How to Get Elected Boss

Get Elected Boss

 

The higher-ups have just promoted you to manage the team you once belonged to. Congratulations. Now you need to go out and get elected by your former peers. Our advice? Start campaigning.
The transition from peer to manager is one of the most delicate and complicated organizational situations you will ever experience. For months, or even years, you have been in the trenches with your co-workers as a friend, confidant, and (probably) fellow grouser. You’ve heard secrets and told a few.

You know about every little feud and grudge. You’ve sat around in airport waiting rooms and at weekend barbecues and ranked everyone else on the team. You’ve pontificated about who would go, who would stay, and generally what you would do if you ran the group. And now you do.

Surely, some of your former peers are cheering your promotion and are eager to fall in line. That will feel good, but don’t let their support lead you to do something disastrous—namely, gallop into town with guns blazing.

Why? Because just as surely as some are cheering, others are uncomfortable with your promotion. A couple may have thought they deserved the job themselves. So they’re feeling anything from hurt to bitter. Still others will simply have some level of anxiety about your going from “one of us” to “one of them.” Either way, these former peers are in a holding pattern now, checking you out.

Which is why you need to start the campaign to win them over by creating an atmosphere of stability and cohesion where sound judgments about the future can be made—by everyone. Look, the last thing you want in your new role is an exodus or even low-level disgruntlement. You want people to settle down and function. The reason is straightforward enough. When and if there are changes down the road, you want to make them on your terms. You want a team of engaged supporters who buy in to your vision, not the resistance and nattering of a confused or chaotic crew.

But here’s the rub: You have to campaign without compromising your new authority. That’s right. You have to run for office while holding office. It’s a critical component in moving from peer to manager, and all effective managers go through it, often several times in their careers.

Getting this transition right is all about timing. Your kinder, gentler election drive can’t last forever. Give it three months. Six at most. If you haven’t won over the skeptics by then, you never will. In fact, after a certain point, the softer you are, the less effective you will become. And you’ll be fighting battles that do nothing but wear you down. Save your energy for bigger things and begin the process of moving out steadfast resisters and bringing in people who accept the changes that you and your core of supporters deem necessary.

Fortunately, the transition period doesn’t last forever, and if you handle it right—with a campaign and not chaos—you’ll be in a position to do what’s best for the organization and yourself: lead from strength. – Jack and Suzy Welch

Being a Good Manager: Overcoming 5 Common Myths

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Building healthy culture, promoting innovation and bringing people together are key indicators of a successful manager. While working as an organizational consultant with startups who aim to scale their business, I’ve noticed five recurring misconceptions related to managing people that produce opposite results: unhealthy workplaces, unmotivated employees and frustrated managers. Especially for individuals who have started a business and end up hiring employees and becoming managers, here are five simple myths of managing that will help you turn around the way that you supervise your employees.

Myth #1: “The paycheck is the reward. That should be enough.”
Try this instead: A paycheck will not motivate employees to move mountains. Their paycheck is expected when people show up for work. Most employees aren’t concerned with your business bottom line. They do however concern themselves with the people they work with. The relationship they have with their co-workers and management. Daniel, the CEO of a startup in Santa Monica I work with, often sends a delivery order of chicken soup to his sick employees. I’ve told him that this is the type of gesture that expresses louder than words that his care extends past the quality and/or quantity of their work. An employee vested in the relationship will be happier and as a result more productive, more innovative and stay loyal as the company grows and changes. Yes, people need pay check to eat, but an “A” performance generally requires more than just a paycheck.

Myth #2: “They work for me.” 
Try this instead: It is your job to make your employees successful. A good manager strives to eliminate obstacles that impede their employees from reaching their goals. Try spending a day figuring out what you can do to make your employee’s life easier. When consulting with a local software company, their programmers mentioned that they would be happier if they could have one “flexible work day” where they could choose to work from home. The manager decided to implement this and soon found that his employees would only take advantage of the day when they truly needed it, and were happier and less concerned with balancing their work and life commitments. What obstacles can you remove to help your team meet their goals and achieve their deliverables? Yes, they may contractually work for you, but a good manager is also a servant of his people.

