communicating at work

Mon 6 April 2020
As remote work grows in popularity, the need for keeping individuals in-tune and engaged in the company culture increases substantially.

Remote work removes many of the inconveniences associated with going into work like commutes and distractions, but it takes away a key component to what makes company culture…connection!

This article serves to show a key way companies can go about maintaining and even improving the level of connectivity between employees as their work location becomes remote.

Before jumping into suggestions on maintaining and growing connectivity of employees as their work location becomes remote, let’s observe how employees connect in an office environment.

In our research on facilitating horizontal mentoring relationships for employees, we have learned that 68% of engaged employees that don’t work remotely believe that there are communication barriers between them and other employees. This is a critical statistic because this shows that even engaged employees feel that they are silo’d off from other employees, even if they work in the same office. 

Reframing this point, most people don’t know what their counterparts in other departments do for their work and the conversations they do have are typically superficial (e.g. sports, weather, fashion, family).

As more people begin to work remotely, this is going to get worse because employees are going to lose the little interaction they do have with each other. All communication is going to be work related and the emotional identity employees have of being a member of the company will soon fade.

Just to be clear, the emotional identity employees have of being a member of the company is the company’s culture! Once that is gone, there is no more culture!

One key to keeping remote employees engaged in the culture of the company is to set aside time for employees to have intentional conversations with each other.

These conversations are not superficial while also not completely about work. These conversations are free from the workplace hierarchy (e.g. title has nothing to do with what is and isn’t shared in these conversations). These conversations provide a platform for employees to share what they are working on with another employee, learn obstacles the other person is facing, ask clarifying questions that they don’t normally ask or get asked, and identify ways to find breakthroughs at work – emotionally, operationally, mentally, or physically.

These relationships create empathy between employees. These relationships breakthrough communication barriers between employees. These relationships build a greater sense of identity employees have with the company. 

This is called horizontal mentorship.

Optimal horizontal mentorship means:

·        Pairing employees together based on shared Work Orientation – or their shared workplace value system.
·        Providing meeting agendas to drive the conversations towards building rapport and being vulnerable.
·        Collecting feedback and learning what tangible outcomes were created every few months from meeting.
·        Switching mentor pairings every 6-12 months to continually build a web of connection between employees.
·        Everyone participating is willing to be open-minded enough to learn from somebody else regardless of their age or experience, willing to ask questions, and willing to share past mistakes.

When horizontal mentorship is implemented optimally, all employees, especially remote employees, feel a greater level of connectivity and identity with their company.
Mon 8 June 2020
A shift is taking place in management. Today, more people are working remotely than ever before. Managers that are (usually) staunchly opposed to letting employees work remotely are being forced to let down their guard and take the chance. But once people are allowed back into the office, will these managers still be open letting their employees work remotely?

 

As we all adjust to these changes in work, this article will help by sharing some tips that professionals can leverage with their supervisors to continue to work remotely, even after things start going back to normal (a term used loosely).

 

The biggest hurdle most managers face when it comes to allowing remote work is trust. Managers may be hesitant to admit it, but they convey this information in their word choice and explanations.

 

For example, I interviewed a professional who commutes 3 hours every day to work. 3 hours every single day! He knows he can be just as productive at home as in the office. But when he brought this up, his manager dismissed the idea, responding, “we allowed one person to work remotely one time and it completely backfired.”

 

Managers that don’t fully trust their employees often cite one-off events they’ve heard from other colleagues to ‘inform’ their decisions for managing their employees. 

 

These divisive, stubborn decisions are based on a limited sample set with a completely different set of people! Why do they do this? Their answer often boils down to fear of “getting burned again”. The simple fact is that people are inherently resistant to change. Until the pain or pressure overcomes this resistance to change, they will continue to choose the familiar path (i.e. inaction) over uncertain outcomes that require action. Their risk-averse approach can lead their direct reports to think that their manager is prioritizing their own comfort over taking a chance to give their employees flexibility. 

