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Entries for the 'Newsletter Articles' Category

Stuck in the Middle?

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

What do you do when you can’t do what you should do? All leaders have the responsibility to address a variety of organizational problems. They may face the exodus of their quality staff. They may struggle with a lazy worker who is undermining team morale. They may need to meet a tight budget or accelerated schedule. But not all leaders have the authority to solve the problems they face. Some leaders may be powerless to change an overly stratified organizational chart. Or unable to extend unrealistic deadlines imposed by clients. Or locked into a contract negotiated by others. They are, in fact, stuck in the middle.

In one organization, a middle manager knew he had found something special in Greg, a young new hire. He was trained in cutting edge (more…)

Avoiding Difficult Conversations?

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Jane had not been pulling her weight for months now. Initially, Tom was glad to jump in and take up the slack for the sake of the team. After awhile though, he grew to resent her and his job. It was even beginning to affect his performance and his overall job satisfaction. Tom needed to resolve this situation before it got any worse.

He needed to have a difficult conversation with Jane.

When initiating a difficult conversation like this, it is important to understand what (more…)

Coping or Contribution?

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Do you ever have the feeling of time slipping through your fingers? Another year has gone, but you’re not quite sure where it went. New Year’s resolutions losing the fight for attention against a crowded list of deadlines, emergencies and other people’s agendas for you.

Life will always be busy and complex to some degree. The question is whether you feel (more…)

The Price of Loyalty

Friday, December 15th, 2006

Sean like his job and probably would have stayed. But nobody ever told him “Thank you” for his efforts. That’s why he could accept a job offer from a competing firm with a clear conscience. He was pretty sure he wouldn’t be missed. He was even more sure no one knew the extent of what he did.

“Why should I say, ‘Thank you’,” Sean’s boss asked me in an offended tone, “when people are just doing their jobs?”

I explained that Sean’s departure was unnecessary and expensive. Over a two-year period, the firm would spend three times his salary in lost (more…)

To Micromanage or Disappear Altogether?

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Command and control, or withdraw and watch. Leaders often swing between these two extremes. Either we take charge in order to get results, or we let our managers do whatever they think is best in order to keep them motivated. Some leaders don’t realize that “taking charge” can result in quenching creativity and reducing initiative. Often their heavy-handed leadership deprives employees the opportunity to contribute, and so deprives the organization of their contributions. But passively watching is no better. Withdrawal leaves a leadership vacuum. Our managers need guiding priorities, constructive feedback, and strategic input. They need our vision.

Accountability and empowerment are not mutually exclusive. Instead, they can be powerful (more…)

Working with Unworkable Ideas?

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

Have you ever been blamed for failing to implement an unworkable idea? Many leaders are strong idea people, but they may not be strong on implementation. Too often, they believe an idea should come to life exactly as it exists in their imaginations. While related, vision and implementation are different animals. Visions are ideal, principled, exciting. Implementation is complex, pragmatic, messy.

And so implementation is usually a disappointment to these leaders. When you warn them that their original idea has problems, they often react with (more…)

Try Something New

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

When Dave’s team didn’t make their goal for the third time, he was ready to either fire everyone or give up altogether.

Good thing Dave didn’t make a rash decision, because the situation didn’t call for an all-or-nothing course of action.

When something is not working, we tend toward three extremes. We sometimes hope the problem will not repeat and recycle our patterns. We expect to fix our complicated problems immediately with a “correct” decision. Or we quit in frustration, incorrectly concluding we don’t have what it takes.

Solving our problems and achieving results is (more…)