5 Ways to Tame a Bad Boss

“Greg” called to share his news, “You know that situation with my boss is going a lot better! I decided to go on the offense and just keep him over-informed. He loves it. Now he stays off my back and I can do my work.”

Bingo. Another “bad boss” tamed.

5 Ways to Tame a Bad Boss

Sure I’ve met some loony tunes over the years. But I’m convinced that almost every bad boss situation can be made at least a little bit better with some proactive work on your part.

Sure he should know better, he’s the boss right? Perhaps. But do you want to be right, or happier at work?

We’ve got a lot more techniques in Winning Well and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, but here are a few to get you started. 

  1. Get Your Asks Together
    If you need additional resources, tools, or want to attend training that will make you a better leader, you need to articulate a solid argument. Come with data, not emotion. The P.E.R.S.U.A.D.E. approach is a proven methodology that will help.
  2. Communicate Frequently In Bulleted Summaries
    Like “Greg” it might feel like overkill on your end, and if it is, your boss will tell you. But I’ve NEVER minded my team keeping me informed in easy to digest ways. Find a coding system that works for you both (e.g. FYI UPDATE ________ (project name) in the email heading.)
  3. Follow the “No Blindside” Rule
    If you’ve got bad news, be sure your boss hears it from you. Use the Winning Well D.A.R.N. method  of bad news giving.
  4. Ask How You Can Make Their Job Easer
    It’s likely your boss is dealing with pressures you don’t fully understand. Ask how you can be most helpful. Of course be prepared with a good answer when she turns the table and asks how she can best help you.
  5. Let It Go
    I know, easier than it sounds. But harboring resentment never does a relationship any good. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Forgive as needed and try again. 

7 Reasons to Be A Little More Grateful At Work (Reflections and an Exercise)

With all the stress and pressure, sometimes it feels really hard to cultivate a feeling of gratitude at work.  You might feel stuck. Or passed over. Or taken advantage of. Or just wanting someone to say “thank you” for all you’re doing–for goodness sakes.

Or _____________________ (it’s okay, let it out first). Life it tricky. Gratitude is never simple. The situation could always be better.

But this week, I encourage you to consider this question. What are you truly grateful for at work?

7 Reasons I’m Grateful at Work 

First, let me start here (because sometimes people think this looks easy). Starting up a business is tricky, with ups and downs. I’ve got my fair share of the fill-in-the-blank concerns.

But I choose gratitude. Here are a few of mine.

I encourage you to play along and share your top 7 (or even one or two).

  1. Partnership
    Hands down the magic of 2016 for which I’m most grateful is my expanded partnership with my co-author, David Dye.  Finding the right partner makes all the difference. If you don’t yet have a friend like this in your life, I encourage you to find someone who will challenge you, encourage you, tell you that you are wonderful, and help you work on your flaws. My biggest gratitude of 2016 is for this real deal partnership in work and in life.
  2. Mistakes
    A few times, I’ve rolled the dice big and lost. I trusted the wrong people, bet on the wrong collaboration. And yet, I’m still grateful for playing full out. More bets have gone right than wrong. And now I’m entering the next phase a little more well informed.
  3. Our Team
    This year we couldn’t have scaled the way we did without our amazing team. What I love best is how they work together, even when we’re off speaking or consulting… they’re holding down the fort and passionately working to advance the Winning Well mission. Beth, Vickie, Megan, Amy, Paul, Chris W, Chris H, Doug, Sean et al, and of course, Sebastian and countless others who’ve helped along the way. We are grateful for you.
  4. Collaboration
    We have an army of kindred spirits whom we believe in and who believe in the work we do. I am deeply grateful for the leaders around the world we’ve had a pleasure to work with in their businesses or ours–speakers, consultants, journalists, bloggers, podcasters, family and friends who are doing all taking action to blend the bottom line with the human spirit.
  5. Stretching
    First, I’m so grateful for the many folks who’ve worked to convince their bosses that Winning Well was right for their organizations. They bet on the ROI and it proved out. I’m also so grateful for the stretching you have caused me to do. “Can you do this?” “How can you challenge us in this way?” I continue to grow because of all of you.
  6. Progress
    When David and I were writing Winning Well, this was our theme song. Inch by inch… row by row… it’s a constant reminder for both us (or at least one of us, reminding the other of us when we hit a setback). When we can be truly grateful for the milestones and the progress and enjoy the journey, it makes all the difference.
  7. Learning
    Every time we do a program I have two emotions… How did we serve? And what could I do better? This year has been a tremendous journey of learning and improving. Which stories had the biggest impact? Which tools? Where should I have challenged more? I’m grateful for every single client with us along this journey.