 

This is human nature! 

 

The best managers override this natural tendency. Unfortunately for many people, their manager may not share this open-minded approach to work.

 

Here are some tips for building trust with your manager so you can eventually stake a claim that you deserve to work remotely.

 

Be open about your obstacles

 

Vulnerability is a powerful way to build trust with your manager. If your goal is to work remotely full-time (except when necessary) but your manager opposes it, be open about the obstacles you will face working from home. Let’s be fair: these choices do have potential downsides. An honest assessment is a powerful tool for tempering your manager’s fears. If your pitch pretends there are zero downsides to remote work, you will be leaving the manager forced to come up with their own assessment of downsides because we all know that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  

 

They will begin making assumptions about your capabilities and how working remotely will affect your productivity. And if they started out skeptical, their assumptions are going to draw from this pessimistic outlook and distort reality, thus dashing your hopes of remote work.

 

By being open about the obstacles you face working remotely, you build trust. You work together with your manager to brainstorm what the obstacles are and how you can overcome those obstacles. You empower your manager to be on your team and empathize with you. You flip the script and the manager becomes a teammate instead of the barrier between you and your goal.

 

Pro tip: Dr. Robert Cialdini in his book Pre-suasion discusses the best way to deliver obstacles. He mentions that if you are going to deliver an obstacle or a weakness, that you should follow it with the terms “but”, “yet”, or “however” followed by reasons you can overcome that obstacle or weakness. From a psychological perspective, it forces the listener to focus on the last thing you said, not the obstacle itself. For example, “Working at home will definitely have distractions like the television, but I have turned my second bedroom into an office strictly for work and that will help me separate me from the rest of the distractions in my house.”

 

Share your motivations

 

Why are you interested in working remotely? If you don’t share this, they may assume that you are up to no good. I learned some insight from a body language expert that I believe is relevant to this situation: you build trust with your hands. If somebody can’t see your hands (e.g. one was behind your back), the biological and instinctual assumption is that the hand is hidden for nefarious purposes. 

 

When you don’t show your hands, or in this case, the motivations behind why you want to work remotely, the natural assumption a manager may have is that you hid them for a reason. 

 

Everyone has reasons for the actions they take, even if they aren’t immediately apparent. Showing that your motivations are reasonable and sensible is critical to your manager being open to supporting your goal of working from home. 

 

A quick note on this, your motivations should be mutually related. If we look at the example earlier in the article about the guy commuting 3 hours every day for work, that reason alone will probably not move the needle for a manager. The reason is that it only provides benefits to you and not to your manager. Instead, if you can say that you could work more effectively and be even more productive, but that the 3-hour commute can drain your energy. This provides a clear, mutual benefit to the manager – greater productivity from their employees.   

 

 Create fail-safes 

 

Fail-safes are self-imposed regulatory guidelines for you to follow while working remotely. These provide indicators showing how productivity has changed compared to working at the office. Fail-safes provide your manager a clear metric they can use to decide whether to pull you back in. The manager’s fear is that if she allows you to work from home and your productivity falls then it will be difficult to have that conversation with you. This difficulty could lead to you getting fired or quitting, which your manager definitely does not want to have happen. 

 

Fail-safes allow your manager to look at the data, consider your output and self-imposed guidelines, and make a case for whether remote work is effective without letting their emotions or biases influence the decision. It is just data; either you hit your goals, or you didn’t.

 

Part of these fail-safes should incorporate the communal component of being physically present at the office. Some managers may not be concerned about your productivity but instead are concerned by the impact it may have on the team dynamic and company culture. One of your fail-safes should address how you will schedule regular, frequent conversations with colleagues, both in and outside of your department. These conversations should be about the obstacles that you and your colleagues are facing without being explicitly work-related. These types of conversations are the foundation of horizontal mentorship, and you would be creating your own network of horizontal mentor relationships within your company.

