Workplace Wisdom

10 Apr 2018

How to Manage an Employee Who Cries Easily

This article originally appeared on hbr.org. Most managers feel uncomfortable when employees cry during business conversations. Many of us may recall a time we’ve cried at work, but for some people it’s not a rare occurrence. Some individuals seem to react excessively to disappointment or challenge, with repeated bouts of apparent sadness or fear accompanied by tears, shaking, or reddening. If you manage someone who tears up easily, you may find yourself leaving important topics or issues unaddressed to avoid […]

27 Mar 2018

What to Do If Your Boss Doesn’t Like Someone You Manage

This article originally appeared on hbr.org. At a meeting, a low-level leader thought he was being helpful by pointing out why the CEO’s ideas couldn’t be implemented. The CEO did not find this endearing, and she conveyed that message to the employee’s boss. The manager trapped in the middle turned to me for help: how could he protect his employee — who was good at his job — from a CEO who now saw him as a naysayer? If you […]

20 Mar 2018

How to Claim Your Authority When You Feel Like One of the Gang

We all know that a title isn’t enough to elicit respect from your subordinates, or even to develop confidence in yourself. If employees and other leaders think of you as having grown up in the business, they may not take you completely seriously. You can feel torn between wanting to be well regarded and accepted by your team, and making sure that all the work is going the way it needs to go. If you have a reasonable amount of […]

13 Mar 2018

What to Do While You’re Waiting to Be Promoted

When some hotshot skyrockets through the ranks on the way to the C-Suite, other middle managers can feel slighted or overlooked. They worry that they’re not getting enough opportunity or recognition, and wonder why their boss or someone from HR isn’t coming to tell them what a great job they’re doing and promote them. But meeting expectations and staying out of trouble is never enough to ensure advancement. Whether you have your sights set on the boardroom or you see […]

27 Feb 2018

Why You Need to Be Skeptical of People Who Say They’re Strategic

Have you ever heard a colleague announce, “I’m a strategic thinker!” or defend their methods or process by claiming, “But I’m being strategic!”? Maybe I’m dealing with too small a sample of leaders at a variety of levels, but I’ve never seen anyone become more successful, gain more respect, or get promoted more quickly just because they say they’re strategic. Yet I often hear people insist that they’re strategic, sometimes forcefully, when what’s really going on is that they’re feeling […]

23 Jan 2018

How to Make a Small Tweak in Communication for a Surprisingly Big Change

When I interviewed a group of highly experienced technical employees at a client company last week, one of the things I asked them was what consistently made them nuts on the job. They told me about daily frustrations that ranged from software problems to the challenges of trying to do deep, creative thinking in the distracting open-office setup — all of which were straightforward, reasonable concerns. And then one observably upbeat and seemingly unflappable fellow shook his head a little, […]

16 Jan 2018

Here Are the 3 Unexpected Things I Learned from Surviving a TEDx Talk

When a dear colleague emailed me last July to ask if I’d consider speaking at TEDxBaylorSchool, I was terrified. Not of speaking, per se, but of the combination of requirements that characterize a TEDx: the big-enough idea; the delivery of a memorized talk while standing inside a red dot; and, maybe the scariest thing of all, the permanent capture on video. The Gifts of the Struggle The gist of the story is that I said yes, and I survived the […]

09 Jan 2018

How to Stop Counterproductive Criticism and Coach Constructively

One of the most frequent concerns I encounter when I’m interviewing business people — regardless of whether they work on the frontlines or are members of boards of directors — is that they rarely hear any good news. People complain that they don’t find out whether initiatives have turned out well, and they certainly don’t receive enough personal praise. What they do hear plenty of, though, is what’s not working and when people are unhappy with them. And what do […]

02 Jan 2018

When a Good Thing Triggers a Surprisingly Bad Response

This holiday season I gave a small gift to a local supplier as a token thank you. It was clear from her immediate reaction that she’s not used to receiving client gifts. She started out by protesting, “Oh you shouldn’t have done that!” Then she turned excessively grateful: “It was so wonderful of you to do this!” But suddenly she shifted into a negative mode about everything that was wrong with people and the way holidays are celebrated today: “No […]

05 Dec 2017

How to Get the Most from Your Exit Interviews

Are you doing thoughtful exit interviews with all levels of departing employees? The exit interview is one of few concrete opportunities to learn what makes someone comfortable to work in your organization — or not — and to glean information you can use to improve management, leadership, process, and structure. In many ways, an exit interview is the last service an employee can choose to do for an organization — it’s a gift of both time and candor. Businesses can […]

 

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