Our recent Frontline Festival gave contributors a chance to give thanks. 

Thanks

Frontline Festival: Questions of Thanksgiving and Gratitude

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival is all about giving thanks at work. We asked contributors to share three areas they are most grateful for at work. But before we go there… how about you? What are you most thankful for at work? 

As we approach Thanksgiving in the United States, during a time of unrest for much of America, I invite you to take a deep breath and reflect. What are you most grateful for at work? And if your answer is a who, why not take a moment to tell them?

  • Who has inspired you to be more than you ever thought possible?
  • What challenges have you faced that transformed you in ways you never dreamed of?
  • What have you been able to contribute that’s made an impact you’re proud of?
  • What opportunities have you been given to stretch and grow?
  • Who pushed you past your comfort zone?
  • Who are your key collaborators and what do you most appreciate about their approach?

Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about preparing your team for the new year.   Submit your blog posts and answers related to this question: What are you doing to prepare your team for 2017? here!

Now on to our festival of thankfulness:

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute believes gratitude will determine your organization’s altitude. She is thankful for receiving the blessing of the vision for Planting People Growing Justice, their team of visionary leaders, and the thousands of community members who are advancing the shared vision of #LeadershipforSocialJustice. Follow Artika.  

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates is thankful for the opportunity to get to know and learn from a wide variety of people. Because she work with many different groups and she interviews them in advance, she learns about their industry and she learns leadership and management tips.  It’s a great way to stay fresh and interested in others. Follow Shelley

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited is thankful for a successful first full year completely on her own in business, the freedom and flexibility owning a business offers, and the consistent opportunity it affords to learn and grow as a leader and person. Follow Beth.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership is thankful for the amazing men and women who are his clients and who make it possible for him to make a living doing something he loves to do. Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC says that “In a world of chaos, gratitude is my go-to place for comfort.” Follow Michelle.

David Dye of Trailblaze is thankful to work with amazing people to make the world a better place; to see people become their best version of themselves; to be around people – friends, colleagues, partners, encouragers. Follow David.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture lists: business owners and leaders who engage in creating purposeful, positive, productive work cultures; my “business band,” the players of EXCEPTIONAL EXPERTISE & GRACE that help keep my brand crisp, clear, and relevant every day; my family and friends who laugh at my jokes, hug back, and push me to be better every day. Follow Chris.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group states that “2016 has been a year of growth and learning.”  He’s grateful for his clients who express a willingness to grow and go places they never thought possible; his amazing team who put their hearts, heads, and guts into their work every day and Thanksgiving tradition: the Annual Celebration of Grandma Elsie, Her Famous #PumpkinChiffonPie & Other Recipes Follow David.

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
~ Oprah Winfrey

Chip Bell of the Chip Bell Group is grateful for:  1. Passion–a wonderful gift from the Almighty 2. Weaving Influence for making me look important  3. Granddaughters for reminding me what is important  Follow Chip.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement  is thankful to be able to work remotely and make a living doing what he enjoys and believes provides value to his clients. Follow John.