Myth #3: “I’ve told them this multiple times, they should be doing it already.”
Try this instead: Many employees have a difficult time keeping track of verbal suggestions. Verbal feedback is much more effective if paired with written feedback. The research suggests that therapists were more likely to provide higher quality services to their patients when their supervisor gave feedback orally, then followed up with written confirmation of the feedback. Are you frustrated that your employee isn’t responding to in-person feedback? The key word is accountability — and people feel much more accountable when documentation exists to make them easily accountable.

2013-12-02-WrittenFeedback.pngTry adding a followup email to your verbal suggestions. A quick email can serve as a good reference point if the problem persists, can create a paper trail of known issues to use for more formal feedback, and also allows the employee to go back and see a history of their progress. If the instruction already exists in an employee handbook, job description or email and you still notice compliance issues, feel free to cite the document and date to jog their memory and increase their accountability. Yes, your employees may forget your suggestions, but accountability is essential to good management and it is your job to hold yourself and them accountable.

Myth #4: “My employee’s mistakes cost me money.”
Try this instead: Mistakes employees make are typically unintentional and are an opportunity to improve existing systems. While some large mistakes can be very costly. The small day-to-day mistakes you deal with as a manager are perfect opportunities to understand flaws in your system. This upfront cost of identifying a hole in your system will save you money long-term if instead of blaming your employee, you use it as a way to give them feedback and improve your systems.

While working in a small health care company, we worked on a project to transition the responsibility of scheduling patients from the clinician to an in-house scheduling department. Although there were some instances where short-term utilization of billable hours wasn’t optimal, instead of blaming the scheduler, clinician or unreliable patient, we used these instances as a golden opportunity to revisit the scheduling protocols and identify gaps in the system. Yes, there is an instant cost of an error, but there are also hidden savings if you take the time to learn from this expensive lesson by providing feedback about the error and improving your systems.

Myth #5: “It’s faster for me to do it myself, than to train someone else to do it.”
Try this instead: Training takes time, but the time saved after your employee knows the ropes can give you more time to focus on more complicated tasks. Joe, a physician who decided to open a wellness center quickly found that running a boutique clinic was even more complicated than treating medical conditions. He often found himself filing patient charts, scheduling appointments, booking guest lecturers and creating daily activity schedules. When scaling his business, he resisted spending time training his employees on more important or complicated tasks, fearing that it wouldn’t be done correctly. In Joe’s case, by holding onto more complicated tasks, like finding his ideal guest lecturers to come visit his clinic, instead of integrating those into an employee’s workflow began causing later roadblocks when he was faced with more complicated medical-related demands. Once he realized that training his administrative assistant to research leads and give him options allowed him to focus on improving his clinic’s patient experience and he was able to make sure he was always operating at maximum capacity.

When faced with challenges, a manager should identify how these challenges fit within the context of growing their business and creating a stronger organizational structure. By trying these strategies, each obstacle sheds light on a learning opportunity to hone your managing skills, tighten your company protocols and learn about yourself and your team. Adopting these alternative views of the five common myths of management is a great place to start your journey to becoming a great manager. – Sara Gershfeld

Management Lessons: Moving Beyond Our Mistakes

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I departed the plane and as soon as I crossed the security threshold I remembered the book, still on the plane in the seat pocket. It had only been five minutes and the plane was only one hundred yards away but it was impossible to sprint back. I had no boarding pass to get back through security. After pleading with United customer service, I filed the report and was assured the book would be returned. I was so mad at myself I couldn’t see straight.

But there was a lost and found and, after all, my name and phone number were prominently displayed on the front page.

That was months ago. The prized notebook never showed up. I was so crazed to find the book that the day after I left it on the plane, I went back to the airport looking for the lost and found office. The closest thing to a lost and found was the lost luggage counter. A nice woman there informed me there was a room where such things were stored until they were claimed or sent to the rightful owner. I pleaded with a nice woman behind the desk that since I am here now, to please let me check the inventory. She relented, but informed me it was against policy. It might have been my tears that swayed her.

In the lost luggage “room” I was transformed. It was like a home for broken toys and abandoned dreams. The shelves were full of iPods, iPads, laptops, prized notebooks just like mine (but not mine), well-loved stuffed animals, jackets and other priceless items. I thought the items might come alive and develop into a Pixar movie. I gave up on finding the notebook at that point but not on being mad at myself for making such a stupid mistake.

