Workplace Wisdom

19 Dec 2017

How to Choose an Inspiring Theme for 2018

Do you know anyone who can’t wait for this year to end? I certainly do, and who can blame them? So many people have had enough of 2017 and its disruptions, from family and work troubles to political turmoil and natural disasters. Some of them are looking forward by making New Year’s resolutions or following the growing trend of designating a single “word for the year” as a way to express a desire or set an intention. Resolutions can be […]

20 Nov 2017

What to Do If Your Boss Gets Distracted by Every New Thing

This article originally appeared on hbr.org. No matter what the strategic plan says, many of us are more attracted to something new that’s glittering on the horizon than we are to the goals that have languished on our to-do list for months. This weakness is as true for senior leaders as it is for the rank-and-file, but when a CEO or other senior executive is known for chasing shiny objects, a lot of people and projects can suffer. When senior leaders suddenly get […]

31 Oct 2017

How to Start Restoring Your Boss’s Faith, and Your Own

Most of us have made at least one big mistake at work, and had a hard time getting back on an even keel. But it doesn’t help to wallow in self-doubt. Luckily, there are usually ways we can pull ourselves out of the hole. A manager from a client company contacted me in distress last week: He had mishandled a personnel issue badly by conveying an inaccurate impression of a work situation to some subordinates. His boss had given him […]

15 Aug 2017

What Can You Do When a Customer Explodes?

I just watched a customer take offense in a situation where no one was actually in the wrong. She reached into an awkward — although salvageable — circumstance, and pulled out a negative experience for herself — and a terrible experience for the employee trying to help her. Round 1: The Customer Picks a Fight Over a Price I was finishing a cup of tea in my favorite frozen yogurt place when a customer came in and ordered two large […]

18 Jul 2017

Are You Tired of Being Condescended To?

In the past 10 days, three people from different organizations have complained to me about a boss or colleague who’s behaved condescendingly toward them. Not one of the three is a slouch, or a junior person. They’re all smart, competent, hardworking — assets to their organizations. And yet, they’re condescended to with some frequency. The act of condescending involves looking down on, talking down to, and generally putting someone down. In all cases, the message is: “You are less than […]

27 Jun 2017

How to Save Yourself from Being Manipulated

One of the particularly interesting things about the recent testimony from fired FBI Director James Comey in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee had nothing to do with lies, leaks, or Russia. What struck me was his story — how when the person in authority said something outrageous, even a tall white man in a position of power could feel so disconcerted that he couldn’t find the appropriate response. One focus of the media coverage and conversation after Comey’s testimony […]

30 May 2017

How to Get Ready When You Have to Deliver Bad News

However hard it is for you to be the bearer of bad tidings and to take responsibility for getting the delivery right, at least you’ll have a chance to prepare. At minimum, preparation consists of three stages: Determining the content to be communicated. Anticipating what’s likely to happen during the delivery. Figuring out how to manage yourself throughout the process. Bad news at work includes things like a project proposal being turned down, or a person being at risk of […]

16 May 2017

What to Do When Priorities Are in Conflict

Expand your market share. Increase your margin. Reorganize your team. Given the constant drumbeat of new and changing initiatives, it’s reasonable to wonder which priorities are truly the most important. I hear about this from clients with great frequency: “We just can’t get to everything.” “We’re not making enough progress.” “We do a new strat plan every few years, but we don’t seem to have moved any further.” Try Not to Lose Your Way It’s hard to work on more […]

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 […]

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 […]

 

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