from a manager in Zimbia, Central Africa. She was struggling with the same issues that the rest of us are-I loyalty, finding and keeping top talent, keeping everyone focused on the job at hand and minimizing the politics. There can be regional differences, but based on the thousands of emails that I’ve gotten from all over the world the workplace is much more similar that most of us realize.
PaW: What can Filipino professionals, employees and entrepreneurs do so that they can become competitive in the global market?
Bob: It’s a jungle out there. You’re got to be fast, smart and focused. In this marketplace, it’s all about your ability to identify, recruit, retain and motivate top talent. And that’s why my presentation is called “12 Steps to Better Bossing.” It focuses on both the big picture and specific strategies that you can implement immediately.
PaW: You’ve been known to combine fun and drama in your seminars, things that Filipinos love whether they are seminars or movies. How and why did you develop this style of presentation?
Bob: We’re all bombarded with information these days. It’s tough to get on people’s radar screen. Everything that I learned about giving presentations I learned from Mary Poppins. Remember how she sang, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” I’m a big believer that information doesn’t have to be boring to be effective.
PaW: If your participants here were to remember just a few things about your seminars, what would these be and why?
Bob: It’s different for both presentations. For the employee presentation I think the most important thing to remember is how important it is to be constantly upgrading your skills. Too many of us sit back and allow our skills to get dated. It’s ironic that most of us work hard to save for our retirement, yet we don’t have the same commitment to investing in our most valuable assets-our personal skills at work. For the bossing speech, it would be the importance of identifying and nurturing top talent. That is the primary way you can differentiate yourself from your competition.
PaW: What are your expectations from your Filipino audience?
Bob: To be ready to laugh and learn about strategies to survive today’s chaotic workplace.
PaW: What can your Filipino audience expect from you in your seminars?
Bob: Lots of information, humor and motivation. My philosophy is that a dead battery can’t charge a dead battery, so I’ll bring a lot of energy to try to light a fire under all of those who attend.
PaW: When you leave Manila, what would be an important message that you’re like to leave your Filipino audience?
Bob: That great times are just around the corner. But it’s going to take a lot of hard work to achieve them. Workers and management are going to have to work together better than they ever have to compete in today’s turbulent and challenging marketplace.
Author: Regina Galang Reyes. First published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer August 14, 2002.
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