Workplace Wisdom

03 Apr 2018

How to Use Stretch Goals to Increase Innovation

Have you ever been asked to define your own stretch goals? They’re still remarkably popular, despite a steady stream of articles and research that debunks the value of this approach altogether. It’s not so much the concept that falls to the ground, but rather its execution: Leaders require too much stretch, while providing too little support for advancing the goals themselves. How Stretch Goals Fall Short In the typically ineffective use of stretch goals, managers ask employees to hit unrealistic […]

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 […]

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 […]

14 Nov 2017

How to Get the Best from Millennials: Don’t Make Them a Monolith

At a luncheon for women business owners a few weeks ago, several people at my table complained about the Millennials on their staffs: They don’t follow directions or only do exactly what we tell them, and they don’t take the work seriously. These business leaders practically egged each other on: Millennials are sullen; they don’t communicate; and, when facing big project deadlines, never go the extra mile. Getting to Know Your Millennials After a few minutes, I interrupted the game […]

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 […]

12 Sep 2017

How to Get the Best from Your HR Department

Too often, I hear leaders and staff in all kinds of organizations express a lack of confidence in their human resources departments. For many senior executives, this lack of confidence is actually a lack of respect. They criticize HR for not understanding the business or not being strategic. There’s also a lack of respect for HR lower down in organizations, but there it comes from a lack of trust. Employees say things like: “HR is not your friend here,” or […]

05 Sep 2017

You’ll Want to Try This Surprising Twist When You Give Feedback

Standard guidelines for performance feedback call for content that’s specific, behavioral rather than personal, consistent, and delivered immediately after the triggering situation. But I’d like to suggest an alternative approach. If the behavior you’re trying to change occurs during an ongoing set of responsibilities, the feedback’s timing and positioning are the two most salient elements — although probably not in the way you were taught. What Feedback Is All About The point of performance feedback is to help the employee […]

22 Aug 2017

Warning! Coaching Won’t Improve these Employee Problems

Lately, more and more leadership development, employee feedback, and general management is being outsourced from actual business decision-makers to Human Resources business partners and professional coaches. But coaching isn’t necessarily the answer for every employee who’s not working out. Often the employees who need coaching the most are the ones who are the least likely to ask for help, take direction, or change their behavior. That’s because it’s hard for people to take in crucial guidance if they’re tin-eared, self-unaware, […]

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 […]

02 Aug 2017

How to Manage Someone Who Thinks Everything Is Urgent

This article originally appeared on hbr.org. We’ve all been in situations in which we couldn’t wait for a slow-moving or overly cautious employee to take action. But at the other extreme, some employees have such a deep need to get things resolved that they move too quickly, or too intensely, and make a mess. They may make a bad deal just to say they’ve made it, or issue a directive without thinking through the ramifications just to say they’ve handled a problem decisively. […]

 

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