Workplace Wisdom

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 […]

11 Apr 2017

Sorry, Leaders Aren’t Entitled to Be Opinionated

“But I’m entitled to my opinion!” a vice president insisted. I was facilitating a work session with a client’s leadership team. Our goal was to resolve a longstanding business problem, with the full participation of dueling factions within the group. If you’ve ever been part of a management team that’s going in circles on a crucial issue, you know the process can cause great offense, and fuel anger and resentment. That’s why a facilitator can be useful: to help participants […]

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 […]

01 Nov 2016

Keep Progress Going to Be a Leadership Success

“Nothing’s happening! Why isn’t anything happening?” Strategy, planning, and communication are all crucial parts of leadership and organizational life. But it’s execution that most people really notice, from the CEO to the most junior frontline team member. When your employees don’t see changes under way and progress being made, the best and brightest may seek greener pastures. Even the most comfortable, long-term staffers can become disengaged and disaffected if they believe an organization has stalled. It doesn’t matter how developmental […]

09 Aug 2016

How to Screen Out a Star to Save the Team

In the recent Harvard Business Review article “How Facebook Tries to Prevent Office Politics,” Jay Parikh, Facebook’s global head of engineering and infrastructure, advises against hiring “empire builders, self-servers, and whiners” — even if they’re also smart, skilled, and experienced people. How sensible! And how strategic! Organizations always need competent people who care about growth and progress, know how to focus attention, and can play the “squeaky wheel” when an important issue needs attention. But they can’t afford employees who […]

26 Jul 2016

How to End Meeting Madness and Get Better Results

Some of my clients go crazy with meetings. They schedule them back to back, invite a cast of thousands, start late and in disarray, drag on unproductively, and end late without closure. Suddenly, everyone is grabbing their stuff, still talking as they push past the people standing clustered outside the door, waiting to come in for the next meeting. At these meetings, even when discussions seem to result in agreements, it’s hard to tell afterwards if anything actually gets done. […]

14 Jun 2016

Getting Our Signals Crossed at Work

One day last week after lunch, while walking back to my office, I noticed a man parking in the last of four curbside spots in front of the Post Office. He maneuvered a bit and then stopped his car just as another car pulled up, right behind him where there was no official spot. The windows in the second car were open, so I could hear the driver exclaiming to her passenger: “What’s he doing?! Why doesn’t he move up!?” […]

03 May 2016

Has Business Fallen into the Gender Gap?

Over the next 10 years, if we were to focus on the financial benefits of achieving gender equality and made the necessary changes in hiring, career growth, and compensation, we could end up “adding an economy the size of Texas to the U.S.” That’s what Kweilin Ellingrud, a McKinsey Global Institute partner and the author of a new study, “The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in the United States,” recently told Bloomberg TV. The point is not that we […]

05 Apr 2016

The Surprising Truth about Consensus

Consensus sounds so nice: Everyone agrees and moves forward together. Kumbaya! Seems like a good thing, right? But here’s how one client described the way his company practices consensus (with my italics): “We have to take all these teeny little baby steps to get to consensus, one painful meeting after another. So by the time we get close, we’re all bought in, and we smile and swallow the Kool-Aid, even if it tastes like battery acid.” A Common Drawback to […]

01 Mar 2016

Want to Be Your Managerial Best? Try a Walk in the Woods

“You’re always saying how important it is to see the forest and the trees,” read the email from a guy I mentor. He’s a high-performing high potential whose career is at the inflection point between lower and middle management. I like this guy because whenever he doesn’t get something, he asks. He’s not so committed to looking smart that he misses opportunities for actually getting smarter. He asks questions so he can keep progressing. His email continued: “But how do […]

 

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