Paula Kiger of Big Green Pen shares that having been forced by life events to be home with an elderly and infirm relative, she is thankful that our current professional world provides opportunities to work flexibly. She’s grateful that technology helps us do our work more quickly, with less error, and finally for the people who make the work worth doing! Follow Paula.

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog expresses her thanks for 1) Witnessing clients growing and evolving (and having fun along the way); 2) Learning from clients and colleagues and 3) getting to do what I love and absolutely believe in. Follow Lisa.

If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.
~ W. Clement Stone

Eileen McDargh of The Energizer shares “The first wealth is health. Love trumps hate. Meaningful work exudes gratitude.” Follow Eileen

The 7 Deadly Sins of Skip Level Meetings

Skip level meetings always seem like a good idea at the time.  A little MBWA (management by walking around) never hurt anyone. Or did it?

Done well, skip level meetings are a remarkable tool in your Winning Well toolkit. Skip level meetings help you connect “what to why,” reinforce the MIT (most important thing), help you build genuine relationships, give you a chance to ask strategic questions to learn what’s really going on, and most importantly, to build genuine relationships.

Maybe that’s why after over 700 blog posts, the most read is 5 Secrets To Great Skip Level Meetings. In fact, there are some days that this post from 2014 has more hits than whatever new is going on. And how we manage the skip level communication, is always top of mind with my consulting clients. 

Why the intrigue?

Because done poorly MBWA becomes OCHTC (Oh Crap, Here They Come). If your skip level meetings are backfiring, or if you have a boss who could get better at this and you want to help them out, be sure to avoid these 7 traps.

7 Deadly Sins of Skip Level Meetings

  1. Not Doing Your Homework
    Sure you’re their bosses boss. They should be glad you’re there, right? Hmmm…Want to ensure you make an impact? Learn what’s up with the people in the room. Get their names. Know what’s driving them crazy. Be able to speak articulately about a few of their biggest accomplishments.
  2. Showing Up Needy
    Yes, I get it. You’re sandwiching this skip level in-between really important calls with C-level execs, vital customers, your boss… Go minimalist here. What do you need? A closed-door in-between your skip-level meetings? Ask for that. Otherwise show up as low-maintenance as you can (and ensure your assistant gets this too.)
  3. Sticking To Your Agenda
    The real magic of skip-level meetings is never planned. Even if your team gave you a carefully crafted list of conversation starters, stay real and open to where the conversation may lead. 
  4. Talking Too Much
    Resist the urge. You will learn way more by listening. 
  5. Asking the Wrong Questions
    So often I see leaders ask leading questions that ensure they get told what they want to hear. You already know what you think. Have the courage to ask the questions that might surface answers that frustrate you. It’s better to know what people are really thinking. 
  6. Failing to Recognize Contributions
    Your people want to know that you know what they’re up to. Be sure you do and tell them.
  7. Neglecting to Follow Through
    If you promise to look into something, be sure you do. If you promise to get something fixed right away, do it. And just as importantly, be sure you close the loop and let them know. Making commitments without follow-through does more harm than not showing up at all.

Great leaders spend lots of time talking to the people closest to the customer. It’s worth the extra effort to dig deep and do it right.

5 Conversations Your Millennial Employees Are Longing To Have

Morgan (a family friend who also happens to be a millennial) was practically screaming in frustration as we began our mentoring session, “Arghhh, Karin, I’m just so frustrated. They want me to do all this crap… none of it seems important, and it’s getting in the way of my real work.”

It would have been tempting to just take Morgan’s word for it– that the “crap” she was being asked to do made no sense.

After all, I suppose I should be on Morgan’s “side,” but as I dug below the “crap,” I could see a logical explanation for almost everything she was being asked to do.

K- “Has your boss explained why these things are important?”

M- “Nope.”

K- “Do you think your boss has your best interest at heart?”

M-“Sometimes.”

K-“Well let me try to explain why I think they’re asking for all this.”

She let out a palpable sigh as I went through the possible explanations. (Keep in mind that I have no idea if these were the real reasons… but just connecting her dots with my experience.)