We all get mad at ourselves for making mistakes and we all have stories to tell. I am no exception. There was the time:

  • I hit the “Reply All” button and the message went to all the wrong people. It was too late, the message was out there and I had to go into recovery mode. I was so mad at myself I vowed to never use “Reply All” again.
  • I made an off-hand comment that someone overheard. It was the one person I didn’t want to hear the comment. I kicked myself – I should know better.
  • I drove away with a latte on top of my car where it spilled all over the roof. I had a messed up car and no coffee. I was pissed.
  • Someone gave me the middle finger recently and I responded in a way that had my blood boiling – at myself.

Being the glass half-full guy, I wondered, “When we all get furious at ourselves for making mistakes, is there anything to learn from the anger?” The answer is yes; managers need to keep the self-loathing under control. What can we all learn from our mistakes and anger?

  • Plan – Almost all of my anger-induced events could be traced to sloppy planning.
  • Delegate – If I gave more work away I wouldn’t be so busy and sloppy with my planning.
  • Think – Being thoughtful in how I approach each project and activity would help keep the blood pressure down.
  • Manage Time Better – Being late or overbooked always creates problems.

I suspect that no matter how much we plan, delegate, think and manage time, there will always be those day-to-day events or mistakes we make, after all, nobody’s perfect. Maybe the more important lesson is that when we make mistakes, to recover quickly. And when we’re mad at ourselves, to make sure that we don’t take it out on others in the workplace. -Richard A. Moran

How To Make The Most From A Performance Review

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All too often Performance Reviews are experienced as an unavoidable and rather meaningless exercise. The manager is unskilled at speaking the truth, whether praise or criticism. The recipient is unskilled at asking for more. Both people may be very well intentioned but the time spent seems perfunctory rather than empowering.

So, here’s a list of questions you can pick and choose from to advance the usefulness of your own Performance Reviews when you are the recipient. And you can think through your answers ahead of time when you are the manager and have to provide reviews for your team members.

They are in no particular order and some of them will not apply to your particular circumstance.

* What is your criteria for the evaluation you’ve made of my performance?

* What preparations have you gone through to rate me and give me feedback?

* Please describe in detail what I can do in the short term to improve.

* What will it take for me to be considered for a promotion, or a raise, or a bonus?

* Can I get a coach, or a mentor? And if so, what is the process?

* Are you open to feedback on what more I’d like from you going forward?

* I’d like to mentor someone, would that be appropriate?

* What are the top 3 priorities for the most important long term improvements I can make to enhance my career?

* In what ways am I a good fit for this company’s culture? Where do I not fit in quite so well?

* Please describe how you see my performance: with my team, in meetings, handling my successes and my limitations.

* Please describe how you see my talents and abilities.

* How can I best advance my career in the company, and beyond the company?

* What does this company most need from me at this time?

* How is my performance score calibrated?

* What impact have I had on my team, the organization, and the company?

* Where do you see me on the promotion ladder?

* What are my weaknesses and what can I do to grow stronger in those areas?

* How do I best represent the organization to the rest of the company?

* What do I need to do to expand my scope of responsibility?

* How do you feel about my taking the initiative to open up this discussion with you?

As you can see, some of these questions won’t apply in every instance. And in many cases you’ll want to change the language to fit the terms used in your company.

But, the key here is to take charge of your career and by getting the most from your performance reviews you let your manager know how serious you are about it. –Judith Sherven, PhD

 

Five Bosses You Don’t Want (Or Want to Be)

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What is lousy leadership? Here are a few of the most common ways leaders can get it wrong and too often do.

The first and perhaps most frustrating way that some people blow leadership is by being know-it-alls. They can tell you how the world works, what corporate is thinking, how it will backfire if you try this or that, and why you can’t change the product one iota. They even know what kind of car you should be driving. Sometimes these blowhards get their swagger from a few positive experiences. But usually they’re just victims of their own bad personalities. And you and your company are victims, too. Because know-it-alls aren’t just insufferable, they’re dangerous. They don’t listen, and that “deafness” makes it very hard for new ideas to get heard, debated, expanded, or improved. No single person, no matter how smart, can take a business to its apex. For that, you need every voice heard. And know-it-all leadership creates a deadly silence.

If know-it-alls are too in-your-face, a second kind of lousy leader is too remote. These emotionally distant bosses are more comfortable behind closed doors than mucking it out with the team. Sure, they attend meetings and other requisite functions, but they’d rather be staring at their computers. If possible, all the messy, sweaty people stuff would be delegated to HR managers on another floor. Like know-it-alls, this breed of leader is dangerous, but for a different reason. They don’t engage, which means they can’t inspire. That’s a big problem. Leaders, after all, need followers to get anything done. And followers need passion for their fuel.

