Workplace Wisdom

08 Aug 2017

What to Do When You Have Trouble Praising Employees

Practically every executive knows that praise is a crucial management tool. Gallup research shows that when managers recognize employees’ strengths and positive characteristics, rather than focusing on their weaknesses and negative characteristics, employee engagement goes up significantly. But what are your options if praising employees feels foreign and uncomfortable to you? Many executives feel awkward, if not downright resistant, about praising employees, no matter how successful they are otherwise. I’ve observed this situation particularly with individuals whose family or academic […]

01 Aug 2017

Why Do Hot Shot Hires Crash and Burn?

Recently, I’ve been asked by several business leaders how to find new executives who have a variety of specialized expertise and who will work out in their companies without causing organizational strife, and without “throwing the baby out with the bathwater:” disrupting the original culture or norms so much as to leave them unrecognizable and broken. This concern is expressed by leaders who do not have the desirable specialized skills themselves. Why is this such a problem? The Usual Scenario […]

25 Jul 2017

What Happens When Leaders Divide to Conquer

Working with teams or leaders in conflict is a crucial part of many of my assignments — even when it was not included in the original scope of work. Sometimes these disagreements arise because individual team members or colleagues instigate dissension or turmoil. Historical norms and structural changes can also trigger or perpetuate interpersonal or interdepartmental problems. But surprisingly frequently, conflicts arise from a lack of alignment around goals and responsibilities caused by a leadership structure called “hub-and-spoke.” The term […]

11 Jul 2017

This Is How to be a Leader in Name Only

Aspiring, self-aware leaders think of leadership as a practice and a way of life. They’re always looking for growth opportunities and greater self-mastery, whatever their rank or title. And yet a surprising number of executives operate as leaders in name only, neither understanding nor caring about what inspires employees to be creative, diligent, or do their best work. If you’d like to lead in name only, here are some tips you can follow. On the other hand, if you’d prefer […]

13 Jun 2017

To Be Successful with Millennials, Bring Them in the Right Way

I’m often asked why Millennials complain so much about their jobs and leave their jobs so quickly. I usually answer with a question: How are you hiring and engaging them? If you want your Millennial employees to be vital, satisfied participants, you need to get off on the right foot. The bottom line? Establish your credibility at the beginning — from recruitment through onboarding — by implementing these six recommendations. 1. Manage Their Expectations Be responsive throughout the interview process. […]

06 Jun 2017

In What Ways Is Your Work Like a Cocktail?

It’s a rare thing to chuckle your way through a book on management and leadership. But I was so entertained by The Perfect Mix: Everything I Know About Leadership I Learned as a Bartender by Helen Rothberg, that I had to remind myself to pay attention to the leadership content. This soon-to-be-released book reads as if it’s one part short story, one part memoir, and one part you-can-do-it handbook. Throughout the book, Rothberg imparts major lessons on how to manage […]

30 May 2017

How to Get Ready When You Have to Deliver Bad News

However hard it is for you to be the bearer of bad tidings and to take responsibility for getting the delivery right, at least you’ll have a chance to prepare. At minimum, preparation consists of three stages: Determining the content to be communicated. Anticipating what’s likely to happen during the delivery. Figuring out how to manage yourself throughout the process. Bad news at work includes things like a project proposal being turned down, or a person being at risk of […]

23 May 2017

3 Practical Ways to Prevent United Airlines-Style Damage

Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, recently ran a public letter of apology as an ad in several major newspapers. A much more detailed, self-abasing version of the apology was sent as an email to customers and ran in the May issue of United’s in-flight magazine, Hemispheres. In the more extensive letters, Munoz referred to the “important promise we make to you, our customer” and admitted that “we broke that trust.” He described concessions that United will make “when […]

16 May 2017

What to Do When Priorities Are in Conflict

Expand your market share. Increase your margin. Reorganize your team. Given the constant drumbeat of new and changing initiatives, it’s reasonable to wonder which priorities are truly the most important. I hear about this from clients with great frequency: “We just can’t get to everything.” “We’re not making enough progress.” “We do a new strat plan every few years, but we don’t seem to have moved any further.” Try Not to Lose Your Way It’s hard to work on more […]

09 May 2017

This Is How to Give Feedback but Not Make People Feel Stupid

“Oh, heavens,” I thought, “I’ve offended her!” I had wanted to be helpful and friendly, but instead I was confusing and possibly insulting — I had given feedback as if the problem was with the person, not with the situation. Here’s what happened: The traffic sequence at the five-way intersection on the corner where I work is totally non-intuitive, and the cycle of lights seems to take forever. So the other day, as I approached the intersection, I did what […]

 

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