Are You One of the Horrible Bosses?

The Monster

The Monster

Not all types of bosses are horrible, but even if you’re trying your best, you might be using methods that don’t translate to your employees with the same intention you think they do. Let us help you figure out what type(s) of boss you might be and how you can make some minor adjustments to improve your relationship with the team.

The Buddy

Are you trying hard to be friends with your team? Making jokes, being lenient about the rules, planning fun events to bond over? While levity has its place in the office, make sure you’re not using your coolness to detract from actually taking care of your team where it matters. Free pizza might be a nice bonus on a Friday afternoon but if those tactics distract you from being knowledgeable and reliable during the rest of the day, you might need to reprioritize. Your employees are seeing through it, whether you want to believe it or not.

The Phantom

Are you always on some kind of business trip or locked away behind the closed door of your office? Being a trusted manager means you need to put in some face time with your team. Don’t leave the team searching for guidance and coming up short because they can’t find you or know how to approach you. Being present and engaging is important.

The Manipulator

Do you find yourself making promises you can’t keep just to appease a situation? You’re likely causing more harm than good. Lip service from a manager is one of the most frustrating things for an employee to endure and when they don’t get the promotion you promised, your tactics will backfire quickly. Be an honest advocate for your team; they’ll understand your limitations, you don’t have to play mind games.

The Softy

If you think you’re making it easier on your employees to use kid-gloves when managing, you’re not. Eventually the overall needs of the business will catch up to you and your team alike, and by then everyone will feel too overwhelmed to be productive. Being the boss means making difficult decisions. If you’re too nice to make those decisions, you’ll end up molding a lazy team that will grow to disrespect you in no time. Give your team the chance to be proactive rather than reactive.

The Monster

Don’t be a softy, but don’t be harsh on your team, either. People skills are crucial to your success as a manager and if you’re missing general human decency, perhaps you should consider a role where you interact less with coworkers. Shaming your staff or being unnecessarily difficult when it comes to work challenges or personal issues will provide you with a fearful, resentful, unproductive group of employees. Not everyone is cut out to be a manager, if this is particularly difficult for you, it might be time for a change.

Your intentions are probably pure but your methods might not reflect that. Don’t let your own workplace pressures get in the way of how you manage your team. Leadership involves understanding, guidance and the proper perspective; the results you’ll get from the right balance of that will be worth it.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Is It Time To Advance? How to Know When Your Time to Lead Has Come

Corporate-Ladder

Are You Observant?

Whether or not you have a great job, a great boss and a great work ethic, you could be starting to look to take the next step in your career.

While being promoted to boss is a great step up in any business, not everyone has what it takes to be in a leadership role. So if you’re considering a move up the corporate ladder, first see if these management qualities match up to what you bring to the table.

Are you…

Observant?

In order to solve problems, you have to know they’re occurring. Are you able to notice pain points and performance detractors?

This information doesn’t come in a how-to manual; in fact, when you survey your employees, you might even get positive feedback. Don’t take the “no news is good news” approach or even write off a positive report as fact; an astute leader will intuit what’s right and what’s wrong without having to ask. Always follow up on the instincts you have.

Empathetic?

Management is a people business. You can bring great ideas to the table and execute each one with great efficacy but it’s not until you’ve rallied the troops with enthusiasm and productivity that you’ve made it into the big leagues of leadership. In order to motivate, inspire and mentor your employees, you need to be good at understanding people. Without empathy, building relationships with your employees will teeter on impossible.

Don’t confused empathy for sympathy; the latter could be taken advantage of. But being powerfully compassionate when your employees are having a hard time at work or at home can take the individual, the team and your career a long way.

Coachable?

How good will you be at providing learning opportunities to your employees if you can’t accept learning opportunities for yourself?  A person who seeks out feedback and embraces it when delivered, will be much more open to viewing feedback as a helpful process.  Receiving and giving feedback well is a key part of being a skilled leader.  Transparency and sharing honest feedback is part of the coaching process, one that you can deploy with your employees to help them grow.

Skilled?

Now that you’ve got your people skills down, what initiative are you going to take to better the company? Have you had any ideas lingering but previously didn’t have the authority to take it to the right people or get it done?  Now’s your chance. Leading by example is going to make the managerial skills you’ve honed shine all the more.

Not everyone is cut out to be the boss. While you might be ready to move on from your current position, be sure to ask yourself some important questions before deciding if leadership is for you. If you’re not quite there, reach out to a supportive boss or mentor to help steer you in the right direction.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

5 Ways to Tell If You’re Not Listening to Your Team

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Pardon the Interruption

You’ve got a full plate – I won’t try to argue with you on that. But being busy implementing new ideas and meeting your boss’s expectations is no excuse to ignore the people-managing portion of your job.