A third category of lousy leadership is comprised of bosses who are just plain jerks—nasty, bullying, insensitive, or all three. As one reader wrote us recently: “My boss is abusive, by which I mean disrespectful, finger-pointing, and sometimes even paranoid.” Such leaders are usually protected from above because they deliver the numbers. But with their destructive personalities, they rarely win their people’s trust. That’s no way to run a business, which is why these types of leaders typically self-destruct. It’s never as quickly as you’d hope, but unless they own the place, it does happen eventually.

The fourth type of lousy leadership is at the other end of the spectrum: It’s too nice. These bosses have no edge, no capacity to make hard decisions. They say yes to the last person in their office, then spend hours trying to clean up the confusion they’ve created. Such bosses usually defend themselves by saying they’re trying to build consensus. What they really are is scared. Their real agenda is self-preservation—good old CYA.

Which leads us to a final version of lousy leadership which is not unrelated: bosses who do not have the guts to differentiate. The facts are, not all investment opportunities are created equal. But some leaders can’t face that reality, and so they sprinkle their resources like cheese on a pizza, a little bit everywhere. As a result, promising growth opportunities too often don’t get the outsized infusions of cash and people they need. If they did, someone might get offended during the resource allocation process. Someone, as in the manager of a weak business or the sponsor of a dubious investment proposal.

But leaders who don’t differentiate usually do the most damage when it comes to people. Unwilling to deliver candid, rigorous performance reviews, they give every employee the same kind of bland, mushy, “nice job” sign-off. And when rewards are doled out, they give star performers not much more than the laggards. Now, you can call this “egalitarian” approach kind or fair—and these lousy leaders usually do—but it’s really just weakness. And when it comes to building a thriving enterprise where people have an opportunity to grow and succeed, weakness just doesn’t cut it.

Surely we could go on, but we’ll end here with a caveat. We hardly expect lousy leaders to read this column and see themselves. Part of being a lousy leader, no matter what the category, is lack of self-awareness. But if you see your boss here, take heart. When it’s finally your turn to lead, you’ll know what not to do. – Jack and Suzy Welch

10 Steps to Executive-Level Confidence

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Making the move from middle management to the executive suite requires a healthy dose of confidence. Executives have to make critical, wide-reaching decisions, often with limited information and time—then persuade others to execute those decisions. Self-assurance is a must.

Yet gaining confidence can be a struggle. The “Impostor Syndrome” is real:  researchers at Georgia State University found that 33% of the high-achieving adults they interviewed did not feel they deserved their success. The Imposter Syndrome meant that sufferers opted out of important career opportunities, to their financial and personal detriment.

Women in particular struggle with confidence. They often are less adept at moving forward after setbacks, reading temporary failures as permanent deficiencies, and they often have smaller professional social safety nets than men.

The good news is that confidence can be learned, like any career skill. Here are 10 steps that can have you operating from a place of power:

1) When in doubt, act. It’s the difference between running and stagnant water. When you’re stagnant, doubt and insecurities breed like mosquitoes. Dale Carnegie wrote that “inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.” Fear of failure can paralyze us, as we almost always overestimate the consequences. Build your confidence instead by taking action, often.

2) Do something outside your comfort zone each day. If we don’t stretch our comfort zones, they shrink. Constantly challenge and improve yourself, and you’ll become comfortable doing new things—and you will establish your identity (both to yourself and others) as someone who takes risks. Each new thing you try adds to your knowledge and skill base, and provides you with a foundation of competence. This is the bedrock of any successful career.

3) Put the focus on others. Choose to be conscious of others instead of self-conscious. Ask people questions. Turn conversations into a game where you try to find a connection with the other person. Give compliments generously, and volunteer to help others when you can. Looking for the best in others will help you see it in yourself.

4) Cultivate mentors. Their advice and connections are invaluable, plus you will make better decisions about opportunities thanks to their objective assessments of the pros and cons. And you will be much more willing to take risks knowing you have supporters who will help you get back up on your feet if you fail.

5) Keep self-talk positive. It’s hard to feel confident if someone puts you down all the time. It’s impossible if that naysayer is you. Watch how you talk to yourself. Is it how you would talk to a friend? If not, then make a change.

