A number of clients seeking my guidance on becoming better workers, better managers, or better planners inevitably ask about how to develop positive habits... and stick with them. When I ask what they've done to date in developing new positive habits, and why they believe they've failed to maintain them, two themes arise: The achievers… Continue reading Positive habits: a new approach
Many leadership articles discuss how to communicate with and effectively manage the millennials. But what about managing an age gap in the other direction? How should millennial managers supervise someone older - maybe much older? There can be a decades-wide spread between a manager and a direct report. Awkward, uncomfortable, even upsetting? Most of the… Continue reading Big age gaps between managers and direct reports
I had a few clients who were expressing sentiments such as: "I'm not feeling like myself," or, "I'm just not how I used to be on the job," or, "I'm not really feeling it anymore, and I don't know why." They attribute these feelings to no longer being challenged at work, or having no growth… Continue reading The learning cycle at work
Procrastination can feel stressful. For some, the stress comes from not having produced anything yet. For others, the stress comes from the label "procrastinator" and actually has little to do with what has been produced by when. Which are you? Because it matters. If the stress of procrastination comes from the label - and all of… Continue reading Procrastination gets a bad rap
How do you really know if you should leave your job? At the root of this question is not salary and benefits and commute and flexibility. If it were really about those things, you could evaluate the trade-offs and make a decision already. But if the question about whether to leave your job is lingering,… Continue reading Making the tough decision to leave your job
How to be assertive is one of those topics that I've always found to be a little funny. Assertive in what way? Assertive according to whom? If you've ever received the constructive criticism or professional feedback to be more assertive or to be less assertive, and you're struggling with this feedback, I've got some great… Continue reading Rethinking how to be assertive
Just one critical implementation issue will ruin the most beautiful, perfect strategy. I'd like to talk about those types of implementation issues. In my mind, there are only three: insufficient buy-in from people; failure to achieve brilliant execution; and lack of a pivot when new information points to the strategy being wrong. Even if you… Continue reading Avoid an implementation issue that ruins a great strategy
UPDATE: Check out this week's Facebook Live on this topic, which does a deep dive with some practical steps not included in this blog post: https://www.facebook.com/aureliancoach/videos/308451219960456/ The foundation of navigating change in your organization's leadership is managing up. You must align your work and results with the priority initiatives of your (new) leadership. While you… Continue reading Navigating change: how to be visible and protect yourself
When I ran divisions and managed people, and when I oversaw client initiatives and led multi-disciplinary teams, there was one thing I always protected for my staff, my clients, and myself: Vacation time. I'll be away for the rest of the summer, and I'll see you back at the end of August/ beginning of September… Continue reading See you in a few weeks!
The bottom line in any service interaction and engagement is to move forward toward resolution. When you feel stuck in those customer service engagements, when things are really not moving forward (or moving forward productively), maintain the following tricks up your sleeve to gain some traction. (Note: I use the term "customer service" very broadly. Customers… Continue reading Customer service secrets
Knowing how to set boundaries at work in unhealthy or unproductive situations is an important skill, both for yourself and ultimately for the team involved. But what does it mean to set boundaries at work, and how should you do it to achieve the desired outcome? Let's start by talking about what a boundary is.… Continue reading 3 questions to ask before you set boundaries at work
Challenges of midlevel managers have some common themes, one of them being managing multiple initiatives within limited resources. "Limited resources" might be defined as not enough people, not enough budget, or not enough time (or all three). There are two types of work we perform: daily whirlwind tasks and larger, overarching initiatives. You'll need to… Continue reading Two questions if you are managing with limited resources
Working in isolation is very rare these days, so when one of your team members is fired, it can have a negative ripple effect that can seriously impact productivity. So when employee termination affects your team, what should you do? Of course, it's important to get work done - even more so when you're one… Continue reading After employee termination: how to care for the existing team
Networking warm or hot can be easy. Networking cold - especially if you're more introverted and don't have a lot of practice under your belt - can be extremely intimidating. When I was starting, the idea of just showing up somewhere and chatting people up was awkward and confusing. But I've learned a few things… Continue reading Networking: The 4 Things You’re Probably Not Doing But Should Be
Strengths and weaknesses. Areas of command vs. areas of improvement. Stuff you're good at on one hand, and stuff you're bad at on the other hand. People often present these characteristics at opposite ends of a spectrum or as absolutes. You might get similar feedback at work year after year, and even with nominal improvements,… Continue reading Strengths and weaknesses: Using one as a gateway to address the other
In 2011, Grant Cordone wrote a book called The 10X Rule. In it, he described how to take "massive action" toward your goals. It's very much a rah-rah-rah book, geared toward salespeople and entrepreneurs, but when I read it, its concept of "more is more" didn't quite resonate with me. Other books and online resources about… Continue reading The 10x Rule: How Fear and Discomfort Can Signal the Path Forward
Many interview processes these days involve on-the-spot business case analysis. Companies do this to assess a candidate's thought process, and whether the candidate follows any particular methodology in their analysis. There are many methodologies out there, and I've created a simplified model for my clients specifically to employ during the interview process if they have… Continue reading Business case method: a simplified model for interviewing
Good management requires some solid systems in place to manage toward or against. You can create systems and effective SOPs (standard operating procedures) for any operational aspect of your and your team's work. This includes running meetings, documentation, projects execution, individual and team reviews - the list goes on. Naturally, companies have systems and SOPs… Continue reading Writing effective SOPs: 3 points most people miss
Being a boss is a job, an actual job. Being a manager means you need to learn how to do employee recognition well for your direct reports as part of your duties and responsibilities... even if it's not explicitly listed in your job description. Employee recognition = acknowledgement + reward. If you know how to… Continue reading Employee recognition: Here’s how to do it right.
