Workplace Wisdom

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 […]

13 Dec 2016

Stuck in the Middle with Management

“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right / Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” The Stealers Wheels song wasn’t explicitly addressing middle management, but “stuck” is what it often feels like. That’s what I hear all the time from dedicated, frustrated people. They can’t get their work done because they’re pulled in so many directions. They’re scheduled into meetings all day, with informal drop-ins and fire-fighting on top of that, so their deliverables don’t […]

29 Nov 2016

Want to Be a Successful Leader? Guess What: It’s Not About You

Think about every boss you’ve had since you were a kid, even including the parents of the kids you babysat, the owner of the greasy spoon where you waited tables, and the director of the camp where you were a counselor. Were any of these bosses so inspiring that whenever they come to mind, you recall how much you wanted to be like them? What behaviors clued you in that these folks belong to a special category of successful leaders? […]

15 Nov 2016

Why Feedback Fails, and What to Do Instead

I recently surprised a C-level operations exec with recommendations about a business problem that were quite different from the advice he had received from others. Here’s the situation: Through the grapevine, a bunch of junior R&D folks expressed concern about a team of colleagues who were feeling frustrated and unhappy with their leadership. The senior team leader was a founding employee, and although she had been a star in her day, she now came across as out of step with […]

 

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