What will you spend the most time doing at work today? Meeting? Planning? Problem solving? According to the United States Department of Labor we will all invest 55% of our time at work today listening!

Now, here is the important question. Are you listening to really understand what the other person is trying to convey, or are you listening to simply craft your response? The answer to that choice will be the single most important indicator of your success as a leader.

For the rest of the day, when someone speaks to you do these three things: 

  • First, stop what you are doing and really listen to what they are saying. 
  • Second, suspend judgment. Ask them to give you an example of what they are talking about, or ask them why they believe it is important. Force yourself to dig deeper with them.
  • And finally, thank them for even taking the time to speak with you.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, “It is the privilege of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.” This would be a good day to grow a little wiser!

Be encouraged,

Posted on September 10, 2016 .


Who are you going to encourage today?  Another way to ask this is, “Which one of your associates needs confidence, courage, or hope?” Chances are very good that you have at least one employee today desperately in need of one of those three.

Managers play a unique role. By the virtue of your title, employees look to you for help.  But your title alone will not suffice; they need you to show up! Mother Teresa once wrote, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

So, here’s how you can choose. Select one employee who needs more confidence to do their job. Select another employee who needs to take a risk but lacks the courage. And finally, select an employee who seems to be losing hope for their job or maybe even their career. Show up with the intent of encouraging them and the words will come to you.

Be encouraged,

Posted on August 12, 2016 .

Developing Your Team

Are you developing the skills of your team? You can't afford to have associates who have become complacent.

Today, try this: What is one thing on your list of action items that someone on your team could do? I realize you do it best, but what could someone else do with a little training?

Now, decide who on your team; it would be a step up for them to do this task that you usually do. Meet with them and explain what you are delegating,
why it is important to the enterprise, and express your confidence in their
ability to do it.

Step back and let them do it - even if they stumble at first. Resist the temptation to tell them how; simply communicate the results you expect. Show your appreciation when they "Get it done!"

Everyday, remove one more task from your action items. You will be building a competent and capable team, and creating time for you to do more "leading" than "doing".
Be encouraged,

Posted on July 26, 2016 .

Be A Good Scout

Are you on the lookout for big obstacles? If you aren't sure then today is the day for you to "scout ahead".

Ask each member of your team to give you fifteen minutes in-person or on the phone. This conversation is about only one question, so discipline yourself to stay focused. Ask each team member this question in your one-on-one meeting, "What is the biggest obstacle threatening you from achieving the goals for your job?"

Each answer will be important. And when you put them together collectively after the last meeting then you will see the common trends as well as the unique and unexpected challenges ahead.

I don't know what else you were planning to do today. But, can you think of anything more important to the success of your team than you, as the leader, getting a clear picture of what they see as obstacles?

It has been said many times before, "A good leader defines reality, provides the necessary resources and says thank you". Today is your day to define reality.
Be encouraged,

Posted on June 1, 2016 .


When's the last time very member of your team heard you thank them for something they are doing well? I know you're afraid that they will slack off if you brag on them. Really? Are you like that? When your boss commends you for something specific that you have done well, do you kick back and slack off?

Of course you don't. The truth is you do the opposite. When others brag about our strengths we try to live up to that. And your team is no different. They will respond positively to your appreciation.

So, write down the names of all your direct reports in a vertical column on the left side of a piece of paper. Then by each name write down specifically what they have done well. When your list is complete then go to each person, one-by-one, and in private and tell them the good work you have observed.
You just might be surprised at the difference it makes in your team's performance this week!
Be encouraged,

Posted on May 25, 2016 .

Improvement Challenge

Do you remember when graduation signaled the end of studying, learning and testing? Well, those were the good old days.

Your team, every member of your team, needs a growth challenge. It might be a new skill their job demands. It might be a new body of knowledge they need to master. But everyone needs to be growing!

And how about you? As a leader what is your growth goal? How will you improve over the next six months? How you and your team answer those questions will chart your future.
Be encouraged,

Posted on May 13, 2016 .


Are you an influencer or an irritant?  Most managers would choose the former but often end up being the latter.  In today’s market, influence is the key to building a collaborative work environment.  But how do you get it?

First, you have to see beyond yourself.  Most of your work time is spent planning, equipping, and executing with your team.  But who provides the input your team needs?  And who has to handle the results of the work you and your team produce?  In other words, can you see the other teams around you and consider their needs right along with your own?

Second, you have to over communicate with your colleagues about how you and your team can better integrate with theirs.  You have to know their goals, how your work impacts them, and seek to make that impact positive!  In other words, you have to accept that you are your “fellow manager’s keeper”.  And each time you do then you are building your influence.

Third, are you willing to listen?  I mean really listen to what your colleagues are saying, and do so in a way that they feel like you have their best interest on par with your own.  Each time you do this you are building trust, credibility, and influence.  There is no middle ground here.  You are either viewed as a leader with influence or they whisper about how much you irritate them.  You get to choose.
Be encouraged,

Posted on April 26, 2016 .

