Workplace Wisdom

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 […]

04 Apr 2017

Who Needs Attention, and Can I Get a Quality Latte with It?

The other morning, I was feeling cranky, unfocused, and unproductive — the perfect situation for coffee. Sadly, I haven’t been allowed to have caffeine for a couple of years, on doctor’s orders, and I miss it terribly. Coffee gets the day off to a civilized start, provides a boost in the afternoon, enhances all kinds of well-being, and delivers a satisfying snap! of clear-headedness. I still believe in — and crave — coffee’s healing powers, even though it’s not healing […]

07 Mar 2017

Want More Engaged Employees? Help Your Leaders Improve

Do an online search for “employee engagement” and you’ll get 10.6 million hits. Search for “employee attrition” and you’ll come up with 1.38 million hits. The old line is that employees don’t leave companies, they leave their manager. In fact, Gallup’s 2015 study, The State of the American Manager, found that fully 50 percent of employees left their jobs “to get away from their manager,” and that “managers account for up to 70 percent of variance in engagement.” So, if […]

21 Feb 2017

How to Reduce the Risk of Shooting from the Hip

Years ago, I had a client who actually used to say, “Fire! Aim! Ready!” when he was issuing some decree or other. This business owner acknowledged he was shooting from the hip, reacting suddenly and without considering the impact of his words or his actions. Often there would be collateral damage, when his of-the-moment command or policy didn’t account for all the aspects of a situation or account for other initiatives that were already under way. Too frequently, employees ended […]

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 […]

17 Jan 2017

Watch Out for 3 Surprising Mistakes in Executive Hiring

Why would you ever consider hiring someone whose behavior you disrespect? Eventually, the relationship will end in tears — and if you’re not the one crying, you’ll be handing out the Kleenex. But it can be extremely challenging to find and hire the optimal person, and companies can wind up choosing people who bring whopper weaknesses to the job along with their desirable strengths. Unfortunately, some weaknesses are so damaging that they can outweigh even significant strengths. So be careful! […]

10 Jan 2017

6 More Remarkable Books, Sure to Improve Work Relationships

When I suggested 6 Books to Make You Feel New and Improved in 2017 — to be consumed at the rate of one book every other month — readers responded so well that I’m recommending six more titles for the alternate months. This second short list of favorites offers multiple alternative and complementary ways to look for everyone’s best and help them bring it out. If you apply the lessons and concepts in these books, you’ll improve your understanding of […]

20 Dec 2016

6 Books to Make You Feel New and Improved in 2017

The good life, according to Socrates, is highly examined, and I think it’s definitely enhanced by lots and lots of reading. If you value human development, personal growth, and self-mastery a fraction as much as I do, here’s fresh grist for your mill. These six books are intensely practical: They propose concrete things you can do to make your experience of — and impact on — the real world even better than what you do naturally. In addition to providing […]

06 Dec 2016

Do You Share This Bad Communication Habit?

I’ve got a bad habit in some of my interactions. It breaks my own rules about showing respect, recognizing that I don’t know everything, and giving people full control over their own choices. I was reminded of it recently one evening during rush hour in Penn Station. I passed a very tall fellow who was hollering into his phone, “You know what you need to do…” as if he meant it as a question. But he clearly wasn’t asking, he […]

29 Nov 2016

Want to Be a Successful Leader? Guess What: It’s Not About You

Think about every boss you’ve had since you were a kid, even including the parents of the kids you babysat, the owner of the greasy spoon where you waited tables, and the director of the camp where you were a counselor. Were any of these bosses so inspiring that whenever they come to mind, you recall how much you wanted to be like them? What behaviors clued you in that these folks belong to a special category of successful leaders? […]

 

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