Monthly Archives: May 2015



Effective people managers must avoid triangulation in order to ensure proper development of their direct reports!  Triangulation is when Person A has “a beef” with Person B, but instead of handling the conflict directly, Person A goes to the supervisor to complain.  By the supervisor getting involved to speak with Person B, his/her behavior not only stifles the leadership development of Person A, but also introduces the breakdown of trust that Person B has of Person A.

Supervisors quick to jump in and assist potential conflict(s) brewing among the direct reports demonstrate a lack of maturity and experience.  Effective people managers will counsel the direct report (Person A) as to how to resolve the issue him/herself (with Person B).  The workplace is not about bringing a parent to work.  The workplace is an incubator of leaders.


Early Learning Development

Triangulation typically stems from childhood experiences.  In family dynamics, there are typically three characters, thus creating the formation of a triangle:

  1. Villain– The person who has done us wrong. Usually, it is an offense of interpretation rather than intention.
  2. Victim– The person who does not recognize contribution to the situation. Usually, it is someone who wallows in being pained.
  3. Rescuer– The person who is set to squash any perceived misbehavior. Usually, it is someone who gets involved out of his/her own need for vindication of perceived malevolence or a naïve belief that that’s what a strong leader should do.

Based on our experience, we bring forward into the workplace our way of resolving conflict.  (For further Behavioral Science explanations, please visit

Organizational Examples

Before providing a concrete example, what can quickly resolve conflicts from escalating is practicing and engaging in simple inquiry.  Paraphrase what you comprehend and believe to be hearing from the message(s) sent, whether they be verbal or non-verbal.  Be sure to use non-judgmental terminology and a tone of genuine inquiry.  When you share the impact, and the other individual does not adjust – even after you have made a specific request for the behavior to stop – then there is an issue; which, by all means, should be escalated.

INEFFECTIVE Situation: Supervisor asked Person B to provide Person A with feedback on her project.

Person B (Villain): Reviewed the project when completed, praised Person A on her writing style, and provided constructive feedback.  The two pieces of feedback consisted of how the wordcount exceeded the webmaster’s request, and how the content was too circular in response to the internal client’s concern, so a direct (more inductive) response might have been more effective.  Nonetheless, she encouraged Person A to submit the piece.

Person A (Victim): Reacted in high offense.  Evidently, nothing she had ever written had been criticized.  She took it to the supervisor as an example of Person B being disrespectful towards her.

Supervisor (Rescuer): Did not encourage Person A to resolve it on her own.  He took Person B into a private 1:1 (one-on-one), and reprimanded Person B for acting disrespectfully.  He did not question Person B on intent, nor did he offer an example of how the messaging could have been crafted to be received more effectively.

Now here is an example of how another situation was handled effectively…

EFFECTIVE Situation: An experienced new hire joined an organization.  She is not too friendly, however, she is a high-performer.  Her colleague understands how difficult on-boarding can be, and offered to meet with her for breakfast to provide her with some cultural mentoring.

Person B: Informed Person A as to what she needs to know to be an effective leader within the organization.

Person A: Reacted in high offense.  She had come from a company where competition is high, and backstabbing is common, so she felt sure she recognized what was being said to her during this meeting.  Nonetheless, she asked, “Am I to interpret that I am perceived as not measuring up to the expectations of the organization?”

Person B: Genuine surprise. “Absolutely not!  I’m glad you said something.  I was just trying to communicate what other experienced new hires in the past have shared as to what took them a long time to understand.  How about I put you in touch with a couple of them, so you can learn from their experience?”

Person A: Relieved.  “I would really appreciate that.  Thank you.”

Person B: “You got it.  I’ll connect you with them via email later today.”

No supervisor involved.  No misperception.  No drama.  Just inquiry and understanding.

Perspective matters.  Ask.

NOTE: This blog was not written as a way to indirectly communicate to anyone in particular. 

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is an inquisitive Global Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.  We increase retention.  Visit

© Rossina Gil, 2015


City Slicker Bias

City Slickers

Culture changes gradually because new experiences shape and sharpen our perspective on how to move forward.  So it is with language, and organizational culture.  To uncover the etymology of words is to discover how these words first populated our vocabulary, and to understand the subjective experience of how we choose to interpret these words today.

Word Language Original Translation Current Definition
Pagan Latin (paganus) Country Dweller Ungodly, cult
Villain Old French (villein) Villager, Peasant Unscrupulous person
Gauche French (gauche) Left Tacky
Sinister Italian (sinistra) Left Malicious


Millenia ago, power and influence (government and church) were surrounded by a population that protected its residence, which often laid at the core of (if not geographically exalted above) an urban center. Thus, those living on the “outskirts” of town were viewed as “lesser than.”

Words such as “pagan” and “villain” – as innocent as they may seem in their original definition – most definitely had a stigma attached to them, which is how they evolved into negative association words.  To broaden the immediate translation, they used to simply mean “those who did not have as much sophistication nor riches to live within the confines of the city.” These country dwellers/villagers/peasants were literally and figuratively the “outsiders.”  Life in a weakened position was looked down upon with disdain.

