Newsletter: Leadership and management (general)

You call that a team???

Great teamwork wasn’t all that easy to come by even when everyone worked together in one place. When the pandemic hit, with people scattering to work from wherever, it took a while for teams to regain their stride, and some never really did. Some teams grew closer as they commiserated from the relative safety and […]

Tips for Conquering the Whiplash of Change

The dust had finally settled on the company’s latest Return to Office policy. Although it took a lot of cajoling, after a six-month grace period, most employees were back in the office the mandated three days a week. People seemed mostly happy being back together in the same place, making meaningful connections with those they’d […]

Can’t we all just get along (with Gen Z) in the workplace)?

Sarah slams down her tray and sighs as she settles herself across the table from Jerome, her fellow manager, to gulp down a 10-minute lunch, a rare luxury these days. “I am just so fed up with some of our newest team members, I could scream! If they ask me for feedback one more time…” […]

What? So What? Now What? – Today’s Workplace Trends and Why They Matter

Earlier this month, Margie’s company mandated that all employees be onsite at least four days a week, up from three. Some are following the new mandate begrudgingly, while others are ignoring it, for now. Kelly’s company, meanwhile, has announced a permanent “employee choice” policy, where employees and their teams decide where and when they work. […]

Overcome the Worst Facilitation Fears of Introverts (and Everyone Else)

Admit it. You’ve done your share of commiserating about some perfectly awful meetings you’ve had to endure. In fact, you’ve been such a vocal critic of poorly-run meetings that your manager anoints you as the perfect person to facilitate a do-or-die budget planning session with your team, group VP, CFO and a few other high-level decision-makers. If […]

How Great Facilitation Leads to Better Decisions, More Revenue and Less Waste

No doubt, making go/no-go decisions for billion-dollar projects requires careful consideration, but this was getting ridiculous. Marc’s 20-person Engineering team, scattered across multiple time zones, was on the hot seat for recommending large-scale exploration projects for this European-based global oil and gas leader. For many of these projects, time was of the essence. This was […]

Flexible, Productive and Collaborative: A Model Hybrid Workplace

This is part of our ongoing series of Field Spotlight Communiques with senior leaders who share successes, challenges, tips and observations for making a successful transition to a hybrid remote workplace. “Prior to COVID, our employees worked mostly face to face, five days a week. On March 13, 2020, everyone suddenly started working remotely. Today, […]

The Virtues of Failing Fast, in a Forward Direction

A friend’s daughter just announced her family’s sudden decision to pack up and move several states away, with no jobs, no residence, three school-age kids, one dog and two cats. My friend is agonizing over whether to try to talk her daughter out of it (“How will you live?  Where will you live? What about health insurance? […]

Unconscious Bias: Just Because You Can’t See It, Others (Almost Certainly) Can

There we were. A roomful of mostly white adults from my upper middle-class, fairly liberal Massachusetts town, gathered together in our earnest desire to discover how to be better allies to people of color. Tensions grew as the facilitators led us into uncomfortable conversations designed to help us uncover our hidden biases, layer by layer. […]

Easing the Pain of an Abrupt Transition, from Afar

“Congratulations! You have a unique set of skills that makes you a perfect fit for another project. So we’re ‘rewarding’ you by moving you over to another manager. This is a fabulous career move, with plenty of opportunities for growth. Of course I’m sad to see you go, but I know you’ll do great.” Such […]

How Feedback Can Stunt Growth, Stifle Learning and Encourage Mediocrity

Feedback of any kind rarely helps people perform better, no matter how much you dress it up and call it something pretty. In fact, telling people what they need to do differently, however well-intended, actually can block learning and prevent growth. As a result of reading the article The Feedback Fallacy in the March-April 2019 Harvard Business Review, I […]

Damage done: Leadership lessons from a fairytale team

Baseball may not be your thing. And if you’re from certain regions of the U.S., you may not want to hear one more thing about a winning Boston team. (I admit, it can get tiresome.) But please hear me out: The 2018 Boston Red Sox team was the best evah to take the field in Fenway Park, and […]

Making the Most of Bittersweet Endings, Tough Break-ups and Brand New Starts

My twin daughters graduated from high school three days ago, which should really be a time of great celebration. To retain my sanity, I’ve been keeping busy with necessary distractions like planning their party, gearing up for our summer vacation (possibly, one of our last together!), and (thankfully) a barrage of client work. But every […]

