giving employees another chance

Jack, Jill and a Slippery Hill

Antoine was an accomplished millennial retail sales professional  considered “a bit rough around the edges.”

His no-BS approach created a natural bond with entrepreneurs and mom and pop companies, that left some managers scratching their heads. But, heck it worked.

Antoine was maxing out his compensation and winning the big recognition trips year after year, but he wanted more.

He went back to school at night and got his degree. He waited until he was selling more from the store than his counterparts in the business channel, and then applied for a job with the business sales manager.

Rejected. He applied again. Rejected.

His mentor, Jill, encouraged him to shave his scraggly goatee and begin wearing suits to work. He applied again. This time he didn’t even get an interview–just a call from HR saying he “wasn’t quite ready.”

So Jill called up the Jack, the hiring manager, and described an ideal candidate she’d like to refer to him. Jill described everything about Antoine without using his name. Jack salivated and asked for the resume ASAP, after all Jack didn’t want to risk losing a candidate like that.

Jill sent over Antoine’s resume.

Embarrased, Jack gave Antoine a chance in a junior role–a level down from the position to which Antoine had applied. Within six months he was promoted, and began teaching his new peers his secrets to success.

“Job fit” is more complex than it looks. Discrimination comes in many forms.

Do you have an Antoine who deserves a chance?

For whom could you be a Jill?

Leaders Share about New Beginnings, Fresh Starts, and Project Launches: A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our June Festival is all about new beginnings, fresh starts, and project launches. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Festival is all about leading through influence. How do you lead when you don’t have direct authority?  New contributors welcome.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. – Senec

New beginnings and fresh starts are sometimes motivated by the desire to grow as a person. Which of these “A-Z” characteristics do you most want to enliven in yourself? Thanks, Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited  Follow Beth.

Wally Bock of Three-Star Leadership says that when you’re starting a new project, it’s tempting to think you can plan the error out of it. Think again.  Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC shares that often the expression, “Chasing bright shiny objects” refers to them as distractions, and advocates to take a different perspective. Think of bright shiny objects as a source of energy or refreshment, such as the new car smell or getting a new bicycle!  Follow Michelle.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding says that new beginnings and fresh starts can be exciting and fun, or signify a painful ending, or make you shake as you leave your comfort zone. But, yes, you can turn unwanted change into an adventure!   Follow Chery.

According to John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement, innovation is one of the areas of management improvement that is not given sufficient attention.  To do so successfully we need to truly know our customers, have constancy of purpose, know our business and understand our purpose.  Follow John.

In the post, Five key questions that can help you start anew, Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog shares that the chance for a new beginning is almost always welcome, and always a chance to reflect and refresh. Follow Lisa.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference asks, “What if we stop settling for employee engagement and aim for employee activism instead?” Breathe new life into’s your organization’s community by leading a team of activists for your cause! Follow Jon.

Jeff Miller of The Faithful Pacesetters shares that it is sometimes a challenge to start something new, especially when you are met with resistance.  Peter believed, sacrificed, and had determination when he built the Church. Follow Jeff.

From Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting: “Launching a project is a great first step…but if you’re like many of the people I coach, you’re bigger problem is finishing them.” This post will show you how to stop leaving projects half-finishedFollow Matt.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership reminds us that fresh starts are important, but stay attuned to your purpose. Barbara Bennett, the first female officer of Stanley Black & Decker and one of the first women to break the glass ceiling retired and became a clown. Here’s why that wasn’t as big of a change as you might think. Follow Jesse Lyn. 

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center shares that self-improvement is not a course in miracles. It is something that takes hard work. Perhaps the real secret to becoming a better person is coming to grips with the fact that everyone has to work “hard, very hard” to become the person they know they can be. Follow LaRae.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context points out that on the journey to ethical leadership, we all struggle. This struggle is often seen as negative–something that pulls us down and keeps us from succeeding. But what if we looked at it another way? Follow Linda.

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute knows that fresh starts and new beginnings start with discovering the leader within. This blog offers practical guidance for developing your leadership skills and making an impact in the world. Follow Artika.

And Larry Coppenrath brings it all together with his Frontline Festival map.

