Workplace Wisdom

05 Oct 2016

How to Help Micromanagers Get Better Results

Some managers who’ve risen through the ranks become overly controlling once they begin to exercise authority. They squelch subordinates’ ability to take risks, develop, and contribute, both individually and collectively. Here are two examples I’ve worked with recently: The Dictatorial Isolationist Anastasia is a transactional, concrete kind of boss. Relationships and fresh thinking don’t impress her. She relates quality of performance to hours worked, visible effort, and immediate responsiveness. Appropriate outcomes aren’t sufficient; she only cares about whether team members […]

27 Sep 2016

7 Surprisingly Simple Secrets to Managing Millennials

Many of my clients are confused and frustrated by the challenges of working with Millennials, including their tendency to expect everything to be easy and straightforward; their need to be “spoon fed” and treated as special; their desire to work from home and have flexible hours; and their need for constant variety. Plus, when the slightest little thing goes wrong, they leave! At least that’s the way things go without skillful intervention, according to The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016. “Two-thirds […]

13 Sep 2016

The Painful Responsibility of Staff Failure

I just got a call from a senior leader: A community outreach staffer was causing his management team some consternation. When he was hired 18 months ago, he’d approached every job with zest, volunteered for extra responsibilities, and was considered a standout contributor. But he no longer seemed as engaged, committed, or happy. Unfortunately, he was behaving as if he were being compensated purely for task accomplishment rather than for creating a consistent and forward-looking community presence. Although one of […]

16 Aug 2016

Advice on How to Make a Case to Senior Leaders

I just heard from a middle manager who vented about her senior leaders’ lack of response after she made them aware of certain problems. She wondered if there were better ways to explain challenging circumstances or to present unwelcome information. First we discussed some of the possible reasons that her managers might actually disagree with her, their various alternative perspectives, and whether she isn’t privy to other information that they’re using to decide what is — or isn’t — important. […]

09 Aug 2016

How to Screen Out a Star to Save the Team

In the recent Harvard Business Review article “How Facebook Tries to Prevent Office Politics,” Jay Parikh, Facebook’s global head of engineering and infrastructure, advises against hiring “empire builders, self-servers, and whiners” — even if they’re also smart, skilled, and experienced people. How sensible! And how strategic! Organizations always need competent people who care about growth and progress, know how to focus attention, and can play the “squeaky wheel” when an important issue needs attention. But they can’t afford employees who […]

02 Aug 2016

Please! Recognize and Reject Reductive Rhetoric in Business

While following the 2016 Republican and Democratic Party conventions, I noted, with some concern, how gullible people can be. Despite the complexity of real-world situations, many voters seem too ready to trust politicians who give superficial, vague, and bombastic answers. This worries me. I wish we would turn down the sloganeering in favor of pursuing well-crafted, lasting solutions to societal problems. But this acceptance of reductive rhetoric isn’t limited to politics. There’s an interesting analog between the rhetoric of presidential […]

26 Jul 2016

How to End Meeting Madness and Get Better Results

Some of my clients go crazy with meetings. They schedule them back to back, invite a cast of thousands, start late and in disarray, drag on unproductively, and end late without closure. Suddenly, everyone is grabbing their stuff, still talking as they push past the people standing clustered outside the door, waiting to come in for the next meeting. At these meetings, even when discussions seem to result in agreements, it’s hard to tell afterwards if anything actually gets done. […]

05 Jul 2016

How to Get the Best from an Anxious Leader

After working for a number of months with a vice president who’s had a successful career trajectory in a well-regarded firm, I realized that every few years I meet leaders who are noticeably anxious — even among the senior ranks. They’re usually intelligent, knowledgeable, technically proficient people who care about others and want to perform well for their organization’s sake as well as their own. Unfortunately, they may not have had the right development at crucial points in their careers, […]

28 Jun 2016

When Being Strategic Is a Weakness

During a recent visit to a client company, I spent time with two different leaders whose initiatives weren’t progressing satisfactorily. The first leader was chatty and made sweeping motivational statements. Her team was deeply committed, but their work had been dragging along at a slow pace, never meeting their growth targets. The second leader, who was less outgoing, was spearheading a new project that drew participants from various areas of the organization. The members of his ad hoc group were […]

21 Jun 2016

Four Conditions Required for Motivation

A successful sales manager was feeling demoralized and out of sorts. When we met for coffee, she sat knee to knee, radiating intensity. “Of course, motivating the team is one of my biggest responsibilities,” she told me. “But when the powers-that-be say, ‘Motivate the team,’ what they really mean is, ‘Get the results.’ My boss is under the gun for numbers, so it’s push, push, push all the time. “It’s true that not all my guys are meeting their targets. […]

 

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