Even if you're the type of person who loves your job and doesn't mind being consumed by it, at one point or another, you've probably faced the challenge of how to limit the mental energy you expend on work in non-work situations. You've searched for a way to make sure you leave work at work… Continue reading Successfully Manage the Mental Work-Home Transition (The Solution Is Not What You Might Think!)
I remember having to fill out performance reviews where one of the questions on the forms assessed the "creativity" of the employee. Creativity? Hm. At that time, to me, creativity either had to do with art (not relevant in my line of work), or the demonstration of some grand, brilliant solution to a problem that… Continue reading You can actually cultivate creativity. Here’s how.
Turnover sucks, but it happens! As a manager, congratulations: it might be your job to replace people who leave your team. While you may or may not have complete authority in the whole process, you know you've got to conduct an interview (probably a bunch of them). This is your roadmap for making sure you… Continue reading Conduct an Interview to Land the Right Person: The Midlevel Manager’s Guide
For many organizations, mid-year reviews on job performance are either underway or soon to be underway. You probably developed goals for 2018 in the latter part of 2017, and it's the perfect time to see how far we've come! ... or how far we haven't come. Every year, a few of my direct reports would… Continue reading Mid-Year Reviews: Only Two Solutions You Need to Get Back on Track
Use email only when you need to impart information, not have an exchange of information.
Companies often set up their management roles as rewards for outstanding individual performance. There is one fundamental problem with this: individual achievement has nothing to do with good management. (See my post on the differences among leadership and management and authority.) But all is not lost! In order to transition well from stellar individual performance to… Continue reading Growth Mindset: The #1 Key to Management Mastery
When I interviewed a number of mid-career managers about their greatest pain points, one item came up again and again: managing up. You can find a lot of great articles online about managing up, and they're useful for tips and things you can try to do to manage up better. However, I'm interested in exploring… Continue reading Managing Up: Address the 3 Biggest Challenges to Mastering this Elusive Skill
https://youtu.be/meAGOgBHL5w This week, we are reviewing the 3-2-1 Model for Critical Thinking. I walk you through it in the video above. In the Analysis step, we ask two questions: (1) How we decide to interpret the information we receive, and (2) What principles, whether from different perspectives, viewpoints or assumptions, we are applying. Let me make… Continue reading New perspective in critical thinking
I simplified critical thinking into a short model because I would rather we all practice it more systematically in our daily lives. I would prefer to see that critical thinking is not something we have to strive toward when it really matters, but rather, we flex that muscle so regularly, it's second-nature. Super complex critical… Continue reading Application of the 3-2-1 Model for Critical Thinking
I have a simplified model for critical thinking to share with you. (If you are interested in more complex models, you can check out The Foundation for Critical Thinking, Pearson's RED model, or others.) We define critical thinking as analyzing information prior to making a judgment. Therefore, at its most elemental, my version of a… Continue reading The 3-2-1 Model for Critical Thinking
For situations in which you do decide to be 100% accountable, it's not something you mention to people. It is only something you can rise to the occasion for.
Good managers understand that they cannot make someone be accountable. That is only for the individual to accept and act on.
The key to avoiding the victim manager mindset is understanding the difference between responsibility and accountability.
What if you could just... not meet?
Ask people to respect your meeting.
The D.A.R.T. Method(TM) applied to note-taking for meetings: doing it right.