New Beginnings   Fresh Starts  Product Launches

Call for Submissions. The July Frontline Festival is about leading through influence. Please send your submissions no later than July 17th. New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

 

 

digging deeper

What I Learned From Marshall Goldsmith: A Simple and Effective Technique

When Marshall Goldsmith sent me his new book, Triggers, I read it cover to cover on my flight to Vegas. Great read. But what makes a good book a great book is when it leads you to action. This one did.

The Power of Daily Questions

It’s so simple. Goldsmith recommends asking yourself a few “easy” questions each day. Of course, I say easy because they should be straightforward. But we all know gut-check questions are some of the most difficult in the world.

He shares:

For years I’ve followed a nightly follow-up routine that I call Daily Questions, in which I have someone call me wherever I am in the world and listen while I answer a specific set of questions that I have written for myself. Every day. For the longest time there were thirteen questions, many focused on my physical well-being, because if you don’t have your health . . well, you know the rest. The first question was always “How happy was I today?” (because that’s important to me), followed by questions like:

How meaningful was my day?
How much do I weigh?
Did I say or do something nice for Lydia?

And so on. The nightly specter of honestly answering these questions kept me focused on my goal of being a happier and healthier individual. For more than a decade it was the one constant of self-regulated discipline in my otherwise chaotic 180-days-a year-on-the-road life. (I’m not boasting that I do this test; I’m confessing how much discipline I lack.)

For those who are stumped on where to start, he draws on research of behaviors that lead to employee engagement and comes up with six key questions.

  • Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
  • Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?
  • Did I do my best to find meaning today?
  • Did I do my best to be happy today?
  • Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
  • Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

What you’ll notice is the recurring theme is “do my best.” Yes, its subjective. You could cheat. But if no one else is looking…

My Big 5

Picking the questions is easy and hard. I have about 100 things I SHOULD be doing every day, but that’s not the point. The point is to focus on what Covey would call the “big rocks” not the pebbles.

It also occurred to me that these questions will need to change with the seasons. For me this summer is really heavy into content development. I have a book due to a publisher and an online course that we’re neck-deep in curriculum development. I need to be writing and developing content every day. In other seasons, it will be more about delivery and the questions will change.

Here are mine:

  • Did I write something meaningful that will help managers lead more effectively?
  • Did I actively work on growing my speaking and consulting business?
  • Did I add value to husband’s and sons’ day?
  • Did I connect with my father today (This is really important because my mom died recently. He lives close and it’s a blessing to have him so integrated in our lives)?
  • Did I exercise?

As the clock ticks away, it’s surprising how motivating knowing I’ll have to answer to myself will be.

Simple and effective.

5 Ways to Ignite Your Summer Leadership Fitness

If you’re like me, you think more about getting fit when the days start to require less clothes. What if you also used summertime as a time to pay a bit more attention to your leadership fitness? Similar strategies apply. In fact, they work all year round (I put that in for my many Aussie subscribers in the midst of Winter).

5 Ways To Ignite Your Leadership Fitness

Go Anaerobic

The best way to learn is to get your heart rate going. Bigger challenges require extra effort. If your job’s starting to feel a bit like a Sunday stroll, it’s time to pick up the pace. Take on a special assignment. Dig deeper. Exhausting your mental leadership reserves is a great way to build new muscle.

Be Consistent

How many times have you seen someone go to a leadership training, come back all fired up, and then go right back to their old habits a few days later? Pick one or two leadership behaviors you want to improve, and practice them consistently every day. This could be something as simple as “I’m going to ask more strategic questions to get my team thinking.” Or, “I’m going to wait until others have had a chance to speak in meetings until I chime in.”

Endure the Heavy Lifting

I’ve never met anyone who loves push-ups. They’re low on the list of intrinsic satisfiers. But they’re damn effective. Becoming a better leader is hard work. Maybe for you that’s finally having that difficult conversation with that arrogant co-worker. Or perhaps, it’s sitting down and having that important conversation with the guy you your team that would be better served (and of service) in a different role.

Include Cross Training

The best way to expand your skills is to do something new. Consider a rotational assignment or go shadow a peer in a different department. Don’t forget to stretch.

Train in Intervals

You can’t be anaerobic all the time. Work hard on your leadership, and then give yourself opportunities to rest and reflect. When you take time to consider what’s working and what to improve, the next go will be a bit stronger.

On a Double Dutch Tight Rope: Your New Boss and You

Over my career, I’ve underestimated the need to adapt well to a new boss more than once. Trust me, it’s harder to recover… but doable.

