I’m right, and they’re wrong – The “Grrrr!” moment

It’s a common frustration among managers, as they try to work with others to get things done. “They don’t get it!” “It’s their fault that things aren’t going right!” “I’m the only one who can do this right!”  “Why won’t they do (or see) it my way?” When a manager is in the throes of that frustration, I call it the “Grrrr!” moment.   These managers will go on to provide elaborate explanations about why their point of view on the issue at hand is logically correct. But I believe the logic covers something deeper. Behind the conviction of rightness is often a need to be right … which goes […]

So good in the interview, so bad on the job

“He was so good during the interview, so where’s the person we hired?” According to statistics released by PR News, 46% of new hires fail within 18 months, with another third rated as only fair to marginal performers – which means 81% of new hires eventually prove disappointing.  And these results continue to occur despite advanced methods we see companies use to search the globe for top talent. Poor hiring is incredibly costly for organizations, both in terms of direct expense and the opportunity cost and disruption created as people cycle through jobs.  Because of these significant costs, there is a constant stream of articles with suggestions about how to […]

What’s Good About Having A Bad Boss?

So you have the boss from hell? Seems that lots of people have had this experience. A recent study claims that 65% of Americans would like a better boss – almost twice as many as would like a pay raise. Here are some typical “bad boss” complaints I’ve heard. takes credit for your accomplishments throws projects at you without explaining them, and then explains why your work is “all wrong” when you bring back the finished job yells, attacks, bullies you micromanages inaccessible when you need help plays favorites overly demanding, doesn’t honor your work-life boundaries   A Different Way To Look At It The experience of living with a […]

You Don’t Have to Hate Selling

Are you in a role where there is some expectation that you will “sell” a service or product, but you don’t really see yourself as a “sales person”? So many people, when they face the prospect of selling, experience deep feelings of dread and loathing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.   Let’s start by looking at just why you feel that dread and loathing. Commonly, what I hear are statements such as, “I feel I’m asking someone to do me a favor,” or, “I’m trying to persuade someone to buy something they don’t need.” Those concerns are based on a manipulative model of selling –a picture that’s […]

Why are you so swamped?

Do you, like so many managers, believe that you have too much on your plate? If so, why do you think this is the case? Do you think, as do most managers to whom I’ve posed this question, that you’re swamped because of the demands of your jobs? If so, I hope you will keep an open mind as you read on. Consider the possibility that your swamped-ness is not caused by forces external to you, but rather that it is the result of your approach to the work. Further, consider the possibility that, by doing what keeps you swamped, you remain stuck in managing and miss the opportunity to […]

Make Sure Your Strengths Don’t Become Weaknesses

Do you want to improve as a leader? Conventional wisdom will tell you, “build on your strengths, compensate for your weaknesses.” But there’s more to it than that. Think about what you believe are your biggest leadership strengths – the qualities you trust and rely on, what others have said they admire most about you. Are you strategically brilliant? visionary? nurturing? Now think about your biggest weaknesses – the things you don’t like to do, don’t do well, find frustrating – or the things others find frustrating about you. I’ll bet you find that your weaknesses are the flip side of your strengths. If you’re strategically brilliant … you may […]

Does Praising Employees Create Problems?

Our workshop on collaborative performance management includes a discussion about reinforcement. This discussion is often contentious, largely because I question the value of praise. During these discussions, I find that people have been taught to see praise as universally good and useful, and I almost never find anyone who questions this belief. When I question it, people ask me “what’s the matter with praising people” and I list three concerns. 1 – Dependence. The first concern is that any judgment (praise or punishment) can create undue dependence on the judge. People have been conditioned from primary school to seek out the judgments of their authority figures, far more than they’ve […]

Want to be less stressed and live longer? Think like a leader.

I was intrigued by an op-ed article, “It’s Easy Being King,” that appeared in last Sunday’s New York Times. The authors, both Harvard researchers, described findings of recent studies suggesting that leaders (which they defined as people in powerful and high ranking positions) were less stressed than non-leaders (which they defined as people with lower rank).   The researchers measured stress by testing individuals’ levels of cortisol. So we’re not talking about good, energizing stress – we’re talking about deadly stress. Chronically elevated cortisol is linked to depression, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and other causes of illness and premature death.   Are you surprised by these findings? […]

Stop Talking in Code – Start Improving Performance

Think about the last time you got an assignment that sounded something like this….  ”This project is a big opportunity, so I want you to be proactive and really own it.  I want you to think out of the box and come back with an innovative and strategic solution.” The speaker might believe that he’s being very clear about what’s expected but, when I hear something like this, I have no idea what the listener is supposed to do.  And, if you could cut through this code, you could dramatically improve your own and others’ performance – reducing confusion about expected results and actions, and improving how people discuss and […]

Knowing Your Interests

Thanks to Henry Mintzberg, we know that managers’ worlds are a series of “moments” – short episodes and interruptions through which they must accomplish their work. But, many managers I work with bounce from moment to moment in a reactive mode, rarely stopping to reflect on what they want to get out of a given episode – to reflect, in other words, on their interests. As the old expression goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.”   Why Are Managers So Often Unclear About Their Own Interests? Here are a few reasons: Managers live in a world that values action over reflection. They […]