6) Eliminate negative people from your network. You absolutely need to invite and be receptive to constructive criticism if you want to grow as a professional and as an individual. But recognize that some people will never be happy with you or with life, and it is a waste of time to try to convince them of your worth.  What’s more, their sour outlook on life is contagious. Learn to identify these people quickly, and move on.

7) Take care of your health. Make time for exercise, and get enough rest. Your body must be physically ready to take on challenges.

8) Do your homework. Keep up-to-date on the news in your industry, and know your company and department inside and out. If you have a challenging task ahead, prepare and practice in your mind. Nothing builds confidence like knowledge and preparation.

9) Watch your body language. Your posture and overall appearance affect both your mental state and how others perceive (and thus respond) to you. If you want to be a leader, you have to dress and act the part. Stand and sit up straight, make eye contact, and remember to smile. Wear the professional clothing of your industry. Eliminate the telltale signs of nervousness: excessive twitching, closed-off posturing (crossed arms and legs, hunched shoulders), and shallow breathing.

10) Practice gratitude daily. In a recent study of how successful people spend the first hour of each day, the No. 1 response was investing time in thinking about the things for which they are most grateful. Starting your day by saying “thank you” for the good in your life makes it more likely that you will approach the day’s challenges with the proper perspective.

Like public speaking or leadership, confidence is a professional skill that can be improved. According to Dr. Peter Buckley of Georgia Regents University, “As you add experiences, you’re more likely to gain confidence. And with confidence, you will embrace new experiences.” Start growing your confidence today.

Becky Blalock is the author of the new book, “Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage, and Career for Women in Charge.” You can take a free quiz to measure your current confidence level at her website,BeckyBlalock.com.

Which of These 4 Types of Managers Are You?

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When it comes to management style, many think they can spot an introverted or extroverted manager a mile away. However, within those broad categories are more nuanced interaction styles that can have a direct impact on how an individual manages employees, says Kimberly Gerber, founder of Irvine, Calif. leadership coaching and communication firm Excelerate. Four common types include:

In Charge: This typically extroverted manager has a direct language preference. He or she is comfortable telling people what to do. Those around this manager tend to be responsive to that take-charge style. This person naturally gravitates toward the head of the table and is a little more formal in his or her relationships. Heavily focused on numbers and processes, these managers tend to want to set achievable goals — those that can clearly be accomplished.

Chart the Course: More likely to be introverted and less comfortable being put on the spot, this leader doesn’t like surprises, says Gerber. Unlike the In Charge type who is concerned with the big-picture of “where we’re going” vision, this type of manager is more concerned with how to get there. Chart the Course managers are planners and want to make sure that everyone is on-board and moving in the same direction.

They tend to be very friendly with a direct style and inclusive in gathering input and feedback. However, don’t mistake the Chart the Course manager as soft — he or she has little tolerance for those who are off-plan or not up to snuff performance-wise. Chart the Course managers set an achievable result with careful planning and anything less is failure.

Behind the Scenes: Another typically introverted type, the Behind the Scenes manager shuns the spotlight in favor of data. This type of manager makes consultative decisions and needs a great deal of input from different sources to be comfortable with those choices. Interaction is often small-scale and this manager motivates more individually than his or her more outspoken counterparts, eschewing confrontation. The downside of this collaborative approach is that it takes longer to make decisions and get things done. This manager wants the best possible result based on all of the information available.

Get Things Going: Another extrovert, this manager is the life of the party, Gerber says. Gregarious and well-liked, the Get Things Going manager wants everyone to be as enthusiastic about the plan and outcome as he or she is. This manager intuitively understands that work gets done through people and that harmony facilitates productivity. But don’t mistake them for emotion-ruled — they understand what needs to be done, even if they’re not the most goal-oriented managers. They look for a result that is embraced by the team.

Understanding these types can help you both recognize these qualities in yourself and better understand the managers you have working for you, Gerber says.

How to design a road map toward an engaged workforce

Can you prove the ROI of employee engagement? According to a Gallup survey, companies with world-class engagement have 3.9 times the earnings per share growth rate compared to their competitors with lower engagement. The challenge is planning a route to get employees engaged.Here are four basic tips companies can follow to motivate disengaged employees:

  • Pay according to market value. Many executives don’t like to hear it and would rather offer training or take similar steps. But paying accordingly is critical in moving disengaged employees up.
  • Limit organizational reductions in force. While hard to do, it’s impossible for employees to become engaged if they fear losing their jobs.
  • Manage organizational changes. Whether a market change or a leadership change, proactively communicate it to motivate disengaged workers.
  • Increase trust. Make sure all employees see the value in their company and believe in the brand. Executives must be visible and accountable.

