Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How Managers can Become Awesome Coaches

Can a manager learn to be an effective coach? Yes! But they have to be willing to let go of some assumptions and pick up some new skills.
Read my latest post over at to find out how.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

You Don’t Need a Position or a Title to be a Great Leader

You don't need a formal position or a title to be a leader. Read Scott Edinger’s guest post over at to find out what it takes to be a "hidden leader".

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Don't Expect Your Employees to be Mind Readers!

All employees want to know “what’s expected of me”, and any manager should be able to answer this question.

Explaining performance expectations is important to employees, it improves productivity, and it doesn’t cost a dime.
So then why are so many employees still being kept in the dark when it comes to figuring out what’s important to their managers? Why won’t managers do it?

Read my latest post over at Management and Leadership to learn a simple yet effective way to develop employee performance expectations so they don’t have to be mind readers.

Monday, February 16, 2015

11 Essential Employee Questions That Every Manager Should Know How to Answer

There are 11 basic, fundamental, essential employee questions that every manager should be able to instantly answer.

Go to Management and Leadership to find out what they are.

See if you can, and if not, maybe it’s time to find out for yourself!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

8 Ways to Decisively End Indecision

Guest post by Scott Mautz:
In this increasingly more with less business world, we can’t afford to let our employees be more or less checked out.  And yet an astonishing 70% are just that, disengaged at work, according to Gallup polls.  It’s almost impossible not to disengage when toiling in the paralysis of indecision.  It’s hard to imagine anything more meaning and motivation draining, more bereft of a sense of significance, or anything simply more frustrating.
Deciding not to decide has a price. A big one.
It can create doubt, uncertainty, lack of focus, and even resentment.  Multiple options can linger, sapping an organization’s energy and killing a sense of completion.  Timelines stretch while costs skyrocket.
But none of us are indecisive on purpose.  We’re not evil.  Indecision can be borne from a pragmatic desire for more data, which when overdone can cross over into perfectionism.  Some of us are unwilling to compromise until we see an option that contains no trade-offs. The failure of a deciding body to feel a sense of accountability can grind things to a halt.  Fear of making a wrong decision can come into play as well.  We can lose sight of what the objective behind a decision is in the first place, confusing ourselves in the process and overcomplicating the choice to be made.   Some of us lack confidence to make a firm decision.
Whatever the cause, the corrosive effect is inescapable.  As leaders, we can do better.  Here’s how to put an end to indecision, with authority.
1. Meter your emotions
Sometimes our emotions can get in the way of making a decision, causing us to gloss over facts right in front of us or creating a desperate search for information to support the decision we really want to make.  Countering indecision may require accepting inevitabilities much sooner while refusing to let emotions cloud the realities at hand.
2. Step back and evaluate the true impact of a wrong decision
Fear of making an incorrect decision can paralyze the well-meaning manager.  At such times, step back and ask “What is the worst thing that could happen in the long run if this decision turns out to be wrong?”  Such a question may unveil that the consequences aren’t that dire after all, and may well net much more decisiveness. Getting comfortable with the possibility of being wrong can actually help the right decisions happen faster.
3. Consider the risks/costs of not doing something
Asking the question, “What are the risks/costs of not making a decision?” may create awareness of the pitfalls that would otherwise be glossed over.  It may become obvious that budgets will run over, competitors will gain precious time for counter plans, or that resources will have to be further stretched and kept from working on some other priority.
4. Act with self-assurance
Acting with self-confidence and a “you have to break some eggs to make an omelet” mindset is one of the greatest enablers for making a decision.  Self-doubt or worrying about what others expect you to decide can cripple a decision in progress.  Self-confidence helps bolster the internal fortitude to make the tough calls, as well as the external reception of the decision once made.  Ever watch someone arrive at a decision, but they do so in a manner riddled with visible self-doubt?  These are the decisions most unlikely to stick.
5. Rediscover the plot
Sometimes simply stepping back and getting some distance from a problem and refreshing yourself on the importance or objective of a decision to be made can be tremendously helpful.  What seemed like a huge call to be made might reorient itself and shrink vastly in size.  Revisiting the objective behind  the decision to be made may provide a useful reorientation and illuminate a very clear choice amongst a set of options.  And granting some time, space, and distance can help the fog of being too close to clear, making way for a re-energized and decisive point of view to emerge.
6. Don’t vacillate in a vacuum, step back & seek advice
Indecision can arise from the constant rehashing of the same set of data, input, or experiences.  Therefore, indecision can be conquered with exposure to new perspective from other stakeholders or from someone not as close to the decision.  Having someone else to play devil’s advocate, counter your biases, and bring different experiences to the table can help break the stalemate.
7. Set time bound parameters for making the call
When left to our own device, it is only natural for us to take as much time as we can to decide something. Establishing tension in the form of time limitations can help stimulate decision making.  Concrete, time bound parameters (with some teeth to them) can force the perfectionist or those who want it all to compromise and let go a bit.
8. Sharp discussions net sharp decisions
We’ve all been in meetings where a decision is supposed to be made but in fact you are left with no sense of tangible forward progress.  The discussion seems circular, someone hijacks the meeting and launches into an unfocused or politically motivated soliloquy, or everyone and anyone jumps in with points that aren’t even fully on topic.  Free-for-alls like this distract the decider and throw the decision making process off course.  The deciding manager needs to be prepared to run a disciplined and pointed meeting that drives towards a decision by asking the right questions, controlling the discussion flow, reigning in where necessary, and expanding discussion where appropriate to get all the information, options, and points of view out on the table.
Scott Mautz is author of Make It Matter: How Managers Can Motivate by Creating Meaning (March 4th, 2015), an award winning keynote speaker,  and a 20+ year veteran of Procter & Gamble, having run several thriving, multi-billion dollar divisions along the way.  Connect with Scott at 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Guide to Management and Leadership Assessment Centers

