Workplace Wisdom

15 Jan 2019
Why You Need to Stop Relying on Your Strengths

Why You Need to Stop Relying on Your Strengths

The other day, I gave a leader feedback about how to develop one of his team members, prepared for a coaching session with a different executive, and sat in on a leadership team meeting with a third. These three interactions, with three very different people, sounded a recurring theme: When we rely too much on our historical strengths and patterns, we sometimes avoid the new work we need to do and wind up impeding our continuing success. Even good, solid […]

13 Nov 2018

Why You Need to Stop Referring to Women at Work as “Lovely”

Thanks to the #MeToo movement, we all know not to tell colleagues that they look “hot.” But language that isn’t overtly sexual can also cause problems. Even a seemingly innocuous word like “lovely” can be used in a gendered way that has surprisingly bad outcomes for productivity and effectiveness. Here’s a real-life illustration of why avoiding “lovely” matters, and some suggestions for what to say instead. The Lowdown on “Loveliness” At a leadership conference I attended recently, I bristled a […]

03 Oct 2018

How to Retain and Engage Your B Players

This article originally appeared on hbr.org. We’ve heard for decades that we should only hire A players, and should even try to cut non-A players from our teams. But not only do the criteria for being an A player vary significantly by company, it’s unrealistic to think you can work only with A players. Further, as demonstrated by Google’s Aristotle project, a study of what makes teams effective, this preference for A players ignores the deep value that the people you may […]

28 Aug 2018

How to Use Body Language to Be Effective in a Tough Work Situation

I picked up the phone the other morning and as soon as I heard my client speak, I realized that although she was calling at her regular time, she wasn’t using her “regular” voice. “How are you?” I asked her, with both curiosity and concern. “You won’t believe it!” she started off, but she sounded so distressed that I broke in to ask where she was, whether she was sitting or standing, and where in her body she was most […]

14 Aug 2018

How to Handle Colleagues Who Respond to the Leader and Ignore You

Have you ever worked with someone who seemed like a heat-seeking missile when it came to power, authority, and status? Whether they’re frontline service reps or senior vice presidents, these individuals turn toward their bosses the way flowers turn toward the sun — cultivating that relationship over all others, always trying to derive some tangible benefit from their personal connection with the leader. Leaders can get attached to these employees because they’re usually very reliable within their particular sphere of […]

15 May 2018

What to Do If Your Boss Is Getting Forgetful

Leaders always have a lot on their minds, so perhaps they can be forgiven if they occasionally mistake a date or time, or don’t remember asking you to stop or start something. But a pattern of repeated or even periodic forgetting can have a negative impact on your work — and on you. For example, it’s disruptive if you and your boss have agreed to a particular sequence of events or a set of priorities, and you’re tootling along, getting […]

08 May 2018

How to Work Safely with a Boss Who Doesn’t Do Follow-up

Early in my career, a senior leader in my firm was a master of “what-if,” “blue-sky” thinking. He would come up with an idea, assign it to whichever staffer happened to be around at the moment, and then, more likely than not, forget about it. Most of the employees who had experience with this leader’s wild goose chases would wait until he asked for something a second time before investing five minutes or a lick of work. All too often, […]

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 […]

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 […]

 

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