Leadership Tip of the week #83
It’s important to encourage your colleagues to take time off.
Make it clear to them that this is a business issue — not just a personal one.
Use a few minutes in a team meeting to share some of the research on the benefits of holidayies, such as higher productivity and less stress. Then keep track of how many holiday days colleagues have taken, and periodically update the team so that they know this issue matters to you.
When people do take time off, tell them that you don’t want them checking email or voicemail, and that you’ll keep a list of things that come up for when they’re back.
And if someone on your team isn’t taking their vacation time, bring it up during their next development discussion.
Most important of all, be a good role model: Take full, disconnected holidays so that your team will, too.
Have a great Easter break….
Adapted from “How to Get Your Team to Use Their Vacation Time,” by Liane Davey
How to Get Through to a Bad Listener
Leadership Tip of the week# 82
adapted from HBR
It’s frustrating to work with someone who doesn’t listen.
Whether your colleague interrupts you, rambles on, or seems distracted, the impact is the same: You feel ignored, and the chances of misunderstandings increase.
But you can encourage your colleague to listen better by emphasizing the importance of your message up front.
Before starting a conversation, say: “I have to talk to you about something important, and I need your help.”
This sends a signal to your colleague that they need to pay attention.
As frustrating as it may be, you may also need to make your point multiple times, in multiple ways. Be transparent about what you’re doing.
You might say: “I want to repeat this, because I want to make sure it’s understood.”
Then follow up with: “Does that make sense?”
That way you can know your message has been heard.
Adapted from “How to Work with a Bad Listener,” by Rebecca Knight
Leadership Tip of Week # 81
adapted from HBR
If you and your team are facing a chronic challenge, you might be tempted to take control and vehemently argue for the solution you think will work, or to offer ideas indirectly and let your team take ownership of the issue.
Neither of these extremes is optimal.
Instead, try an approach that combines conviction and openness — that way others can come up with solutions that build on your best thinking.
- With your team, talk about the persistence of the issue, what solutions have failed, and why.
- Explain that you want them to choose the solution with you.
- Make it clear that you are looking for new ideas, not a defense of failed solutions or rehashed versions of what you’ve already tried.
- Build a set of measurable criteria with which you can evaluate options.
- Admit any biases you have for particular solutions, and ask the team to treat those ideas no differently than their own.
- Rate all ideas, including yours, against the established criteria
- Most important, be open about the assumptions underlying your views.
Adapted from “Stress Leads to Bad Decisions. Here’s How to Avoid Them,” by Ron Carucci
Leadership Tip of the week # 80
adapted from HBR
We all want to find meaning in what we do. As a manager, you can help your team members foster this inner sense of purpose by asking them a few simple questions:
- What are you good at? What do you take on because you believe you’re the best person to do it? What have you gotten noticed for throughout your career? The idea here is to help people identify their strengths.
- What do you enjoy? In a typical workweek, what do you look forward to doing? These questions help people find or rediscover what they love about work.
- What feels most useful? Which work outcomes make you proudest? Which of your tasks are most critical to the team or organization? The answers can highlight the inherent value of certain work.
- What creates a sense of forward momentum?How is your work today getting you closer to what you want? The point here is to show people how their current role helps them advance toward future goals.
It’s not always easy to guide others toward purpose, but these questions can help.
Adapted from “5 Questions to Help Your Employees Find Their Inner Purpose,” by Kristi Hedges
When Leading a Turnaround,
Focus on the Future, Not the Past
Leadership Tip of Week #79
When you’re brought in to turn around a team or business unit, the deck might feel as if it’s stacked against you.
If your predecessor failed, how will you succeed?
First off, to effectively lead a turnaround, resist the temptation to emotionally distance yourself from the situation — you are part of this team, so embrace it. And minimize references to your past successes; while you should draw on what’s worked for you before, no one in a struggling organization likes to hear “This is how we did it at my old company.”
To help keep your colleagues’ anxiety down, be transparent about how you’ll make changes and on what kind of timeline.
But don’t be afraid to push back if they offer ideas that you don’t believe will lead to positive change. You want to clean up the mess, not create another one.
Talk About Skills When Talking About Promotions
Leadership Tip of the week #78
adapted from HBR
Conversations about promotions can be tense — both for the person asking and for you, the manager.
Your first instinct might be to consider whether the employee is a “good fit” for the new role, but it’s better to focus on their skills.
Ask yourself, What will the person need to do the job well? Then communicate the answer to your employee. For example, you might say: “You would need to develop expertise with Tableau,” or Excel, or giving presentations.
That is a far simpler message to deliver than “I don’t know if you’re equipped to be a manager yet.”
By breaking down the role into the required skills, you’ll demystify the promotion and make it more attainable for the employee.
Plus, a request to learn new skills is much easier, and quicker, for you to grant.
Adapted from “How to Support Employees’ Learning Goals While Getting Day-to-Day Stuff Done,” Nick Gidwani
Solve a Problem: Think About Worst Possible Solution
Leadership Tip of the Week #77
Adapapted from HBR
If you need to come up with a new idea, stop trying to think of the best one.
Instead, imagine the worst idea possible:
- What would be the wrong way to solve this problem?
- What do our customers absolutely not want?
- How could we make all of our stakeholders angry?
Try to come up with ideas that would get you laughed at (or maybe even fired), and then work backward from there to find new ways of solving the problem.
This process, called “wrong thinking” or “reverse thinking,” isn’t always easy to do. You can start by trying to see the problem as a beginner would. What would someone who knows nothing about the context suggest?
When you give yourself permission to have bad ideas, you often come up with the best ones.
Adapted from “To Come Up with a Good Idea, Start by Imagining the Worst Idea Possible,” by Ayse Birsel