Imagine how much better that would have been coming from her boss.

I stand by my view that millennials are just human beings doing the best they can, like the rest of us. The more I work with this generation, however, I realize that it’s not that they their needs are that different, it’s that they are more vocal when things don’t make sense.

Thank goodness.

Asking more “whys” can be powerful, positive disruptive force
in our organizations, communities and world.

And of course, the flip side of this conversation is that there often is a very good “why” worth listening to. We need to all get better at explaining and listening, even if we don’t like what we hear.

Five Conversations Your Millennial Employees Are Longing To have

If you’re running into frustration with your millennials questioning everything and not “getting with the program,” consider tackling one of these five conversations.

  1. How can I show up authentically (be true to myself) and still be effective? (Help me navigate the politics.)
  2. Why do we have to do it this way? (Explain the why behind all these policies and processes that seem to be wasting my time)
  3. Why does my work matter? (Help me find the greater meaning in the work I do.)
  4. When you say “I’m not ready” for a promotion, can you be more specific? (And how do I get ready beyond just putting in my time?)
  5. I’ve got some ideas for how we can do this better. (Please listen to me and take me seriously).

The best way to bridge the generational gap is open dialogue. Let’s have more.

Who Leads Next? What Every Employer Needs to Know To Develop Your Millennial Employees

As David Dye and I prepare for our Winning Well Asia Tour this Spring, we continue our dialogue on with Michael Teoh, author of the Potential Matrix and founder of Thriving Talents. To hear more, you can listen to this recorded webinar in which we discuss:

  1. How to Build a Culture that Develops Leaders before they have Titled Responsibility
  2. Ways to Talk with your Younger Talent to keep them Engaged and bought into the Development Process
  3. Key Mistakes to Avoid – Don’t Push Your Leaders Out The Door!
  4. A Process to Identify and Draw Out the Best from Your Emerging Leaders

 

The Morning After: 6 Sure-Fire Ways to Ensure Your Training Sticks

“John” glanced excitedly at the conference room walls filled with easel sheets, plans and ideas. And then sighed deeply as he shuffled though his deep pile of notes and action items.

“Karin, I guarantee you, I’ll be a better leader tomorrow morning as a result of your Winning Well bootcamp. And I’m almost certain I’ll still be a better leader the following week, and maybe even the week after that.

It’s week three that worries me. How can I be sure to maintain the ROI and that I keep applying these Winning Well techniques when real life hits the fan?” 

John’s question is real. If you’re like most managers, you’ve left more than one training program with good intentions, only to fall back into old behaviors. So how do you make the training stick? 

6 Sure-Fire Ways to Ensure Your Training Sticks

  1. Focus on one behavior change at a time.
    When you learn game-changing leadership techniques, it’s tempting to try everything all at once. After all, if these techniques produce results, you owe it to your team to use them. Right? Perhaps. But not all at the same time. Pick one specific behavior or approach you know will make the impact and integrate it into your leadership approach. Practice it consistently. Tweak it. Make it your own. Ask for feedback. Once you feel confident and competent in that behavior, the timing might be right to add in another technique. Too much change all at once will overwhelm both you and your team.
  2. Find an accountability partner.
    Change is hard, and it can be lonely. It’s much easier to give up when no one’s looking. Find someone you trust who understands what you’ve just learned (someone else in your training class is a great choice). Share the behavior you’re working on and make a commitment to check in with one another once a week to see how things are going and discuss challenges and brainstorm next steps.
  3. Invite your team on the journey.
    Tell your team what you’ve learned and what you’ve chosen to work on and why. Invite them to notice when it’s working and offer suggestions as to what you can do better. Your team already knows you’re not perfect, and they’ll be delighted to know you’re working on becoming a more effective manager.
  4. Teach what you’ve learned.
    One of the best ways to become a rock star at a skill is to teach it. Consider sharing some of the tools you’ve learned and teach them to others.
  5. Ask for feedback.
    Make it a point to ask for feedback on the impact your new approach is having on the people you’re leading. Ask open-ended questions about what you can do to improve.
  6. ww-winning-well-sidebar-impact-live-dec2016-370x370taglineWhen you screw up, apologize and try again.
    New habits don’t come easy. If you slip back into old behaviors, apologize and try again. Your team knows you’re not perfect. They just want to know you’re trying. 

