Management 101

Managers: Stop being so busy

Expectations weigh on all of us. But there are expectations, and expectations.

Managers are busy people, but if you’re non-stop busying yourself with meetings, emails and day to day operations you aren’t really doing what you were hired to do.

You weren’t hired to make the inevitable happen. Continue reading…

Managing in a Blender

Just as a complete breakfast sets you up for the day, starting your work day with a complete plan can set you and your team up to accomplish great things. Ideally, most days you start with a plan.

But when demands are at their peak, people often convince themselves to skip the plan and just dive in.

That got me thinking, what if there was a recipe – a fast and easy to remember checklist – of the leadership ingredients you fundamentally need to best serve your team; a Leadership Smoothie if you will.
Continue reading…

It’s time to tell your story

In every human culture, stories are used to pass down knowledge, history and wisdom. They are used to entertain, inspire and motivate. And they are used to connect people through recognizably similar experiences.

So why don’t more leaders share personal stories?

  1. Sharing personal stories will make me vulnerable (like that’s a bad thing).
  2. People only need facts and data to do their jobs, I don’t have time to tell people stories.
  3. People aren’t going be interested in my stories.

If you are holding back from sharing stories for any of those reasons, here’s why you need to get over them. Continue reading…

Don’t let the good ones get away

Last month, a colleague came to me with a sad, but all too common story.

A senior member of his team was under-performing and putting a wrench in the works for everyone. My friend was so focused on dealing with the fallout and figuring out how to handle the senior player that he dropped the ball on checking-in with the rest of his team.

Then whamo! During a real week from hell, one of his solid performers – a woman who did a GOOD job and operated quietly under the radar – up and quit, leaving a serious gap in his team. Not surprising. Continue reading…

Enterprise: The Dreaded Performance Review

Chris Obst is interviewed for the Enterprise magazine article The Dreaded Performance Review. It is posted here with the permission of the publisher.

In the article Chris explains how both the employer and employee should approach performance reviews.

Are you an invisible leader?

I’ve said before that part of being a great leader is that you let people do their jobs.

But some managers of managers and CEOs become so hands off they become invisible. Manage your people well and let them manage their people. But don’t step so far back that their people (or their people’s people) don’t know who you are or what you look like. Continue reading…

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

The title for this article is also the new tag line for my company. It came out of an “ah ha” moment that a lot of managers have.

In management, you are always moving, stretching, balancing and rebalancing – it is pretty rare that anyone feels totally comfortable because nothing stays still for very long.

3 reasons you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable

  1. Change is constant. And change makes everyone of us more or less uncomfortable.I’m coaching a new VP who confided in me, “This is a really hard job! I feel like I never have things under control.” In her pre-management role, she was able to get things set up and let them operate on cruise control. That just doesn’t happen in management. Continue reading…

V is for victory and vulnerability

How does an athlete like Maelle Ricker go from coming in 4rth in Turin in 2006, Ricker to grabbing the gold in women’s snowboard cross in 2010?

She didn’t achieve her ultimate career high by pretending she was perfect.

Any athlete, or leader, who wants to push themselves to the next level has to be willing to be honest about their weaknesses.

3 mind blowing facts about weakness in leaders: Continue reading…

Tap into an underexploited energy source: Your emotional energy

We all possess four distinct, yet interconnected sources of energy: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Most of us have a pretty good read on our physical and mental energy levels.

Energy reservesPhysical energy is about what your body can handle: you know your physical energy is low if you fall asleep on a conference call, or if you are dragging your butt to meetings.

Mental energy is about what your brain can handle: you know your mental energy is high if you’re able to analyze a dense report, or if you can make creative connections throughout the day.

Emotional energy is about what you can handle emotionally. It is often indicated by a person’s stress threshold, their breaking/boiling point, their ability to maintain a positive outlook, or their ability to motivate themselves and others. These are all critical factors for high performance at work and at home. Continue reading…

Give your people what they want: one-on-one’s

Give your people what they want.

Following on from my last article about one-on-ones, there is a really easy way for you to give your people what they want this holiday, and throughout the year. Ask them.

Now is a great time to connect with your team and talk to them about their futures and where they see themselves headed.

People want to be empowered to good work, and they want to be seen and respected for who they are and the talents they offer. We aren’t that mysterious. Continue reading…

Year end review questions

Share these questions with your team as you review and debrief together, and ask them of yourself too:

  • What went well for you last year?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What did you overcome that you didn’t think you could?
  • What fears did you face?
  • What mistakes did you make?
  • What did you lose that you took for granted?
  • Where did you get stronger?

