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Archive for October, 2013


Keep Meetings on Track

In order for meetings to be productive, it is important that they stay on track. Despite this, meetings often end up far from their purpose. Here are some tips for keeping meetings moving in the right direction when they veer off track.Flight Cancelled Sign

  • Stop the conversation and clarify the purpose of the meeting. Refer to the agenda with a comment like this: “This conversation doesn’t seem to be on-topic. Let’s check to see if we need to pursue it now.” If not, say something like, “Let’s focus on the purpose for the meeting and make a note to follow up on that topic.”
  • Make sure the discussion of each topic is concluded before moving to the next item on the agenda. Use a statement like this, “Unless someone has a final comment, let’s move on to the next topic.” Note that by asking for a “final comment,” you haven’t opened the item up for additional discussion.
  • If the meeting keeps wandering off track, stop and re-assess what’s going on. Ask the group why everyone is having trouble sticking to the agenda. Summarize what they say and decide if it is necessary to amend the agenda. Ask for suggestions about moving forward.

While having an agenda and following it keeps a meeting moving in the right direction, meetings can still go off track for all kinds of reasons. Don’t delay taking action when this happens. Step up and figure out what needs to happen to produce the results you need. For more meeting tools, see my blog post Meeting Tips.



Understanding Management Styles

Management takes many forms. The most skillful managers can use many styles of managing to motivate, influence, and inspire people. Understanding different styles and knowing when to use them is an important skill.

Directive. This is based on rank and control. Employees have little say in how work is done. Processes and procedures are followed with no exceptions. This type of style works well in areas where safety is paramount or during emergency situations; however, in most office environments, this style can be de-motivating. Generally, it is used most effectively when training new employees who need coaching and skills development.

Participative. This style relies on empathy, sharing information, being open, and demonstrating a high level of emotional intelligence. It is excellent for creating strong, motivated teams. Everyone has an opportunity to contribute their skills and expertise for the benefit of the department.

Laissez-faire. This style is the manager who takes no active role in how people are working. It works best when managers have staff members that prefer being independent contributors, or when they manage senior employees who need very little input to achieve high levels of performance.

A skillful manager easily moves from one style to another depending on the situation, the people involved, and the results needed for organizational success.



Boost Employee Morale – Again and Again!

Keeping your hand on the pulse of office morale is an important tool for leaders.  The happiest, most motivated employees can lose interest and become de-motivated over time. While motivation is an inside job, there are actions you can take to regularly boost employee morale and keep motivation high.shutterstock_127208399

  1. Show interest in your team. Routinely check in with employees to find out how they are doing. Ask them what might be in the way of their doing a better job or being more productive. Is a step in a process causing a bottleneck? Do they feel stressed about some aspect of the job? Do they have any ideas to improve things? Take what you hear seriously and address the issues they raise.
  1. Be flexible. Allow employees flexibility in planning their time. If possible, give every employee some time to focus on important tasks without interruption. For example, you can rotate phone or reception duties so that everyone gets a break sometime during the day to work on other tasks.  See my blog  post Focus Produces Results for additional information.
  1. Consider cross-training and delegated assignments. Boredom is deadly to productivity. By providing cross-training and delegating assignments, employees gain the opportunity to learn new skills and enhance existing ones. It keeps their jobs interesting, and it gives you more flexibility in making staffing decisions and juggling staffing needs when people are not at work. For more information on delegation, see my blog post How to Delegate. 

Boosting morale and keeping motivation high will make your entire team more positively productive. If you have a tool you use for this, please share it with me. I would love to hear from you. Email me at




Find the Right Employees

Hiring is tricky for most people. You can only find out so much from a resume and a few interviews. The key to greater hiring success is preparation. Follow these tips to make it easier to find the right people.shutterstock_120558493

  • Decide first if you need to hire or if someone already in your organization is qualified or can be brought up to speed. It is more productive and cost effective to use internal staff than bring in someone new. Your existing employees have a shorter learning curve since they already know the company culture and many of the processes.
  • Create job requirements or review them if they already exist. Are the current job duties still valid for your objectives or are changes needed? Now is the time to make changes and rethink the contribution this job makes to your overall success.
  • Clearly define the skills you want in candidates and describe them thoroughly. Separate the skills into “must-have” and “nice-to-have.” It is almost impossible to find one person with everything you want in skillsets. Being clear on your requirements will make it easier to eliminate people and narrow the field of likely candidates to be interviewed.
  • Make any salary adjustments, as necessary, to account for cost-of-living changes since the job was first filled. This is very important if your company doesn’t have a formal salary plan.
  • Carefully review resumes and applications to whittle down applicants to a handful of the most likely.

When you are clear about what you want a job to contribute to your organization and the skills you need in the person who has that job, choosing likely candidates will go quicker and more smoothly. You will more likely find the right person.


Eight Questions to Ask When an Assignment is Delegated to You

When you receive a delegate assignment, ask these questions: Yes delegation woman binders

  1. What are the desired outcomes and goals of the project?
  2. How much authority do you have to make decisions?
  3. Does your manager want to be made aware of any challenges and problems if they occur?
  4. What are the completion date, timelines, and deadlines?
  5. Are checkpoints, scheduled updates, or status reports required? If so, how often and to whom?
  6. What support and training are available?
  7. How will the assignment affect existing deliverables and deadlines?
  8. How will the success of the assignment be evaluated?

Make sure both you and your manager are clear about the answers to these questions to ensure a successful, delegated, assignment.