 

Ultimately, you may find out that working remotely doesn’t work for you. But for some people, it makes a massive difference on their productivity and their emotional health. If you follow these 3 steps, you should be able to make a strong case for why you should be allowed to work remotely.

Mon 13 July 2020
As a leader, your goal is to empower your people to operate optimally and enjoy the work they are doing. One key skill for achieving that goal is the ability to promote active listening and communication among your team

In the past, managers tried to get their teams to listen by micromanaging, providing constant reminders, and having frequent check-ins. All of these nit-picky activities cost time and energy for everyone involved.

As it turns out, it really doesn’t pay off. Instead, they ended up with a culture of mindless rule-following and stymied innovation. Those cultures are predicated on “what has always been done in the past.”

In these scenarios, leaders stress out because they perceive their teams’ lack of performance as a lack of listening, both to leadership and to each other. However, what happens, in reality, is that the culture of “do what I say” creates employees that are trained to not speak openly about problems and solutions with the team when the boss doesn’t allow it. It’s not that they can’t think on their own; they choose not to for fear of rejection or repercussions. 

How can you tell if you are building this type of repressive team culture?

Ask yourself, how often do your people challenge your ideas? Do they ever question you face-to-face?

If the answer is minimally or never, you are building a culture that stymies listening and communication, and subsequently, leads to loss of innovative thinking on your team. 

If this sounds like your team, fear not! You are not stuck in this position forever! You can start making progress today on improving your team’s cohesion, listening skills, and innovation. 

Humans are social animals by nature. That makes us perceptive, and we react to what we are sensing from the people we are around, even if we don’t consciously acknowledge it. 

We can learn from other highly social animals as well. For example, a few weeks ago my dog Sunni was recently attacked by another dog. 

After getting attacked, my fiancé, understandably, was nervous taking Sunni to the dog park. While my fiancé wanted Sunni to play and exercise at the park, Sunni seemed too anxious and refused to get more than a few feet away from her. Sunni could sense her nerves and blatantly disobeyed her requests for Sunni to go and play. Even though Sunni could probably tell my fiancé was saying to go play, she picked up on her owner’s anxiety and chose to ignore the commands and stay close.

The point is that just like Sunni picks up on her owner’s feelings and responds accordingly, your people will pick up on your feelings and respond to those, even if what you are saying is different.

Unfortunately, you can’t just order your people to “come up with innovative ideas” or ask them to start questioning your decisions. Feelings and body language are much more powerful than words. If your people don’t sense you are being authentic when you ask to have a more open, inclusive, innovative, and attentive culture, the message will fall on deaf ears.

Your people can tell when you are stressed out, and your stress doesn’t make them work any faster or better. In fact, it is likely to make them worse because, as a leader, your stress is shared with the team. Your people may not respond or act the way you want them to because their fear of stressing you out even more, all of which creates a feedback loop chock full of stressed-out bosses, unproductive employees, communication barriers…which unsurprisingly makes you more stressed.

The best remedy for this is vulnerability

Share with them what is on your mind and what concerns you may have. Nine times out of ten, fear of the unknown outweighs the fear of the known. When you keep it to yourself, and your people sense you are stressed, they will come up with their own thoughts on what might be stressing you out, which is its own novel source of stress.  

When you make your concerns and stressors known, you invite others to empathize with you and help you rally around the problem at hand. 

If you are vulnerable with your people, they are much more likely to reciprocate and be open with you. Your understanding of their challenges will help you build empathy for their work. 

Eventually, your people will build a greater understanding of why you are saying what you are saying and more willing to ask you questions if they are confused. Empathetic, effective communication is the key to building a strong team, and vulnerability will help you build trust and listening skills all across your team.

