Workplace Wisdom

14 Mar 2017

Accountability: Be Careful What You Wish For

“Why is no one ever held accountable here?” A vice president was fuming at me, and not for the first time. “Why do we always act like everything’s fine instead of holding people accountable?” I’ve worked with a lot of companies, and the topic of accountability doesn’t come up unless someone thinks another person or group isn’t managing their end of things, and ought to take the blame. Sometimes it’s actually a veiled request for the leadership to swoop in […]

07 Mar 2017

Want More Engaged Employees? Help Your Leaders Improve

Do an online search for “employee engagement” and you’ll get 10.6 million hits. Search for “employee attrition” and you’ll come up with 1.38 million hits. The old line is that employees don’t leave companies, they leave their manager. In fact, Gallup’s 2015 study, The State of the American Manager, found that fully 50 percent of employees left their jobs “to get away from their manager,” and that “managers account for up to 70 percent of variance in engagement.” So, if […]

28 Feb 2017

A Surprising Example of Disruptive Skill

This morning, on the train heading into New York City, I watched a woman put on her makeup. She had the application down to an art: reaching into the cosmetic bag on her lap to find the next product; holding up her mirror with one hand and her makeup applicator with the other; and occasionally putting down both to sip from the travel mug gripped between her knees, or interrupting her process to text and take calls, always easily returning […]

21 Feb 2017

How to Reduce the Risk of Shooting from the Hip

Years ago, I had a client who actually used to say, “Fire! Aim! Ready!” when he was issuing some decree or other. This business owner acknowledged he was shooting from the hip, reacting suddenly and without considering the impact of his words or his actions. Often there would be collateral damage, when his of-the-moment command or policy didn’t account for all the aspects of a situation or account for other initiatives that were already under way. Too frequently, employees ended […]

14 Feb 2017

4 Powerful Steps on the Way to Cross-Functional Agreement

I had a call with an up-and-coming middle manager who presented a complex situation and then asked a sincere question. A small cross-functional working group was trying to resolve some interdepartmental workflow and boundary issues. They had been dealing with — and avoiding — the same difficulties and discrepancies for almost 18 months out of fear of impending loss of status, staff, self-determination, etc., for at least some of the group’s members. “We have the brains” to work on the […]

31 Jan 2017

Stay Out of the Trap of One-Off Leadership

Many business owners prefer to make all their decisions on a case-by-case basis, as determined by their deep understanding of individual circumstances and well-developed gut instinct. They resist creating formal policy, believing that each situation calls for unique, specialized treatment — whether it’s resolving customer complaints or dealing with employees’ problems. An Argument on Behalf of Policy But the one-off approach isn’t always efficient or appropriate. I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs who started out with the assumption that decisions made […]

24 Jan 2017

How to Find Agreement When You Come from Opposite Sides

I’m very lucky to experience much less disagreement or outright conflict on the job than most people. Although my clients’ views may differ from mine in many ways, it’s implicit in our relationship that we’re mutually committed to figuring things out together and coming to the strongest possible joint solutions. But some of the folks I work with have dozens of crucial disagreements every week as if they are explicitly job responsibilities! In fact, I often coach or counsel people […]

17 Jan 2017

Watch Out for 3 Surprising Mistakes in Executive Hiring

Why would you ever consider hiring someone whose behavior you disrespect? Eventually, the relationship will end in tears — and if you’re not the one crying, you’ll be handing out the Kleenex. But it can be extremely challenging to find and hire the optimal person, and companies can wind up choosing people who bring whopper weaknesses to the job along with their desirable strengths. Unfortunately, some weaknesses are so damaging that they can outweigh even significant strengths. So be careful! […]

10 Jan 2017

6 More Remarkable Books, Sure to Improve Work Relationships

When I suggested 6 Books to Make You Feel New and Improved in 2017 — to be consumed at the rate of one book every other month — readers responded so well that I’m recommending six more titles for the alternate months. This second short list of favorites offers multiple alternative and complementary ways to look for everyone’s best and help them bring it out. If you apply the lessons and concepts in these books, you’ll improve your understanding of […]

03 Jan 2017

Workplace Wisdom’s Most Popular Posts of 2016

One very practical way to move forward is to review past successes and expand on them. So I checked to see which Workplace Wisdom blog posts attracted the most attention in 2016 to learn which topics would be most useful to readers and worth revisiting from a variety of angles in 2017. The Three Top Picks 7 Surprisingly Simple Secrets to Managing Millennials This post covered some of the challenges that senior execs perceive when working with Millennials. It’s tough […]

 

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