Workplace Wisdom

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 […]

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 […]

05 Sep 2017

You’ll Want to Try This Surprising Twist When You Give Feedback

Standard guidelines for performance feedback call for content that’s specific, behavioral rather than personal, consistent, and delivered immediately after the triggering situation. But I’d like to suggest an alternative approach. If the behavior you’re trying to change occurs during an ongoing set of responsibilities, the feedback’s timing and positioning are the two most salient elements — although probably not in the way you were taught. What Feedback Is All About The point of performance feedback is to help the employee […]

22 Aug 2017

Warning! Coaching Won’t Improve these Employee Problems

Lately, more and more leadership development, employee feedback, and general management is being outsourced from actual business decision-makers to Human Resources business partners and professional coaches. But coaching isn’t necessarily the answer for every employee who’s not working out. Often the employees who need coaching the most are the ones who are the least likely to ask for help, take direction, or change their behavior. That’s because it’s hard for people to take in crucial guidance if they’re tin-eared, self-unaware, […]

09 May 2017

This Is How to Give Feedback but Not Make People Feel Stupid

“Oh, heavens,” I thought, “I’ve offended her!” I had wanted to be helpful and friendly, but instead I was confusing and possibly insulting — I had given feedback as if the problem was with the person, not with the situation. Here’s what happened: The traffic sequence at the five-way intersection on the corner where I work is totally non-intuitive, and the cycle of lights seems to take forever. So the other day, as I approached the intersection, I did what […]

13 Sep 2016

The Painful Responsibility of Staff Failure

I just got a call from a senior leader: A community outreach staffer was causing his management team some consternation. When he was hired 18 months ago, he’d approached every job with zest, volunteered for extra responsibilities, and was considered a standout contributor. But he no longer seemed as engaged, committed, or happy. Unfortunately, he was behaving as if he were being compensated purely for task accomplishment rather than for creating a consistent and forward-looking community presence. Although one of […]

05 Jul 2016

How to Get the Best from an Anxious Leader

After working for a number of months with a vice president who’s had a successful career trajectory in a well-regarded firm, I realized that every few years I meet leaders who are noticeably anxious — even among the senior ranks. They’re usually intelligent, knowledgeable, technically proficient people who care about others and want to perform well for their organization’s sake as well as their own. Unfortunately, they may not have had the right development at crucial points in their careers, […]

09 Dec 2014

How Skillful Is Your Response When You Get Feedback?

It can be even tougher to accept feedback than it is to give it. It’s never easy to hear that your idea, behavior, or effort didn’t have the desired effect or wasn’t well received. When you’re given negative feedback, you may feel wronged, misjudged, or just plain uncomfortable. It can be hard to listen closely or find a good response on the fly. It can be difficult to know when it’s appropriate to comment, and even if you don’t speak, […]

25 Nov 2014

How to Deepen Feedback and Foster Improvement

The real problem with feedback is that, regardless of how skillfully it’s given, people often don’t know what to do with it. Neuroimagery research by Richard Boyatzis at Case Western University suggests that focusing on positive possibilities gives people room to think about how to be upbeat and open-minded as opposed to anxious, negative, and close-minded. This may also help them connect the feedback with how they want to behave going forward. Feedback Can Be Easy If you want to […]

28 Oct 2014

When Leaders Avoid Conflict, They Hurt Their Teams

In last week’s post, an exec who didn’t wish to appear picky or small-minded missed the chance to address difficult and inappropriate situations created by her subordinate Xerxes when they were still small and potentially containable. Her hesitation meant that Xerxes never got the necessary corrective action plans. When he eventually had to be moved out of the organization, it was a shock to the rest of the organization. The Exec Who Hesitates Is Lost It can be awful to […]

 

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