Workplace Wisdom

16 Dec 2014

Because We Can Breathe

Like many people, I’m deeply outraged and upset about the recent grand jury decisions not to indict white police officers who killed unarmed black men. And like many others, my perceptions and concerns are shaped by my own biases. So let me be as explicit about them as I can. I’m a management consultant, a woman, a Jew, and a parent. I am white, well educated, and a New Yorker — a person of lucky and significant privilege. In some […]

09 Dec 2014

How Are You Reacting to Feedback?

It can be even tougher to accept feedback than it is to give it. It’s never easy to hear that your idea, behavior, or effort didn’t have the desired effect or wasn’t well received. When you’re given negative feedback, you may feel wronged, misjudged, or just plain uncomfortable. It can be hard to listen closely or find a good response on the fly. It can be difficult to know when it’s appropriate to comment, and even if you don’t speak, […]

18 Nov 2014

How to Emphasize Praise for Feedback Success

In last week’s post, The Truth About Workplace Feedback, we looked at the significance of having a generally positive relationship with an employee before asking the employee to take in and apply critical feedback. A positive relationship isn’t necessary because it’s nicer. And it’s not because everyone should get a trophy. It’s just practical: All employees are human, and all humans make mistakes. And the vast majority of humans have trouble taking in criticism. In fact, according to communication experts, […]

21 Oct 2014

Do You Need to Cope with a Conflict-Averse Executive?

When an executive disagrees with a proposal or approach, the situation can go in two directions: In the best-case scenario, the disagreement gets worked through collegially, even if it means that other people — other executives, even — have to change their approach in order to achieve a resolution. But in the worst-case scenario, for whatever reason, the executive feels that she can’t, shouldn’t have to, or doesn’t have the time to work things through. She may make some gentle […]

23 Sep 2014

7 Methods to Maintain Momentum

Whenever you have more than a handful of people on a team or at the same level in an organization, you run into countless opportunities for people to fall out of synch, misunderstand each other, and drift off course. For the leader, it can be extraordinarily frustrating to introduce or support an initiative and sponsor crucial discussions only to see the necessary change fade away. It’s hard to maintain momentum for initiatives and programs: Employees lose focus or get caught […]

16 Sep 2014

The Iceberg School of Problem-Solving

In business, lingering problems rarely have a single or simple solution. That’s why they linger. Many problems are relatively unambiguous and easily understood by the people who deal with them every day. We solve them without thinking about them too much: Problem X → Action Y → Resolution Z. It’s easy to get used to that level of thinking being sufficient, even if we have to solve the same problem over and over. In the Shoals and Shallows People tend […]

05 Aug 2014

So You Think Your Manager’s Like a Bad Joke? Part 2: Improving the Routine

Last week’s post began with the Critic, the Control Freak, and the Micromanager walking into a conference room. (You’ll find their characteristics here.) Unfortunately, it can be very challenging to change these tendencies. After all, these individuals may have behaved this way as early as middle school when they had to work together on group projects as kids. But that doesn’t mean you should give up! If you know you’re one of these folks, try the suggestions below. And if […]

01 Jul 2014

What’s the Workplace Equivalent of Making the Bed?

The right ritual can get your day off to a productive start. For me, the best mornings begin in a quiet house, making and drinking my coffee just the way I like it. Everybody’s got their own way to meet the day. Some people believe in heading outside immediately to stand for a moment in natural light, no matter the season or weather. Others like to make the bed the minute they’re out of it. Neither of these options ever […]

08 Apr 2014

How to Stay Tenacious in the Face of Ongoing Change

No matter how hard you’re working to give your team a sense of direction or to help them cope with the realities of change, it can be a little draining to see how much more remains to be done. And that’s true even if you’re an optimist. Or maybe particularly if you’re an optimist, since surely you expected things to feel better by now! 1. Listen Like You’ve Never Listened Before Listen to your team’s feedback as if you’re still […]

01 Apr 2014

How to Minimize the Natural Resistance to Change

Declaring the need for change is not enough. And implementing a “change program” may not even be enough to get you the change you want. No matter what changes you’re considering or attempting — whether you’re trying to shift personal health habits or organizational tone and values — the last things you’ll want to hear are: “We don’t do it that way,” “I tried that before and it didn’t work,” or “You know that’s not our focus!” The other charge […]


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