Workplace Wisdom

23 Oct 2018

The Problem with Using “I Statements” at Work

This article originally appeared on hbr.org. It has become common advice for businesspeople to use “I statements” — such as, “I feel frustrated that you missed the budget deadline twice” — as a way to raise challenging conversations without causing colleagues to feel blamed or under attack. Indeed, I statements may be helpful during situations in which you have a close personal relationship to a colleague who cares about your well-being, or when you want to show that a particular […]

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 […]

04 Sep 2018

How to Support Employees When They Need Help

“Am I feeling too much empathy for my staff’s problems?” a client asked me the other day. Coincidentally, another client had asked a similar question just a day earlier. Both clients worried that they were letting their feelings about team members’ personal concerns eclipse their managerial responsibility to require accountability and performance. In one case, the supervisor recognized that an employee’s caring for an aging parent was both necessary and important even though it was creating scheduling conflicts and distractions; […]

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 […]

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 […]

22 May 2018

How to Work with Ambitious Employees When There’s No Growth Opportunity

When you’re lucky enough to employ someone who has the capacity to do superior work and then grow past the job, but you haven’t got an appropriate outlet for them, it can be a challenge to keep them in the company, let alone within your work group. One of my clients got in touch recently to discuss what to do about two very different team members who’ve told him they are interested in growing beyond their current roles. Case 1: […]

01 May 2018

Why You Need to Stop Covering for Your B+ Employees

When you inherit incumbent staff members, you almost never get all grade-A players. But if you wind up with too many people who are stuck at B+ or lower, it can be tough to achieve all the results you’re responsible for. I’m currently working with a leader who’s been reassigned — at a higher level — back to her old group. She reviewed her team members’ strengths and weaknesses with me, and identified who needed which kinds of development. Several […]

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 […]

14 Nov 2017

How to Get the Best from Millennials: Don’t Make Them a Monolith

At a luncheon for women business owners a few weeks ago, several people at my table complained about the Millennials on their staffs: They don’t follow directions or only do exactly what we tell them, and they don’t take the work seriously. These business leaders practically egged each other on: Millennials are sullen; they don’t communicate; and, when facing big project deadlines, never go the extra mile. Getting to Know Your Millennials After a few minutes, I interrupted the game […]

03 Oct 2017

3 Powerful, Practical Fundamentals to Help Change Stick

Change may be a constant in life, but in business, many planned change initiatives either peter out or don’t even take hold in the first place. According to a Towers Watson study, only slightly more than half of all change initiatives succeed, with only 25 percent sticking for the long term, mostly because of a variety of management failures. I consider this a problem of oversimplification — the result of the all-too-common “just do it,” “just say no,” “just tell […]

 

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