It’s that time of the year … holiday parties, time with friends and family, taking some time off, continuing old traditions and starting new ones! In the spirit of the season, we’re taking a hiatus at the Turning Managers into Leaders blog, but I’ll be back, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, on Monday January 9, 2012.
My best wishes to all of you and your loved ones for a festive, joyous, rejuvenating holiday season, and I can’t wait to see you all again in the new year! I look forward to another fantastic year of sharing tips and exchanging ideas, starting conversations and perhaps even some arguments, all in the pursuit of becoming even better leaders than you already are!
A few weeks ago, I gave you a short video clip about focusing on the problem rather than the person when giving negative feedback to your employees. In this installment, I show you a way to criticize an employee while actually boosting the employee’s morale! Watch the video below to find out how.
If giving negative feedback to your employees is something you struggle with, then be sure to also take another look at these past blog posts:
- Giving constructive feedback to employees – one powerful tip
- Giving negative feedback: focus on facts instead of opinions
- Giving negative feedback: stay future-focused
- Giving negative feedback: focus on the problem, not the person
So, let’s have a conversation about how you manage this challenging aspect of your leadership role. Share your approach to giving negative feedback with me and others on this blog. Just click on the Comment link below.
As a leader, your goal is to create an optimum balance between consensus and conflict. You want people to get along and achieve stated objectives, but you also want them to speak up when they need to, even if their message is unwanted or controversial. Most communication strategies focus on creating agreement and harmony, but in this latest issue of CGA Magazine, I shift attention to the opposite end of the spectrum. I take a closer look at the negative workplace phenomena known as The Abilene Paradox and Groupthink, and offer some practical ideas to facilitate productive disagreement in the workplace. Read the entire article here.
What specific things are you doing in your department or organization to discourage instances of the Abilene Paradox and groupthink?
Strangler figs are a common species in the rainforest ecosystem and I saw them up-close during a recent visit to Cairns, Australia. These are tall canopy trees that start life in an unusual way. Tiny sticky seeds are deposited high in trees through bird pollination and they germinate as epiphytes on the tree branches. Initially, the seedlings get their nutrients from the sun and rain high up in the canopy, but soon they start sending out numerous thin roots down the tree trunk. When these roots reach the ground, they dig in and begin to grow quickly, competing with the host tree for water and nutrients. The roots start to encircle the trunk and fuse together, and as they grow thicker, they tighten and cut off the host tree’s flow of nutrients. At the same time up top, the strangler fig puts out leaves that overtake the tree and rob it of sunlight. Eventually, the host dies from strangulation and insufficient sunlight. In the end, the strangler fig stands on its own, a hollow central core being the only reminder of the original host. “Not bad for something that started off as a mere stray seed carried in bird droppings!” you might think. Except for one thing – because the central trunk of the strangler fig is hollow, it is very easy for a passing woodcutter to chop the tree down. And many do.
An apt metaphor for what can happen in the workplace when a new supervisor joins an existing team. Usually appointed by a senior leader, the new manager often has innovative ideas and fresh energy and can’t wait to get going, to make changes and create new opportunities. Which is great … but not if progress is made through force and intimidation, instead of through agreement and consensus. Both methods will achieve success in the short-term, but in the long-term is where the differences will be patently obvious. Growth and success that comes from pressure and coercion will have a hollow core, and just like the strangler fig, a tree with a hollow core is much easier to cut down. Far more effective to grow the tree through agreement and consensus, because a solid trunk can withstand the woodcutter’s machete much more effectively. Worth keeping in mind when you step into a new leadership role.
So, do you agree? What’s been your experience? Have you observed situations where progress made through coercion have failed later? Or vice versa?
Last month we asked for your help in determining the topics and content for our 2012 Leadership Skills Series Live audio conferences, and your feedback was FANTASTIC! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for participating! Your input helps us give you learning programs that you want and need. We also promised that we would draw for four chances to win one of my Leadership Skills audio programs, either in downloadable mp3 or CD format, a $197 value. Our lucky winners are … drumroll please …
- Chris Dyck, Vancouver BC
- Susan Ramsay, Oshawa ON
- Jackie Miles, Toronto ON
- Carol Shaver, Madison SD
Our four winners will choose their favourite learning program from any of my Leadership Skills audio courses (you can preview the entire collection here).