Why Do You Listen?

Why do you listen?  For new information…to get to the truth…so you can figure out what’s wrong?  Those are valid answers but they are not the best answer.  The most important reason for a manager to listen, really listen to what others are saying is because of how it builds others trust in you.

There are three reasons.  First, when you are listening just to respond the other person (or people) can sense that you are about to pounce.  It makes them very cautious about what they say to you and hesitant to even tell you anything.

Second, when you are listening to point blame then it feels like an inquisition or a bad episode of Law & Order!  And who wants to speak when they fear their words will be used against them.

Third, when you listen, really listen without response but only curiosity then you validate the other person.  In fact, there are few circumstances in life where we feel more valued than when someone truly listens to us.

So, why are you going to listen today?  Because it’s the best way to gain influence, respect, and credibility without opening your mouth!

Be encouraged,


Posted on March 24, 2016 .

Make Your Own Weather

Chances are you didn't return to work this week with a sense of optimism for the New Year. Even if your business is growing there are too many troubling signs to damper your enthusiasm. 

Now, how does that affect your associates? An employee’s motivation for work is influenced most by their manager. Here are three ideas to help: 

First, get out in front of the Presidents State of the Union by giving your team an update on the state of your business in general and their work in particular. 

Second, focus on what they can impact. While global issues are important, do they really impact your team’s day-to-day tasks? 

Third, get a head start on pointing out what they are doing well and where improvement is necessary. Empower your team to take charge of their personal improvement. 

Alan Weiss admonished me recently to, "Make today your perfect day." And he's right; you and I make our own weather everyday.

Be Encouraged,

Posted on January 7, 2016 .

Customers Matter!

No manager alive today would deny that customers matter. But do your words and actions tell different story? There are three critical questions every manager must use to measure their "CAE" - Customer Awareness Effectiveness!

First, in the past 48 hours (workdays), which customers did you speak with personally about your team's customer service? Second, when you asked them, "On a scale of 1 - 10, how is my team doing serving you?" - what was your average score? And third, when you asked, "What's one thing we could do to improve? What was their answer?

Don't let yourself off the hook! Call a client or customer today and ask questions 2 and 3. And then make it a habit to do it at least three times a week. You will discover what your customers/clients really value and what you need to do immediately to get better at providing it. If you do this for 90 days you will see a dramatic improvement in your customer delight and an uptick in your performance!

Customers only matter if you listen to them!

Be Encouraged,

Posted on August 25, 2015 .

What Difference Does It Make?

As a manager, how do you handle the many opinions that swirl in your mind everyday? The greatest temptation is to just express them. 
Letting your team know what your thinking about every action seems to make sense. Until, that is, you step back and think about it. So, what's the best approach?

First, ask yourself if what you are saying will bring clarity to the situation. 
If you are only going to confuse what's being done, then think before you speak. Second, how can you express your opinion in a way that is encouraging rather than deflating?  Your ideas will always carry more weight than you realize.  

And third, what happens if you say nothing? Your words should always add encouragement or direction. It took me years to learn to appreciate the wisdom of an unexpressed opinion!

Be encouraged,

Posted on July 15, 2015 .

Managing Millennials

Well, it finally happened. The end of an era, the day that there are more millennials in the workplace than baby boomers has finally arrived. We were the first great generation of office workers in American history.

On our watch we brought radios at work, office parties, and the need for a department called HR. We weren't just agents of change - we were the change.

But now it's over. With perhaps the exception of The Villages in central Florida, our influence is fading fast. So, how do you manage millennials? What motivates them? What are they working for?

Unlike the boomers there is no one answer. First, they were raised, for the most part, with parents who encouraged them to find their own way.

Second, their first loyalty will not be to their job. You have to engage them daily.  And thirdly, they are the most connected and aware generation ever. I can hear some of you saying, "yes, but..." No buts! Is it the best of times or the worst of times? (To quote Dickens) here is the answer - it's their time - get used to it!

Be encouraged,

Posted on July 1, 2015 .

Getting Engaged

Engaging Employees is like "Getting Engaged."

So, how do you get your employees more engaged? It's not too much different than the way we used to think about this word in the last century!

First, is this employee a keeper? In your opinion, do they have the knowledge, skills, and attitude to exceed your performance expectations?  This will require you to give some disciplined thought and reflection about each associate.

Second, what are you going to offer to demonstrate your sincerity? 
I.e., the ring! Here is the best I have heard, "I have an opportunity for you to improve your skill in (fill in the blank) would you be willing to invest 
some training time in this?" If this is answer is yes, resist the temptation to hug them!

Third, set a date. When will they do the training? Is it online, in class, OJT?  Have these questions answered before you ever pop the question. And be sure to follow through with your commitment. Broken engagements hurt everyone.  

Be encouraged,

Posted on June 16, 2015 .

How's Business?

"How's business?" Have you been asked that lately? Chances are that even your employees are curious about how you see things. If you are positive then it gives them reason to relax.

