Workplace Wisdom

14 Jun 2016

Getting Our Signals Crossed at Work

One day last week after lunch, while walking back to my office, I noticed a man parking in the last of four curbside spots in front of the Post Office. He maneuvered a bit and then stopped his car just as another car pulled up, right behind him where there was no official spot. The windows in the second car were open, so I could hear the driver exclaiming to her passenger: “What’s he doing?! Why doesn’t he move up!?” […]

07 Jun 2016

Stop Swinging the Service Pendulum

“Why can’t we keep our customers happy?!?” a CEO called out during a meeting with his department heads. “Just take care of the problems! What’s the big fuss?!?” And he meant it. But that was before he learned how much it would cost. Over the years, I’ve heard numerous owners, presidents, and CEOs vacillate between making prideful service promises and declaring angrily that too much is being spent on customer service, or employees are giving the store away, or customers […]

31 May 2016

How to Bring Bad News to Your Boss

In most jobs, you have to learn how to integrate your leader into your plans. Unless you own or run the place yourself, part of your job is to help leadership be successful while you’re taking care of your own responsibilities. This holds true until you’re ready to walk away from the job, whether you love or respect your boss or not. Bringing the Bad News So how can you effectively deliver bad news or uncomfortable truths — stuff your […]

24 May 2016

Leading from the Middle of an Indifferent Leadership Team

A newly hired VP called me the other day, expressing frustration with her indecisive and apathetic colleagues. My unspoken response was: “They’re not even strong enough to be a Team of Rivals.” When a leadership group appears weak, confused, or in disarray, employees at all levels lose their drive and their heart. That’s a recipe for stasis and failure throughout the business. The VP’s question: How could she encourage her peers to come together and take steps to move the […]

17 May 2016

If You’re Not Wandering, You May Be Lost

When it comes to what’s going on in his business, one of my favorite CEOs has the humility to say, “I don’t know what I don’t know.” He wisely acknowledges what many C-suite leaders don’t: If he only knows what his subordinates present to him, then he doesn’t know enough. So this CEO makes good use of a sophisticated technique called managing by wandering around (aka MBWA). Get Yourself a Roaming Plan Tom Peters, the consultant’s consultant, frequently stresses the […]

10 May 2016

How to Connect the “Triple-A Way”

“I love your prints!” I said to the two brightly attired women who were exiting the lobby of my office building just ahead of me. “You look wonderful together!” They were startled — and delighted! I could hear them chattering to each other as I walked away: “Wasn’t that nice! Well, we do look good!” Although they hadn’t seemed to be feeling particularly positive when I first saw them, now they were smiling and nodding to each other, looking as […]

03 May 2016

Has Business Fallen into the Gender Gap?

Over the next 10 years, if we were to focus on the financial benefits of achieving gender equality and made the necessary changes in hiring, career growth, and compensation, we could end up “adding an economy the size of Texas to the U.S.” That’s what Kweilin Ellingrud, a McKinsey Global Institute partner and the author of a new study, “The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in the United States,” recently told Bloomberg TV. The point is not that we […]

12 Apr 2016

On Playing Favorites

“I’m the goodest one, right?” asked the four-year-old girl. In the hotel restaurant, her clearly beleaguered grandmother was also supervising yammering twin five-year-olds, and a toddler crying for a Band-Aid. The situation provided the perfect analog for adult behavior I had witnessed earlier that day in a conference room. Multiple middle managers were jockeying for position in front of their boss — although not quite as explicitly or as charmingly as these kids. In the restaurant, the grandma did a […]

05 Apr 2016

The Surprising Truth about Consensus

Consensus sounds so nice: Everyone agrees and moves forward together. Kumbaya! Seems like a good thing, right? But here’s how one client described the way his company practices consensus (with my italics): “We have to take all these teeny little baby steps to get to consensus, one painful meeting after another. So by the time we get close, we’re all bought in, and we smile and swallow the Kool-Aid, even if it tastes like battery acid.” A Common Drawback to […]

22 Mar 2016

When a Longstanding Employee Is in a Slump

Has someone been on your team so long that their performance is tanking and they appear to have stopped engaging in the relationship? As one client described it to me: “I’m surprised to be feeling so dissatisfied — so frustrated! I tried to overlook what seemed small and petty because I didn’t want to be a control freak or a micromanager. But now it’s too much — he’s falling down on the job and doesn’t seem to notice or care.” […]

 

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