Workplace Wisdom

08 Jul 2014

How to Confront Your Fears with Difficult Colleagues

Some midlevel and senior executives are perfectly comfortable holding their staff members accountable for their responsibilities, but they get flummoxed when a peer is unenthusiastic, uncooperative, or downright obstructionist. These execs may not perceive it as their job to correct or manage a colleague. They wonder, in disbelief, “Isn’t everyone supposed to know how to behave both responsibly and collegially?” But that stance is unrealistic. The higher in the organization you go, the more likely it is that you’ll need […]

24 Jun 2014

How to Keep Your Staff from Heading for the Exits

My office is on the fifth floor of a five-floor building and, although I take the elevator up, I usually take the stairs down. Every so often, I find someone from another office standing somewhere on the stairs on their cell phone, scheduling a doctor’s appointment, checking on a child, or having an argument. Something about the apparent seclusion of the stairwell clearly encourages the callers to believe they’re positioned within a “cone of silence” with full privacy. Even though […]

29 Apr 2014

How to Help Your Employees Be More Self-Reliant

Luckily, some people have a natural instinct for analysis, judgment, calculation of risk, and recovery from error. Some people were well trained, managed, and mentored before they came to work for you. But every level, we get frustrated with peers, supervisors, managers, and especially with executives who don’t make good decisions or get good results, who create new challenges for themselves — and us — every day. We often wonder why they don’t just do better. But all employees have […]

23 Apr 2014

How to Avoid the Downside of Workplace Sharing

It’s not easy to share responsibility. Getting a given job or project done well depends on having both appropriate structural underpinnings and the right combination of people, with the right meshing of values, commitments, personal strengths, and styles. What Happens When We Share? In day-to-day life, there are two primary kinds of sharing: Two or more people receive something with the express direction, purpose, or understanding that it be jointly enjoyed or managed (say, a shared inheritance or bank account, […]

21 Jan 2014

How to Close the Curtain on Employee Drama

How can you keep yourself from getting hooked by employee drama — especially if you’re a hero type who naturally likes riding to the rescue? It’s particularly difficult if dealing with an urgent or incendiary employee situation feels like a higher priority than much of your “regular” work — and if its urgency creates a sense of vitality and engagement for everyone involved. What would happen if you just stop joining in and playing your part in the show? Will […]

07 Jan 2014

Please! Don’t Give in to the Seduction of Textmania

When texting was first adopted in the workplace, it was used primarily for emergencies, such as resolving critical customer problems, rescheduling crucial meetings, dealing with service interruptions, or issuing vital, staff-wide notifications. Now texting is just another way we stay in touch, even at work. Unfortunately, texting puts us on high alert and makes us vulnerable to constant interruptions. Many studies have detailed the negative psychological impacts. Each and every text conveys such a forceful sense of urgency that the […]

13 Aug 2013

How to Accept Feedback Gracefully as a Connected Leader

As a Connected Leader, you’re usually open to hearing whatever your team members have to say. You know them well and you’re skillful about encouraging them to speak. The challenge is to be able to tolerate — nay, welcome — any ideas they have that are different from yours. If you have any real authority at all, most people will agree with you publicly, because they assume that it’s not safe to share their disagreements with the leader. Instead, they’ll […]

18 Jun 2013

Why It’s a Problem When Image Supercedes Effectiveness

Most organizations want to convey a particular image to the public, whether it signifies quality, or professionalism, or innovation. And when organizations put thought, care, and resources into crafting their image, they want it to be consistently upheld by all employees. From time to time, though, the narrow pursuit of image consistency can create unforeseen consequences and get in the way of the effective pursuit of a business’s work goals and the execution of its tasks. Case in point: I […]

29 Mar 2011

When “Follow the Leader” Is Bad for the Team

Senior executives usually work at having strong relationships with their team members — but surprisingly often, they don’t focus as strongly on their relationship with their team as a whole. What’s even more curious is that intense one-to-one relationships are usually inconsistent with the leader’s stated philosophies about the importance of the group and their beliefs about the role of teamwork in managing both the organization and the work. What could a person in power possibly want out of this […]

18 May 2010

Give the Minimum, Get the Minimum

So many organizations have cut back their staff levels, their benefits, perks, politesse during the last couple of years. As some aspects of business pick up, some employers are starting to give small wage increases, sometimes in relief, sometimes grudgingly. When the tangible rewards are, by necessity, mingy to nil, it’s crucial that personal attention, coaching, and acknowledgment be more tangible, more targeted than ever to help take up the slack. It’s hard to have new ideas or generate extra […]


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