Your employees are always trying to tell you something whether you want to hear it or not. So how do you know if you’re the kind of boss they feel comfortable bringing honest feedback to, or if you’re the kind of boss they won’t waste their time on?

  1. Pardon the Interruption

Are you interrupting? Assuming? Judging? Distracted?

These are not four qualities of a good listener but they might be qualities of an overworked boss. The key to listening is being quiet; that includes you, your inner monologue and the external distractions. Put the phone away, stop checking your email, just offer your full attention to the matter at hand. Listen with both ears.

  1. Can You Elaborate?

Are you asking more questions and engaging?

Never assume you have information you don’t. If you’re engaged with a concerned employee, ask as many questions as you can until you fully understand the situation. Listen with new ears and you’ll be surprised not just by what new things you learn but by how appreciated your employee will feel.

  1. One More Thing

Are you following up?

Just because the conversation is over, doesn’t mean your involvement is. Failing to remember the discussion can jeopardize your trustworthiness and forgetting to follow up can do even more damage. If the chat concluded with an action item you were supposed to move on, be sure you do it. You’ll hear from your employees less and less if they feel ignored.

  1. If You’re Happy and You Know it

Do you know what your employees want and need to keep them engaged and happy?

Are you familiar with the people on your team enough to know what matters most to them? Perhaps you think a great work incentive is to offer midday snacks to break the 2pm slump but what if Joanie, a tired mother of 3, is on a diet? Perhaps a better treat would be to let your employees off work 15 minutes early. Then Joanie can grab a healthy snack and spend some extra time with the kids before bedtime. An incentive idea might sound great to you but as with most things in life, know your audience. And don’t be surprised if the snack cart doesn’t motivate the way you expected.

  1. Listen with your Eyes

Sometimes your employees will feel too scared or uncomfortable to bring something to your attention directly. Don’t blame them for it. Instead, open your eyes and see if you notice anything about morale, productivity or office politics that might need addressing. Surely you’ve had experiences in the past where you wanted to share something with your boss but didn’t feel comfortable doing so. Did you show any distress signs? Your team is likely going to draw on the same ones when things go wrong.

People want to matter; they want to be heard. One of the most frustrating experiences you could provide an employee is to ignore, patronize or judge their concerns.

Your employees are the expert of their jobs. They’re on the frontlines doing the hands on work. So be sure you’re listening to what they’re trying to communicate to you. It’s imperative that you believe it and it’s imperative that you help them believe it.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

How to Tell if You’re Supporting the Team Proportionately

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Are you evenly divvying up your time?

Are you playing favorites with your employees? Initially you may think that’s a crazy question, but what if your actions told your team a different story?

Managing a variety of personality types may present a unique challenge and one that if ignored, could result in some member of the team feeling less favored and overlooked.

Your job is to treat your employees with fairness in relation to the inherent inequalities that come with the job. In other words, not every employee will be equally motivated or successful; some are bound to be stars, making big sales, working after hours, growing exponentially. That employee should be the first to get approved for a day off; that’s not favoritism, it’s fairness.

But fairness isn’t always as easy as it seems. Here are some ways to notice if you’re treating your employees differently based on all the wrong things.

  • You remind me of me – are you prone to being more inclusive to employee who mostly resembles you? Are you both the same gender, nationality, sexuality or religion? Do you both have kids the same age? Do you look similarly? Come from the same city? Have the same career goals? While these qualities could make it more pleasant to work with the person, giving them special treatment or using them as your go-to based solely on the comfortable feeling they give you would be showing preferential treatment.
  • We have the same outside hobbies – so you both root for the Giants or like listening to classic rock? Maybe you both like golfing a few holes on the weekend. Does this make you more prone to share your work time with this employee? Are you putting them in charge of the new project because you feel you know them a little better? This is preferential treatment.
  • MY boss loves you – ignoring all other factors in effort to play in to your boss’ opinion is a bad idea. If the employee isn’t meeting the requirements of the job and your manager doesn’t see it, playing into their admiration can cause problems in productivity and office morale. Definitely avoid this preferential treatment.
  • Sharing the same vices – don’t let the bond you forge over smoke breaks and coffee breaks give them the one-up on new projects. Once your back in the office, make sure everyone’s on a level playing field.

So you realized you do, in fact, favorite some employees for the wrong reasons. What should you ask yourself to correct the effects?

