Workplace Wisdom

17 Apr 2018

Why It’s Unusual to Improve Anything By Demanding Transparency

In organizations where employees generally trust their management and each other, you don’t hear many complaints about lack of transparency. But in other places, demands for transparency can take an ugly tone, and even become so entrenched that it seems as if everything would be all right if only the other side finally showed “what they were up to,” as one of my clients put it. When colleagues agree to provide transparency but don’t deliver on their commitment, the normal […]

01 Aug 2017

Why Do Hot Shot Hires Crash and Burn?

Recently, I’ve been asked by several business leaders how to find new executives who have a variety of specialized expertise and who will work out in their companies without causing organizational strife, and without “throwing the baby out with the bathwater:” disrupting the original culture or norms so much as to leave them unrecognizable and broken. This concern is expressed by leaders who do not have the desirable specialized skills themselves. Why is this such a problem? The Usual Scenario […]

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 […]

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. […]

23 May 2017

3 Practical Ways to Prevent United Airlines-Style Damage

Oscar Munoz, the CEO of United Airlines, recently ran a public letter of apology as an ad in several major newspapers. A much more detailed, self-abasing version of the apology was sent as an email to customers and ran in the May issue of United’s in-flight magazine, Hemispheres. In the more extensive letters, Munoz referred to the “important promise we make to you, our customer” and admitted that “we broke that trust.” He described concessions that United will make “when […]

17 Jan 2017

Watch Out for 3 Surprising Mistakes in Executive Hiring

Why would you ever consider hiring someone whose behavior you disrespect? Eventually, the relationship will end in tears — and if you’re not the one crying, you’ll be handing out the Kleenex. But it can be extremely challenging to find and hire the optimal person, and companies can wind up choosing people who bring whopper weaknesses to the job along with their desirable strengths. Unfortunately, some weaknesses are so damaging that they can outweigh even significant strengths. So be careful! […]

10 Jan 2017

6 More Remarkable Books, Sure to Improve Work Relationships

When I suggested 6 Books to Make You Feel New and Improved in 2017 — to be consumed at the rate of one book every other month — readers responded so well that I’m recommending six more titles for the alternate months. This second short list of favorites offers multiple alternative and complementary ways to look for everyone’s best and help them bring it out. If you apply the lessons and concepts in these books, you’ll improve your understanding of […]

29 Nov 2016

Want to Be a Successful Leader? Guess What: It’s Not About You

Think about every boss you’ve had since you were a kid, even including the parents of the kids you babysat, the owner of the greasy spoon where you waited tables, and the director of the camp where you were a counselor. Were any of these bosses so inspiring that whenever they come to mind, you recall how much you wanted to be like them? What behaviors clued you in that these folks belong to a special category of successful leaders? […]

15 Nov 2016

Why Feedback Fails, and What to Do Instead

I recently surprised a C-level operations exec with recommendations about a business problem that were quite different from the advice he had received from others. Here’s the situation: Through the grapevine, a bunch of junior R&D folks expressed concern about a team of colleagues who were feeling frustrated and unhappy with their leadership. The senior team leader was a founding employee, and although she had been a star in her day, she now came across as out of step with […]

24 May 2016

Leading from the Middle of an Indifferent Leadership Team

A newly hired VP called me the other day, expressing frustration with her indecisive and apathetic colleagues. My unspoken response was: “They’re not even strong enough to be a Team of Rivals.” When a leadership group appears weak, confused, or in disarray, employees at all levels lose their drive and their heart. That’s a recipe for stasis and failure throughout the business. The VP’s question: How could she encourage her peers to come together and take steps to move the […]

 

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