A Day of Gratitude

Today is the day when friends and family gather with no agenda other than (over)eating, catching up on each other’s lives, and watching football in a tryptophan stupor. We create our signature holiday foods and even learn about what different cultures bring to the Thanksgiving table.

I always think of Thanksgiving as a day of gratitude. It’s a time to pause, reflect, and give thanks for the things that mean the most to you.

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What Happened to Work Ethic?

One of the common complaints I hear from clients is how their employees don’t approach their work with the same commitment and resolve that they have. The essence of what is missing is a demonstrable level of work ethic.

Can you teach this? Many think no, but I think it depends. Work ethic is not taught in the academic environment, so we can’t expect someone entering the workplace to understand what this is. Some employees may glean elements of it from observing or learning from family members, but that isn’t consistent either.

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When Leaders Disappoint

How do you handle decisions that you know will disappoint some of your people? Don’t gravitate toward that awful cliché, “it’s business, not personal”, because often, it is personal. It’s personal when it affects someone’s career, compensation, or how others perceive them based on assignments (organizational prestige).

The key to managing disappointment in others is based in your own awareness. Be aware of the impact of your decisions on your employees. Anticipate their reactions. Use your reservoir of emotional intelligence to do damage control.

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Note to Bad Bosses: “Back Off!”

Terrorizing your employees is not a great engagement strategy. As an enlightened subscriber to Executive Insight, you may think, “Of course it isn’t – who would do that?” I’m here to tell you that these bosses abound in the work place (and I’m certain that you’ve come across at least a few).

They’re not especially interested in emotional intelligence or smart leadership strategies or developing their people. They focus on driving revenue and think the bottom line can be built on the backs of employees who comply with their demands.

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What’s Behind the Answer?

You’re gathering information for a project and ask several employees for input. They give you the information that you requested, and you integrate their responses into your project presentation.

But what happens if you make a decision based on that information and your conclusion is wrong? You may go back to the employees in search of clarification (“I thought you said x”) and it turns out that yes, they said “x”, but “y” is also integral to the equation.

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Are You Rewarding the Right Behavior?

Are your employees doing the job that they’re paid to do? Some employees take leeway by spending time doing things that may be valuable but interfere with the job they’re supposed to be doing. They get praised for the additional work, but get away with not being accountable for what they neglect.

Consider these examples:

+ The designer who loves the creative process so much, but typically spends two or more times the hours than what was budgeted.

+ The client manager who spends inordinate time with clients that are being undercharged.

+ The project coordinator who prefers schmoozing with clients and neglects his paperwork and ultimately delays billing.

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Manage Your Time By Managing Your Mind

So many people are stressed by massive to do lists and not enough time to complete the important tasks. Everyone knows how to manage time….but….often it just doesn’t happen. It’s not because you don’t know how; it’s because you don’t make it happen.

When you manage a staff that has multiple moving targets (including those massive to do lists), support them by helping them focus and stay focused. Implementation happens much more effectively when people concentrate.

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The Curse of Silos

Do your departments communicate well with each other? Do they know each other’s work product? Challenges? Successes?

I had an aggravating experience trying to do a simple upgrade of a software service. I was on several phone calls for 2-1/2 hours to implement something that I thought was straightforward.

I concluded, however, that the reason it turned into such a production was because the upgrade resided in a different department and the two departments don’t talk to each other.

Same product, different level of service. Horrible communication.

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Two-Fisted Feedback

A colleague shared an anecdote about a leader in his firm who gives appreciative feedback to his staff, then turns around and tells peers that these employees aren’t doing their jobs. One of these employees found out about this two-fisted approach and was furious.

We spend considerable time espousing the importance of expressing appreciation (among other things), but it’s intolerable if someone says something nice – only because it’s the right thing to do – then says the opposite to another leader.

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