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Archive for October, 2015


Managing Gen X Team Members

Generation X (born 1960-1980) is a tough generation to manage and motivate. Called “latch key” kids, most were born into either two-parent Baby Boomer families or single parent households. In both cases, many Gen X children had to fend for themselves since their parents were working. As a result, Gen Xers tend to be independent, resourceful employees who don’t like being told what to do and how to do it. shutterstock_105487496

Loyalty to an employer is considered outdated and unnecessary. This generation changes jobs often and for any reason. Keep in mind, they introduced the concepts of benefits portability, work-life balance, and flexibility to the workplace. Generation X works to live and have a lifestyle.

Manage Gen X team members with freedom. Tell them what is needed and how results will be evaluated, then leave them alone. Provide them with state-of-the-art, high tech tools and reward them with more flexibility to work off-site or change the hours they need to be onsite. Understand your company’s family-friendly policies and benefits and help your employees take advantage of them.

See my blog post How Each Generation Views Leadership and my e-book Leading 4 Generations for more information. 


Handling Difficult Managers

Many of us work in stressful environments, but work is made easier when we have a great manager. Some of us, however, face stress from our manager! Let’s face it—some people are promoted into managerial roles without the training needed to do the job effectively. If you work for a manager that seems difficult, here is some information to help you stay motivated and positively productive.Angry man

  • Is it situational? Even the best managers can become difficult when the stresses of the job become too much. If your manager is difficult sometimes, analyze what’s going on that could be contributing to it and take steps to help mitigate the situation. Maybe you could demonstrate leadership by offering to take some tasks off your manager’s desk.
  • Are you and your manager from different generations? This is a big reason for conflict. Baby Boomers (born 1943/46-1960) are process oriented. They expect employees to work in the office and invest long hours to achieve results. On the other hand, Generation X (born 1960-1980) and Millennials (born 1980 – 2000) are easier going about where and how long they work as long as they produce results. (For more help with this, see my e-book Leading 4 Generations.)
  • Is your manager a micromanager? Sometimes a manager micromanages when he or she is new to the job, or you are new to the team. This can be a lack of trust. Some experts recommend staying ahead of a micromanager and providing information and status reports before they are requested.
  • Is it just you or is your manager difficult with everyone? If the behavior seems focused on you, try to discover why this is happening. You may need a conversation with a trusted friend, mentor, or human resources. If your manager is a challenge for everyone, it might be time for a team meeting with your manager or his/her manager.

Before you take any action about a difficult manager, make sure you are seeing the situation accurately. Be objective and ask yourself if you are contributing to the situation in any way. Check my blog post The Value of Reframing.


Are You Positively Productive?

What makes someone positively productive? Test your knowledge by answering yes or no to each of these questions.shutterstock_111462038

  1. It’s a good idea to respond to e-mails when they arrive in the in-box.
  2. Multi-tasking saves time.
  3. Being productive means getting lots of things done each day.
  4. Putting “Urgent” in a subject line ensures a quick response.
  5. Delegating takes too much time and doesn’t work.

How many yes answers are there?

The correct number is zero! That’s right. None of these actions are positively productive.

  1. It’s a good idea to set aside specific times during the day to check e-mails rather than every time one comes in. When you stop what you are doing to check e-mail, it’s an interruption, and it can take up to 20 minutes to re-find your focus.
  2. Multi-tasking does not save time. When you multi-task, your attention is actually flipping on and off, and it can take longer to perform each task than if you did them sequentially.
  3. Checking off items on a list is less important than checking off the right items. Being productive means getting the right things done each day. Always stay focused and plan your day so you contribute the most to your most important goals. Plan your day to produce the results you need.
  4. Putting “Urgent” in the subject line will not ensure a quick response. No one pays attention to “Urgent” or exclamation points in e-mails. If it’s urgent, get on the phone and talk to the person about what you need from them and why you need it right away.
  5. Delegating correctly can work. You should not be working on activities that are better handled by someone on your team. It does take time to choose the right person for the task and bring them up to speed, but when a delegation is done correctly, you will save time in the future.

See my blog posts Three Quick Tips for Improving Productivity and 10 Tips to Be More Positively Productive with E-mail for more information.


What To Do When Your Team Goes Off Track

Things are going along smoothly; your team is delivering quality work on time and within budget. Then, something goes wrong. People are sniping at each other, deadlines are slipping, and so is quality. What happened? What can you do about it?shutterstock_53564389

  • Have you gotten complacent? It’s easy to become complacent as a leader. When things are going well, it is easy to step back and let the team lead itself; however, this is one reason why teams go off track. You have to keep your hand on day-to-day activities and stay in contact with your team. You don’t want to micromanage, but you do need to maintain a leadership presence in the office.
  • Are you relying too heavily on too few people? All of us tend to look to our star players because we know they will always deliver. But those stars fade after a while and begin to feel overwhelmed, and the team members who are passed over will begin to feel overlooked. Spread the work and authority around and cultivate all your team members.
  • Are you forgetting to acknowledge efforts? It can be easy to quickly move from task to task and project to project without taking time out to reward and recognize people. When was the last time you rewarded your team and individual team members? Something as simple as a dessert party in the afternoon can help the team rekindle its spirit.

If your team is no longer performing up to your standards, it may be time to look at yourself and what you can do to turn things around.

See my blog post Motivate Employees for Results for more information.