Working for a new boss often feels like a tight rope. If you’ve got a new boss, you may be experiencing that nauseous feeling that comes from walking a fine line. That’s good. You need to be paying attention.

My best advice for teams and new bosses? Try switching up the metaphor. View the tight rope as a Double Dutch jump rope instead, and you’ll be a lot more productive, successful, and save yourself a heck of a lot of time.

False Security

If you’re the welcoming committee, it’s easy to assume that life will continue as usual. After all, you’re making progress and your old boss was happy. Of course she put in a good word. (Even if she did, it’s likely not enough.) Here’s how to  take it up a level–to find a higher gear.

If you’re the new boss you likely feel the same way. You’ve seen this movie before in a different theater. You know what works, and after all, they brought you here for a reason… this team needs help.

The biggest problem I see with folks welcoming the new boss is that they believe they’re the ones with the well-cadenced jump rope and it’s the boss should adapt. They’ve got this and can’t wait to show ’em how good they are.

The biggest mistake I see new bosses make is ignoring that the intact cadence has value, and slowing down enough to notice the magic.

So here’s my advice for jump-ropers on both sides of the cadence.

Consider your next boss-team switch-a-roo like hopping into a jump rope game already in play. You’ve got to watch a few turns before rushing in, otherwise you’re going to get smacked in the face.

A Few Guidelines

Pay attention to how others are interfacing, and what seems to excite her or drive him crazy. Learn from the mistakes of others.

When jumping into a spinning scene, stop and notice. Who’s in control? Are there subtle moves causing even the best players to trip?

Ask questions. Not tons of “How do I do this ?” questions, but strategic questions like “How can I be most helpful?’ “What’s the best way to communicate with you?” “How do you like your coffee?” (Just kidding.)

Understand the Need for Data  This is where I see many style conflicts get most into trouble. Trying to win an analytical boss (or team) over with an emotional argument will make you lose credibility—fast. Similarly, overwhelming a big picture thinker with a ream of spreadsheets may leave them with the impression you’re “Just not that strategic.”

Some additional thoughts that will help

How to PERSUADE your boss (goes both ways) 

The DARN method:  How to give your boss bad news (could go both ways, but many bosses struggle with this) 

And of course there’s my book: Overcoming an Imperfect Boss: A Practical Guide to Building a Better Relationship With Your Boss You can read the latest review by Jane Anderson here.

And the keynote, Becoming the Boss You Wish You Had.

Call me. I can help. 443-750-1249.

How to Achieve the Impossible

IT managers, Lori and Ann, were both shocked when they were given their latest projects. What this new client wanted was really complicated, and their teams were already about to tip over, not to mention the ridiculous time frame the sales team had committed to. “Why don’t they ask us before making these impossible commitments?” “What are they smoking? We can’t possibly do this!” ​ They both knew better than to say what was on their minds. ​​

But now the tough part. Telling their teams.

Feeling the urgency, Lori immediately called her team together for a quick huddle. Her team knew there was trouble by the look on her face, before she even said a word. And then she looked at them sincerely, “Guys, I’m so sorry. We’ve been given an impossible deadline, and I know you’re already working so hard. We’re just going to have to do the best we can. Here are the parameters…”

Ann took her cell phone to the parking lot and vented to her husband. Then she took a walk and cleared her head. She had to figure out a way to do this without crushing the team. Back at her desk, she sent out a quick calendar invite for 8 a.m. the next morning labeled “Launch Project Flying Colors”–no other details.

Intrigued, her team got there a bit earlier than usual to find the conference room filled with colorful helium balloons and streamers, along with blank white easel sheets plastering the walls. She had a medley of upbeat “color” themed songs playing on her iPhone.

“Guys, we’ve been given an exciting challenge and I’m sure we’re going to pass it with flying colors. It’s going to be hard, perhaps the most difficult thing we’ve accomplished, which is why I’ve brought us here to get really creative on the best path forward. Let me outline the parameters we have to work with, and then we’re going to work together to make a game plan.”

How to Galvanize Your Team to Achieve the Impossible

Don’t get me wrong. I’m fully aware that hard work is still hard work. But I’ve seen a little bit of galvanizing magic go a long way in sparking creativity and getting folks into a “Yes, we can!” mindset.

To galvanize your team toward achieving the possible…

Make winning feel like a sport.