Get past mistakes

We’ve just about made it through 2009. So…? How did you do?

If you are like most people I know, you got tossed around a bit, lost some business, made some cuts and learned a few lessons.

We knew going into this year that we would need to buckle up and hold on.

Now, here we are at the end of it, the roller-coaster is slowing down (for a little while), and we have an opportunity to open our eyes see where we are and where we’ve been. Continue reading…

The biggest mistake managers make

The biggest mistake I see managers make is that they repeatedly bail on one-on-ones with direct reports. They set up the meetings, then a big clients comes in from out of town, or someone from head office calls, or the project is behind schedule and… I’ve heard all the excuses. They don’t fly.

It’s a mistake to ditch one-on-ones because:

1. When you bail on one-on-ones you send a message.You inadvertently tell people that they are unimportant, unseen, and unappreciated. 

Don’t think it’s all that bad? Think about how you feel when your boss sets up a meeting with you to talk about your progress and then pushes it because something else came up. That feeling right there is the same feeling that your team members feel every time you bail on them. 

And if you repeat the mistakes of your managers, your employees will repeat them too. Now we are talking about more than one disappointed employee, we are talking about a corporate culture that disrespects employees and stifles potential. It’s serious. Continue reading…

Prepare yourself for stress

Layoffs and cutbacks take their toll on us emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. There’s no point pretending otherwise.

I’m not going to tell you that eating nuts and apples between meals will make you feel better about some of the repercussions of this economic downturn.

What I do want to make abundantly clear is that you will benefit by training for the marathon of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual stress ahead. No more excuses. Continue reading…

No More Workarounds

Recently, a very good client asked me “does everyone know about workarounds?”

Workarounds are the extra steps you, or your staff, take because something, or more likely someone, is getting in the way of the ideal work flow in your department.

Here are some examples:

The report should go to Ned for review, but he holds everything up. Everybody knows the report will sit on his desk forever and when he Workaroundsfinally gets to it, he’ll miss things. You give it to your superstar to check over, even though it isn’t her job. WORKAROUND

Year end review

December? Are you kidding me?

If you’ve been reading the blog for over a year, you know that in December I advocate looking back. If you weren’t with us last year, you might benefit from the self-coaching year-end questions I sent out. They provide a great basis for review.

Take 30 minutes to look back and appreciate all the good things that happened. Your year-end review is also a great opportunity to revisit the challenges you faced and ask yourself if the lessons learned have been effectively integrated into your behaviours. Continue reading…

My secret recipe for managing in mayhem

Serves you and everyone at your table.

ingredients.jpgGather your ingredients
Gather your data. When instability becomes tangible, it can be really tempting to go searching through volumes and volumes of data – data that will change everything. But your goal is to do more than collect data, your goal is to manage in mayhem. This is only the first step, so don’t get stuck here.

sift.jpgSift
Keep Moving. Make sure you understand the data. Share it with your team. Get their input. Make some decisions. You’ve got more to do though so don’t get paralyzed here either. Continue reading…

Stop letting things slide

So let me ask you this: What are you tolerating that you have the power to change?

Think about your people, projects, systems, behaviours, technical issues, the nagging feeling that you need to brush up on something, the tension in the air about an unresolved issue.

3 things you need to know about tolerating stuff

  1. whatever you tolerate adds to the weight you carry, it adds to your frustration, clutter, and resentment.
  2. the stuff that bogs you down, bogs your team down. There’s no getting around that.
  3. the act of tolerating something drains you, and postpones the reality you are working to create. Continue reading…

Work to your ideal: Marc Allen’s Visioning exercise

Visioning isn’t just for business owners, executives, creatives or mystics.

This kind of work can be used to chart a course for your personal success, the success of your team, or even a specific project.

Marc Allen’s Visioning Exercise

  1. Turn off your inner critic, just for a moment. Go with your gut and give your creative self the floor – it’s just a moment.
  2. Write a description of your ideal scene. Imagine yourself 1 to 3 years down the road and see yourself living your ideal scene. (Careful you aren’t writing someone else’s picture of success. This is about success on your terms.) Continue reading…

Take a Vacation – for your energy

5 Reasons Why Taking Your Holidays Helps You!

  1. You need more than 2 days off. When you work the way you work (I know how it is) it is almost impossible to get full renewal in a weekend. Do you think Tiger Woods would be able to play the way he does if he had to swing the club 52 weeks of the year. Everybody needs an off-season to feed their game. Continue reading…