Workplace Wisdom

30 Jan 2018

10 Reasons It’s Risky to Be Friends with Your Staff

Clients often ask me how to deal with tricky interpersonal relationships in the workplace. Two of the most challenging situations occur when a leader hires a friend or even the friend of a friend, or when a leader and a subordinate start a social relationship and then experience a professional or personal falling-out. Compensation and friendship are rarely a healthy combination. Financial and emotional commitments can get mixed up, and that doesn’t even take into account the effects of the […]

05 Dec 2017

How to Get the Most from Your Exit Interviews

Are you doing thoughtful exit interviews with all levels of departing employees? The exit interview is one of few concrete opportunities to learn what makes someone comfortable to work in your organization — or not — and to glean information you can use to improve management, leadership, process, and structure. In many ways, an exit interview is the last service an employee can choose to do for an organization — it’s a gift of both time and candor. Businesses can […]

28 Nov 2017

Have You Expressed Your Gratitude for Your Colleagues?

Most people like Thanksgiving for its relative lack of commercialism and its inclusivity. It’s all about food, friends, and family — an opportunity to be together in some semblance of comfort and caring. In many homes, the people gathered around the table talk about what they’re grateful for. Now that the leftovers are almost gone, and you’re back to work, you can extend the holiday’s good feelings into your work week. Maybe not the food. But if you haven’t ever […]

21 Nov 2017

8 Simple Questions Help You See What’s Ahead for Your Business

The other day, when I ran into a mid-level manager I know, he told me that the technical services firm he works for has been acquired twice in the last few years. We talked about some of the challenges of being the acquired company, including this major one: By the second acquisition, no one in power actually cares about who you are or what your real business is; by then, they’re only concerned about how much money the firm can […]

07 Nov 2017

How to Give Uncomfortable Personal Feedback, with Grace

Most people feel awkward raising personal issues with colleagues. That’s especially true when those issues concern the physical body, seem like an inherent expression of the person themselves, or are things we would feel mortified about if someone brought them up about us. Weird personal habits, physical issues, and behavioral quirks can be off-putting or disruptive to others, and create tricky, delicate situations that affect everything from teamwork to customer retention. Typically, the format for performance-based feedback relies on this […]

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 […]

19 Sep 2017

4 Ways to Ease the Pain of Interdepartmental Conflict

When departments operate in silos — say operations wants to streamline processes while sales seeks to please customers by customizing — the result can be repeated misunderstanding and extreme mistrust. Even otherwise reasonable employees can appear to be locked in perpetual battle for authority, resources, status, or the pure triumphant joy of being able to one-up the other. Senior leaders often treat ongoing conflicts as just the cost of doing business in complex organizations. But the actual expense attributable to […]

12 Sep 2017

How to Get the Best from Your HR Department

Too often, I hear leaders and staff in all kinds of organizations express a lack of confidence in their human resources departments. For many senior executives, this lack of confidence is actually a lack of respect. They criticize HR for not understanding the business or not being strategic. There’s also a lack of respect for HR lower down in organizations, but there it comes from a lack of trust. Employees say things like: “HR is not your friend here,” or […]

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, […]

 

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