Guided Insights

How Restorative Justice Concepts Can Make for Healthier Workplace Relationships

My first offender was a college sophomore who decided that the perfect place to have a party was the vacant home of a friend whose family was on vacation. We’ll never know whether she was being honest when she claimed not to have realized that the friend’s parents weren’t home. But what we do know …

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Why Conversations Sometimes Feel Impossible and How to Bring Them Back

The kids in our high school were shattered when news spread last month that a popular senior took his own life.  Everyday life for these kids screeched to a halt as they struggled to process how such a tragedy could have happened to one of their own. This was the first time many experienced the …

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Could You Be the Weak Link on Your Virtual Team?

Do you ever wonder: Why should I work so hard when everyone else seems to be working part-time (at best)? Since everyone else runs late on their commitments, I may as well, too. No one takes my requests seriously, so I have stopped asking.  How can people expect me to stay awake during team meetings …

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Stop Squandering Time With All Talk and No Action

True or false: If a meeting ends with no actions, you didn’t really need the meeting in the first place.  My vote: Mostly true. Although some meetings may be held simply to cross-pollinate information or brainstorm new ideas, the goal of most meetings is to get something concrete accomplished. A resulting list of actions is …

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Instantly Improve Your Team Communications by Overturning 9 Dangerous Myths

We’ve all indulged in magical thinking. Why else would so many people rush to buy tickets when the Powerball jackpot swells to $400M, even though their chances of winning are dramatically slimmer? How many people believe that if they lose that last 5 pounds, the person of their dreams will magically sweep them off their …

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How to Stop a Cultural Collision in its Tracks

You’re leading a brand new team with members joining from different organizations and working in multiple locations, perhaps as a result of a merger, acquisition or new partnership. At first, conversations are respectful, but they soon devolve into uncomfortable exchanges that reflect mounting frustrations and distrust. You realize that the cultures of these organizations are …

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Combat Rude Behavior with Radical Civility

Everyone knew that Jim was a real jerk. With an arch of his brow or the curl of his lip, this senior VP could reduce anyone to tears. And he did, frequently. As a junior staff writer at the time, I was a frequent target of Jim’s scathing derision. One day I decided to confront …

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To Get People Talking, Try Asking the Right Questions

It’s happened to all of us: You pose a carefully-worded question, pause and wait for someone to respond. Anyone. Please? And then you hear nothing, other than an awkward, prolonged silence. You start to panic and make assumptions like: “They must be multitasking! Maybe they’re all on mute. I guess no one cares about this …

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Tackling Tough Issues Remotely, When Your Boss is the Problem

We hear a lot about how virtual leaders can deal effectively with workplace conflicts and performance problems. (In fact, many people have written books on the topic, including me!) But we don’t hear nearly as much about how to confront tough issues from the remote worker’s point of view. And that’s precisely what Sue Shellenbarger, …

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The Impossibility of Designing a “Perfect” Virtual Meeting in a Multicultural World

When I run my “Leading Engaging Virtual Meetings” workshops, I can’t always tell when certain concepts resonate with participants. That’s because most of the time I deliver my workshops virtually. Last week, however, I delivered my workshop in person to more than 100 savvy marketing consultants and analysts from more than 25 countries around the …

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Fire Up Your Communications Mojo in a Virtual World

John has always been great at playing to the crowd. With just a subtle arch of his eyebrow or a sly half-smile, John can bring the house down or rev people up. He’s a communications superstar who knows exactly what every audience needs to hear and delivers it perfectly. John is justifiably proud of his …

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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 …

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How Timeshifting Truly Transformed a Top-Performing Virtual Team

I had never met a soul who has flat-out nailed the art and science of leading really great virtual teams. Until now. Meet my friend Don Wynes, Director of Implementation Operations at ADP, who has been leading a team of seven high-performing innovation coaches for about a year, with members scattered across four time zones in …

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Managing Performance from Afar Made Easier: 10 Tips for a Happier Outcome

It can be awkward to give someone tough feedback when they’re miles away. And that’s the least of it. Without visual cues, the delivery of even the most well-meaning and thoughtful performance feedback can have the opposite effect. It can damage relationships, erode trust, sap motivation, and in reality, it can actually weaken performance, instead …

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It’s What People Aren’t Saying That Leaders Most Need to Hear

