Trainer and Motivational Speaker, Frank Newberry, looks at how we all need to shift our perspective sometimes in order to get a more objective view of the difficult situations we can find ourselves in at work
Is it just me, or has there always been sad stories doing the rounds about turfcare professionals who have been treated shabbily by their employers?
Individuals we all feel sympathy for, who are having:
- to do much more with less
- to justify how they spend every minute of their day
- their budgets cut and their pay reduced or frozen
And, what about that vital replacement equipment we were promised? Withdrawn at the last minute! Those b*****ds!
And can you remember how many times you have heard calls for the two industry associations to start operating more like trade unions?
Getting involved straightaway and energetically protecting the rights of their members?
Must this continue? Will it always have to be this way?
I guess there will always be employers who will try it on. And there will always be turfcare professionals who are too trusting, or who get too intimidated by the unexpected and unreasonable actions of others. Must this continue? Will it always have to be this way?
Not always, in my opinion, and certainly not in every case. In this article I want to look at what we can do to get help and what we can do to help ourselves in these tricky situations.
Let's start with getting help. There is the Citizens Advice Bureau who can offer you an objective view. They are in most towns and they will give you help over the telephone too.
Then there are our industry's membership organisations. They each have a 'Legal Helpline'. Both have regional officials who are very supportive of individual members in trouble.
Turfcare professionals can even join a trade union that will represent their interests. There is a fully functioning GMB Greenkeepers and Groundsmen branch, administered nationally by GMB Scotland (0141 332 8641).
It is a branch devoted to groundsmen and greenkeepers, rather than a whole union, but it's something, I suppose, and it's better than nothing.
And, of course, these days, depending on your situation, there are many personal injury lawyers advertising nationally and locally that are keen to help you to get redress and compensation. And it may be that personal injury extends to personal offence or a grievance at work.
You can shift your perspective or get someone to help you to shift it
But, what about you - the victim - what can you do to help yourself?
Perhaps, first of all, you need to shift your perspective or get someone to help you to shift it away from feeling like a victim and towards feeling like you can take some action.
There's a very useful book that might help. It is by Paul McGee and it is called 'S.U.M.O. Shut Up, Move On'.
In this humorous little book, based on his own experiences of bad things happening to him, he (and I quote from his website) "encourages you to take an honest look at your life, remembering that it is never too late to change. We can all dump the victim T-shirt, (and) … ditch the idea that 'whatever will be will be'."
For myself, many years ago I was told that in every situation there are always three separate parts:
- There is the situation;
- There is the other person (or people) in the situation with me
- And then there is me - and my reaction to the other people and the situation we are in.
I was advised to audit these three parts critically - as follows:
- Can I change the situation? Often I could not
- Can I change the other people in the situation with me? Often I could not
- Can I change my reaction to the people and the situation?
I quickly realised that the only thing I had any control over was my reaction to a situation and the people in the situation with me. This was liberating for me, as was the work of Dr Stephen Karpman who, many years ago, put a name to something he had observed in everyday life and relationships. He called it the 'Drama Triangle'.
This is often blamed on parents
He observed that all the plays and movies we love have a drama triangle - a persecutor (the villain), a victim (the person we care about) and a rescuer (the hero or heroine).
We (the audience) are apparently so fascinated by the dynamic of this interaction that we project it into our own lives. This is often blamed on parents and babysitters who told us (at a very early age) bedtime stories like Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. Stories that featured persecutors, victims and rescuers.
Now, as adults, we can see ourselves very easily as 'the victim' in bad situations; the uncaring employer can be seen as 'the persecutor' and we might see our friends and the organisations I mentioned earlier as 'the rescuer(s)'.
But Karpman also observed that the drama triangle is not actually real. It is a projection or a way of explaining a situation in simple terms that makes us feel good for a while. If we can demonstrate that we are 'the victim' people might give us attention and support. As 'rescuers' we can feel brave and we may even be rewarded with praise for rescuing someone.
However, in most tricky situations, no one feels that they are 'the persecutor' or the villain. Most people like to feel that they are actually 'the rescuer' - and it is the members, the customers or the club who are 'the victims' they are trying to help or rescue.
They would claim that the victim who is complaining about them is actually the persecutor! And the complaining that the so called victim does is actually a form of persecution.
A collaborative approach will be hard for many turfcare professionals
The answer to all this might be to step out of the drama triangle and cultivate a more objective view and a more collaborative approach. Please see my 2009 article on these pages - Handling Conflict Part 2.
When using a collaborative approach, the situation is handled like a problem to be solved. A collaborative approach will be hard for many turfcare professionals. It is their least favoured approach to dealing with difficult situations at work.
The most popular approach being to 'avoid' talking about bad situations altogether, followed closely by giving in completely! These sad-sounding findings are based on research done in the turfcare sector over many years.
Neither avoiding nor giving in is likely to be suitable in the long term because it encourages a victim mentality and causes turfcare professionals to keep banging on about their situation, but never taking any objective or meaningful action about it. Whereas, the action that is taken, usually by the employer or an official, is quickly interpreted as being unfair or unreasonable.
It does not have to be this way - Pitchcare offers training to all turfcare professionals that will enable them to build up their confidence and deploy proven techniques that will secure the good working relationships and resources they want and deserve to have in the workplace.
If you are feeling troubled by what is going on at work, a good place to start might be to contact Pitchcare's Training Development Manager, Chris Johnson, at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can tell you immediately which training programme will help you to have more real influence and impact at work when (for example) you have to deal with difficult people - including employers.
You can reach Frank Newberry via the 'contact' tab of his personal website www.franknewberry.com