Are your decisions clear? When you make a tough decision, you might need to explain how you arrived at it to avoid misinterpretations. Implement a standard for assignment delegation: if Bill has accounting experience, he can do the budget. If Mary handles marketing, she gets to go to the marketing seminar.  If Joe has more seniority, he gets the first pick of vacation days.

Are you evenly divvying up your time? A manager’s time is a precious thing, if you find yourself with one go-to employee, you’re probably sending a powerful message. Dividing your time equally, whether weekly, monthly or quarterly will display your commitment to building team relationships. Focused one-on-one check-ins are a great way to begin doing this.

Is everyone aware of their performance and expectations? Are you offering transparent feedback about the performance of your team or are you leaving them guessing? If it’s the latter, you should reconsider. Being up front with how an employee is doing will eliminate the unnecessary ambiguity that might be fueling the fire.

It’s not uncommon for you to have people you prefer to work with, but a leader cannot create an environment where employees feel unimportant, unchallenged and underappreciated. Be careful to sidestep those instinctual favoriting behaviors and re-engage with your team as a whole.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Exit Strategy: How to Seamlessly Handoff Your Role

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Get Your Projects Up to Date

There are several reasons you might be ready to pack it in at work; finding a new job, taking a temporary leave or being laid off. Each situation warrants its own level of sensitivity but whether you’re leaving by choice, circumstance or temporarily, aiding in the transitioning process can be the mutually beneficial happy ending everyone deserves.

You might be checked out, you might be tired, you might even be angry, but leaving your job on good terms is a must in this work climate.   Assisting in the job handoff is a great way to show your professionalism.

When You’re the One Leaving

Get your projects up to date – if you clean up the backlog as much as possible before the transition takes effect, your incoming replacement will be able to learn and adjust with more ease. It won’t be possible to finish everything, but don’t start abandoning your work just yet.

Gather tips and info for your replacement – A quick guide about the ins and outs of the systems, processes and insider tips that will make their transition go smoothly will offer a big impact to the team, your manager and the company. It’s an insight you can offer easily that will go a long way.

Connect with business associates – it’s a great idea to introduce your contacts to your new replacement so they’re comfortable with the transition as well. Clients and colleagues alike would appreciate hearing from you to know you’ll be stepping down and someone else will be taking your place.

Prepare for your new role – don’t forget to prepare for your upcoming new job. It’s important to help handoff your current role but your future success depends on you taking the time to get ready for the next step of your career. Be sure to find the right balance.

 

When Your Employee Is the One Leaving

Don’t assign new work – managers should be careful to not assign any new work that isn’t completely necessary. If your exiting employee is willing to stick around and help in the transition, it’s important you don’t take advantage of that. Delegate the projects properly without bogging down the person on their way out.

Work together on a To-Do list – work with your employee on the things you’d like them to help you with before their exit, such as any pressing projects that need completion or final loose ends to tie down. Be sure to check in with them so they can tell you if it’s feasible in the given time frame.

Check in often – it’s important to maintain communication with them at this point. How are they managing their transition work? Do they need help? Be a supportive presence to encourage the handoff goes smoothly for both them and their replacement.

 

Whether you’re leaving or a member of your team is on their way out, a role transition is important for everyone involved. Be patient, supportive and work together to make it a seamless change.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Conflict Management at the Executive Level

Conflict-Management

Claim your responsibility

A leader reaches their post in the corporate structure because they’re strong; strong-willed, strong-minded, strong-armed. While those qualities may be a great asset to the job in many circumstances, it may be a detriment when it comes to conflict.

Even the most seasoned leaders can find themselves butting heads with other company decision-makers. With so much at stake and such powerful people at the wheel, any conflict big or small could cause quite the office battle.

But it’s important for leaders to keep their cool and still be able to carry out the tasks and people-managing their job requires. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re facing an executive conflict of your own.

Acknowledge what this conflict is costing you

Your power of influence could be compromised while in the throes of an executive conflict. Even if you’ve managed to keep your struggle quiet, employees can tell when their leaders are under the wrong kind of pressure. How are your direct reports looking at you? Is your management influence taking a hit?

How is your boss perceiving your behavior? Are you carrying yourself well during this contest? Don’t let the disagreement cost you your job or your respect. Stay connected to your day-to-day priorities which should include your colleagues.

Claim your responsibility

It’s hard to admit fault, especially if you really haven’t committed any powerful wrongdoing. But it’s important to adjust your perspective to include your own shortcomings and how they may have an effect on the conflict. Have you broken any agreements or fell back on accountability? Now’s the time to claim your part in this conflict.  Admitting to wrongdoing and working toward fixing it is always a mutually beneficial thing to do, so be sure you’re in good standing with your colleagues, direct reports and manager.

