Workplace Wisdom

07 Nov 2017

How to Give Uncomfortable Personal Feedback, with Grace

Most people feel awkward raising personal issues with colleagues. That’s especially true when those issues concern the physical body, seem like an inherent expression of the person themselves, or are things we would feel mortified about if someone brought them up about us. Weird personal habits, physical issues, and behavioral quirks can be off-putting or disruptive to others, and create tricky, delicate situations that affect everything from teamwork to customer retention. Typically, the format for performance-based feedback relies on this […]

31 Oct 2017

How to Start Restoring Your Boss’s Faith, and Your Own

Most of us have made at least one big mistake at work, and had a hard time getting back on an even keel. But it doesn’t help to wallow in self-doubt. Luckily, there are usually ways we can pull ourselves out of the hole. A manager from a client company contacted me in distress last week: He had mishandled a personnel issue badly by conveying an inaccurate impression of a work situation to some subordinates. His boss had given him […]

10 Oct 2017

Please Don’t Do It That Way: How Not to Help

“This doesn’t make sense to me!” Halfway down the train car, a woman’s voice was rising. She was assisting one of her two daughters with homework, and her aggravated tone caught my attention. “This doesn’t make any sense!” the mother kept saying. “You’re not answering the question!” She probably believed she was helping, but I shuddered for the child’s sake at the frustration I could hear in her voice. “Not right now, honey,” she snapped at the younger sibling, who […]

15 Aug 2017

What Can You Do When a Customer Explodes?

I just watched a customer take offense in a situation where no one was actually in the wrong. She reached into an awkward — although salvageable — circumstance, and pulled out a negative experience for herself — and a terrible experience for the employee trying to help her. Round 1: The Customer Picks a Fight Over a Price I was finishing a cup of tea in my favorite frozen yogurt place when a customer came in and ordered two large […]

08 Aug 2017

What to Do When You Have Trouble Praising Employees

Practically every executive knows that praise is a crucial management tool. Gallup research shows that when managers recognize employees’ strengths and positive characteristics, rather than focusing on their weaknesses and negative characteristics, employee engagement goes up significantly. But what are your options if praising employees feels foreign and uncomfortable to you? Many executives feel awkward, if not downright resistant, about praising employees, no matter how successful they are otherwise. I’ve observed this situation particularly with individuals whose family or academic […]

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 […]

11 Jul 2017

This Is How to be a Leader in Name Only

Aspiring, self-aware leaders think of leadership as a practice and a way of life. They’re always looking for growth opportunities and greater self-mastery, whatever their rank or title. And yet a surprising number of executives operate as leaders in name only, neither understanding nor caring about what inspires employees to be creative, diligent, or do their best work. If you’d like to lead in name only, here are some tips you can follow. On the other hand, if you’d prefer […]

27 Jun 2017

How to Save Yourself from Being Manipulated

One of the particularly interesting things about the recent testimony from fired FBI Director James Comey in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee had nothing to do with lies, leaks, or Russia. What struck me was his story — how when the person in authority said something outrageous, even a tall white man in a position of power could feel so disconcerted that he couldn’t find the appropriate response. One focus of the media coverage and conversation after Comey’s testimony […]

30 May 2017

How to Get Ready When You Have to Deliver Bad News

However hard it is for you to be the bearer of bad tidings and to take responsibility for getting the delivery right, at least you’ll have a chance to prepare. At minimum, preparation consists of three stages: Determining the content to be communicated. Anticipating what’s likely to happen during the delivery. Figuring out how to manage yourself throughout the process. Bad news at work includes things like a project proposal being turned down, or a person being at risk of […]

16 May 2017

What to Do When Priorities Are in Conflict

Expand your market share. Increase your margin. Reorganize your team. Given the constant drumbeat of new and changing initiatives, it’s reasonable to wonder which priorities are truly the most important. I hear about this from clients with great frequency: “We just can’t get to everything.” “We’re not making enough progress.” “We do a new strat plan every few years, but we don’t seem to have moved any further.” Try Not to Lose Your Way It’s hard to work on more […]

 

Subscribe To Workplace Wisdom