Tue 19 April 2022
Congratulations, you’re in charge of your team now! The dynamic at work is changing, but don’t worry, you got this! 
If you want your direct reports to respect you, it’s important that you first show them the respect that they deserve. 
Actively treating all of your workers fairly, demonstrating your value for them through your words and actions, listening to their concerns and addressing them as best you can will set you apart as a leader that they can trust and respect. 
Garrett Mintz, founder of Ambition in Motion, discusses the way that the best leaders are the ones who dole out credit and take accountability for things that don’t go the way that they’re supposed to. 
“It’s a beautiful thing when the leader doesn’t care who gets the credit,” said in a TikTok duet about leadership with Garrett Mintz and Josh Lewis, Management Consultant.
 
=> Want more videos like this? Join our Mailing List to be part of our Executive Mastermind Group. Click the link to sign up for our newsletter: https://buff.ly/3FZfhcq 
 
            At Ambition in Motion, we don’t control the content of one’s work but we can have an impact on how people interact with each other at work. 
            At your company, you are in charge of your direct reports! The respect that you receive from them must be earned, and it begins with your ability to be confident in your actions and malleable to your new work environment. 
 
How can I get my direct reports to respect me as a leader? 
-       Give out Credit 
-       Take Accountability
 
What does it mean to take accountability? 
            Being “accountable” is more than just taking responsibility, or being reliable. 
Several veins run through a truly accountable leader. 
Accountability is a skill that requires leaders to own up to a team’s actions, decisions, and mistakes. It’s also the ability to follow up on the commitments you have made within an organization and its people. 
As a leader of others, you are actively representing your organization, and promoting the quality of work that you aim to produce and to be produced by others. When things do not go according to plan, take the initiative to be the first to shine a light on the opportunity to grow, as a team.
 
What does it mean to give out credit?
            The best leaders give credit to others, they don’t take credit for themselves. 
            When you represent a team of people, one of your biggest goals is to encourage them to be the best that they can be. Just as your team is learning and growing, you are also learning how you can help them best grow and reach their highest potential by remaining malleable to their work processes. Every member of your term plays an important role in the execution of your overall goal; the more respect and power that you give to them, the more success you will find. 
            However, mistakes happen. A leader who assumes the blame, and passes the credit, send a message that mistakes are OK and that when they happen, it will be an opportunity to learn and grow. By inspiring those in your charge, your employees will emulate your best traits, which will include assuming the blame for themselves.
            The best leaders inspire others and give credit. 
 
Why is it important that I give credit and take accountability?
            Giving credit and taking accountability sets yourself apart from the team, as a guide toward your team’s overall success. The more emphasis that you put on guiding your team, rather than showcasing your leadership (by taking credit or blaming others for mistakes), the more respect you will gain from your direct reports. Check out these leadership tips: 
 
  1. Encourage your team 
            Earning your team’s respect starts with building a trusting and positive community within the team. 
Encouraging and promoting others to do their best and work together also boosts productivity because it makes employees feel less isolated and helps them to feel more engaged with their tasks.
By creating a positive and supportive work environment, your direct reports will not only trust and respect you, but they will also work harder to produce good results as they aim to live up to the high standards that you hold for them. 
 
2. Recognize and praise good work
Although it’s important to give credit to your team, public praise is great for both recognition and learning. When you publicly share specifically what was great and why it was great, not only does it have more meaning for the person being praised, but it helps the whole team learn something new.
Remember to provide details about what the person did, the impact, and the context so that the whole team learns.
When you recognize good work, you remind your team what you’re working towards, and what they’re doing right, which in turn, inspires them to keep doing better. This plethora of inspiration and praise allows for a more open-minded environment for idealization between you and your direct reports. 
Looking for a more efficient way to evaluate performance reviews within your company? Ambition in Motion offers the software, AIM Insights reports, ensuring visibility over all ongoing activities: task performance, manager performance, organizational citizenship, team performance, and goals for direct reports. Click here to learn more about how you can simplify your performance review process! 
 
