Archive for Mgmt. Articles

Workplace Communication – Giving Negative Feedback

When giving negative feedback keep in mind the type of feedback you are providing:

* Is it to find a solution to a disagreement?

* Is it directions or information to shift a project that is going off course?

* Is it to express dissatisfaction concerning work, behavior, or productivity?

Asking these questions and making the distinction helps you keep focused on the response and behavior you are seeking. It’s easy to get distracted or go off course especially when your listener starts defending his position.

Try it. Leave your comments.

*This tip comes from my forthcoming book, “Misunderstood! The Fast Guide to Communicating at Work–What to Say, How to Say it and When to Shut-Up! Watch for it.

Misunderstandings in the Workplace – How to Clarify Expectations and Meet Goals

A common complaint from managers revolves around unmet expectations from direct reports and their teams. Similarly, workers complain that expectations are not clear and leave too much room for misunderstandings and assumptions.

Here is a look at some root problems and solutions:

Problem: Failure to clarify the desired results assuming the outcome is understood.

Management is often working within a larger framework with information that has not been made available to their direct reports. Think of this information as the missing pieces that complete the puzzle picture. The manager’s expected result is to reproduce the picture with all the parts as he sees it. Misunderstandings arise when the picture in the manager’s head does not match the picture they have painted for their direct reports.

Solution:

1. Clarify the expectations. Paint a picture in as many ways as possible-visually, verbally and vocally. Give a comparison to a known entity, if possible. “It should look like X with this adjustment.”

2. Clearly state the required details-the non-negotiable conditions.

3. Confirm interpretation and actions. Ask what was heard. Ask what that means. Ask what actions will be taken. Allow creativity and leeway to do the job as long as the end result is the same.

Problem: Systems and tools don’t function as needed and departments don’t work together.

Solution: Read more

Leadership–10 Qualities for Success

dreamstimefree_4260686Leadership requires  far more than a list of 10 qualities but for the sake of space and feedback I’ve listed a few I don’t usually see mentioned.

It goes without saying that the broad category of  communication skills is a quality I believe every leader needs to succeed so I’ve chosen not to put it on my list.  I  consider communication skills to include speaking, presenting, selling and  persuading. I did, however, include listening on my list simply because some things require emphasis.

Here’s my list:
1. Active Listening Skills--and being able to ask “is there anything more?”
2. Empathy–and having a deep understanding of priorities (using the 10,10,10 method)
3. Inspirational–being able to create an environment that supports motivated people
4. Courage–and the conviction to carry out intentions and tough decisions when it really counts
5. Clarity of intention–and the insight to question your motives
6. Servant Leadership–and the wisdom to know what that means
7. Humor–and humility, they often travel hand-in-hand
8. Vision–and the ability to enroll your team in the journey
9. Vitality–even the physically incapacitated can possess the extraordinary mental vigor to lead
10.Confidence–not arrogance but faith in your abilities to lead

and 10+ Trustworthiness and Moral Fortitude

Your thoughts?

Communicating at Work – Negotiating and Persuasive Conversations

dreamstimefree_3471831Negotiate anything, anytime.

Negotiations and persuasive communication are the skills most requested by business professionals. Communicating in the workplace requires tact, awareness, timing and the right words.

Here are three more key elements for successful negotiating and persuasive conversations:

1.  Keep control of your emotions.

Negotiations trigger your emotions when you fail to realize that you are an adult speaking to another adult. Too frequently people fall into the “child-to-adult” role where pleading replaces negotiating. If you find that your emotions are surfacing excuse yourself from the situation rather than blundering ahead while blubbering. Get a hold of yourself–you’re an adult.

2.  Know what you want–specifically.

Don’t leave the details of your request up to someone else. I once negotiated the terms of my firing. (Yes, everything is negotiable!) I was young and caught off guard (most people are) and found myself losing control. (see #1 above) I stated that I wanted further discussion but that I needed to leave the building for a short time. This gave me time to make decisions about what would serve me best in the next few weeks. I came back and asked for  1.) an office 2.) in another building where I could make calls 3.) a receptionist that would receive and forward my calls without comment and 4.) at least 3 weeks to conduct my job search. I don’t know where I got the nerve to ask for this but I felt the firing was unjustified. I got everything. And I got a job with a 43% increase within a week. Know what you want.

3.  Know who you are talking to.

Will you be speaking to a dominant personality with a tendency toward angry outbursts? Or will you be lucky enough to be engaging a logical person or someone with high empathy? Tailor your communication to the behavior type you’ll be persuading or negotiating with.

Negotiating is a learned skill necessary for business success. Invest some time to learn the language and you’ll begin to feel at ease in any persuasive conversation.

The Top 5 Things I Learned as a Sales Manager

1095397_thanks___ 1. No matter how ridiculous the behavior from employees never forget the underlying emotion is always fear.

I’ve seen tipsy job candidates as well as drunk-as-a-lord employees. Tears in the workplace—far too many to count. Witnessing even one employee’s full-out, red-faced, nose-running tantrum that scared the living daylights out of customers  is more than enough. Lying—seems to go with the territory. Back-stabbing behavior followed by incredulous “who-me” denials from that one off-kilter worker–not uncommon.

It’s important to remember that fear is the grand motivator and a universal human behavior. This belief has saved my sanity.

2. Customers – see above.

The old saying “buyers are liars” comes to mind.  I’ve listened to customers denying ever signing a contract even when presented with the document not only signed but initialed in three places.  Refusing to accept delivery. Bounced checks. Stealing.  All routine.

I’ve seen enough to jade me for life unless I put it all into perspective. Grateful, appreciative, understanding, referral-giving customers outweighed the wacky ones by far. I discovered that taping a glowing note or two from a good client where I could  frequently see was helpful.

3. You’re responsible for the whole shebang.

Just own it. I’ve dealt with drug addicts parked at the back door and snakes slithering across the front entrance. The remnants of sodden ceiling panels spattered on furniture, imported rugs and public walkways—when they could no longer hold their weight—simply meant having the local 24-hour cleaning service on speed-dial. Until the AC unit got fixed (correctly) this was a weekly event.

Electrical problems, smoke-filled showrooms and 100-degree offices became as trivial as jammed copiers and dead phone service.

I’ve dragged myself out of bed at 3:00 a.m. to answer alarm calls a dozen times only to discover—well, nothing much. Chandeliers crashing to the floor from their tether in the stockroom will surely set off a motion detector but are really nothing to become alarmed about, especially after the second or third time.

I learned that you’ll be on a first-name basis with the police, fire and E.M.T. departments so it’s best to cultivate a friendly smile.

4. Appreciation and creative latitude produces the best work.

I’ve witness pure genius and remarkable solutions produced when the freedom to innovate is present.

5. You leave a little mark on everyone.

Remember who you are and where you are.  You’ll never know what indelible  impression you’ll leave on someone. A careless remark uttered under stress may be regrettable. A few words of encouragement and understanding marks you as human. A note of gratitude from a co-worker—priceless.