While paying accordingly is important, it isn’t necessarily a motivating factor; it’s a baseline. Employee motivation is like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. People need to be taken care of, have the supplies needed to do the job, know what their job is, and be paid accordingly. Once those baseline needs have been met, you can move employees to becoming engaged.

To accomplish a company’s engagement goals, the process starts with an employee survey to determine what areas need work. The survey should be used as a starting point. To achieve the best results, develop the survey with experts from a third party who understand what motivates employees.
Based on responses, develop a plan for areas that require immediate attention. If there’s something that can be done, work on a plan to make a change. If a change cannot be made, explain why. It’s important for employees to know that action is being taken regarding a survey.
After changes are implemented, measure to see if there’s been an increase in revenue or productivity. Generally, a baseline is measured before the survey and six months to a year later to see if those factors increased.
Engagement takes a long time. But if you are genuinely trying to increase employee engagement, you will get a return on your investment.

What It Takes to Be a Boss Every Employee Loves

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Being a successful leader means being good at what you do and possessing integrity. But more than anything, it’s about your ability to build healthy relationships with others — particularly those who work for you.

As an entrepreneur, you’re viewed differently than you were when you were a manager or colleague in a traditional job. You stand to gain the most from the company’s success, and it is easier for your employees to think you’re more interested in the business than them and their lives. Your success is paramount, but it shouldn’t be achieved at the expense of healthy relationships with those you depend on.

1. Don’t treat people as transactions.
Years ago in my first real job out of college, I was delighted to have my very own assistant. She was a very capable and competent woman who I really liked. One day while a client was visiting the office, I made the naïve mistake of introducing my assistant by saying, “This is Teri. She works for me.” Teri’s response would have served me better in private, but her point was valid none-the-less: “I work with you, Mark, not for you.”

I meant no ill respect with my choice of words, but it suggested to Teri that she was a means to an end, that I was “above” her. And while technically she did report to me, the difference between working for and with someone is critical. The former can make a person feel conquered, while the latter signals collaboration.

Think through how you title and refer to your employees. Focus on reciprocity: look for ways you can help them achieve their work-life goals while they help you achieve yours. And guard against letting tasks trump a true regard and appreciation for the relationship you have with those who have voluntarily chosen to work with you.

2. Invest in those you value.
The ultimate test of value in a relationship is how much time, interest and support you are willing to invest. Rather than ask, “What have you done for me lately?” turn the tables and ask yourself what you’ve done lately for those you truly value.

Here’s one way to invest for great dividends: identify the potential in an employee that he or she doesn’t recognize in him- or herself. Often people are blind to their own abilities or potential, and good leaders not only recognize these latent strengths, they help develop them.

Several years ago, my office manager was spending more time on our website and technology platforms. A colleague was presenting a multi-day event in Las Vegas that I knew would give my team member information and skills to help her in these areas. Going to Las Vegas for the event was an added perk, so I gladly paid for the seminar and trip. She came back better equipped for her work, knowing I was willing to invest in her success.

3. Be involved, but know your limits.

You can work in the same office space with people every day and still be absent because you are preoccupied with your own worries. An open door policy means nothing if you don’t stop what you’re doing long enough to give your attention to those who walk through it.

How can you do this? Make it a point to “check in” with every employee each day. That means a simple but sincere question: “How are things going?” Listen and if necessary, probe for information you can use to support your employees. Identify frustrations they are facing, opportunities they’ve recognized and gauge their emotional energy and commitment to their work.

You’ll know you’re micromanaging when you’re spending more time telling someone how to do something than you are in clarifying what needs to be done. A thorough explanation with a chance to ask questions is vastly different than a droning presentation about how you’d do it. Give people the freedom to achieve the best results in their own way.

4. Show your gratitude.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints from employees who feel underappreciated by their manager, but I’ve never heard anyone complain they were recognized, rewarded or appreciated too much. I’m puzzled at why so many entrepreneurs and leaders are reticent to voice appreciation. Don’t be afraid of over-doing it. You connect with people more deeply when you recognize the best in them and let them know.

