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Act with Courage

Vera Held

January 3, 2012

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In this Q and A column, Communications Coach Vera Held explores with Good News Toronto readers important aspects of courage that surface in our personal and professional lives.

Q:  We sell large, expensive pieces of medical equipment. I love my sales job, colleagues, and clients, and I make just under six figures. At 25, I think that’s pretty great. But our workplace is highly toxic. The VP of Customer Service is constantly harassing us (meaning the sales unit) and telling us what to do — and it’s not his area. The sales department reports directly to the GM. Any ideas?
A: I recommend you speak to the GM as a sales team and voice your concerns about the behaviour of the VP of Customer Service. It will then be the GM’s job to effect a change. It sounds as if this VP is having power and control issues and needs to have his authority and jurisdiction regarding the sales team clearly laid out. The GM might also consider bringing in an external coach to work with this VP.  If he is a valuable employee and warrants this investment, all who work with him will also reap the benefits of his   obtaining professional coaching.

Q:  One of my colleagues was well qualified for her position in our research lab.  She had a solid university background and was educated on our high-end product line. But she was from a different language and culture group and spoke well — but with an accent. I was told the company fired her because she “didn’t fit.”  I felt this was unfair and told my boss so. He was unwilling to do anything about it. I felt she was an asset and I was really disappointed in him and in the company for letting her go.
A:  On the surface, it appears that there could be a human rights violation which your former colleague is welcome to challenge. But once we scratch the surface, there could be multiple reasons as to why this gal was let go. Good news: if she’s as good as you say she is she will carve out a niche for herself. Good, smart, and caring folks always land on their feet and eventually garner the appreciation that they deserve in the “right” workplace.

Q:  I was asked by my boss to secretly evaluate a colleague on a road trip. The cover story he asked me to use was that I was “learning from a peer.” I felt this was unethical and refused. Don’t you think my colleague should be told that he’s being evaluated? Whenever you call a customer service call centre the representative always tells you that the call will be monitored for teaching purposes. Is this along the same lines?
A:  If you are evaluating your peer, this needs to be a transparent assignment and, where appropriate, a reciprocal one. Kudos for standing up to your boss and refusing to partake in the clandestine evaluation. Your ethics will take you far; stick to them. At the end of the day, you have to like you and all the decisions that you make in the workplace. You are a solid business professional.

Please forward queries on tough personal and professional situations to Vera at

About the Author(s)

Vera Held

Vera Held is a coach, facilitator, speaker, writer, PR consultant, and the author of business best-seller How Not to Take it Personally. Send your tough workplace questions to Vera at

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