What is a management or leadership assessment center? Do they really work? Who does them? How much do they cost? Are there less expensive alternatives? Read more over at Management and Leadership to find out.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Burning Questions About Leadership

What exactly is a leader? How do you define leadership? What are the qualities of a leader? Is leadership the same as management? Read more over at Management and Leadership to find out.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I See Clearly Now

Guest post by S. Chris Edmonds:

I got new reading glasses this week. I can see!

It’s been four years since I got my last pair. During that time my old readers have been scratched up, sat upon, bent, and generally mistreated during real life around here (and on the road).

I’d gotten used to those glasses. They worked pretty well at my computer desk but weren’t so good with my iPad - my arms just weren’t long enough.

I finally broke down and got an eye exam this month. The right prescription works wonders! The clarity of the written word and images, up close and 20” away, is astounding.

Why did I wait so long?

I think I waited because I was so comfortable with my viewpoint. My vision was “good.” I tolerated poor sight up close because I thought that was OK.

The reality was I was missing the details. I was misreading what was in front of me too often. If I couldn’t quite read it clearly, I made assumptions about what it said.

I think us leaders do that all the time.

We get comfortable with our viewpoint. Our understanding of our team environment is “OK.” We tolerate missing the details and making assumptions because that approach has worked “OK” for us for years.

Yet our great bosses didn’t get comfortable with their viewpoint. They used a variety of activities to stay connected to what was really happening with their team. They observed meetings and interactions with colleagues. They watched interactions with customers. They held numerous two-minute check in discussions with players at all levels.

These connection and observation activities enabled our great bosses to get reliable, valid, accurate information about how the team was operating and how the team was performing, every day.

They sought out perspectives of many different players, even customers and suppliers, to gain as clear and as accurate a picture of what was happening day to day.

Our great bosses rarely assumed anything. They got up from their desk, engaged people, and learned what was “real” from those dozens - maybe hundreds - of conversations over time.

They knew which team members were putting in the time and effort to move the organization forward and to serve customers effectively. They knew which team members were not.

Our great bosses engaged us frequently to learn where our pain points were - and they acted to reduce or remove those frustrations if they could.

They invited our ideas about improving the workflow, increasing efficiency, and eliminating dumb practices. They acted on those ideas of ours that made sense.

We could see our great bosses’ efforts to ensure they were seeing things “as they were” as opposed to how they assumed things were operating. Their efforts to understand our reality boosted our engagement, our service to others, and our performance.

Don’t get too comfortable with your viewpoint. Get away from your office and engage. Learn pain points and remove them where you can.

And, get an eye exam every year. I can see clearly now!

S. Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of
The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year career leading and managing teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. Since 1995, Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn how to craft workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution in Chris’ latest book, The Culture Engine. His blog, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos can be found at Join Chris in Denver for his Culture Leadership Roundtable starting in March ’15.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Workplace Professionalism

Most employees don’t want to work with what feels like an office full of chimpanzees.

What does it mean to demonstrate workplace professionalism? What does unprofessional workplace behavior look like?

While it may be hard to define in a simple sentence, we know it when we see it. And we sure as heck know it when its missing, and you can even lose your job for not having it.

In addition to competence, here are 10 more characteristics that define workplace professionalism.

What can a manager do to create and maintain a professional workplace environment? Plenty!

Read more to find out how.
I hope your favorite team won the Super Bowl, you won your squares, enjoyed the commercials, or just had a good time watching with friends or family!