3. Correct in private
Although praise is an extremely important part of your relationships with your direct reports, it is normal for things to go wrong sometimes! However, it’s important to correct people’s mistakes in private, and then later emphasize to the team what they should avoid, without calling anyone out personally. 
Private criticism is important in order to be kind and clear. Radical Candor is not the same thing as “front-stabbing”, and it’s much kinder to criticize someone in private. 
Public criticism can feel unnecessarily harsh. Private criticism will also be clearer because it’s much less likely to trigger a person’s defense mechanisms.
 
4. Acknowledge workplace adaptation
Yes, you have new direct reports! 
Yes, the workplace dynamic is different now. Own it! 
As a new manager, it’s important to remember that just as your team is learning to adjust to you, you are also learning to adjust to them and your new position.
Do not be afraid to emphasize this learning curve to your team. In order to create a culture of respect that encourages growth and high levels of success, it’s your job to make learning a part of your daily routine in the workplace. 
Learning helps people keep a broad perspective. 
An important part of your job is to know that your direct reports are counting on you to guide them. When mistakes are made, it is no one’s fault (including you), but as a manager, you make a promise to your team to lead them in the right direction as best you can, meaning you must learn to take accountability for team mistakes. However, this is a positive part of your job! Not only will you take accountability for mistakes, but you will do it with pride, and emphasize a learning curve in everything that you do, and everything that your team does; mistakes are OK! 
 
5. Be transparent about your motives  
            Transparent communication is the act of both good and bad information being shared upward, downward, and laterally in a way that allows all to see the why behind the words. 
A workplace with transparent communication is a more collaborative and trustworthy workplace, with information being openly shared between employees and across levels of the organization. 
Transparent communication also allows employees to be more innovative since they are more informed. Additionally, transparent communication encourages others to communicate openly and increases the sharing of ideas. 
When transparent communication is present between you and your direct reports, you allow the workplace to be collectively informed about the true happenings within the organization in order for them to align their actions accordingly, ultimately making your job easier and removing any confusion about the team’s overall goals.
 
 
            These leader tips will help you set the grounds for a positive, encouraging work environment. 
Real accountability requires leaders to take responsibility and pride in the art of encouraging and guiding their employees. Being an accountable leader is not as easy as it may sound, but it is necessary to bring genuine value to your team of employees and your organization as a whole. However, taking responsibility and giving out credit whenever possible will set you apart from other leaders, and enable your direct reports to respond positively to your leadership.
Fri 16 September 2022
Most managers and companies tend to prioritize results and goals over other aspects of the work like team chemistry or organizational citizenship. Generally, direct reports assume the role of a vital cog in this process. However, when direct reports fail to meet expectations, it can result in a lot of work for their peers, as well as their managers. Consequently, the first step a manager will take is often a reprimand followed by termination.

Why Terminations aren’t necessarily the Best Option

            Firstly, the most important aspect of terminating, or firing an employee, is that a replacement worker must be found. Sometimes, a manager can get lucky and find a good candidate in-house, but the majority of times, they need to go through the entire hiring process once more.  

The hiring process includes posting an advertisement, reading through applications, scheduling and hosting interviews, conducting background checks, validating certifications, and on top of that, an onboarding process. In addition to that, the former employee will typically receive some form of a severance package with the parting of ways.  Termination also eats up time with exit interviews, appeals, and potential litigation as a result of unlawful termination claims. 

All in all, terminations can be very expensive for time and money. But how else should a manager deal with an employee who isn’t necessarily living up to the expectations held of them?  There are typically a few options.

Understanding the Root of the Problem

As with many other discrepancies within the workplace, communicating with an employee can often result in finding the source of the problem. Oftentimes, people have personal baggage that may make its way within the workplace. In addition to baggage, worker stress is a very real phenomenon. In most circumstances, bad employees aren’t intentionally bad employees, they just made decisions that negatively impacted the business and didn’t have anyone to bounce the idea of logic off of before acting.

