Workplace Wisdom

24 Oct 2017

8 Ways to Prevent Participation and Innovation

Employees can be such a headache, especially the proactive ones! They’re always asking questions, wanting things to be either some new way or the way they used to be, or else they’re making suggestions and proposals — as if there was a better way than your way. How’s a senior person supposed to get any work done and have a decent day when the team always needs so much attention? But don’t worry, you can nip all that proactivity in […]

29 Aug 2017

2 Never-Fail Rules to Make Change Initiatives Successful

Last week I facilitated a senior staff meeting that focused on silo-busting and improving cross-departmental collaboration. The group leader wrote to me afterwards to say he was very happy with how things went, and asked me to help support the process of carrying the work forward. In advance of our next get-together, I sent him recommendations on how to proceed with his team to give the new initiatives the best chance of success. I’m sharing here what I told the […]

25 Jul 2017

What Happens When Leaders Divide to Conquer

Working with teams or leaders in conflict is a crucial part of many of my assignments — even when it was not included in the original scope of work. Sometimes these disagreements arise because individual team members or colleagues instigate dissension or turmoil. Historical norms and structural changes can also trigger or perpetuate interpersonal or interdepartmental problems. But surprisingly frequently, conflicts arise from a lack of alignment around goals and responsibilities caused by a leadership structure called “hub-and-spoke.” The term […]

18 Jul 2017

Are You Tired of Being Condescended To?

In the past 10 days, three people from different organizations have complained to me about a boss or colleague who’s behaved condescendingly toward them. Not one of the three is a slouch, or a junior person. They’re all smart, competent, hardworking — assets to their organizations. And yet, they’re condescended to with some frequency. The act of condescending involves looking down on, talking down to, and generally putting someone down. In all cases, the message is: “You are less than […]

09 May 2017

This Is How to Give Feedback but Not Make People Feel Stupid

“Oh, heavens,” I thought, “I’ve offended her!” I had wanted to be helpful and friendly, but instead I was confusing and possibly insulting — I had given feedback as if the problem was with the person, not with the situation. Here’s what happened: The traffic sequence at the five-way intersection on the corner where I work is totally non-intuitive, and the cycle of lights seems to take forever. So the other day, as I approached the intersection, I did what […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

06 Sep 2016

When We Misread Cues and Get Things Wrong

We like to think we understand what’s going on. But sometimes we get things completely wrong. Take a look at this very short video about how, even with the best intentions, our attempts to understand, please, and get things right can fall short — resulting in confusion, disappointment, and maybe even a little shock. Note the boy’s facial expressions. We’ve all experienced the boy’s feeling of optimism suddenly turning to dread. Seeing this video reminded me of a troubling experience […]

 

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