Workplace Wisdom

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 […]

08 Nov 2016

How to Cope with Post-Election Impact in the Workplace

I’m writing this post a few days before the historic presidential election of 2016. No matter who wins, an enormous number of people are going to feel horrified and upset. After all of the heated rhetoric and breaks with political history, it may be even more difficult than usual for people of differing belief systems, social preferences, and cultures to find the necessary middle ground to get back to transacting business and cooperating on projects. And I’m not just talking […]

01 Nov 2016

Keep Progress Going to Be a Leadership Success

“Nothing’s happening! Why isn’t anything happening?” Strategy, planning, and communication are all crucial parts of leadership and organizational life. But it’s execution that most people really notice, from the CEO to the most junior frontline team member. When your employees don’t see changes under way and progress being made, the best and brightest may seek greener pastures. Even the most comfortable, long-term staffers can become disengaged and disaffected if they believe an organization has stalled. It doesn’t matter how developmental […]

18 Oct 2016

Tried and Tested Ways to Make Better Team Decisions

When leaders make decisions skillfully, everyone on the team wins. But when leaders are poor decision-makers, the team’s performance and culture suffer, and individual team members can lose confidence and become disengaged. Unfortunately, though, team members don’t always make good decisions on their own. They may not have the experience or acumen, they may come in with preconceptions, or they may not recognize the ramifications of their choices. Most of us just make up our minds, without rigorously examining the […]

11 Oct 2016

What Are the Best Ways Leaders Make Up Their Minds?

Smart, effective decision-making is one of the most important and complex parts of team or organizational leadership. Leaders make up their minds based on what they already believe and the way they operate; then they deliver the decisions according to their personal style. I’ve worked with all kinds of leaders including profit-seeking, consensus-seeking, excitement-seeking, control-seeking, risk-avoidant, and conflict-avoidant; each of these styles can be both positive and negative, depending on the circumstance. Fast, Slow, or In Between? Not surprisingly, many […]

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 […]

 

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