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Corporations on the Couch

Your job may not be driving you nuts, but if it is Dr. Lynn Friedman, a Washington DC, psychologist, psychoanalyst & executive coach can help. Examining workplace dynamics — hiring, firings, narcissistic bosses, and passive aggressive employees, the office scapegoat and the bosses pet, corporate dysfunction and corporate health, happy employees and miserable ones — Friedman puts “Corporations on the Couch” in her widely popular, Washington Business Journal, column by that name. The clinical psychologist, psychoanalyst, Johns Hopkins faculty member, organizational consultant and executive coach explains, in frank and often funny terms, how corporate cultures and corporate leaders support and sustain (albeit inadvertently) the surprising, strange and truly bizarre array of workplace behaviors. And, like any good therapist, Friedman helps readers get off the couch, build healthy relationships and end bad ones.

  • Don’t let your subordinates delegate work to you You’ve hired an employee to lighten your load, but at every turn the drag their heels, demand endless supervision and generally drain your time and your resources. What’s going on and what can you do about it?
  • ‘Retiring in place’ may point to management isssues  Many workplaces tolerate long-term employees who aren’t doing their jobs. Over time, other employees learn to work around them, often taking on parts of their jobs. Allowing this sort of behavior has a profound impact on organizational culture and morale. This column examines the effect of this dynamic.
  • Managers must put the brakes on back stabbing  You are an officer of a board of trustees, and you have become aware of dissension in the ranks. Beleaguered by constant gossiping, backbiting and insubordination, the corporate workplace is not a happy one. Despite the poor morale, only the stars seem to leave.
  • Employee misconduct can be used as a learning tool It’s ugly — and, you wish you hadn’t discovered it. But you did. You’re a senior vice president, and you’ve uncovered a “borrowing” incident among the rank and file. Melinda, a clerk, has been misappropriating small amounts of petty cash.
  • Analyze this: My job, my life and why I’m not thrilled Many successful people are frustrated and unhappy at work. But how does one clarify and resolve work-life issues? How does one know if one needs help? And, after deciding that help might be useful, how does one know what kind to seek? An important starting point is to identify the work-life conflict. In general, people struggle with three work-life conflicts: What do I want to do with my life? How do I go about pursuing my goals? How do I galvanize myself to get started?
  • Get the right diagnosis before treating HR woes Consultants are often asked to conduct workshops with the implicit expectation that the workshop will magically change the corporate culture. This is unrealistic and will likely backfire. Instead, corporate leaders seeking organizational change are encouraged to have candid talks describing organizational dynamics and corporate goals with their consultant prior to planning an intervention.
  • Needy bosses and the employees who need a break Needy bosses can make inappropriate demands. Yet, setting limits with them can be extremely tricky. How do you understand and deal with these inappropriate demands? And, what steps can you take to effectively handle the situation?
  • Coping mechanisms at work: More harm than good? How do you help and support a superb employee who is sabotaging herself? You are neither a coach nor a psychoaanlyst, but here are some things that you can do to help her to become more self-aware.
  • When attempts to delegate boomerang, watch out You’re a high-ranking successful administrator in your organization, which often means you’ve taken on too many jobs and done them too well. This, in turn, has led to more assignments.
  • Errant employees are a window into your culture When employees don’t do their job, others work around them and pick up the slack. Before firing errant employees, consider each person’s role in this, albeit inadvertent, cover-up. This column explores the kinds of factors that may be at play.

Corporations on the Couch cited here:

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Dr. Lynn Friedman

Dr. Lynn Friedman, Ph.D., FABP, is a Clinical Psychologist, a Supervising and Training Analyst, and a Clinical Supervisor in full-time, private practice. She provides evaluation, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis as well as supervision to psychoanalysts-in-training and other mental health professionals. Beyond this, she is a board certified, psychoanalyst who teaches at Johns Hopkins University and the Washington Baltimore Center for Psychoanalysis.

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