How Mindful Leaders Keep Calm Under Pressure, Inspire Better Team Performance

Judging from your team’s expression of outrage when you made your latest impossible request, you realize you’ve just crossed a red line. While you feel badly, especially since you’ve given team members a barrage of pretty ridiculous demands lately, you really had no choice. Your manager has made it clear (again!) that failure is not […]

How Mindfulness Keeps You Present, and Why It Matters

Imagine this: It’s after 5 PM, and your train is leaving in less than a half-hour. You’re in the middle of saving your final edits to the presentation for the executive team meeting first thing tomorrow, when you hear the unwelcome ping of an incoming IM from your boss: “Sorry for the last-minute change, but […]

How to Make Introverts and Extroverts Happy, and How to Drive Them Crazy

“We suspect that our team can be a lot more effective if we can do a better job of acknowledging, appreciating and accommodating the introverts among us. We also want to acknowledge what our extroverts need to operate at their peak potential.” That’s the challenge my client recently asked me to help solve for her […]

Great Gift Ideas Everyone on your Team Will Appreciate Now, and Later

For many of us, the month of December evokes the spirit of giving more than any other time of the year. Not to say we’re not generous of spirit all year round, but it’s typically during the holiday season that we are most likely to affirm appreciation for team members. Finding the right gifts for […]

How to Create a 12-Month Plan in Just Two Hours

There’s something about the blank slate of a brand new year that makes it a perfect time to get your group together and lay down plans for the next 12 months. Sounds like a good idea in theory, but it can be near impossible to persuade people to hunker down in a meeting room for […]

Prevent Thoughtless Habits From Squandering Your Team’s Time

We are scrupulous about managing our budgets, jumping through hoops (and filling out countless forms) to get approval for every expenditure, whether it’s for a $300 printer or a part-time contractor. And yet, even though we may say that time is money, few of us show the same kind of scrutiny when it comes to […]

When it Comes to Giving, Little Things Mean a Lot

This is the time of year when we turn our thoughts to giving. But for many of us, that’s where we stop. Just because we have noble intentions, it doesn’t mean we automatically get more time in our busy days to be generous to others, when we’re barely keeping our heads above water ourselves. According […]

From Jaded to Jazzed: Quick Tips for Sustaining Happy, Healthy Virtual Teams

Have you ever been part of a team where you’re inspired and energized by your work, really enjoy the people, feel like you’re making some great contributions, and have meaningful opportunities to learn and grow? If you’re lucky, maybe it’s been once or twice. If you work virtually, attaining this kind of “team nirvana” is […]

Drive Out Distractions and Reclaim Your Time

As I write this month’s Communiqué, I’m completely focused on my topic. I can get this written in about an hour, if no one interrupts me. An email flashes on my screen. What if it’s really important? Twenty-five minutes later (okay, so I read a few emails and replied to three of them); I’m ready […]

Magic Numbers for Successful Teamwork

People often ask me: What’s the ideal number of people to have on any given team to produce the best results? My answer: It depends. Several factors go into coming up with that magic number, such as: Clarity of goals and objectives, time available to get it right, ability of participants to work face-to-face versus […]

Balance Innovation and Expediency for a Supercharged Team

How many emails can I write while “participating” in a weekly review meeting? Which ideas can I repurpose so I don’t have think of new ones? How many calls can I avoid by blasting a group IM? How many minutes can I save by outsourcing dinner prep to the local pizza joint? Yup, for many […]

When Workloads Are Seriously Out of Whack – 11 Leadership Tips

Say you’re the leader of a team of hard-working professionals who work in different locations. It’s crunch time, and pretty much everyone realizes they need to put aside their personal lives for the next few days (or maybe a tad longer) to meet a critical deadline. Trouble is, you discover that while some people are […]

8 Great Year-Round (Free!) Gifts Everyone on Your Team is Guaranteed to Love

Give a gift every day for 29 days straight? Yeah, right – as if I have the time (and money), with everything I’m already juggling! But that’s what a colleague just invited her friends to do. When she explained that such gifts can be as simple as starting a conversation with a downtrodden stranger, making […]

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