In sports, nothings more fun than winning when the odds are stacked against you. A game of lay-ups would be a real yawner. Tap into the sporting side of human nature.

Be clear why every role matters.

Watch any Little League game and at some point there will be a kid in the outfield with his finger up his nose. Not so in the major leagues. Be sure everyone on the team has a valuable role and is deeply connected to the vision.

Identify specific skills and behaviors needed for success in every role.

Be sure that every team member knows the behaviors they must exhibit for success.

Align team member’s passions with purpose.

Tap into skills and abilities that may be outside of the person’s day job. Nothing galvanizes people more than being able to do what they love while adding value.

Acknowledge challenges and obstacles, and include the team in finding solutions.

Go ahead, admit that it’s tough. “Heck yeah, those parameters are ridiculous. But we’ve got to find a way to do it. What would we do if we did know how to make this happen?”

Articulate a winning game plan.

Be clear on the actions of who will achieve what by when. Build in natural celebration points along the way.

When you develop a reputation for being a galvanizer, folks will knock down your door to join you the next time. Winning well is fun.

4 Ways to Leverage Social Media to Enhance Your Career

This is a guest post by LGL Community member Scott Huntington.

Although many companies caution workers about using social media, utilizing sites like Twitter and LinkedIn can go a long way in positioning you within your own company and as a leader in your industry.  Obviously you need to be smart about how you use social media. Never lambast your company or post anything inappropriate.

1. Share Expertise

A good example of using LinkedIn to develop online leadership is the profile of Keith Springer, president and founder of Springer Financial Advisors. Springer publishes tips on stocks, what is currently going on in the market and his personal reasons for the ways he invests. This not only keeps his co-workers up to date, but also offers advice for others in his niche.

 2. Establish Authority

Another important aspect of utilizing the online world to establish authority is lending credibility to your posts or blog writing. While you may have multiple degrees in your field and years of experience, it’s still important to cite reliable studies from trusted sources, such as universities and well-known research firms. Make sure you add a bit more information to any topic you cover so that people understand you aren’t just regurgitating information, but you truly understand the topic.

If you are really ambitious, write a short book on the subject you know best. You’ll earn quite a lot of respect from your employees and your peers.

3. Get Off the Computer and Into the Real World

Although you can make connections online, you should also be attending events in your industry. As you meet people at conferences, speeches you give or even social gatherings, share what you do and ask them to connect with you online. These in-person connections are much more likely to read, share and promote your content than those who’ve never actually met you.

4. Utilize the Right Platforms

While online leadership is about utilizing online social media platforms, which platforms you choose can be just as important as how many followers you have. If your business focuses on technology, you can connect with like-minded people on Google+ and LinkedIn, but Pinterest probably isn’t going to bring you a lot of traffic. Study who is using each type of platform, analyze which social sites your competitors are on and start adding your voice to the mix to gain the online leadership skills necessary in today’s global marketplace.

If you liked this, you may also enjoy Scott’s previous LGL post. How to Be a Manager When Your Employees Are Older Than You.

How to Make Someone Feel Welcomed

We had no intentions of actually going in. Sebastian and I were just trying to figure out the best way to walk to the new school he’ll be attending next year. But there we were, his nose pressed against the glass and me in my moving cut-offs and tee-shirt. “Mom, lets just sneak in like ninjas and look around.” Knowing there’s no way “sneak in” to schools these days and worried about the impression we’d make showing up scruffy with no appointment, I paused. But the eagerness in his eyes won. “Let’s just ring the doorbell.”

“Hi, This is Sebastian. He’d like to come to school here next year.”

Now, if the school secretary had been doing her job, she would have handed us a registration packet or asked us to make an appointment.

But she wasn’t DOING her job.

She lit up like she was welcoming a dignitary to Disneyland.

“Oh, Sebastian, YOU are going to LOVE this school. All the kids and teachers are so nice, we have so much fun and learn a lot.”

And then she asked questions.

For every question, she knew just what to send him over the moon.

“What do you like to do?”

“Well, I like to ask a lot of questions and I like art.”

“OH, We totally need kids who ask great questions. Questions are so important to learning. You are really going to make a difference here. And you know what? You’ve come not only to the right school, but to the right county. We have so many programs to help you become an even better artist. And guess what, every year you can even have your art displayed at the mall!”

