Questions that Drive Conversations

online conversation

“Sounds like a great plan. Does anyone disagree?” It’s a question that makes me cringe every time I hear it. The fellow introverts on the call all glance at one another to see if any of them will be brave enough to share their thoughts. And some of the extroverts ponder expressing disagreement, but weigh it against their desire to wrap up the meeting quickly and return to their growing workload. After a few seconds of silence, the leader takes silence as agreement and moves on. Weeks later when the plan falls apart, everyone wonders what happened.

Striking a Balance: When Positive Feedback Backfires

Image of constructive criticism puzzle

A conversation with a former colleague this week reminded me that the old saying is true—it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Over coffee, my friend shared some reflections and lessons learned she had identified after her first year as a manager. Like many new front-line managers, she was a high performer who was at high risk of leaving her organization until they offered her a promotion. Eager for a new challenge, she jumped at the opportunity to step into her first leadership role. Aside from leveraging the help and advice of other leaders internally, she … Read More

Office Space 2019: It’s a Problem of Motivation, Bob

Office Space cast Lacks motivation

It’s been 20 years since the 1999 cult classic movie “Office Space” was released and workers everywhere bonded over their shared disdain for mundane work, lack of functional resources, poor communication and motivation, and ineffective reporting structures. We followed worker Peter Gibbons as he transitioned from disengaged employee through his awakening and career change. We saw what happens when the employee’s values and company culture are mis-aligned. And who could forget the satisfaction of seeing defunct office equipment destroyed with a baseball bat? Have we improved the workplace experience at all in the past 20 years? If a sequel to … Read More

Six Keys to a Successful Listening Tour

Businessmen talking

Stepping in as a new manager to a team feels a lot like standing at the base of a mountain. You have a vision of what you’d like to achieve, but the hill to climb is steep and the pathway isn’t always certain. From the team’s perspective, gaining a new manager can be either a welcome relief or a cause for trepidation. The amount of excitement, anxiety, uncertainty, and ambiguity shared by all parties can make the first week as a new intact team quite tumultuous. Effective new managers often go on a “listening tour” for the first 30-60 days. … Read More

Business Conversations: Three Things a Leader Should Never Say

There are times in business when we find ourselves carefully crafting every single word we string together, whether it is in a company-wide email about possible layoffs, a sales proposal/contract, or a press release. When we’re more relaxed, we speak effortlessly and forget most of what we say within minutes. But we often underestimate the impact casual, common phrases have in the workplace. Words matter. The way they’re said matters. But the way they’re interpreted matters the most. Here are three common phrases that every leader should avoid:

Silence is Golden

Silence Image

This week, Jeff Bezos shared an interesting technique he uses to make sure team members don’t go off-topic during a meeting. He uses silence as a tool. At the beginning of each executive meeting, they all gather together and sit quietly to read the latest memo. That silence is likely jarring for many new employees who are used to a rushed workday. Silence is a funny thing. Some people crave silence while others find silence uncomfortable if not distracting.  Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, there are many strategic uses for silence in the workplace. Anyone in sales knows silence … Read More