Snow Days

Many people took a snow day earlier this week in the northeastern U.S. Of course, like thousands of others, I worked from home. And I enjoyed flowing with rhythm of the day.

I noticed that I got more done in less time. This was hard to believe, but it certainly got my attention. Work-related calls were shorter and had a slower pace. The amount of email exchanged was easily cut in half. A less urgent edge replaced the hurried pace of the typical business day.

Why did this happen? Maybe it was the weariness people feel as winter ends and spring begins. Maybe it was the surprise of so much snow and ice in the middle of March. Maybe people just needed to take a breather.

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Leading Managers

Many leaders become frustrated with mid-level managers because they perceive that the managers are not doing their jobs adequately. When you really dig into why this happens, it’s often because the managers don’t fully understand what is expected of them.

Leaders are responsible for outlining what is expected from their managers and for providing the resources for their success. Here are some guidelines to consider:

Clarify roles and responsibilities. This can be more important than a traditional job description. What is the position expected to achieve and what are the key responsibilities for which the position is accountable?

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Look Beyond the Money

Have you ever had a situation where you fell in love with a prospective employee who asked for more salary than you were willing to offer? Or a valued employee who tendered her resignation and you attempted a counteroffer?

Every leader has experienced this at some time. On the surface, you’re faced with offering more money than you were originally willing to pay. Both situations, though, merit more consideration than just the checkbook.

The prospective employee
If you pay more than you want to, you will tend to expect miracles from the new employee (“after all, I paid her thousands more than the position is worth…”). Consider other ways to compensate, such as bonuses or other incentives.

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Going Postal?

Do you remember that expression? I had forgotten about it until a spectacularly unpleasant episode at the post office last week.

This was one of those facilities with bullet proof windows and those mysterious hermetically sealed receptacles for packages. After 19 minutes in line, it was my turn for what I anticipated would be routine.

Jimmy, the clerk, took care of my first package and then I placed the next one in the package vessel. I told Jimmy that I had 17 of these, to which he responded that he could not put postage on 17 packages.

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Recognition in the “Month of Love”

Sometimes leaders get so busy that they don’t acknowledge valued employees. You may have the best of intentions, but when hectic schedules and competing priorities overtake your attention, you forget about them.

We’re so busy that meaningful actions – such as providing feedback, giving performance or compensation reviews, or just checking in to see how they’re doing – fall by the wayside because they’re not urgent.

Not urgent to us, that is.

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Changing Habits

Changing a habit can be insidious. After months of cultivation, you barely think about your previous behavior, and then, BAM! it reappears at a strange and unexpected time.

This is your test.

Do you give in to the previous pattern or do you stand up for yourself, swat away the old, and resume your new, better actions?

Sometimes you persevere, and other times you slip. The key to moving forward, though, is to reinforce your resolve. Refresh your memory by recalling your “why”: Why did you change this habit? Do those reasons still make sense? Do you feel compelled to continue with your strategy for change?

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Little Actions Make a Big Difference

Last week I enjoyed dinner at The Smith at Lincoln Center. It wasn’t a special occasion or a holiday. It was simply two friends having dinner before attending a performance at across the street.

And then we met Nick.

I had been observing him as he stopped at each table, engaging the guests. He didn’t ask the perfunctory “How was your dinner?” while halfway to the next table. Instead, he seemed genuinely interested and personally invested in the guest experience.

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The Year of the Rooster

Saturday marks the lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year, which will be celebrated for seven days around the world. The coming year is the year of the rooster. “Roosters” are hard-working, courageous, and talented, among other traits. Other roosters were born in 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, and 2005.

Although this may not be a holiday that you celebrate personally, chances are you have colleagues, co-workers, clients, or friends who celebrate it.

Many large cities hold New Year’s celebrations, which represent great opportunities to attend and participate. Acknowledging the holiday can be a way to not only expand your relationships, but to learn about traditions that may not be familiar to you.

Relationship Connections

How do you develop your relationships? Do you have a conscious plan to see them, interact with them, or reach out on their behalf? How frequently are you in touch?

The answers to these questions today are different than even five years ago. I surveyed a few people recently, and two people’s responses were representative of the others. One person said, “Of course – I just texted her” and another offered, “I’m sure they saw my Facebook page, so they know what I’m up to.”

You know where I’m going with this. Although texting or posting on Facebook are in much wider usage today, it is shortsighted to think that these are the best ways to stay in touch.

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Help Is on the Way

People get so caught up in their day to day routines that sometimes they don’t notice if a co-worker is struggling. It could be someone who has suffered a loss or is recovering from an illness or is care taking an elderly parent.

The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is what we do about it. This is especially important if it’s an intense job environment and the people experiencing these challenges are normally self-starters who get everything done well and on time. You think that they can handle the additional pressure, but they’re human, too.

Leaders need to step forward and make sure that people in these circumstances are supported so that their potentially fragile state doesn’t trigger a downward spiral.

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