“What school did you attend before?”

“St. Paul Lutheran.”

“Oh, a private school… I see. That’s nice. Did you have to wear a uniform?”

“Yes. I hated that part.”

“Guess what, no uniforms here! You can dress to fit your awesome personality.”

And then the clincher.

“What time did you start at that school.”

“8:15.”

“Well, you’ll have to wait until 9:15 to start here.”

The dancing began.

She then proceeded to share all kinds of helpful information about lunches, traffic jams and getting involved.

As we left with our registration packet, Seb looked at me and grabbed my hand. “Mom, I’m going to work really, really hard at this school.”

Thank God she wasn’t doing her job.

Lost in Translation: Communication Techniques for Middle Managers

You know your boss cares deeply about customers, employees, and doing the right thing for your business. And you’ve built a passionate team of customer advocates, who want to make a good living and feel good about coming to work every day.

And yet here you are, precariously squashed amidst the intensity of all this passion and good intentions.

At the core, everyone wants similar outcomes…you get it. But the cacophony of misunderstanding and misinterpretation can be deafening.

“Why don’t they understand why this is so important?”

“Why would she do THAT if she really cared about employees?”

“How can they be so out of touch with reality?”

“These executives don’t have a clue how annoyed our customers are about this decision.”

“This is just another sign the frontline is disengaged.”

Chances are no one put “translator” on your job description. But trust me, the managers with the best outcomes are masters of translation.

Great Managers are Translators

The very best managers are leaders with a keen ability translate:

Industry dynamics into pragmatic straight talk

They listen closely to what’s happen with competitors and strategic partners. They’re intrigued by the dynamics, and help their team to better understand their company’s proactive approaches and responses.

Organizational vision into meaningful work

They work hard to understand the big picture and have a keen ability to explain articulate specifically how the work their team is doing makes an impact on customers and to the world.

Executive urgency into tangible action

They don’t let stress roll downhill. They buffer negative executive emotion and translate the meaning into specific behaviors for the team to implement.

Questions into dialogue

They listen carefully to questions from executives, bosses, peers, and direct reports, to understand the deeper concern. They proactively work to bring the right people together to have meaningful conversation.

Employee angst into reasonable requests

They empathize with the stress and concerns of their team. They help employees frame their needs so they can be heard and addressed to get the resources and support they need.

Great middle managers take time to learn the languages of those around them, and listen well to hear the truths from multiple perspectives. Translating well saves time and is a vital step toward achieving breakthrough results.

5 Benefits to Working With People Who Drive You Crazy

You know who I’m talking about? Perhaps it’s the guy who’s obsessed with font size, color schemes and alignment. Or the incessant questioner. Or the gal whose desk looks like hurricane I-don’t-care just blew across her office. We’ve all got them–the folks that make us crazy. Oh sure they’re effective, but given your druthers, you druther not have them on your project.

The truth is, it’s often the folks whom we’d like to choke who are best positioned to challenge our perspective and help us grow.

5 Benefits to Working With People Who Drive You Crazy

1. Humility

Working with people who make your hair curl provides a perfect opportunity to practice humble patience. Focus on your shared mission, and in really listening to the bozo (oh… I mean that other human being who has a different style).

2. Complementary Skill Sets

If someone is really making you crazy, it’s likely they’re focusing on areas you’d rather not think about. Instead of being annoyed, be grateful. They can sweat that stuff so you can do you what you do best.

3. Their Network

As they say, birds of a feather. Remember the “strength of weak ties” theory (if you missed that post, click here). Chances are they’re hanging out with a different crowd. If you lean in, you could substantially expand your network.

4. Creative Tension

Being challenged is the best way to grow. If you can keep an open mind, their perspective may be just what you need to break through to the next level.

5. Improved Skills

The best way to get better at working with people who drive you crazy is to work with people who drive you crazy. It forces you to practice all those vital teamwork skills: listening, communication, running effective meetings, working through conflict.

In fact, if you’re not working with anyone that makes you crazy, perhaps it’s time to seek out a nemesis mentor, or invite that nut job (oh, I mean really valuable human being) to join your next project.

A Powerful Way to Gain the Trust of Your Team

building trustThe Senior Vice President stood in front of my all hands meeting of 300 and said, “I was wrong.” I’ve never heard a group that size sit in such silence. I’m not even sure we were breathing.