Reduce brain clutter with a proven method of taking efficient meeting notes.
Set your team up for making decisions.
What if being proactive meant not that you prepare for what's coming, but that you CREATE what's coming?
If you want to learn how to be proactive at work, step outside the existing rules of engagement.
Being proactive is never just finishing ahead or doing an exceptional job.
Don't just survive negative situations. Be proactive to learn how to thrive.
Here is what we should ask ourselves to figure out how to be proactive.
You can begin resilience at any time, and kick it up a notch at any time.
Be prepared to do extra to make up for being "in the negative" when you mess up.
Resilience is really about a super simple concept: doing better next time.
Own it. All of it.
Resilience: we are not our decisions.
An interview with Victoria Lioznyansky of ByVictoriaL.com
While people can feel comfortable putting together slides, people often don't know how to prepare a speech.
A lot of anxiety is in just getting started. So start strong.
Prepare presentations and speeches without using jargon as a crutch.
Go back to basics for presentations and public speaking. Tell a story.
Sometimes, perfectionists don't want to figure things out in public.
Know what a "perfect" draft is and circulate it quicker to get closer to a "perfect" end product.
Consider this: what if YOU made all the decisions?
Everything can be improved upon, including your very best work.
What's the big deal? What's wrong with having high standards? Nothing, except...
You can proactively reject burnout as a condition of your life.
If you are suffering from burnout, you've got to put a question mark on the addiction to multi-tasking.
Everything is not - cannot possibly be - important.
Burnout results from focusing too much on process and not enough on outcomes. Burnout is getting lost in minutiae. Burnout is focusing on just what is being thrown in your face instead of taking what is thrown and evaluating it through the lens of what you're ultimately trying to accomplish. The cure to burnout is… Continue reading The #1 tip to curing burnout
The first step is to recognize burnout, because many would reject the term, yet experience all the signs and symptoms.
Double loop learning assumes that there is something to be gained and improved by evaluating what was going on in your head.
It's important to recognize when questions are not serving you.
If you are a manager or team lead, then asking questions of your team needs to be a well-honed skill. Here are three methods of using questions to keep in your tool belt.
A pro will always take full responsibility, no matter who they asked.
There's no such thing as a dumb question, sure, but there's also an opportunity to ask better questions.
As long as there are no violations with HR or someone's confidence, err on the side of sharing to realize the benefits of transparency in your teams.
Transparency opens doors for you and others.
So you are on board with the idea of being more transparent! Fantastic! So... what exactly should you be sharing?
This level of transparency may feel scary at first, but managed well, it can be a total game changer in getting results.
Share information across the matrix to build trust all the way around.
It's just giving you a page of words to stare at... and still feel undecided.
Once the information is in front of you, decide what is useful and actionable, vs just interesting but not helpful.
That is not really a plan. That's simply a well-positioned series of steps.
There's no thinking outside if judgment is blocking the door.
When considering how to be an effective advocate, ask yourself these questions.
The value of management rests in achieving an outcome of optimal effectiveness, sustained over time.
The specialization often required at higher and higher levels of performance means that it is less and less likely that a position can be filled with someone who has done the exact same things in their past. Expertise, then, is at a premium.
You learned. So can someone else.
I would never suggest that these concepts are mutually exclusive. But neither are they the same.
It's amazing to me how many people really believe they have a crystal ball.
Risk and uncertainty are not interchangeable. They mean totally different things.
Yes, there's actually a right way to fail.
If you haven't had a spectacular fail in the last year, you haven't even given yourself the opportunity to learn anything.
Despite the day to day tensions and nastiness that my mom might have endured in the corporate world as an immigrant and woman in the early 1980s, I grew up hearing a story of a very different tone.
Be careful that you are not putting the metrics themselves ahead of the strategic intent.
What is the worst that can happen if you change course? The answer is not what you might think.
Understand which situation an instrument should be applied.
Data and information is influenced by the lens through which we process that information.
Seeking additional information is a very indulgent way to look responsible in the face of uncertainty or fear.
This year can be different.
You need to do two things. Just two things!
There was no piece of pie for me. I was desperately struggling to carve out what felt like even 1% of the pie for myself.
Do not dismiss that inner voice. Do not dismiss yourself.
How you feel about something is only derived from what you think about it.
There is no such thing as being locked into a certain personality or style.
Learn to be "all in" in any situation, and you learn an incredible job skill that will serve you throughout your career.
Opportunities for giving intangible gifts are all around us.
The most effective (not necessarily the easiest!) way to decide how to get around obstacles in your path.