The Catholic church, historically speaking, had one way of doing things, and any deviation from that one way invited the Devil.

“Gauche” and “sinister” simply mean “left” – as in the opposite of “right,” even today in their languages of origin; however, they are also defined as negative attributes.  Yet, even until the 1960’s, Catholic nuns would take a ruler to smack the hands of young pupils if they were left-handed and attempted to write with their left hand.  The use of the left hand was considered a way of allowing the Devil to take possession of the body.  Students, thus, were forced to “convert” or suffer further physical and emotional punishment.

Organizational Implications

In today’s organizations, there are parallels which can be drawn from our past human behavior to compare with how headquarters (HQ) interacts and communicates with its regional offices.  Healthy organizations which aim for high Cultural Engagement and Global Strategies will consider the following questions:

  • How do we involve the virtual worker (the modern-day outsider) and those in distant, regional offices?
  • How do we effectively on-board experienced new-hires to learn HQ customs and inside language (e.g. acronyms)?
  • How do we set our talent up for success and shift away from a sink-or-swim mentality?
  • How do we help talent bring the best of what they offer every day to maximize productivity?

Those organizations which do not value and appreciate the best of what their talent in the hinterlands bring, will lose them to a richer kingdom.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein


Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, is a fairly ambidextrous Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.  We increase retention.  Visit

© Rossina Gil, 2015


The ROI of Repatriation


Foreign assignments have become increasingly important as companies strive to tap into resources around the globe. Multinationals and transnational organizations send their expatriates, typically from 18 months to 3 years, to live overseas as a way to transfer the knowledge and culture from headquarters; and also as a way to offer their leaders stretch assignments. Many companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, send only those they assess to be in the top performance category to take on a foreign assignment.

An alarming percentage of attrition exists among those repatriates who have successfully completed their assignments overseas. One study estimates that up to 75% consider leaving their employers either during or after working abroad.[1] Bear in mind that many repatriates mistakenly expect that the return to their home country would be simpler than the outbound move.

In a research study I conducted on 70+ executives from 26 Fortune 500 companies, I found 33% of those repatriates surveyed decided to leave the company which had sent them overseas, within two years of their return; while another study found the same time period to be 26%.

Losing and replacing a middle manager can cost an organization up to 100% of his/her salary.[2] The average expatriate assignment cost per annum is $311,000.[3]   Therefore, the Return on the Investment (ROI) of Repatriation is a metric we can tie directly to the organizational strategy, both fiscally and structurally – in consideration of the strength of its leadership pipeline.

Swiss Romand to Brazil:

“I can tell you, the longer you stay outside of your home country, the more difficult it is to come back…because you change and your country does in a different way.”

What Expatriates Gain Overseas

Repatriates originally from the USA, for the most part, find themselves to have developed the following:

  • Higher diplomatic skills in communication,
  • More open-mindedness on variances of opinion;
  • More inclusiveness of others, especially for those whose styles vary from their own.

Previous research has indicated that Emotional Intelligence usually increases and the values shift when employees are subjected to different environmental contexts. While there have been exceptions, typically the following four categories of leadership competencies are developed when executives are on overseas assignments:

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Social Awareness
  3. Self-Management
  4. Relationship Management

Attrition Causes for Repatriates

Displacement and Personal Life Issues are the top two causes of failure to assimilate well during the repatriation process in the home country. Interesting to note…these are the same two causes of assignment failure for expatriates. It is easy, then, to understand why 53% of those surveyed feel an overwhelming nostalgia and a longing to go back overseas.  My research revealed the following five themes which directly contribute towards the attrition of repatriates:

  1. Displacement. Feelings of being an outsider in their home country offices. E.g. 29% experienced large scale reorganization; 47% perceived as talking excessively about their foreign experiences.
  2. Personal Life Issues. Typically, it is the family which applies a lot of pressure on the executive, directly and indirectly. 23% cited this as contributing to high degrees of stress.
  3. Nostalgia. 53% of those surveyed experienced an overwhelming nostalgia and longing to go back to the same country to which they had expatriated.
  4. Shift of Values. This was especially the case for those who had lived in cultures with starkly contrasted cultural preferences.  The most notable shift is from Competition to Cooperation.
  5. Global Serial Assignment Urges. These executives become “Global Nomads.” They wish to repeat the experience of living and receiving more rewarding challenges overseas.

Companies that endure and remain strong in the marketplace are those which have a “built to change” culture at all levels of the organization: individual, interpersonal, group, inter-group, and the entire enterprise.

Home is where the heart is.  You know where it is when you feel it.

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, has lived overseas in Spain, Denmark, and Colombia.  She is a Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.  We increase retention.  Visit

© Rossina Gil, 2015



[1] Pricewaterhouse Coopers & Cranfield University, 2007

[2] Prudential Resources Management, 1997

[3] Pricewaterhouse Coopers & Cranfield University, 2007