Signs of worker stress include the following:

·       Reclusive Behavior- This does not include introverted behavior, but rather the contrast between this and previous behavior.
·       Change in  Body Language- This once again, does not necessarily mean introverted behavior,  but rather withdrawn activity, slumps, and similar posture.
·       Personality Clashes- When someone is in distress or dealing with trauma, they may lash out at other people, or attempt to withhold their grief. 
·       Change in Productivity- Trauma survivors tend to have harsh changes in how much work they can accomplish.

One thing to take note of is that these are often signs of distress within most areas, but are often better exposed within the workplace. If a manager notices that one of their direct reports undergoes a sudden change in attitude, while also displaying signs of anxiety or depression, it may be best to have a 1:1 with them. Being empathetic will often yield much greater results than being confrontational within this 1:1. Understand that it takes a significant amount of trauma for a person to have changed a significant amount. 

A good example of this would be from one of my jobs while in high school, which was the role of a swim coach. I was a member of a team of 7, with shifts assigned to us by our aquatics director each week, and sometimes also by our camp director. We continued in this way for two to three years, and then all of a sudden, we were either missing pay, not getting our names on the schedule, or worst of all, not receiving a schedule whatsoever. We ended up complaining to our director since it appeared that our camp director was not fulfilling her job requirements, and as a result, damaging our financial abilities with no regard for or time. 

Our boss was a very thorough individual and was able to have a healthy conversation with our camp director, out of concern for her performance, as well as her well-being. It had turned out that she had not only lost her father the previous week but had also been given additional responsibilities by the overall site director. With no other relatives, she alone was in charge of managing all probate-related duties and processes, but also organizing funeral details and bills. All in all, she was completely overwhelmed. 

Now, in worse managed work environments, this camp director, despite boasting over 15 years of experience in the field, would’ve been terminated. However, our boss knew her potential, and that this was a life-changing period of time for her. Therefore, he took on additional responsibilities and gave her as much time off as she needed. About a month later, she came back and was able to not only resume her original responsibilities but also that of her new position, to much more success. 

The moral of this story is that being empathetic is well-advised. Proper communication with direct reports is not only better for workplace relationships, but also ideal for difficult situations such as this. Providing accommodations for workers can eliminate the need for a replacement process.

How to Help Employees who are having trouble meeting expectations

While there are often employees who are undergoing significant personal situations, some employees may be unaccustomed to their new workloads, and responsibilities, or just find the material difficult. In this case, it is the manager’s responsibility and duty to try to assist these individuals. 

Using an impartial process can often help employees who are struggling. These are often known as Performance Improvement Plans or PIPs. The one problem with these is that they are often viewed extremely negatively, and often as a pathway to termination. Rather than giving strong targets that must be hit in order to maintain a job, managers should give fluid and flexible objectives that will not only allow for more success, but also for employee education and improvement. Using a device such as AIM Insights can also allow for a manager to have greater ease checking what goals have been met, along with more aggregated data about these goals, such as percent of goals achieved, and similar functions.

No manager should want to terminate an employee but may feel pressure to do so. While termination may still be required, it is best to approach these situations with empathy, and attempt to solve the problem in-house without resorting to this step.

Tue 27 September 2022
Incentivizing your employees to feel free to give feedback and challenge ideas doesn’t just happen. 
Many long-standing organizations such as Kodak, Sears, and Borders have failed to adapt to the reality of today’s world and have found themselves becoming irrelevant. 
One of the reasons is that the leaders did not receive valuable information that may have helped the organization turn around. 
Many leaders find themselves in a vacuum, unwilling to receive or seek information crucial to the health of their organization. 
In today’s highly competitive, fast-moving environment, businesses need to have everyone, and their ideas, on board. It is crucial to develop an environment that promotes and encourages constant feedback and to challenge ideas at all levels. 
According to Vip Sandhir, CEO and founder of High Ground, creating a challenge culture is key to employee engagement and an organization’s growth and future.
'The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni digs deep into five interrelated issues that undermine the performance of a team all in some way. So here are the 5 dysfunctions of a team and ways we recommend to counter them.
 
