Workplace Wisdom

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 […]

30 Aug 2016

Support Your Frontline and Improve Customer Loyalty

“It’s not my fault!” the assistant practically wailed. “She never gave me the paperwork!” The poor woman was almost begging me not to be angry at her, and to put the blame in its rightful place — on the boss who hadn’t provided the paperwork that should have been ready for me. It was clear that she had been in this situation numerous times before, and that, unfortunately for her, previous customers had not responded with patience and forbearance. This […]

28 Apr 2015

The Benefit of the Benefit of the Doubt

I hate to be in default or in the wrong, or to create a problem for someone. So I was quite distressed when I was scolded by a client’s administrator — not someone I usually work with — for being unresponsive and not sending in some materials. Is Anything Really Wrong? My first internal reaction was defensive justification: “Of course I sent it in!” My second internal reaction was doubt: “Oh my! What if I didn’t send it in! What […]

06 Jan 2015

Don’t Talk About Culture. Do Culture. Be Culture.

You won’t build or change an organization’s culture by talking about what it ought to be. Sure, from time to time, you’ll want — and need — to emphasize positive aspects of your culture (or the cultures of other organizations that you respect) as well as to point out any negative elements and commit to doing better. But developing a culture is hard, and actions always speak louder than words. You can’t just benchmark another organization’s culture and copy it […]

11 Feb 2014

How to Handle an Employee Who Plays the Perfect Victim

“I’m a victim! I’m a victim!” Have you dealt with someone who sounds like that — maybe not as clearly, but just as dramatically? For Perfect Victims, everything that goes wrong is the result of someone else being unhelpful or too demanding or getting in their way. Every suggested alternative only creates new difficulties for these types. No matter what you do, the PV complains, “Why aren’t you helping me more?” Perfect Victims are convinced they’re always right, and they’re […]

03 Apr 2012

Manage Better by Understanding Mistakes and Why People Make Them

Many companies use some kind of program for “measuring quality,” but the result of these assessment is typically expressed in “error rates.” Error rates are pretty worthwhile when they’re used to identify process steps that have broken down or reveal inaccurate procedures that don’t account for the way things really happen. Examining what’s gone wrong can trigger a search for better ways to do things or reopen discussions about desired outcomes so people can choose better actions, reactions, or solutions. […]


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