Workplace Wisdom

02 Jan 2019
What Would It Mean to Be an Activist at Work?

What Would It Mean to Be an Activist at Work?

Sometimes things happen at work that seem just plain wrong. Most of us stand by, hoping conditions will get better. But all too often, they don’t, and we continue waiting, meanwhile becoming more and more worried or disengaged. When we see something going wrong or not working well, it can be hard to know what to do. Is it appropriate to say something? And if so, who should we tell? You don’t need to suffer in silence. If your boss […]

31 Jul 2018

Why You Need to Be Able to Make Your Case to a Variety of Audiences

Very few decision-makers operate completely independently — even CEOs usually have to answer to a board. So unless you’re a sole owner, or a sole employee, you need to appeal to many different audiences to get support for your initiatives, as well as people’s participation or compliance. In fact, even if you — and perhaps your team — know exactly what you want to accomplish and why, you won’t get far without organizational buy-in. If you don’t deal with them […]

24 Jul 2018

Want to Be Successful? Make More Teams of Two

Unless you’re the sole decision-maker, you need employee support for your decisions. Even leaders must rely on networks and coalitions, along with informal ways to collaborate, coordinate, and share. Yet at the same time, at every level and in every kind of job, more and more people in the workplace are feeling detached, not cared about, or not recognized for who they really are. Everyone does better when they feel that they matter and that they’re noticed — and the […]

10 Jul 2018

Focus on Tasks, Not Emotions, to Save Money on Conflict

“Conflict costs businesses a ton of money,” management guru Steve Caldwell observed while interviewing me recently. Caldwell is a team leadership coach, the author of Manager Mojo: Be the Leader that Others Want to Follow, and the creator of the podcast Manager Mojo, where he highlights commonsense solutions to management and leadership issues. These lightly edited excerpts from our conversation create a through-line from the reasons for conflict to tips for reducing the disruption and expense that conflict causes. How […]

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, […]

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 […]

29 Aug 2017

2 Never-Fail Rules to Make Change Initiatives Successful

Last week I facilitated a senior staff meeting that focused on silo-busting and improving cross-departmental collaboration. The group leader wrote to me afterwards to say he was very happy with how things went, and asked me to help support the process of carrying the work forward. In advance of our next get-together, I sent him recommendations on how to proceed with his team to give the new initiatives the best chance of success. I’m sharing here what I told the […]

25 Jul 2017

What Happens When Leaders Divide to Conquer

Working with teams or leaders in conflict is a crucial part of many of my assignments — even when it was not included in the original scope of work. Sometimes these disagreements arise because individual team members or colleagues instigate dissension or turmoil. Historical norms and structural changes can also trigger or perpetuate interpersonal or interdepartmental problems. But surprisingly frequently, conflicts arise from a lack of alignment around goals and responsibilities caused by a leadership structure called “hub-and-spoke.” The term […]

14 Mar 2017

Accountability: Be Careful What You Wish For

“Why is no one ever held accountable here?” A vice president was fuming at me, and not for the first time. “Why do we always act like everything’s fine instead of holding people accountable?” I’ve worked with a lot of companies, and the topic of accountability doesn’t come up unless someone thinks another person or group isn’t managing their end of things, and ought to take the blame. Sometimes it’s actually a veiled request for the leadership to swoop in […]

 

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