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January 31, 2015
Filed under: In the News — jonimar @ 8:34 am

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Be tactful when the boss seeks your feedback

January 25, 2015
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , , — jonimar @ 3:30 pm

Q: My boss asked for my honest assessment about a decision he made which I strongly disagree with. How do I tell the truth without alienating him or should I keep my opinion to myself?

A: While honesty is the best policy, some delivery methods are more effective than others. Rather than react immediately, take time to neutralize your emotions and find some merit in his decision. Telling the boss his idea is ludicrous, then having to retract it afterward is worse than biting your tongue.

Why is he asking for your feedback post-decision? Does he appreciate healthy dialogue, debate and challenge to the status quo? Is he second-guessing himself and values your opinion? Or does he test people to see if they are with him or against him?

What is the potential risk of this decision to the organization and stakeholders?

Be honest with yourself; are you sharing your feedback to improve or alter the situation or to score a win by making him wrong and you right? If the latter, you are sure to lose.

Diplomacy and discretion in delivery are more effective than hitting him between the eyes with brutal honesty.

Meet privately and start by stating what is positive in his decision. Be curious. Ask questions about his decisionmaking before sharing your viewpoint.

Do not launch into a full disclosure.

Be brief with your opinion, framing it simply as another perspective to consider. “Here’s what I see from where I sit …”, “In my view …” Wait. Gauge how it is being received before adding more.

Be prepared with alternate solutions if he wants to change course. However, if he is committed to a direction which you believe to be significantly detrimental, perhaps the most honest expression of your integrity is to graciously exit.

 Reprinted from The Province, January 25, 2015.

Don’t let resolutions slip away

January 4, 2015
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , — jonimar @ 7:48 pm

Visualize and plan ahead to make your New Year’s commitments stick

Q: Every year I set new professional goals as my New Year’s resolutions. However, within weeks I lose traction as other priorities take over. How can I create sticky resolutions?

A: There is a lot riding on New Year’s resolutions when viewed as wiping the slate clean, the salvo to breaking a haunting bad habit, or making a dramatic impact. Big goals that require a change in belief or behaviour need more than a public declaration.

Try these four easy steps to improve your resolution retention:

  • Limit resolutions to three stretch goals which can realistically be accomplished within a year.  The more meaningful and relevant they are to you, the easier it will be to stay on track.
  • Envision their successful completion. After creating your resolutions, invest time imagining the opportunities that would be possible for you and others once you achieve your goal. Like an athlete repeatedly visualizing crossing the finish line, revisiting your vision throughout the year will keep you focused and tethered to your resolutions.
  • Create manageable action plans with clear and specific measures so you will be buoyed by hitting ongoing targets. Share your plan with others to demonstrate your commitment to your resolutions. Ask allies to encourage and hold you accountable to your milestones. Celebrate each deadline you reach.
  • Finally, identify three qualities and characteristics you need to personify to be successful. For example, if you resolve to speak up at every meeting you might commit to being bold, outspoken and well prepared.

You, like many, may lose momentum or fall off course. You can recover any time by acknowledging your success to date and revisiting the four easy steps above.  Readjusting your action steps and timelines as needed can eventually lead you to year-end congratulations.

Originally published in The Province, January 4, 2015

Team lead needs support from boss

November 23, 2014
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , — jonimar @ 9:41 pm

Q I am the newest member of a national sales team. My remote boss has told me how he expects us to conduct business in a completely different manner from how the rest of the team operates.

I am having a hard time implementing the leader’s directives. The team is sabotaging me by not following through on their commitments, dismissing my input and disregarding my initiatives. How do I get them on board?

A You have your leader’s trust and confidence but not your team’s yet. Even when you bring external expertise and experience to the table, you are a virtual unknown whom the team will test.

Being a change agent is a challenging role at the best of times. People want to maintain the status quo until they understand the benefit to them of the culture change. Employees resent hidden agendas. They want to be informed of any change management efforts before the fact, not afterward.

To add to the complexity, you are new and it takes time to establish enough credibility for others to follow you.

Your boss may be the obstacle to your success. If your leader is privately giving you different directions than how the team has been functioning, this lack of transparency can cause the members to resist your suggestions and viewpoints. To them, you appear like a self-appointed authority, which is likely being viewed as self aggrandizing.

Unless your boss formally announces you as the team lead and provides role clarity, you will not have the positional power to make changes he wants nor will you have the influence to hold members accountable for his desired results.

If he is unwilling to give you the responsibility and the role, it remains his job to manage this team, not yours.

Reprinted from The Province, November 23, 2014

Give employees time to follow your ideas

October 15, 2014
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , — jonimar @ 9:33 pm

Q: I have a new leadership team of very smart but silent managers. I want dialogue and debate but all I get is blank stares.  So to keep the meetings moving efficiently I end up supplying all the answers. How do I get them to speak up?

A: Sounds like the rate at which you process data is quite different than your team.  Your members may need more time than you are allowing- to take in and absorb the information – to feel confident with their responses.

You already know your message.  Members don’t.  They need ramp up time to get on the same page with you. Before launching into your topic provide a high level overview outlining what you want them to listen for, and explain how the information is relevant to them.  Better still send a summary ahead of time so they feel equipped to share intelligently in the meeting.

Are you overwhelming the listener with dense details, extraneous rambling, or a bombardment of rapid fire ideas- all of which are challenging to sort through?  It is hard to contribute when they are confused.  Keep your message succinct and on point.

Structure the conversation in a logical manner, slow your pace so they can digest your message and connect the dots as you speak.  Pause frequently inviting comments, opinions and ideas into the white space by asking short open ended questions. Remain genuinely open, curious and appreciative of their responses. Then exercise patience rather than pressure as they formulate their answers.

Recognize you are the highest ranking in the room. Sharing your viewpoint too soon or too often can kill discussion. Team members commonly feel the stakes are too high to risk challenging or debating after hearing where the leader stands.

Reprinted from The Province, September 28, 2014. 

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