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 […]

13 Feb 2018

How to Look Beyond Your First Impressions of Employees

Some leaders believe they can size up employees and their work styles — even people who don’t report to them — based on how the employees look or seem. These leaders make assumptions along the lines of “This is how that person is,” as if there’s no hope for the employee ever to improve or change. We all make instinctive judgments, based on our past experiences. As leaders, though, we have two crucial responsibilities: We need to adjust our assumptions […]

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, […]

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 […]

28 Nov 2017

Have You Expressed Your Gratitude for Your Colleagues?

Most people like Thanksgiving for its relative lack of commercialism and its inclusivity. It’s all about food, friends, and family — an opportunity to be together in some semblance of comfort and caring. In many homes, the people gathered around the table talk about what they’re grateful for. Now that the leftovers are almost gone, and you’re back to work, you can extend the holiday’s good feelings into your work week. Maybe not the food. But if you haven’t ever […]

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 […]

26 Sep 2017

Why Your Silos Are More Important Than You Think

Last month, a longstanding client brought me in after reviewing some recent customer research. The company provides a relatively complex service, and one of their most common and unprompted customer complaints was that the company’s various service areas “worked in silos.” Some staff leaders agreed that the organization was siloed and others did not, but they all recognized that the tone and consistency of the complaints meant that their customer experience needs work. The staff leaders also acknowledged that they […]

11 Jul 2017

This Is How to be a Leader in Name Only

Aspiring, self-aware leaders think of leadership as a practice and a way of life. They’re always looking for growth opportunities and greater self-mastery, whatever their rank or title. And yet a surprising number of executives operate as leaders in name only, neither understanding nor caring about what inspires employees to be creative, diligent, or do their best work. If you’d like to lead in name only, here are some tips you can follow. On the other hand, if you’d prefer […]

14 Feb 2017

4 Powerful Steps on the Way to Cross-Functional Agreement

I had a call with an up-and-coming middle manager who presented a complex situation and then asked a sincere question. A small cross-functional working group was trying to resolve some interdepartmental workflow and boundary issues. They had been dealing with — and avoiding — the same difficulties and discrepancies for almost 18 months out of fear of impending loss of status, staff, self-determination, etc., for at least some of the group’s members. “We have the brains” to work on the […]

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 […]

 

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