Here’s a powerful way to show appreciation: When you get feedback from a customer about someone on your team who has done a great job, get their permission to record it. Then play the recording at the next team meeting. There is even more power in a customer’s expression of a job well done than simply acknowledging it yourself.

Growing your business successfully means doing all that you can to make your team want to work their hardest for your cause. That means connecting with employees in a meaningful way.

By Mark Sanborn  an author, speaker and president of Sanborn & Associates Inc., a leadership development firm based in Lonetree, Colo.

What do you do to deepen your connections with employees?

6 signs your co-workers are out to get you

Knowing what to look for if you think someone might be sabotaging you at work requires going back to grade school in your mind. Essentially, our co-workers are the same people we went to school with and the same individuals that taunted their fellow campers at camp. I hate to say it, but each of us brings both good and bad behavior to work. Many experts will say that it’s the bullies who are insecure, and therefore, in order for them to feel better about themselves, they have to push around the people who are perceived as weaker. More often than not, a bully in grade school is the same bully at work.

It’s human nature to be competitive, of course. And born out of our drive to win, some of us “play dirty” from time to time. Ever cheated on the golf course? Maybe just improved your lie? Almost all of us do little things to try to get an advantage. When the stakes are high, whether it’s about winning a game or a pay raise, bonus, or promotion, we sometimes take the attitude that we must win at all costs. Here are the signs that maybe you’re not paranoid and your co-workers really are out to get you.

Not getting credit where credit is due

We’ve all been in the meeting where your co-worker, or even your boss, doesn’t acknowledge your contribution to the project. I’ve been in team situations in which the leader has taken the credit for winning an account and never credits the “cold caller” for opening the door or the closer for closing the deal. Truth be told, it was the door-opener, the closer, the creative team, and the leadership.

Avoidance

I have a client I’ll call Allen who was asked by the CEO of his company to welcome and support the new president. It was a difficult request, since it was the ousted president who had brought Allen into the company. But after all, he was still an employee. So, out of a sense of fair play and team loyalty, Allen wholeheartedly welcomed Sheila. After a couple of weeks he realized that his fellow co-workers were avoiding him. They no longer would come to his office for the occasional chat, there was no water cooler conversation, and basically they started treating him as an outsider. What Allen soon realized was that his co-workers were sabotaging the new president and that Allen was going to be collateral damage.

Loss of control

Losing control in the workplace is often a devastating feeling, and it erodes self-confidence. I remember one candidate I’ll call Sandy who was working as the SVP of client services at a major healthcare agency. She hired a smart, strategic thinker to work on a major account. At first, the colleague was in Sandy’s office on a regular basis, soaking up, as Sandy puts it, knowledge about the client, the office politics, etc. After six months, Sandy noticed that her colleague was going directly to Sandy’s boss (with Sandy’s ideas, usually). This person was also trying to undermine Sandy’s authority with other people in the client services department. The good news with this situation was that Sandy had a very long and solid relationship with her boss. They both recognized the struggle for control of the office and approached the newbie to fix it.

Being left out of the loop

Ever walked by a conference room to see your entire team gathered for a meeting you weren’t invited to attend? Sometimes, being excluded means something. It almost always does when nobody in that conference room goes out of their way to assuage your concerns afterward.

The sharp elbow game

As the workplace has become more treacherous, a new expression has emerged: being “thrown under the bus.” Just a few years ago, nobody knew what this saying meant. Now, however, when people start throwing colleagues under the proverbial bus instead of defending them like professionals, le jeux sont fait! (This is a French expression meaning, essentially, “the game is on.”)

People talking trash about others

If you hear your colleagues talking trash about others, most likely they are talking behind your back as well. This is the type of behavior that undermines a company’s culture, damages company morale, and ultimately, interferes with the company’s ability to deliver in the marketplace. Do all you can to refrain from talking negatively about colleagues at any time. There’s a reason why the expression “don’t shoot the messenger” is so prevalent. As often as not, the messenger gets shot.

Think about the playground in sixth grade. Remember the bully? The brainy kid? The jock? The popular kid? These and other roles persist in many workplaces. How did you manage when you were a kid? Sometimes practicing the Golden Rule is a great place to start. Stay vigilant though, because in most workplaces, that’s not enough.

By  Erika Weinstein  who is president and founder of eTeam Search.