Do Ask; Don't Tell

Do Ask; Don't Tell

If I have learned one thing by working with people in organizations, it’s that there’s much more telling than asking going on. As a business coach, my clients will expect me to ask, at some point in their session, “So what’s the question?”

Technological advancements, competition, globalization, pressure for increased productivity and chasing dollars all contribute to heavy workloads and little free time. So when asked for help, leaders tend to give a quick answer and tell employees what to do. It’s just faster and easier.

Providing a quick answer is the right response when in the midst of a crisis that requires immediate action. But giving a quick answer doesn’t work best when trying to build the capabilities of staff. Employees and leaders get into a pattern of asking and telling. And while that can be frustrating for both, breaking away from that pattern is harder than one would think.

Sweet, Sweet Reward

Sweet, Sweet Reward

Maybe leadership has hung inspirational quotes on the walls of your office, like: “Risk Equals Reward,” “Go Big or Go Home” or “Just Do It.” These messages beckon you to achieve more than you ever thought possible. So you do. Your team busts hard and accomplishes a clear, long-term goal. High fives all around! Now, go after the next big project waiting for you on the other side of the finish line. Wait, what now?

There needs to be a recognizable pause between one monumental accomplishment and the next. That pause can be filled with a simple celebration for what has been achieved. Not a mere slap on the back or an interoffice email, but an actual in-person celebration. Successfully completing a big hairy project doesn’t simply happen; employees expend a significant amount of time — so too should leadership expend critical thought into celebrating their employees’ stellar accomplishments.

A lame trophy, coffee mug or T-shirt is no reward for employees breaking their backs to achieve goals that propel their company forward. (Even worse is when leadership doesn’t choose the reward, instead asking someone else to because they couldn’t be bothered to sprain their brain.) Rewarding excellence is part of a leader’s job. There is nothing worse than working hard, day after day, with nary a nod of thanks. A leader’s lack of sincere...

From The Dinner Table to the Board Room

From The Dinner Table to the Board Room

Some families love being together, some enjoy short visits and others have a hard time just getting through Thanksgiving dinner. So how do families who have decided to go into business together make it work? Recently I had sat down with three families-turned-business-partners to find out.  

The Hard Truth on Trust

The Hard Truth on Trust

Trust is often at the heart of what goes right and what goes wrong. Strong trust leads to constructive conflict while poor trust invites elephants into the room. When a company has a culture of trust,  people keep their commitments. In its absence, team members become unreliable and productivity drops.

Let’s take a step back. Every spring, I anticipate hearing the first thunderous roar...

Directing versus Informing: The Dual-Language Quagmire

Directing versus Informing: The Dual-Language Quagmire

Scenario: You open the refrigerator to find a near-empty milk carton. What would you tell your partner or roommate? Whether you would say, “Get milk when you go out,” or something more like, “Hey, we’re out of milk,” can tell you a lot about your communication style.

As a business coach, one of the workshops I offer is called Interaction Styles. An interaction style is an innate communication pattern that helps us communicate in our lives and at work. There are four basic interactions styles, but because there are 7.5 billion people on the planet, you can imagine...