One Simple Strategy to Be More Effective as a Manager

The Dysfunctionally Connected WorkplacePeople often ask me how they can be more effective as a manager. One approach I recommend is to meet one-on-one with each of your direct reports for 15 to 30 minutes at least once every two weeks.

Having one-on-one meetings is a simple strategy and just plain common sense—but it’s not common practice, according to polling we conducted together with Training magazine earlier this year. When we asked people what they wanted out of their one-on-ones with their immediate supervisor, we discovered managers aren’t making time to meet with their direct reports on a regular basis—and when they do meet, they aren’t using the time effectively. (See infographic.) Continue reading

5 Keys to Connecting With Your People

bigstock-Different-46099117I was talking with some friends at a recent morning men’s group. Our focus was on the importance of being connected to other people and what it means. We came up with five things we think help you really get connected to others—at work, and in all aspects of life. How would you rate yourself in these five areas?

  1. Listen more than you speak.  We talked about listening a lot. If God wanted you to speak more than listen, he would have given you two mouths!
  2. Praise other people’s efforts.  This one has always been so important to me. Catch people doing things right.  That really helps you get connected with people.
  3. Show interest in others.  It’s not all about you. Find out about people and their families and learn about what’s happening in their lives.
  4. Be willing to share about yourself.  In our book Lead with LUV, my coauthor and former Southwest Airlines president Colleen Barrett said that people admire your skills but they really love your vulnerability. Are you willing to share about yourself?  I think being vulnerable with people is really important.
  5. Ask for input from others—ask people to help you.  People really feel connected if they can be of help to you. Continue reading

Great Leaders Walk Toward Wisdom, Part 2

In my last blog I talked about walking toward wisdom as one of the four major areas of growth for leaders and aspiring leaders, along with gaining knowledge, reaching out to others, and opening your world.  During your lifelong pursuit of wisdom, it is necessary to do a thorough self evaluation and also to be continually open to honest feedback from others. In addition, you must seek out the counsel of those with more wisdom and experience than yourself. Continue reading

Great Leaders Walk Toward Wisdom, Part I

As I continue on with the lessons from Great Leaders Grow, my latest book written with Mark Miller, you may notice that all three of the previously mentioned areas in which leaders must grow—gaining knowledge, reaching out to others, and opening your world—are lifelong pursuits. Our fourth way to assure growth as a leader, Walk Toward Wisdom, is no different. The pursuit of wisdom never ends for those who aspire to leadership. Continue reading

Is Conflict at Work Ever a Good Thing?

Many people assume that conflict in the workplace is always bad. But I think there are times when conflict is good—because if everybody always has the same opinion about everything, somebody’s not needed around here!

I love to gather a team around me where people have different opinions and feel free to disagree with each other about things. Why?  Because in this way, one plus one can equal about ten, if people share different points of view. One of my favorite phrases is “No one of us is as smart as all of us” and that especially rings true when you have people around you who aren’t afraid to give you their opinion on something. Everyone can work together for the greater good. So it’s healthy to encourage a little conflict or difference of opinion at work, as long as it’s constructive.

If some people on your team have personality conflicts and are just causing trouble and drama, that’s a different story. That’s a problem you may need to deal with as a leader. But generally speaking, if you encourage different opinions, you can learn what everyone is thinking and work out the best decision for the team as a whole. You don’t want a bunch of “yes” people around you or it may lead you down the wrong road.

My father, who was an admiral in the navy, used to tell me, “Ken, if you don’t hear complaining from your people, watch out because it means there’s going to be a mutiny!”  If you aren’t hearing about concerns and conflicts, it may be because your people have cut you off from the channels of communication. You need to know about those things and encourage that kind of sharing. Let your people know that they can have a different opinion and still survive around you, because you are open to hearing their ideas. It will benefit your team and, ultimately, your entire organization.