Search This Blog

Monday, October 30, 2017

Made in the Image

Two weeks ago, I decided to blog about the awkward and ugly subject of a predatory Hollywood type: Harvey Weinstein. At that time, I mentioned that we should not be shocked at these revelations. Intelligent and observant people know this goes on all the time where money and power converge. With that blog, I was going to drop the subject.

But this week new information has surfaced that I feel compelled to address. Along with the increasing number of actresses stepping forward to share their painful stories of abusive bosses, we have media types who are in the news for the very same kind of thing. And what is revealed should clearly illustrate why much more aggressive response to these predatory types must be taken.

First, a simple definition. predatory: seeking to exploit or oppress others. Add three synonyms to this to get a clearer picture. Wolfish. Rapacious. Vulturous.

The latest names to get the media buzz on this subject are media men themselves. Along with the Bill Cosby trial over his wolfish behavior, add to that Bill O’Reilly’s forced resignation for his behavior earlier this year. Roger Ailes, who ruled Fox News, bit the dust for nibbling where he shouldn’t. Then another Fox newsman fell—Eric Bolling.

Should we be surprised there is more to be revealed? Big time media type Mark Halperin is now on the hot seat. His idea of fun was to intimidate one of the young research assistants at ABC News to sit on his lap. This happened multiple times. Another author and political correspondent said she was “sexually assaulted” by Halperin. She did not report this because “I thought I was the only one, and I blamed myself, and I was embarrassed and I was scared of him.” Vulturous men in action.

Now to the bigger problem. Getting men to “get it” on what sexual harassment involves.

Before giving you these numbers, it should be noted that these are survey results from an online sample of men. Instamotor surveyed 750 men across the United States to hear their experiences with sexual harassment or assault. Check out these responses:

• 1 in 3 respondents don’t think catcalling is sexual harassment.
• 2 in 3 don’t think repeated unwanted invitations to drinks, dinner, or dates is sexual harassment.
• Nearly 1 in 5 don’t think sexual harassment is a fireable offense.

Many guys were also confused about what actions constitute "sexual harassment or assault.”

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals 64 percent of Americans say that sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious problem. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say men who sexually harass female coworkers usually get away with it.

Thus, I draw this conclusion. Companies across America better beware. And become proactive. They should beware that this harassment activity may be happening under their noses. Women—and some men—have had enough. And they are coming out of the abuse closet.

Leadership should be proactive. Better get those clear messages out repeatedly that this behavior will not be tolerated. Create safe zones for women and men who feel the vulturous types are after them so that they can report this. Get the legal team involved now, lest the cost of ignorance and failure to act leave misery to all.

If it were me, my staff meeting would start with a basic message from Genesis 1, verses 27: “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (NLT) People are not “things.” They are highly prized creations made in God’s image. Better get on board with the idea of treating people like that.

In closing, if you’ve been a victim of a predatory type, now is the time to speak up.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information on this topic:

Monday, October 23, 2017

Take a Chill Pill!

What stresses you out on the job? People can’t always define this answer precisely. But they know it when they feel it.

I was reading about stress and micromanaging this week. Fear of mistakes and loss of control are often the reasons cited for managers stepping over workplace boundaries. Work-related stress often causes managers to tighten the grip on everything.

The concerns raised in the article, “Stress is Making You Micromanage, which is Making Everything Worse” were fourfold. This out-of-balance managerial style can kill a team’s creativity. It can result in reduced performance or cause people to leave. Fellow team members' health can be harmed. There is also the obvious problem of not allowing people to do what they were hired to do.

The third of those items especially caught my eye. A study was mentioned from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. It involved the lack of autonomy at work and the potential health-related consequences. Here’s an important summary finding:

“Examining workers over a seven-year period, the researchers found that people in demanding jobs who had little control over their work were 15.4% more likely to die compared with those in less demanding jobs. Meanwhile, people in demanding roles who did have a high degree of control over their work saw a 34% decrease in the likelihood of death.”

This stood out for me because several years ago I took my fourth work personality test. It revealed an important truth about my approach to work. In essence, if a matter is being discussed or a decision is being made that affects my job, I want to be involved. It comes back to a concern over no control over what impacts me most.

Looking beyond this article, I found a study that was done in the United Kingdom a few years back involving employee work-related stress. Here were the major “stressors” identified by a study completed by University of Plymouth.

First up was overload. Easy to see how this happens. Unrealistic deadlines and expectations. Technology overload. Being short on staff.

Second was control. Like the Indiana University study, this revealed that a lack of control over aspects of the job (including decision making) stressed workers. Add to that the lack of influence over performance targets.

Work relationships played a role. Dealing with overly aggressive managers, or not getting support from others, stands out. Harassment and isolation were frustration builders. As was others taking or getting credit for the personal achievements of a good employee.

