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Archive for August, 2015


Watch Your Language!

How you communicate and the words you use tell people a lot about you. Your language reveals how confident and assertive you are—or aren’t! Power up your communication skills by avoiding these language traps.Gossip

  • Weasel words. “I’ll try.” “I’m not sure this will work.” Weasel words show lack of responsibility and accountability. Avoid the word try. It includes the possibility of failure and makes you sound weak and unsure of yourself. Passive voice also makes accountability unclear. Note the difference between “The check will be mailed tomorrow” and “I will mail the check tomorrow.”
  • Slang. “‘Sup? ““Wassup? ““Like?” “Whatever!” “Duh!” There is nothing wrong using slang with your friends, but it’s not appropriate for business communication. It’s too casual, and it will diminish people’s perception of you as a professional.
  • Whining. “Poor me.” “Nothing works for me.” “I just can’t get a break.” Do you like being around whiners? No one does. It diminishes your credibility, and you can lose the respect of others.
  • Blaming. “It’s not my fault!” “Joe did it.” Blaming turns you into a five-year-old having a tantrum. Don’t do it. Be accountable and responsible.
  • Gossip. “Pssst! Wanna hear something juicy?” It can be tempting to share information with others, but gaining the reputation of a gossip is not good for your career. Don’t spread stories and don’t listen to them.

Language is powerful and your words can say more than what you mean. Speak carefully and thoughtfully.


10 Tips To Be More Positively Productive with E-mail

Experts estimate that employees receive about 125 e-mails daily although I think most of us would say that number is low! Regardless of how many you get each day, we all spend too much time reading, responding to, and managing e-mail. Here are 10 tips to make it easier.iStock_000030388064Small

  1. Sort incoming e-mails by sender and date. Start with the senders whom you know will not waste your time and with the most recent e-mails.
  2. Use “Reply All” only when everyone really needs to see it. Choose who should see it and delete the rest.
  3. Proofread before hitting send!
  4. Use a meaningful signature that includes contact information, but avoid quotations from poets, playwrights, or religious tracts since they are not considered professional and may even be offensive.
  5. Upload attachments before you write the body of the e-mail since it is too easy to forget them. Double check before sending that it is the correct attachment or version of a document.
  6. Make sure the e-mail is addressed to the right person. If you have three people whose names are Christian, Christopher, and Christine, make sure you choose the right Chris to address.
  7. Use a greeting. In an informal e-mail, use “Hi,” “Hello,” or “Dear [the person’s first name]”. In a formal greeting, it should be, “Dear [the person’s title and last name]”.
  8. Don’t write when you are angry since your e-mail will sound angry. It will probably offend the person being addressed and could lead to a flaming match between you.
  9. Never leave a blank subject line unless you never want a response. Use a subject line that helps the recipient understand what the e-mail is about.

10. Forget using “Urgent” in the subject line or body. No one pays attention to that. If it’s truly urgent, get on the phone.


These 10 tips can help you better manage e-mail. For more information, check out my newest program, Writing and Managing E-mail.


Avoid These Leadership Mistakes

Being a leader is not easy; you are always in the spotlight and are expected to wear the leadership mantle. It can weigh heavy sometimes, and it is easy to slip up. However, too many leadership mistakes can damage your credibility and reputation and ultimately derail your career. Here are three dangerous leadership mistakes to avoid.shutterstock_121207279

Failing to be accountable. As the leader, the buck really does stop with you. You must hold your staff accountable for their actions; however, your manager, colleagues, and employees hold you accountable also. The mistakes and failures of your team reflect on you, and it is a huge mistake to think otherwise or to finger point when something goes wrong. Instead, accept your accountability and take actions to fix mistakes and ensure they never happen again.

Failing to share the big picture. Many leaders are also managers, responsible for day-to-day work. They can become shortsighted by focusing only on getting the job done. However, as the leader, it’s up to you to ensure your team understands that their efforts matter and make a difference. Take time to praise a job well done and devote time at staff meetings to discuss the big picture of the organization and their role in it.

Failing to motivate each employee. Get to know your team members as individuals. You will discover that one size does not fit all when it comes to motivation. Generally, older employees want recognition in the form of money, promotions, and tangible rewards; younger employees want more freedom, flexibility, and high tech gadgets. Some people want public recognition; others prefer something more low key. Find out what each team member wants and personalize how you motivate and reward each. See my blog post Motivate Employees for Results for more information.

Enhance your leadership skills and avoid even more pitfalls and mistakes with my e-learning program Lead 4 Results.


Baby Boomers vs. Millennials at Work

Conflicts among team members are not unusual. Deadlines, scarce resources, differing work styles all contribute to disagreements and clashes. There’s another source of conflict—between generations! In this post, let’s look at Baby Boomer and Millennial conflicts.shutterstock_2927347

Baby Boomers live to work. Boomers entered the workforce at a time when careers followed fairly straight lines from entry-level to executive-level positions like a ladder. For Boomers, company loyalty—while waning—is still important, and people who jump from job to job are looked at with suspicion. This generation believes that you have to put in the time to get ahead and earn rewards. Developing and nurturing personal relationships and understanding office politics are key strategies for Boomers.

Millennials, on the other hand, work to live and have a lifestyle. Keep in mind, Millennials will likely live to be 100 years old. They find nothing wrong with jumping from company to company and taking time out from working for a six-month trek to Asia. For this generation, career is not a ladder; it’s a lattice. Work relationships are mostly virtual, and everyone from the janitor to the CEO is an equal. They grew up on teams where everyone was a winner, and they expect to win all the time.

Can you see where conflicts might arise?

So what can you do?

Build a culture of inclusion where all generations understand and value their differences. Bring your Boomers and Millennials together and encourage your Boomers to mentor the Millennials, who often have little experience or understanding of the workplace.

Need more help? See my blog post How Each Generation Views Leadership and check out my e-book Leading 4 Generations and my class Leading Multi-generation Teams .




Are You Afraid to Delegate?

Delegation is one of the most important tools you have for being positively productive and developing the skillsets of your team. Despite the benefits of delegation, many managers just don’t do it! shutterstock_133981205

Some managers are reluctant to delegate because delegation requires them to transfer authority to the person performing the task. By transferring the responsibility to someone else, they lose direct control over the outcome, but as a manager, they are still accountable for the results.

The key to success is giving the person the support, resources, and training they need to ensure a positive outcome, which leads to another objection. In my Go System workshop, managers state that they don’t delegate because it takes time to bring the employee up to speed.

Yes, it can take time, but you need to think of this time as an investment. If you are doing tasks that should be delegated, you are wasting your time. Keep in mind that after the employee gets up to speed, the task will be off your desk, leaving you with more time for the tasks that only you can do.

See my blog posts Avoid These Delegation Pitfalls and Delegate for Results for more information on how to make a delegated assignment work.