Avoid These 2 Mistakes When Frustrated at Work

I was at a conference earlier this month and overheard an up-and-coming engineer complaining about his recent transfer to a new boss to a few company friends. He probably had good reason to feel frustrated: A recent department re-org had him now reporting to a former peer, and by his account that former peer wasn’t qualified to be his superior.

frustrated at work

But in complaining, he was making 2 mistakes simultaneously. First, he was in a public forum, not knowing who was within earshot who might know (and then report back to) his boss. Second, his audience was a cohort of friends from his current company.  (more…)

How to Delegate the Right Work to the Right People

In my previous post I talked about 9 things that stop managers from delegating and also discussed the negative effects of holding onto work that should be delegated. In this post I give managers a set of tools so you can successfully let go of control and delegate in a way that works for you.

delegating skills for managers

Full disclosure: There is an up-front time investment. If you want to delegate and you want to do it well, set aside an hour or possibly two to use these tools. Given the time challenges most of us have, it might feel impossible to set aside time to figure out how to delegate. But when you learn to delegate and delegate well, you’ll be freeing up a lot more time in your schedule.

1. Inventory Your Activities


9 Things That Stop Managers from Delegating

As leaders and managers, we know we need to be delegating work, but it’s not always easy to let go.

delegating at work

It seems it’s merely a question of deciding what needs to be passed on and then handing the work off. But a lot of managers and leaders have difficulty knowing exactly what to give away and to whom to give it. Investing the time to mentor others to achieve the desired results can also be a challenge.

But the truth is, leaders cannot move ahead and succeed without delegating, and delegating well.

Do Any of These Apply to You?

Here are nine reasons managers don’t delegate, or don’t delegate as much as they could and should: (more…)

Making a Change: The 5 Phases

I was just talking with a VP of Engineering who wants to shift his approach to interacting with his direct reports. He’s smart, he has opinions, and he’s rarely wrong in his area of expertise. But he realizes that simply telling his people what to do isn’t nearly as useful as helping them figure out for themselves the best next course of action.

And while there may be an appropriate time and place for saying, “Do xyz,” in most conversations, drawing out others’ thinking and helping them see the next best route for themselves is a better way for this leader to develop his people. But that means he has to change his behavior, and that takes some effort and concentration – at least at first.

In my previous post I discussed the brain science of behavior change, and why understanding the neuroscience helps leaders make the change process easier. In this current post I’m talking about the phases of change — because understanding these phases also makes the process easier. (more…)

Making a Change Just Got Easier

“It’s really difficult to just be quiet and listen.” Several people have contacted me about my recent post about extrovert communication mistakes, and the majority response to the post has been that it’s great advice, but it’s hard to make a change in behavior.

brain plasticity

In that post I discuss the common mistake of asking a question of someone you’re in a conversation with to get their input, but then not waiting for their answer before barreling ahead (however well meaningly) with answers of your own or even more questions. My advice in the post is to ask the question then just stay quiet and listen until the other person is finished speaking.

Behavior Change Involves Brain Change

Making such a change sounds simple, but people have been trying it and finding that it’s not coming as naturally or as easily as they wish. And I understand this feeling from personal experience, as well. Behavior changes can be difficult, awkward, and exhausting. But because there are points in our professional lives for all of us when a behavior change becomes necessary or beneficial, we find a way to do it. (more…)

Are You Making These 2 Extrovert Mistakes?

Questions are a crucial way to involve others when you’re having important conversations — whether it’s an influence conversation with a decision maker, a performance adjustment conversation with a direct report, or an informal status update chat with your manager. But there’s a wrong way to ask questions, especially for extroverts.

Communication skills for extroverts

Here are 2 common mistakes extroverts make when asking questions — and what to do instead. (more…)

2 Simple Rules for Constructive Feedback

“I’d like to give you some constructive feedback.”

Constructive feedback tips for managers

Yikes. You know what? That sentence does not make me feel good. It makes me brace for what I’m about to hear. Like many people, it sends my brain into what neuroscientist David Rock calls a threat response.

This reaction is very common among us humans… and that includes the people you manage. Most people are not eager to hear so-called constructive feedback from their bosses. “Constructive,” a word that was once intended to connote the more positive aspects of feedback, is now a synonym for just plain “critical” in many people’s minds.

If you want your feedback to fall on open ears and have the positive impact on your employees’ performance that you’re looking for, there are two simple rules:

Rule #1: Don’t use the word constructive.

Rule #2: Don’t use the word feedback.

That’s right — don’t even utter the word feedback to your direct reports. You can think it to yourself silently if you’d like, and you can read it in this blog post, but just don’t say it out loud.

What to Do Instead


Help Others Say Yes to You

Successful influencers use several strategies to make it easy for people to say yes to them. Among other things, they think ahead and plan for why a decision maker might say no to a proposal, and they come into a pitch session ready to allay fears and concerns. But sometimes even the best influencers cannot predict exactly what a decision maker’s concerns or doubts will be, so they have to find out the old fashioned way — by asking.

Influence tips, useful questions

Just Ask

Successful influencers use a combination of discovery questions and exploratory questions in a pitch session to draw out information, ideas, and concerns from the decision maker in order to take away doubt and uncertainty and clear the path for a yes. Here’s how they do it…


Being More Authentic Increases Creativity and Well-Being

“When we are authentic we are freed up to create.” Psychologist Maria Sirois has dedicated her life to helping others live theirs authentically.


In this short TEDx talk, she discusses what it means to live authentically, and what some of the benefits are to being who we really are:

  • Living an authentic life is how we thrive, and it’s how we get through the toughest challenges in life.
  • Research shows that people who are more authentically themselves innovate more and are more creative.
  • Research also shows that the more authentically we live, the greater our sense of meaning and well-being. The more authentically we live, the happier we are.

Living by Your Values is the Key

One of the cornerstones of living an authentic life is being clear about our values and making  decisions in life based on what we value most.

Values Assessment — What are Your Top 6 Values?

Here’s a simple yet powerful values assessment to clarify your top 6 values, and either begin to put them into action, or continue to live by them with even greater awareness.

Question: Do you have any tips to share for living more authentically? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Was That a Suggestion in the Form of a Question?

“Have you thought about doing it this way?” we might say to one of the people we manage. But what we really mean is: “I think you should do it this way.”

The “veiled suggestion.” We’ve all been guilty of it as leaders at some point in our careers — telling a direct report how to do something indirectly by posing it as a question.

No harm if this happens once in a while — but if posing suggestions in the guise of questions is an ongoing behavior a leader engages in with direct reports, something needs to change. Veiled suggestions do not get the best results from direct reports, and can contribute to performance problems.

Here’s an Example

Let’s say you’re a VP managing a team of directors, and a couple of them are new to their roles. And let’s say you’ve got your job nailed. You know what needs to be done. In fact, you could do the work of some of your newer directs in half the time that they could. You’re practicing patience as they grow in their roles, holding back the urge to simply tell people what to do. (more…)