We’ve seen many leaders win promotions simply because they excel at managing upwards. You know the type: They grab the plum projects for themselves, doling out the routine work to others. Since they want to demonstrate their effectiveness to their managers, they pressure team members to achieve performance targets at any cost. They spend little …

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Avoiding the High Cost of Ambiguous Decisions

Imagine this: You are leading your weekly team meeting, and you have just five minutes left to galvanize people around a critical decision that will affect thousands of people. After quickly summarizing the various positions, you declare that you believe the group has decided to move ahead. When you solicit final comments or concerns, not a …

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Just Because You’re Silent, You May Not Be Really Listening

Chances are, you probably think you’re a pretty good listener. Most of us do. We aren’t the type to interrupt our colleagues, trounce on someone else’s ideas, or whip out a mobile device in the midst of a conversation (at least not in plain view!). So we must be good listeners, right? Well, maybe not. …

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Turn 9 Common Virtual Meeting Misconceptions Inside Out

When people evaluate the quality of their typical virtual meetings on a scale of 1-10, the average response we get tends to hover somewhere between 3 and 4. (And that’s progress, compared to a few years ago!) After all this time, why do virtual meetings still have such a bad rap? Are they really that …

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Flip Your (Virtual) Meetings – Learning from Our Best Teachers

To stave off boredom and stimulate learning that lasts longer than a class period, my kids’ teachers are experimenting with “flipped classrooms.” Rather than lecturing at kids with a bunch of PowerPoints during the precious classroom time, the teachers assign the content in advance, usually by having the kids view content online, whether in the …

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Using Technology to Transcend Cultural Barriers

“I followed every best practice about running great virtual meetings, and bam! The whole thing still blew up in my face, and I have no idea why!” My client Jim, a senior leader for a F500 oil company, left this panic-stricken voicemail right after his kick-off meeting to launch a major new global project. I …

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Making Virtual Meetings Come Alive: It’s Everyone’s Job!

Some topics are just way too important to relegate to a virtual meeting. You can’t have critical conversations if you’re not eye-to-eye. If you need to make real progress, you’ve got to sit down together, roll up your sleeves and just get it done. If any of these statements ring true, then this edition of Communiqué …

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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 …

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7 Ways to Keep Stakeholders Close in a Virtual World

Maybe it’s a complete system replacement, a complicated reporting structure or a new business process. Whatever the change your organization is rolling out, dozens  (if not thousands) of lives may be upended. You know that to make sure everything goes smoothly, you must reach out to those most affected by the change. Trouble is, most …

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Breaking the Wall of Silence in a Virtual World

If you have ever led a virtual meeting, this scenario is familiar: You pose a brilliant provocative question, hoping to trigger a flurry of insightful responses. And instead, you hear….Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. (Apart from crickets, that is.) So what’s your next step? Do you ask the same question again, louder? Beg people to stop …

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7 Tips for Avoiding Another Epic (Project) Fail

I really hate it when one of my projects doesn’t exactly go as planned. Happily, this rarely happens, so when it does, I tend to obsess over it, replaying the events ad infinitum. When a recent project seemed to fall short of expectations, I devoted countless hours (okay, maybe a few days) to understanding what …

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8 Ways to Stop Interruptions from Derailing Your Next Virtual Meeting

Virtual meeting etiquette is universal, right? Pretty much everyone knows that it’s rude to interrupt, disrespectful to openly multitask when someone’s speaking, and inconsiderate to allow background noise to disrupt the conversation. Or do they???? In this edition of Communiqué, I explore practical steps that virtual meeting leaders can take to anticipate and effectively handle interruptions …

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Don’t Leave Remote Participants Hanging: 8 Tips for a Meeting of Equals

Let’s face it: It’s almost impossible to make remote callers feel like they’re on equal footing with people who are gathered in the conference room for the big meeting. But with some thoughtful planning, you can come pretty close. I felt compelled to write this  Communiqué after a dismal experience I had recently as a remote …

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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 …

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10 Tips for Uber-Efficient Meetings – Making Every Minute Count

No question: We waste a lot of time in meetings when we could be getting more important work done. But sometimes there’s just no substitute for real-time conversations. Emails, instant messages and shared portals can only take you so far, especially when you’re pressured to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. How we …

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Stop Playing Favorites for a Stronger (Virtual) Team

Most sports coaches say that one of the hardest parts of their job is to coax the best from each player. But when some players are bigger, stronger or faster than their teammates, leveling the playing field becomes a lot tougher. When the pressure is on, it’s tempting to put your best players on the …

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