Job security and work-life balance issues were also noted in the study. Workplace stress occurred when resources or communication issues came up. Like when information about what is going on in the organization is missing. Or you don’t have the right equipment to do the job. Or the right training.

Looking over the list, I was stressing out just thinking about the ways workplace stress can build up! The reality is our work will always have “thorns and thistles.” It comes with life. Jesus of Nazareth warned His disciples of life’s downsides, but then explained…“I have told you all this so that you may find your peace in me. You will find trouble in the world—but, never lose heart, I have conquered the world!” (John 16:33, PHILLIPS)

Want help reducing workplace-related stress? Practice counting your blessings. And bring your heaviest burdens to the Source of Peace. You already have His attention.

Consider this your spiritual chill-pill!

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information on this topic:

Monday, October 16, 2017

Catch a Falling Star

Harvey Weinstein. I’m guessing more Google searches have been done on that name than anyone else in recent memory. Harvey might live in infamy in the category of Hollywood exploitation of power.

A number of lessons can be learned here. One is how quickly your “friends” become your critics. The slowest to come around with concern were those who benefited from the many favors Mr. Weinstein could provide. Like money. Access. Jobs. You know, the basics of life.

Even the former First Lady had to fess up. Bill’s wife, the nearly-elected president Hillary Clinton, says she was “shocked and appalled” by the revelations! One might be concerned this response was a bit feigned in light of similar language missing from her mouth following public revelations about her husband.

If shock is to be expressed, we should be shocked that we’re shocked to read this has happened! Actually, the workplace is full of this stuff. Women, and to some degree men, are fully aware this “grab for the sexual goodies” goes on wherever money and power coincide. They are like two sides of the personal greed coin.

Another lesson is how willing we are to sacrifice our supposed values. Many women refused to give in to Mr. Weinstein. How many more in Hollywood and throughout the world feel obligated to serve their power masters out of fear or selfish ambition? A sacrifice at the altar of false gods.

And then there’s the companion “hush up” problem. What did you know? And when did you know it? Some of the earlier and obvious known acts by Harvey suddenly disappeared from the legal books. Probably hundreds—maybe thousands—of folks knew what was happening behind the curtain. But they refused to speak. Oz might take them down. Or refuse to build them up.

Temptation is a vicious thing. Personal battles with it plague us all. When it moves into the workplace, it can quickly kill careers.

Witness the recent resignation of a congressman from Pennsylvania. This one was more personal for me since we were friends from my days in Pittsburgh. A known and respected psychologist—and man of supposed faith—Tim rose from state political office to the U.S. Congress. He’s a family man.

Somewhere amidst his several terms as a congressman, Tim became enamored with a female psychologist. And she with him. The two of them conceived a child.

For as long as I’ve known him, Tim was a strong pro-life voice. It most certainly aligned with his faith tradition. But now, faced with the unwanted pregnancy, his value system faced a crisis. He encouraged his new relational partner to get an abortion. The news covered it as hypocrisy. There goes a defeat for “family values.”

Of course there are other ways we lose our moorings at the workplace. Maybe the boss asks for other favors. A business adjustment of numbers. Deceit on shipping information. Outright lying for where the boss might be at a given time.

Small things perhaps. But moral cavings nonetheless. Often done out of fear. Or that same selfish ambition.

The attraction for power and what it brings is not new. It started with a woman and man believing a lie that they could be like God. Just eat the forbidden fruit. The story in Genesis 3 offers this revelation in verse 7: “Then, it was as if their eyes were opened.”

We, of course, believe Harvey Weinstein to be a sick man. He is. And so am I. And so are you. We need healing. We need new life. We need a spiritual makeover. We need…Jesus.

The workplace is not a safe place. Power and money can corrupt so easily. May godly wisdom give us the strength to live by our convictions.

As for Harvey, he’s not beyond redemption. Perhaps God will step in and somehow catch this falling star.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Critical Care

Some jobs in life are much more difficult than others. They may require boldness extraordinaire, like washing windows on skyscrapers or changing lightbulbs on thousand-foot radio towers. Perhaps great strength or endurance is needed, as you might see on construction sites or the logging industry. Remarkable brainpower is demanded in many different fields of work.

There is, however, another category of difficult jobs. It envelopes the various services provided when life is on the line, or has ended. I’m sure God must have a certain kind of gifting for people who do this work.

The Las Vegas rescue workers are a good example. The police and SWAT teams who rush to face life threatening danger are remarkably courageous. Add to those folks the great number of fire and rescue team members who helped save many lives at the scene while bullets were still in the air. And, of course, the hospital staff—some of whom worked while standing in a pool of blood to help desperate victims survive. Wow.

For those who did not survive, there is a another group who have difficult assignments. Morticians, grief counselors, pastors who conduct funerals, and anyone who makes valiant effort in helping bring sense to tragedy. It must take a unique sense of calling and commitment to this work.