But we live in a world where predicting the future has become tough. Instead, talk about "today's business". What customers (or clients) will we serve today? How can we do more than they expect? How can we make a profit on today's work?

Your employees will be more encouraged. Your customers will be more pleased. And string together a week of these and you just might have a good answer to "How's business?"

Be encouraged,

Posted on May 8, 2015 .

A Manager's Manners Matter

I can't believe I actually wrote that. But wait, I am serious. Your manners matter now more than ever. Few, if any, of your employees jump out of bed like it's Christmas morning and head to work. In fact, by the time they get to work they have had to deal with all sorts of problems - child care, illness, juggling bills, checking on a parent, figuring out a schedule, etc.

The mood you set at work can either push them up or push them overboard! Do these three things everyday: first, personally greet every employee. Don't wait for them to come by your office. Go to them. Say good morning and engage them in a brief and encouraging conversation. Save the work orders for a little later.

Second, throughout the day make sure you thank them at every opportunity. And no, they should not be thanking you that they have a job. It actually costs you about $12,000 out of pocket to replace a good employee. You can't afford for them to feel ignored and unappreciated.

And third, try to catch them at the end of the day and wish them well for the rest of the evening. You will probably be the only person in their life saying good morning, thank you and hope you have a good evening. The payoff? Well, no team ever performed at a high level for a boss they detested!  

Be encouraged,

Posted on April 20, 2015 .

Goal or No Goal?

There is often a debate over whether to set specific goals or stay nimble and just respond to market forces. Behind the debate is the pursuit of perfection - a foolish effort. 

Of course you want your team to set measurable goals that will help direct their daily effort. But you also want them to be ready to come off the goal and pursue a new opportunity when it appears. 

This is where you come in. As their manager, you should be the first to call an audible. And if the play fails, be the first to shout "No problem! We'll get 'em next time!" This is the reason coaches are on the sidelines, where they can see the field, and captains are at the helm to see the horizon. 
By the way, where are you positioned today? 

Be encouraged,


Posted on April 13, 2015 .

Juggling Bowling Balls

Believe or not, it's possible! In my professional association are two guys known as "The Passing Zone" and they even juggle chain saws! But c'mon, how can a manager plan, lead, and do all in the same breath?

Well, it's the new normal so accept it. Remember when schoolteachers had a planning period during the day? That's your cue. Try to block out an hour a day, with the door shut, to do nothing but plan and prioritize. And if nothing else, thirty minutes.

Don't try to put it off until once a week. The tyranny of the urgent will consume you and your planning and prioritizing will be on the fly. Make it incremental and make it daily.

Now that I think about it - you are attempting the most difficult juggling act everyday - people!

Be encouraged,


Posted on April 3, 2015 .

Collaboration or Compliance?

Do you expect the team you manage to just "get the job done" (compliance) or do you expect a lot of "cross functional communication" to get the job done right every time (collaboration)?

Your customer or clients expectations have become diverse and demanding. Every team member in the process needs to be aware of how their work is impacting everyone else and what they must do if your team is to score.

So, coach, what will you do today to move your team from compliance to collaboration?

Be encouraged,


Posted on March 26, 2015 .

Lean or Leaning?

Everyone likes to brag that they have a lean team. Over the past few years this has come to mean that when someone leaves, their work is absorbed by the rest of the team. But a closer look often reveals a different reality. A lot of employees have become so overloaded that instead of being lean, their leaning and in danger of falling over!

First, do you have a comprehensive list of what is essential for each job on your team? Do you really know what work is essential for customer/client delight and what is simply the routine that has always been done?

Second, is every associate on your team able to complete their essential tasks for the day - every day? Or, are they taking work home or scrambling to make it up first thing the next morning? What is the work to results ratio that you expect and your team shoots for?

Third, do your associates have to put off training or other essential planning activities because they are too busy? Just being busy is not productive or profitable.  Take a deep breath and ask your team to evaluate the current workload. Are they lean - getting all essential customer tasks completed on time and within budget? Or are they leaning - constantly having to shift something to get something else done because it is the biggest fire of the day?

Be encouraged,


Posted on March 20, 2015 .

From Task Master to Talent Manager

It's time to make the switch. It's time to stop pretending that you as the manager know better than anyone else what needs to be done and when. And it's time to stop creating a workforce that waits for your signal on what to do next.

The key to being profitable in today's climate is to invest your time developing the talent of your team. First, do an exhaustive inventory of each team member's strengths and opportunities for improvement. 
Just like the NFL, combine before the draft - know everything about your team's talent.

Second, deploy each person according to their individual strengths. Show them how to succeed at their job from what they do well and not just in the way you want it done.

Third, don't expect them to completely overcome weaknesses. Instead look for and reward incremental improvement and encourage partnering with other teammates to make improvements together.

Bonus - when recruiting new associates do so from their talent and not their "likability." So, which will build a high performance team - managing the tasks or managing the talent?

Be encouraged,


Posted on March 13, 2015 .