Workplace Wisdom

24 Apr 2018

How to Deal with a Colleague Who Threatens You

“I won’t oppose you now, but if anything goes wrong, I’ll go toe-to-toe with you.” My colleague was already standing practically toe-to-toe with me — and besides being much taller and stronger than I, he was leaning forward and speaking in a threatening tone. He disagreed strongly with a decision I was making, but had neither the authority nor the group support to counter it. If he wasn’t actually going to take a swing at me (and of course he […]

17 Apr 2018

Why It’s Unusual to Improve Anything By Demanding Transparency

In organizations where employees generally trust their management and each other, you don’t hear many complaints about lack of transparency. But in other places, demands for transparency can take an ugly tone, and even become so entrenched that it seems as if everything would be all right if only the other side finally showed “what they were up to,” as one of my clients put it. When colleagues agree to provide transparency but don’t deliver on their commitment, the normal […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

06 Mar 2018

How to Survive Being Promoted Past Your Peers

A significant number of employees, supervisors, managers, and even vice presidents find themselves getting promoted and having to figure out not only how to detach from their old peers as well as how to fit in with their new ones. The transition can be difficult to navigate, but these 10 behaviors can help you avoid the standard pitfalls and become more successful faster. Leave your old job carefully. Exiting your old department with unfinished projects or messy relationships will undercut […]

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 […]

20 Feb 2018

What Are the Risks When You Hire “The Best We Could Get”?

Say you’re interviewing candidates for a big job you really need to fill — and fast. The absence of someone in this crucial spot is beginning to halt progress and the staff is starting to lose confidence. The perfect candidate needs a broad range of important competencies. You’ve already mined your network, and you’ve had a recruiter focused on the assignment for months. One candidate seems to have all the skills, even though in some of the interviews, they’ve come […]

 

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