Workplace Wisdom

08 Aug 2017

What to Do When You Have Trouble Praising Employees

Practically every executive knows that praise is a crucial management tool. Gallup research shows that when managers recognize employees’ strengths and positive characteristics, rather than focusing on their weaknesses and negative characteristics, employee engagement goes up significantly. But what are your options if praising employees feels foreign and uncomfortable to you? Many executives feel awkward, if not downright resistant, about praising employees, no matter how successful they are otherwise. I’ve observed this situation particularly with individuals whose family or academic […]

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 […]

18 Jul 2017

Are You Tired of Being Condescended To?

In the past 10 days, three people from different organizations have complained to me about a boss or colleague who’s behaved condescendingly toward them. Not one of the three is a slouch, or a junior person. They’re all smart, competent, hardworking — assets to their organizations. And yet, they’re condescended to with some frequency. The act of condescending involves looking down on, talking down to, and generally putting someone down. In all cases, the message is: “You are less than […]

13 Jun 2017

To Be Successful with Millennials, Bring Them in the Right Way

I’m often asked why Millennials complain so much about their jobs and leave their jobs so quickly. I usually answer with a question: How are you hiring and engaging them? If you want your Millennial employees to be vital, satisfied participants, you need to get off on the right foot. The bottom line? Establish your credibility at the beginning — from recruitment through onboarding — by implementing these six recommendations. 1. Manage Their Expectations Be responsive throughout the interview process. […]

30 May 2017

How to Get Ready When You Have to Deliver Bad News

However hard it is for you to be the bearer of bad tidings and to take responsibility for getting the delivery right, at least you’ll have a chance to prepare. At minimum, preparation consists of three stages: Determining the content to be communicated. Anticipating what’s likely to happen during the delivery. Figuring out how to manage yourself throughout the process. Bad news at work includes things like a project proposal being turned down, or a person being at risk of […]

19 May 2017

Being the Boss’s Favorite Is Great, Until It’s Not

This article originally appeared on hbr.org. We’ve all been in situations where the boss has a favorite. It’s frustrating to feel underresourced and underrecognized while someone else is getting all the attention. Ironically, though, it can be just as challenging to realize that you’re the boss’s new “pet.” While it’s great to get extra attention and have your work recognized, there’s often a price to pay for being the favorite. You could find yourself at risk in four ways. First, […]

18 Apr 2017

How to Up Your Team’s Game with Questions

A media director asked me for a simple, straightforward approach to developing his very new team’s knowledge and proficiency. He explained that he has no time or budget for formal training or workshops. My strong recommendation: Ask questions! There’s nothing like a boss asking questions about why things are the way they are, or how things should be, to get employees focused and their brains working. When it’s their boss asking, employees will want to give an acceptable answer. When […]

07 Mar 2017

Want More Engaged Employees? Help Your Leaders Improve

Do an online search for “employee engagement” and you’ll get 10.6 million hits. Search for “employee attrition” and you’ll come up with 1.38 million hits. The old line is that employees don’t leave companies, they leave their manager. In fact, Gallup’s 2015 study, The State of the American Manager, found that fully 50 percent of employees left their jobs “to get away from their manager,” and that “managers account for up to 70 percent of variance in engagement.” So, if […]

14 Feb 2017

4 Powerful Steps on the Way to Cross-Functional Agreement

I had a call with an up-and-coming middle manager who presented a complex situation and then asked a sincere question. A small cross-functional working group was trying to resolve some interdepartmental workflow and boundary issues. They had been dealing with — and avoiding — the same difficulties and discrepancies for almost 18 months out of fear of impending loss of status, staff, self-determination, etc., for at least some of the group’s members. “We have the brains” to work on the […]

13 Dec 2016

Stuck in the Middle with Management

“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right / Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” The Stealers Wheels song wasn’t explicitly addressing middle management, but “stuck” is what it often feels like. That’s what I hear all the time from dedicated, frustrated people. They can’t get their work done because they’re pulled in so many directions. They’re scheduled into meetings all day, with informal drop-ins and fire-fighting on top of that, so their deliverables don’t […]

 

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