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In Disagreements at Work, Consider Your Colleague’s Perspective

Wed, 2017-07-26 11:30

When you get into a disagreement with a coworker, it’s easy to focus on your own feelings and ignore your counterpart’s. But wallowing in your own frustration won’t get you anywhere. Instead, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What do they want from the situation? Why are they acting this way? Think about the kind of person you’re dealing with. Are they more of a straight shooter who says things like they are, or do they tend to beat around the bush? If you frequently work with the person, you may already be familiar with their style. But if you rarely interact, you’ll have to do some digging. Look for patterns in how they communicate and clues in their behavior. And get input from others — don’t go around grilling people, but ask them to confirm or deny your observations.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict, by Amy Gallo

To Improve Your Focus, Stop Responding to Client Emails Right Away

Tue, 2017-07-25 11:30

When an email from a client or customer comes in, it’s easy to put aside whatever you’re working on to respond right away. But although being responsive to customers is important, constantly checking and sending emails can hurt your productivity. If it’s not possible to divert these kinds of emails to a customer service rep, set up a realistic response window for yourself. Try replying to emails once every four hours or at the end of the business day. If you’re worried that your clients will feel ignored, put up an auto-response to tell them when you’ll be checking email and to instruct them to call if they have an urgent issue. That way, you can use your largely uninterrupted workday to focus on getting projects done, not managing your inbox.

Adapted from “Your Team’s Time Management Problem Might Be a Focus Problem,” by Maura Thomas

Think Twice Before Challenging a Negative Performance Review

Mon, 2017-07-24 11:30

No one likes to get a bad review, especially one you think is flat-out wrong. But before you tell your boss that their assessment missed the mark, bite your tongue. Instead, say something like: “This assessment comes as a surprise. I’d like to think about it and perhaps have another conversation before this becomes official. May I get back to you in a day or two?” That lets your boss know that you’re concerned about the accuracy of the evaluation without having to achieve instant resolution. Then sleep on it. Think about your performance over the past year to consider whether your boss’s assessment might be on target — or at least not so far off that it’s worth making a major fuss over.

Adapted from “What to Do When You Think Your Performance Review Is Wrong,” by Dick Grote

Don’t Let Political Discussions Hurt Your Relationships at Work

Fri, 2017-07-21 11:30

In today’s ­­politically charged climate, it’s easy to feel stressed out at work if your coworkers don’t share your political leanings. Some issues may make you furious, while other topics that seem innocuous to you may enrage a colleague. To keep things civil, respect the opinions of others and know when to disengage. It’s important to walk away when discussions get too heated — you don’t want to ruin a professional relationship over a few moments of frustration. Keep in mind that constant exposure to the barrage of political news can heighten your stress levels and feel overwhelming. Cutting down your intake (while staying informed) can make you less likely to get into a sparring match with your coworkers at the office.

Adapted from “Navigating Political Talk at Work,” by David W. Ballard

Decide How Long You’re Willing to Wait for a C-Suite Position

Thu, 2017-07-20 21:07

Job performance is a huge factor in whether you get promoted, but timing is also critical. If you’re waiting to get shortlisted for the C-suite, it can help to know how long you’ll be in line and whether it’s worth sticking it out. Take a look at who’s ahead of you. If you’re a number two executive, and the current C-suite leader is young, popular, and only a few years in, you’re probably in for a long wait. But if you know that your current boss is looking for a new role, the promotion could be only a few months away. Once you have a good sense of the timing, decide how long you’d be willing to wait for the C-suite position and what the chances are that you’ll actually get it. If there’s no spot opening up in the timeframe you’re comfortable with, that might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Adapted from “How to Get on the Shortlist for the C-Suite,” by Cassandra Frangos

Don’t Skirt Important Issues During Your Next Meeting

Tue, 2017-07-18 11:30

Too many meetings drag on without participants discussing the real problems that need to be addressed. People talk around the important issues during the meeting and actually address them before or after it — which renders the meeting a waste of time and makes you, the meeting organizer, look bad. Combat this risk by explicitly asking that issues be discussed in the meeting, not outside of it. Be specific about the meeting’s topic, letting everyone know ahead of time what you expect their contributions to be. State the meeting’s purpose in the agenda, and reiterate it when the meeting begins, explaining that all problems should be raised in the room. While some people may resist your directness, calling out difficult issues at the start of a meeting will increase the likelihood of candid discussions rather than hallway gossip.

Adapted from “The Right Way to Start a Meeting,” by Liane Davey

To Motivate Your Employees, Draw from Your Own Experience

Mon, 2017-07-17 11:30

It’s not always easy to get the most from your employees. If you’re struggling to inspire the people on your team, look to your past. Think about your own experience and what motivated you when you were in the lower levels of a company. Who was the best boss you ever had? What did that person do to make you want to perform at your best? Reflect on what made your boss’s motivational strategies so effective for you. What specifically did they do to earn your trust and admiration? Now think about how you can apply those lessons to your own team. Which motivational tools will work for them? Be fearless in examining your own behavior and curious about how your employees respond to you. Repurpose your favorite boss’s techniques and make them your own.

Adapted from “Motivating People Starts with Having the Right Attitude,” by Monique Valcour

Build Your Skills Inside Your Company Before Seeking Outside Opportunities

Fri, 2017-07-14 11:30

When you’re looking to build your skills for your next career opportunity, it’s tempting to seek out positions at other companies. But it’s often easiest to deepen your expertise within your current organization. After all, you’ve invested time and effort there to build your reputation, earn trust, and establish credibility. You’re also familiar with the culture and probably have more access to opportunities in-house than in the broader industry. So start close to home and seek out special projects or stretch assignments. Ask your manager about options available to you, including any temporary assignments such as taking on new tasks during a colleague’s maternity leave or sabbatical. Look into formal training programs as well, such as technical apprenticeships or outside degree programs that your company will pay for.

Adapted from The Harvard Business Review Manager's Handbook

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