You see, she had been a naysayer. She knew the mission our team had been given was necessary, but she didn’t believe it could be done. This stung twice as hard because she’d been a mentor of mine for years. In some ways the mission to prove her wrong by accomplishing “the impossible” became quite personal.

And we had.

She could have chosen lots of other words to open up her talk. Words that would have saved face, but none that could have given her more credibility. “I was wrong, I didn’t think it could be done. You did it. Congratulations, and thank you.”

5 Ways to Admit You’re Wrong

The ability to admit you’re wrong is the ultimate sign of confident humility. It takes guts to admit you’ve made a mistake. More importantly, being vulnerable enough to admit you’re wrong makes it safe for others to do so too. Imagine a world where more people were that honest with themselves and others.

Quite frankly, many leaders screw this up. They reinvent history to justify their actions (another wrong.) No matter how you spin it two wrongs don’t make a right.

Next time you screw up, follow these tips.

1. Be straightforward

The power of her statement was that it was so blunt. “I was wrong.” She could have said something much softer with less impact, “You did a solid job,” would have been easier on her ego.

2. Explain why

Share what you’ve learned or would do differently. Articulating the lesson helps everyone learn.

3. Take accountability

Don’t be a blamer. “I was wrong, but Joe gave me bad information” or “I was wrong, but my boss had me distracted with other things” is basically saying, “Even if I am wrong, it doesn’t count.”

4. Apologize if needed

In this case there was no apology necessary, she was a leader with an opinion doing her job by expressing it. In fact, I’ll admit that her skepticism fired us up. It’s quite possible in some wacky way working to prove her wrong helped us win. But, if being wrong hurt someone, “I’m wrong,” coupled with “I’m sorry,” can go even further.

4.Follow-through

Of course the most sincere way to apologize is to not do it again. I have a friend who cheated on his wife. He admitted he was wrong, apologized, owned it… and then did it again. She left him. Those words only worked once.

what to do when your team is downsized

5 Things to Do When Your Team is Downsized

I’ve never met a manager who felt they had more headcount than they needed. In fact, the number one answer I get when I ask managers what they need most is “More people!” And yet most of us have been on the receiving end of the conversation saying “We’re going to need to figure out how to do more with less.” In fact, there was one dark period of my career that I received that call every quarter for 2 years. By the end of that run, I had half the team and more customers. The wacky part was, results kept improving.

5 Things to Do When Your Team is Downsized

As painful as downsizing is, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s possible to keep results going up, while your team size is going down. It requires a positive outlook, innovative thinking, and most importantly trust and support.

1.Keep Your Cool

Don’t let your team see you cry or whatever your equivalent of a tantrum is. Don’t vent to your team or blame “them (those above you, or HR)” for being clueless to how hard you’re already working. Get it out of your system off line and show up strong. Your team needs to feel confident that you’ve got a path forward, not get more unrattled as you lose your footing.

2. Help Your People Find Jobs

If the headcount being cut are not vacancies but real human beings, put them first. Do whatever you can to help them land well. Besides being the right thing to do for the impacted employees, it will go a long way in building trust and loyalty with those who remain.

3. Eliminate Less Necessary Work

Before you tell me “Nothing we’re doing is unnecessary,” get your team together and ask (and then don’t let them tell you that either). Look under every rock for time spent on seldom reviewed reports or redundant processes. You can’t do the same work with fewer people for long without causing people to tip over, or sacrifice quality. Get serious about what can go.

4. Strategize Failure

If you can’t find enough work to eliminate, know that some balls are likely to drop (or at least be picked up on the second bounce). Don’t pretend that every goal is equally important, help your team to prioritize. Be sure they know that if they have to screw-up something, which of their goals is less critical.

5. Go Outside Your Team for Support

You’re probably thinking, “Karin, now you’re really talking crazy, if we’re pressed, so is everyone else.” I bet they are. But I also know that in every organization, there is always redundant work going on. Instead of viewing other teams as the competition, or keeping staff at an arms distance to get them out of your hair, look for opportunities to partner. Could you pool functions and create a shared services group? Could you lend resources back and forth during peak times? Have the confidence to know it can be done, and the humility to ask for help.

Downsizing is never easy. I also know that of all the times I thought we’d been cut too far to survive, we someone how did, and in many cases thrived. Leadership is often about doing what feels impossible.