Leader, Who Helps You Doubt Well?

What an intriguing question! It's not mine. It comes from a short article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Four Key Questions for CEO's." But it applies equally well for managers who lead at all levels of their organization. If you are taking your unit anywhere that is challenging you must come to terms with the twin postures of confidence and uncertainty. Both are part of your world. And the more you push the envelop, the more you bring about change, the more exposed you become to your … [Read more...]

We Actually Like Emails and Meetings

Everyone in organizations complains about the volume of emails. They distract us. They occupy altogether too much of our time. They keep us from doing more productive tasks, the kind that will cause us to be productive and successful. They greet us on our first day back from a long weekend like an unscalable wall standing between us and getting down to work. And they bug us on weeknights and weekends, oh yeah, and vacations. But do you remember the last time you checked your inbox after even … [Read more...]

Feedback That Keeps Things Moving Forward

We are all familiar with the "sandwich" approach to giving an employee feedback: say something positive, slip in the negative (ahem, "constructive") message and then wrap up with another positive. This way the recipient will leave the interaction feeling good and will take the negative piece away too. Nonsense! People see through this management trick. They don't even hear the final accolade because they are still processing the corrective "meat" of the sandwich. In fact, any critique hits … [Read more...]

Social Pain = Physical Pain

Neuroscientists like Matt Lieberman of UCLA are revealing more and more about the impact of comments that shame or isolate another person, as in a boss saying to his/her employee…   "What in heaven's name prompted you not to call back that customer? How could you have been so thoughtless?" "Do you consider yourself a team player? I sure don't." "When are you going to get off your duff and start doing some work around here?" When a leader speaks to an employee this way, the … [Read more...]

Another Angle on Employee Motivation

It's the end of regulation time in a soccer game and the score is tied. It's time for the shoot out to determine the victor. You are the coach. How should you advise your five shooters, each of whom will get one shot at close range? "I want you all to concentrate on our scoring at least three times", OR "I want you to concentrate on our not missing more than two times." You first reaction is probably like mine, the first option, of course! It's a positive message, a positive objective, … [Read more...]

Book Review: To Sell is Human

"We're all in sales" says author Daniel Pink. In fact, in a Gallup study people reported spending 40% of their time working in what Pink calls "non-sales selling," convincing/influencing/moving people to decide or do that does not involve anyone making a purchase. Dan Pink is always intriguing. Let's look at a few things his book has to say that apply to managers. In my experience, the higher a manager is in the hierarchy, the more frequently he/she engages in non-sales selling and the higher … [Read more...]

Communicate Your Strategy Directly from the Top – Don’t “Cascade” it

When presenting the Evaluate to Win™ system, I always get a positive response from executives with the idea of aligning every employee's efforts with corporate strategies and priorities. It's called "embedding" your strategy. It makes perfect sense. It ensures that the contributions of your staff are optimized toward the success of the organization…that is, assuming you have wise strategies. But in order to align your employees' efforts, people at every level–managers and individual … [Read more...]

You Can Receive Feedback as a Gift or a Scolding

Consider the following two versions of feedback given by a boss, in response to an employee leaving errors in an important report for the Board: "I've gone over your report and found you didn't include the sidebar paragraph that explains Figure 6 on page 18. Please add it in right away and get the revised report back to me. I need it to go out today and I need it to be complete and easy to understand." "I've gone over your report and couldn't believe how sloppy and unreliable you are to … [Read more...]

They Won’t Know if You Don’t Get it Right

Recently I spent two days teaching front-line managers in an installation service company how to have effective conversations around job performance. The training included an approach that was new to the managers and thus involved for them a new way of thinking. Instead of telling, they were to do a lot more asking of questions and get the employee to take greater accountability. At the end of Day 2 I turned the meeting over to the Director of Field Operations to sum up and close. He left … [Read more...]

The Best Teams Communicate in 3 Critical Ways

Research reported by Alex Pentland in the April issue of Harvard Business Review has revealed some interesting new information on effective teams. He and his group deployed "sociometric badges" in teams in 21 organizations. These devices are able to monitor on individual team members' tone of voice, body language, frequency of initiating and responding, plus the content of the communications. They uncovered three aspects of communication that correlate with successful team … [Read more...]