This is particularly fresh to me in light of both the Las Vegas news coverage and something much closer to home. We attend a church of around 250. I just came off the church council. The new council president is a fine man. He and his beloved have been raising four great boys.

Earlier last week, the third of those boys was with a friend coming home from a golf tournament. A head-on car crash occurred. The two drivers survived with “non-life-threatening injuries.” The son of our council president…did not. He was 16.

The accident required what the rescue people term “extrication.” Simply defined, it means to free or release from entanglement. It is messy and time consuming. And it must be emotionally draining when these workers know life is truly on the line.

We tend to think these emergency connected workers must be able to somehow put their heroic efforts behind them. Truth is, many lose sleep and find themselves needing counseling from the frequent contact with grim situations. Especially when the rescue efforts involve children.

Then there’s the funeral directors. Who signs up for this kind of job? I reviewed an article on this topic for perspective. It’s titled, “What Personal Qualities Do You Have to Have to Become a Mortician?”

In brief, “Morticians must be effective communicators as well as excellent listeners to deal with people of diverse ages, ethnicities, and beliefs. While it's important to be sympathetic, morticians need to remain emotionally calm in the face of this emotional turmoil, so the family can rely on your emotional strength.” (article link below.)

Some of these critical care jobs require a truly compassionate person. But others require a more dispassionate person—someone “not influenced by strong emotion, and so able to be rational and impartial.”

There were times Jesus of Nazareth appeared to demonstrate both sides of this coin. He wept over his friend Lazarus and grieved deeply. The Bible often says Jesus showed “compassion.” In other cases, he showed restraint and did not act in ways others thought he should. He appeared…dispassionate.

In your world, whatever your job, you might well find situations requiring you to engage with compassion, or to step back and be rational and impartial.

It’s critical we discern how to care properly.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information on this topic:

Monday, October 2, 2017

Faith, the Flag, & the Workplace

A friend of mine and former player for the New York Jets sent me a powerful video a few days ago. It’s from Brandon Tatum, a police officer from Tucson, Arizona. As an African American, he has made a powerful case for whether NFL players are making a smart decision with protests around the national anthem. (Video link below.)

As Tatum wisely states, there is a role for social activism. But the flag or the national anthem is neither the cause nor the cure for the ills that affect our land. Both the problem and solution are found in the hearts of people working together on constructive solutions.

The protest sensation all started, of course, with a single player—former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. I say former because he’s having a hard time finding another QB job after choosing to kneel rather than stand for the national anthem. Most everyone knows what has happened since.

Jim Brown, the Hall of Fame running back and legend of the game, said it this way: “Colin has to make up his mind whether he’s truly an activist or he’s a football player.” And why is that? Brown added, “If you’re trying to be both—football is commercial. You have owners. You have fans. And you want to honor that, if you’re making that kind of money.”

Jim goes on to comment about his love of country. He knows there are problems. He’s determined to work those out. As he says, “in an intelligent manner.”

The divided spirit within our country is impacting the workplace in other ways as well. Last month, the New York Times ran a feature story titled, "When Colleagues Won’t Stop Talking Politics." These conversations have raised the frustration level for many.

According to the Times report, “More than a quarter of workers surveyed by the American Psychological Association earlier this year reported that workplace political chatter was having some negative impact on them, from increased stress to decreased productivity.” Another survey found a third of American workers have decided to avoid any political conversations to avoid arguments or discomfort.

The recommendation to those who are frustrated by this is to get people to change the subject. Suggestions like “I get enough of that in the news. Can we talk about something else?” That might help. If people don’t get the hint, discuss it with Human Resources.

So there’s another factor in this workplace discomfort. Injecting your “religious beliefs” into discussions on the job. Religion talk is also a concern in the NFL. A recent news item about another quarterback—Carson Wentz—related his desire to openly share his faith but avoid being “preachy.”

In 2015, we learned of the African American female Marine who was convicted at a court-martial in a real stretch of faith sharing. Lance Corporal Monica Sterling refused to remove a Bible verse on her computer! Her military leaders concluded this verse of Scripture “could easily be seen as contrary to good order and discipline.” Oh my.

Now I must tell you that I find the “politics and faith in the office” discussion a bit humorous. You see, in my workplace political talk and advocacy for faith IS our work. We choose to engage in these vital topics that most impact our lives.

The Bible does offer some good instruction in handling discussions of both faith and politics with those who don’t share your point of view. “Be wise in the way you act with people who are not believers, making the most of every opportunity. When you talk, you should always be kind and pleasant so you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should.” (Colossians 4:5-6, NCV)

Keeping our emotions in check while sharing our deeply held values may allow for conversations that otherwise might prove difficult. And, of course, learning to listen and value others' input regardless of viewpoint will also help greatly.

These are tough days in American life. Let’s not make the workplace a war zone.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

For more information on this topic: