How to Coach Your Team to Success

One of the biggest challenges for leaders is to create and maintain the proper conditions for worker engagement and productivity. We know that if we are to maintain high levels of workplace output and morale we need to ensure that our employees feel valued and challenged. We also recognize that if we want to be able to respond to, if not stay in front of, marketplace change we need to develop workers who are comfortable thinking independently and contributing to the collective brain trust.

Too many leaders and managers, however, fail to achieve this because they do not understand how to motivate today’s workers or how to empower them to think and act independently and more positively.

In generations past people would be told what they needed to do from their earliest years. Parents would instruct children on how to behave at home and teachers would demand student compliance in school. Failure to obey would result in corporal punishment or other heavy handed responses. In the workplace, employees would be given orders and were required to dutifully implement them if they wanted to hold their positions for any meaningful duration.

But times have changed. As younger workers make their way into the workplace, they expect to play by a different set of rules. They want to be given the freedom to experiment, a voice with which to weigh in at staff meetings and the ability to pursue what they view as meaningful, engaging work. Anything less they view as limiting, which spells dissatisfaction and, for the most part, underperformance (if not outside job seeking).

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Coaching: The Key to Getting Unstuck

One of the local papers runs my coaching content weekly.

They use this caption for my "Coach's Corner" column.

I hadn't seen it before. And I love it.

Unlike other interventions, coaching is all about taking the ideas and magic already in a client's head and helping them unravel, organize and make sense of it, while setting aside the things that have been holding them back.

Standard client comments: "I know I need to ___ (take action) but can't because ___ (limiting belief.)"

Coaching empowers people to move forward and get things done.

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Tips to Meet with More Great People

I recently went to Chicago where I was able to hook up with some really great people. We talked about where each of us is professionally, how we can help each other, and I even did some basic coaching as well.

This Thursday I have some more meetings scheduled in NYC, all with folks who have appeared on my podcast.

These are not just regular sit downs. Rather, they are with awesome people that I want to get to know better and either coach, collaborate with, and/or get referrals from.

For me, every meeting has to serve a purpose. It could be a total waste of time for one or both of us to meet without an agenda or underlying goal.  

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How to Deepen the Workplace Bond

One way for leaders to develop a strong bond with their people is to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Not just their own work, but the work of their direct reports, as well as their reports’ reports. Take time to sit in various offices and seats within the organization and seek to develop new skills and make connections on different levels. Ask about existing challenges within the company and develop empathy for those who are tasked to address them regularly. Brainstorm with staff about how best to address these issues to optimize performance. By bringing yourself down to your people, you will gain their admiration as someone who really seeks to know their situations and improve them.

Another, more sustainable approach to bonding with employees is to actively connect with them on a regular basis. Hewlett Packard (HP) founders William Hewlett and David Packard used a strategy that has become known as MBWA, or Management By Wandering Around. As its name implies, MBWA requires regular walking throughout the workplace. It offers many benefits to leaders and their employees

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When to Keep Pushing or Pull Back?

Recently, I needed to have a service performed on my car, so I reached out to some providers. I had used one of them, who I’ll call Jake, in the past and was leaning towards doing so again. At the end, however, I decided to go with someone else and communicated my decision to Jake.

Unfortunately, Jake was not all too happy and would not leave me alone afterwards. Instead of accepting my decision, he continued to text and call me to try to discuss. I made clear that my decision had been made, but it took some time until the “harassment” ended.

Suffice it to say that Jake did not earn any credit towards future work with his choice of response.

After thinking about it, I started to realize that I have more Jake in me than I may care to admit.

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5 Tips to Increase Workplace Engagement

The statistics about worker disengagement are staggering. We read all the time about how workplace engagement levels are low here in the U.S. and even lower around the world. Loss of productivity is estimated to cost employers hundreds of millions of dollars annually, if not billions. And it all stems from how disconnected folks feel from the people working around them, the work that they do each day, and the purpose that it serves to them and to others.

Workplace connection results in many benefits, including stronger communication, greater synergy, enhanced anticipation of others’ needs and worries / concerns, and, last but certainly not least, increased worker engagement. When we feel connected, we operate with a sense of purpose and utilize our many talents and abilities to advance that purpose, consciously as well as subconsciously.  

The need for connection at work is perhaps stronger today than ever before. It has become an expectation, especially amongst younger workers, that the workplace be a source of meaning and intention, not just a place at which to collect a paycheck.

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How NOT to show appreciation

Do your people feel valued and appreciated at work?

If you're a leader, one of the most important things you need to be doing is thinking about how can you demonstrate appreciation – that's right – appreciation for your people and what they are doing for you.

We cannot assume that just because we pay people – and often pay them really well – that that alone constitutes appreciation.

Nor can we assume that just because we don't need appreciation, which may or may not be the case, but even if we don't, that others don't as well.

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Make What’s Most Important Most Important

One morning last week, I made myself my favorite breakfast – fruit-filled pancakes – before heading downstairs to my home office to get my day started.

Shortly before I finished, I used some of the batter to prepare a plain pancake for my teenage daughter (she doesn’t seem to feel that pancakes and fruit go together), and she decided to sit down to eat it. This is a girl that almost never eats breakfast, certainly not in the kitchen.

So, instead of making my way downstairs, I sat down right there in the kitchen and ate with her.

We chatted about breakfast, school, and other stuff.

It was short but pleasant and a great way for both if us to start our days.

Sometimes, in our rush to get to work and (officially) start our days, we jump in, power up and plow ahead, leaving our lives behind for the time being.

At least, that’s what usually happens to me.

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How to Help Yourself When You’re Helping Others

A colleague of mine recently attended an educational conference. She met a teacher during a session about working with students who have experienced trauma. The teacher said that she knew how to help traumatized students but asked wonderingly, “How do I help me? You have to get into their lives in order to teach them. And their trauma is deep. It stays with you. So, here’s my question: After I go over the line to help them, who pulls me back?”

Sadly, traumatic situations do not only affect students and their teachers. Many working professionals have also experienced workplace trauma, which can be categorized as follows: (1) stressful events (death, grief, suicide, accident or injury), (2) organizational stressors (bullying, threats, harassment, betrayal, maliciousness, extreme isolation, chronic pressure, toxic work environment, uncertainty, fear for the future, downsizing or fear of unemployment), (3) physical stressors (noise, chaotic environment, sense of no control over space, fear for physical safety, harsh or flashing lights, extremes of heat or cold, working amid construction) and (4) external threats (evacuation, lockdown, fire or robbery).

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