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Tell Em You Love Em

You know the song, “What the world needs now is love sweet love…”. During these times that still seem economically tough and money is tight what can we give that replenishes itself, that won’t cause us worry and stress and still has a positive impact. Love, you say. That is certainly correct. However, the concept of love is filled with lots of dark crevices and deep crannies. I am going to suggest something that does not require a total commitment the way love does.  Let me show you the difference between total and partial commitment: A chicken and a pig were talking about breakfast. The chicken said “I love helping the farmer and his family stays healthy and strong by eating the eggs I produce.” With that the pig snorted “Of course, it’s easy for you and your partial commitment. To get the bacon they love I have to give total commitment and I don’t like that!” Now please hear me, love does not mean giving up your life. Yet, it does mean deep and long lasting change. What I suggest is easier, kind of like the role of the chicken. Just give acknowledgment. Tell people you appreciate their work, their skills, their on time attendance, their cheery smiles in the morning. Here is an interesting point. Years ago Oprah had a book club and then stopped it. The reason why is fascinating. What she said was that she was making lots of authors famous and no one ever sent her a note or called her to say “thank you”. She has since reinstated the book club. So, remember,...

4 Clues that Your Boss is Getting Ready to Put You on a Performance Improvement Plan

We all know that the formal language around a PIP is that it is “designed to facilitate a discussion between you and your boss”. Right! Everyone knows it is really a way to get you to self select out before you get fired. Wrong! If you have a crystal ball and see a performance improvement plan looming in your future do not worry. I’ll say it again. Do not worry. Or at least don’t let the worry drive you to depression and anxiety. Often a PIP can be the best thing to happen to you. It can open up the lines of communication with your immediate boss. It can direct you to find better ways of getting your work done. It can even, surprisingly, put you in line for a promotion. In line for a promotion? That’s obviously not going to happen. Maybe, maybe not. Once you become aware of the invisible realm between you and your boss you can learn how to navigate this complex territory and be prepared to have a more open and honest dialogue. First, you need to learn to read the problem area that surfaces right before the PIP becomes a reality. Here are the signs and then I’ll give you some suggestions on how to handle this tense time. • Trust your gut. There is often a feeling of tightness in the solar plexus area that starts when you wake in the morning and goes with you throughout your workday. This is a body signal that something is up. It is almost always right, like radar of impending danger. • Listen for language clues. You...

Leadership Strategies and Emotional Mountains

There are many of us who learned as children to rant and rave, to make mountains out of molehills, to cry or stomp our feet to get attention. Or, maybe it was not always about wanting attention. Often, in a family the drama queen or king, the persecutor, the super achiever and the martyr are playing their role to keep peace in the family by turning the spotlight front and center on themselves. In being the center of attention they are often taking the tension from arguing parents or problem siblings where discussing the underlying reasons for the tensions are too uncomfortable. Rather than face the difficulties the loud family member are, in a strange sense, saving the family from itself. This also happens at work when there are stressors around projects not coming in on budget, need to downsize, or employees who are yelling out “harassment or micro inequities”, ready for a lawsuit. When emotions are getting out of hand it is best for leaders to let the high maintenance folks have their say. This is the time to ask for the story and listen. The key here is to listen quietly. Did you get that? I mean simply listen. Say “uh huh” as you need to respond. Just don’t put more fuel on the fire. Listening to what someone says without adding your spin will be like putting water on the fire. Sure you can ask questions, just keep it short and simple. Help the drama queen or king think about consequences and ask them to reframe what they are saying by looking from the other person’s eyes. Many ...

Leadership Strategies: Let Them See you Sweat, Just Not Too Much!

We have all been taught that strong leaders are unemotional. They just deal with the facts and get the work done. That is just plain nonsense. There have been enough studies that show when we suppress our emotions we are fodder for all kinds of physical ills. Suppressions of emotions can be costly. Please remember that. Male or female, when we shut down our emotional responses here is what happens to us: blood pressure can go up, immune system tends to go down and we are more susceptible to colds and viruses. Chronic suppressors have a strong tendency toward cardiac problems. Next, it is important to know that our reactions impact those around us, even if nothing is said about how we make them feel, they feel it anyway. So, when you suppress strong emotions others also react and studies have shown that their blood pressure can also become elevated. So, never let them see you sweat may work in the short term, yet for the long haul it will have a negative impact on you and your colleagues. There is a novel way to handle the discomfort of emotional happenings. How about just tell the truth! That is something we do poorly as a culture and when we are in a conflict resolution mode, more people will avoid or deny there is a problem than simply show up, tell the truth and find a way to work it out. Not as hard as we have made it, problem is we need to practice releasing rather than suppressing our emotions. That is great modeling for leaders and will keep...

Leadership Strategies for Emotional Times

We all need to find our own personal way OUT of difficult emotional situations. Out stands for Observe, Understand, and Transform. How we do that can make all the difference in our work relationships and give us high marks as leaders. In my book “Don’t Bring It to Work” I offer some short quizzes and tests to help you observe the behavior patterns that are at the core of most knee jerk responses. These are behaviors you learned as a child, mostly for survival mechanisms in the family. Often someone will be a clown to make up for family sadness, someone else becomes a super achiever to make up for some type of family shame, and another becomes an avoider because the pain in the family needs to be ignored. Once we can observe our own ways of responding to stress and difficult situations and we start the search to understand why we needed to fit into the family in a unique way we can begin to do the hard work of changing and transforming the patterned behavior. Here are some suggestions on the transformational path: • First, describe the situation. Here it is important to find a specific time that has a strong emotional pull and wither talk it out or write it down in detail. • Now go back and rework the situation finding a better way of responding. Again, talk it out or write it down. • Now, if you can meet with the person who was your adversary in the situation and talk with them. You will be surprised how this discussion can change your reaction. Often at...