Have the Talk

It may be time for you and your disagreeing colleague to sit down mano-a-mano and discuss the conflict face-to-face. It should be possible to resolve an executive conflict internally; after all, leading by example is something you’ve mastered by now. If you’re taking a meeting to discuss the challenges at hand, be sure to adhere to a few peace-keeping guidelines:

  • Avoid accusations – there’s nothing productive about egging someone on. You may think you’re right, but that doesn’t make the other party any more wrong.
  • Use “I” statements – you can’t speak for anybody but yourself.
  • Set a goal – consider something you can agree on: a goal to reach a solution. Don’t rehash your disagreeing viewpoints, speak productively with the best interest of the company and employees in mind.

Conflict is always a challenge no matter the time, place or risks involved. It’s especially hard when you’re in a position of authority and all eyes are on you. And when the benefit of the company is at stake because executives can’t find common ground, a lot more than just your pride is on the line. So take it slow and remember you’re all experienced, educated human beings – you’ve got this.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

5 Steps to Manage Effective Meetings

So you’ve held a lot of meetings in your career and haven’t gotten any complaints yet? It’s still a worthy idea to explore our check list and make sure you’re doing everything you can to hold valuable, engaging meetings that don’t waste too much time.

  1. Make It Matter

This may seem like an obvious one but we’ve all sat through those meetings where we wondered why we were there in the first place. Asking employees and colleagues away from their desk for any extended amount of time should be done with purpose, so make sure you have an agenda, a goal and only invite the necessary team members. If your meeting topic can be handled easily in an email, opt for that instead.

  1. What Was That Part About an Agenda?

Before the meeting even begins, when it’s just an idea and a blip on your calendar, you should be compiling information and ideas. Outline your topics and define your goals and then distribute that to the team prior to the meeting so they can prepare anything they might want to add or ask. If everyone goes into the meeting on the same page, imagine how much more could be gained and time could be saved.

  1. Ask For Input

Meetings shouldn’t consistently be lectures where you stand up and blurt out information and everyone else listens. Everyone gets more out of the conference if you allow for collaboration and sharing. If you’re presenting an idea about a certain task or department, ask those who already do that task or work in that department what their input is.

  1. … But Keep in Charge

It’s great if you hold the types of meetings where people can just speak up when they have something to add, but sometimes this can prove problematic. If an argument erupts or someone starts to take over the meeting to prove their own point, you’ll want to step in and take back the reigns. Efficient conversation is good, a hostile takeover is not.

  1. End it with Action

Before everyone leaves the room, ensure you’ve been clear about the next steps. What are the actionable items that need to be executed to accomplish the goals you discussed during the meeting? Who will be in charge of which action items? What’s the time frame for completion? Who will they report to in the process? Be clear about these expectations and be sure to follow up, otherwise your meeting was just hot air.

So in just 5 easy steps, you can take your meetings from inefficient and one-sided to productive, team-building sessions.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Too Social or Not Social Enough: How to Balance Your Workplace Connections

Mixing Business with Pleasure

Mixing Business with Pleasure

Being too social at work can result in a lack of productivity, office distractions and drama. But being the lone wolf can result in missed opportunities, a lack of team building and negativity. So how do you keep a social balance in the workplace?

Mixing Business with Pleasure

There’s a time and a place for personal conversation while at work. Asking a coworker how their weekend was could be a quick and friendly way to engage before the week starts off, but it could also turn into a loud, long-lasting discussion about family drama or recent vacations.

Sharing too much personal information with coworkers can be inappropriate, especially if it’s not a lateral relationship, so be careful how much you divulge. But be sure to not cause consistent distractions to those around you or to yourself.

Social Media

In this technological age, being social at work can also mean being social online. Are you spending more time checking your Facebook likes and Tweeting about coworkers than you are actually putting in work time? Are you messaging your colleague 3 cubicles away about the lunch menu and how hard your boss has been on you? Not only can this be monitored and subsequently get you in trouble, your productivity level will speak for itself. Catch up on emails and chit chat during lunch breaks and make sure you’re staying focused on the job at hand the rest of the time.

Don’t Skip an Opportunity

Here’s where the real balance comes in. Say your office holds a mingle, an off-site after work social event or a special lunch celebration – are you partaking? You may not love dearly the people you work with, but office social events are a great excuse to actually share your personal side guilt-free. You’re not wasting the company’s time or money yet you’re team building with the peers you rely on 9-5. Taking part in the social opportunities may also introduce you to other team members of executives you didn’t know before and that could lead to other success possibilities.