Many thanks to all those that participated in our latest survey! Your insights have been incredibly invaluable as we plan for our Leadership Skills Series Live programs for 2012. We’ll continue to take a closer look at the results in the next few weeks and will soon be announcing our audio conference schedule for next year. In the meantime though, here are your top three picks in our survey in terms of overall rating.
- Mastering the Performance Evaluation Process – You can’t manage what you don’t measure
- The “Let’s Not Kill the Messenger” Manual – A leader’s guide to communicating unpopular decisions and changes
- No Whining Allowed! – How to deal with employee complaints and concerns
For four years now, you, our clients, have helped make our quarterly learning series hugely popular, so in return for your help, we promised you prizes, four in fact! We’ll be randomly drawing for our lucky winners from all the completed surveys and we’ll announce the results right here later this week. We’ll notify winners individually as well. Each will get his or her choice of a Leadership Series Live audio CD or mp3. Fifteen to choose from, and you can see them here.
Last month, health and productivity expert (and my good friend) Michelle Cederberg, CSP was our guest blogger, and she gave us many ideas on easy things to work into our busy schedules in order to get more exercise, eat healthier, and stay hydrated. Well, she’s back! And today, she has even more tips to boost your energy, particularly useful if you’re a leader with a full schedule and a long list of responsibilities.
Last month, I wrote about how you can ride the leadership roller coaster of success and stress by taking small self-care steps every day in key energy-generating areas of your life. I spoke specifically of the importance of exercise, healthful eating, and water intake. Today I want to talk about three more specific areas that you can focus on in order to feel your best, so you can do your best — on the job and in life.
I know you’re busy and there aren’t enough hours in the day but when did sleep become a luxury? Continue reading
Our survey deadline is 11:45 PM MST on December 2, 2011, only five days away! This is your chance to win one of four valuable prizes, and our chance to get your input for our topics and content for our 2012 Leadership Skills Series Live audio conferences.
In return for your time, we’ll enter your name in a draw for four chances to win one of my Leadership Skills audio programs, either in downloadable mp3 or CD format, a $197 value. There are fifteen you can choose from, and you can preview them all here.
Do it now – in won’t take more than 5 minutes, we promise! We’ll announce the winner here as well as in December’s issue of Merge’s Monthly Mega Minute.
In the past, I’ve talked about how the the disparity between how fast we can talk and how fast the human brain can process information is a major contributor to poor listening (see Good listening: it’s about staying “checked-in”). And if that wasn’t bad enough, there are all kinds of mental and physical barriers that get in the way of good listening as well. So what’s a person to do, you might ask? With the odds stacked against us, it is really possible to be a good listener? The unequivocal answer is yes!
But listening, like any other skill, is one that gets better with use and practice. If you play a sport of any kind, then you know exactly what I mean. Let’s just say that your sport of choice is golf. If you think back to the very first time you picked up a club and went out on the course, the chances are good that you didn’t play like a pro. In fact, you probably weren’t very good at all. But with practice, you got better! And that’s exactly how it is with listening. The more you make an effort at it, the more you focus on improving your skill, the better you will get at it.
Because I know that I am not naturally a good listener (I prefer to speak, after all :)), I call myself a work-in-progress. All that means is that even though I am not a perfect listener today, I am better at it now than I was a year ago, and a year ago, I was a better listener than I was two years ago. You get the idea!
So what about you? Are you a good listener? What are you doing to get better everyday?
Giving negative feedback to employees is a task no one looks forward to. But, if you’re in a position of leadership, sooner or later, you’ll be called upon to do exactly that! So how can you be more effective? In past blog posts, I’ve shown you how to focus on fact rather than opinion, and how to emphasize the future and not the past. This short video illustrates one more tip to deliver the message in such a way so that other person is more likely to listen (and act) on what you say.
So … what are you saying or doing to increase that likelihood that the feedback you offer to others is heard and acted upon?