    Training is important, but what matters most is what you do when you get back to your team. With just a bit of focus, you can ensure the strongest ROI for you and your team.

Give yourself (and your team) the gift of a fast start to the new year. Join our Winning Well event in MD this December. Click on the image to the left for more information.

 

5 Proven Ways To Make Your One-On-One Meetings More Impactful

“Nicole” called me looking for help on employee engagement. “Karin, I’m looking at our employee engagement survey and 80% of the respondents said they haven’t had a one-on-one meeting with their boss in the last year. How is that possible? And what do we do now?”

Sadly, it’s not the first time I’ve run into such a situation. If you’re not having one-on-one meetings regularly (ideally once a week) with your direct reports, just start. Show up and listen. Ask where they need help. Recognize effort and accomplishment. Say thank you. Connect.

Don’t over-think, just start.

On the other hand if you’re doing one-on-one meetings, and they feel like a waste of time on either side, read on to discover a few tips to make them more impactful.

I learned the value of a great one-on-one meeting from my boss, Mel, when I took over a new division at Verizon Wireless. She had her assistant schedule a “pull-up,” on my calendar,  so I thought we were in for a casual chat. She jumped  in eagerly and inquired, “So, what’s on your list?”

My list? I didn’t have a list, and asked her for hers to get a sense of the “pull-up” scene. 

Mel’s list was scratched in various colored ink and pencil … clearly she’d been keeping it all week. Apparently, she’d saved interrupting me on IM, phone calls and email by keeping a list of important, but less urgent topics and highlighting the decisions that required dialogue.  I could have leaned over the desk and kissed her. 

From that moment on, I replicated the process with my direct report team, saving all of us from needless interruptions and ensuring we had quality-time for focused conversation.

5 Proven Ways To Make Your One-On-Ones Meetings More Impactful

  1. Build a Two-Way Agenda 
    Mel taught me the power of a two-way, one-on-one agenda. Come with an agenda and ask your direct report to do the same. Develop a cadence of keeping a list throughout the week.  As both a leader and follower, after I learned the fine art of a great one-on-one, I would keep a growing list for each direct report (and my boss)  each week of the important/less urgent things we needed to discuss. This saved us a lot of interruptions and emails along the way. 
  2. Reinforce the MIT (Most Important Thing) and link to the Bigger MIT
    In Winning Well, we talk about identifying the MIT or Most Important Thing you can do each day, each week, and each quarter to make the biggest strategic impact. Meaningful one-on-one sessions link clearly back to that. If you’re finding yourselves stuck in continuous conversation that has nothing to do with what matters most, that’s an important indicator that it’s time for a prioritization conversation. 
  3. Notice Something Great
    The most impactful recognition is often what you notice along the way — it’s the small behaviors and efforts that you reinforce that lead to breakthrough outcomes. If you’re preparing for a one-on-one and can’t think of a single thing going right, here’s the lay-up question, “What are you most proud of this week?” 
  4. Ask Great Questions
    Terrific one-on-ones are a conversation. Come prepared with a few great questions and build from there. 
    -What was the MIT (most important thing you accomplished last week– and why was this so impactful?)
    -What’s your MIT for this week?
    -Where are you stuck?
    -Who else can we engage to help?
    -What do you need from me?
  5. Say Thank You
    Mean it. Be specific. 

It’s seriously hard to have a bad one-on-one if you’re coming from a balanced perspective of strengthening results and relationships. The hardest part is carving out the time and preserving it for your team.