Balance is Key

So you don’t want to share your life story while on the clock, cause tension between team members or create a massive office distraction, but you also don’t want to miss networking opportunities and chances to shine. Keep your social media use to a minimum while at work and share appropriate amounts at appropriate times and you’re sure to win the hearts and minds of your colleagues.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Are Your Work Habits Slowing You Down?

Not Being a Team Player

Not Being a Team Player

Nobody’s perfect and we all come chock full of our own personal bad habits. But what if your undesirable habits are piling up and creating a case against your work success?

If you think you might be committing some office faux pas and are interested in making some small steps to improvement, ask yourself if any of the following bad habits ring true for you:

Exaggerating the Truth

You may feel you need to “prove yourself” at work and talk up all of your achievements, but are you sure you’re being 100% honest? Misrepresenting your credentials, accomplishments, hours worked, or actively plagiarizing won’t bode well for you once coworkers and bosses start to catch on. If your teammate had a big win, did you take credit for it? Have you been misusing expense accounts? These are questions to ask yourself to ensure your integrity remains, because without it, your road to success will be a bumpy one.

Negativity

Are you the person in the office that constantly bats down ideas, talks about coworkers behind their backs and complains about the tasks you are assigned? If so, you’re contributing to a diminished office morale. Whether or not your colleagues recognize you immediately as a source, eventually it will become clear that the negative energy in the office is stemming from you. Not only will you lose the trust of your peers, you’ll lose the respect of your boss. When the time comes for a promotion, your negativity won’t get you ahead.

Not Being a Team Player

Networking with your colleagues, sharing ideas and working together on projects is an important way to grow, learn and get ahead. If you’re finding that you seclude yourself from group scenarios, avoid office social events or act too independently on your tasks, you’re sending some powerful signals to those around you. Those that aren’t team players tend to get less support when issues arise.

Here are some other bad habits to be on the lookout for:

  • Procrastination
  • Addiction to Facebook/social media
  • Inefficiency
  • Rudeness
  • Inattentiveness
  • Tardiness/Excessive Absence

If you find yourself guilty of more than just a few of these, you may want to consider what effect your behavior, whether unintentional or not, is having on your chances of success. You may think you’re getting away with your actions but it’s only a matter of time before they start holding you back.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Are You A Master Problem Solver? 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

No matter your job title or executive level, problem solving comes included. It might be the part of the job that no one ever trained you on and isn’t exactly written in your role description, but you need to be on your game for the sake of the company, the customers and your career.

I’ve compiled a list of six questions to ask yourself as a means to reflect on your past attempts at problem solving and to keep you on track in your future ones.

  1. Have you clearly identified the issue?

A problem can’t be solved if you haven’t been honest about the details, as difficult as it may be. Don’t sidestep the tricky parts; put it all right out there on the table.

  1. Do you consider all parties?

Different people in different roles in different departments have different stakes in the various operations of your company. Before you begin to solve any given problem, ensure you understand the interests of all parties involved.

  1. Have you brainstormed solutions alone or with external input?

Once you have all of your considerations in order, it’s time to start thinking more positively. Forget about the “problem” and start gearing your thinking towards the solution. Think in terms of possibility and include others’ trusted input if you think it might expand the chances of success.

  1. Did you evaluate the solutions?

This is an important step because brainstorming can be chaotic, so evaluation is when you begin narrowing down the most reasonable ideas. Remember your considerations from earlier and factor them in when necessary but this step is your chance to choose the best solution given your options.

  1. Have you taken timely action?

Talking about ideas is great, but next comes taking action. Are you careful about your implementation, watching for effects and consequences? Depending on the type of problem you’re solving, you may need to be sensitive to a few factors. Do so, but don’t let that slow you down or trip you up from successful implementation.

  1. Once you’ve taken action, do you grant yourself a vacation?

If you’ve walked away from your problem solving opportunity like a hero and are now sitting at your desk relaxed and proud, you might want to stiffen up again. It’s great that you’ve taken the proper steps to ensure success but you must follow up on the changes you’ve made, offer assistance where necessary and be ready to problem solve again in the event your solution creates smaller, transitional issues.

Problem solving is a key factor to any job, whether you like it, know it or not. So be on the lookout for these certain things and always remember to ask yourself the six questions when facing any opportunity for solution.

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Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

Dan Marks –  Personal Training and Kettlebell Instruction