●       Issue 1: Absence of Trust. Without trust, teams cannot be completely honest with each other.
 
Solution: Confidence and building a team bond. Honesty, openness, and respect are key communication attributes of a successful culture, specifically in building trust. A culture of trust can do remarkable things for an organization. 
People who trust each other are more productive, feel a higher degree of loyalty to their team and organization, and are also known to give outstanding service.
 
What does trust look like in a workplace?
-        Confidence. If you are a person your colleagues or clients can trust, that means they have confidence in you. Confidence to:
-        Make decisions or work autonomously
-        Lead
-        Advise
-        Move up or take on more responsibilities
-        Be authentic
-        Have their back!
 
Developing trust and comfort is all about teams working together intelligently to achieve better results, reduce individual stress and create a successful culture that promotes customer loyalty. It’s where teams build collaborative relationships, communicate openly, and identify strategies for moving forward, quickly and easily, as a cohesive unit to its full potential.
 
It’s built through a process of establishing good habits in effective communication at all levels.
 
 
●       Issue 2: Fear of Conflict. Without trust, teams cannot have the healthy debate that is necessary to arrive at better understanding and decisions.
 
Solution: Feedback and strengthening your team performance helps facilitate a safe environment for authentic conversation that has space for safe conflict.
 
Feedback in dysfunctional organizations comes across as confrontational, feedback in organizations with successful cultures is regular, informal, constructive, and safe.
Safety is a fundamental human need. Your team needs to know where they stand over the short and long term. One of the best ways a team leader can do this is to provide regular feedback on performance and clarify goals, especially during times of change. The trouble with feedback is that it is often heard as criticism which could counter the feeling of safety.
Start incorporating a culture where feedback is welcomed and acknowledged for the powerful fuel it is for breakthroughs in growth and development. Set up the right environment for casual, non-confrontational feedback.
 
●       Issue 3: Lack of Commitment. If a team is not aligned with a decision, then it can naturally be difficult for everyone to be behind and committed to that decision.
 
Solution: Not everyone in the team is going to agree all the time, and nor should they but they do all need space for healthy debate. A safe space where they can say “convince me” if they need to.
 
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared his "disagree and commit" approach to healthy debate within teams in this Inc article. ‘to "disagree and commit" doesn't mean "thinking your team is wrong and missing the point," which will prevent you from offering true support. Rather, it's a genuine, sincere commitment to go the team's way, even if you disagree. 
Of course, before you reach that stage, you should be able to explain your position, and the team should reasonably weigh your concerns. But if you decide to disagree and commit, you're all in. No sabotaging the project, directly or indirectly. By trusting your team's gut, you give them room to experiment and grow, and your people gain confidence.
Having defined the right core values for your business and your team is also one of the best ways to keep your team on track and working toward commitment and your ultimate goals. 
 
●       Issue 4: Avoidance of accountability. If they are not committed to the course of action, then they are less likely to feel accountable (or hold other people accountable).
 
Solution: Follow these 5 accountability actions:
-        Giving up excuses.
-        Giving up blame.
-        Seeking Solutions.
-        Doing something. Anything!
-        Keeping score on yourself.
 
There are many roads to success, whatever form you hope that success to be, but the one action common for every single successful person, team, or organization is accountability.
Where someone has not held themselves accountable, and the other team members can call out less than optimal behaviors, actions, or a ‘dropping of the ball’; then you have true team accountability. 
 
●       Issue 5: Inattention to results. This, according to the book, is considered the ultimate dysfunction of a team and refers to the tendency of team members to care about something other than the collective goal.
 
Solution: Be inspired as a team, by your team’s mission. Being a mission-driven team will allow you and your team to bond and work together at greater levels of impact in order to achieve a common goal (your mission) together, allowing your bond as a team to strengthen. 
 
Let’s look at the value of a straight question like: Why do we come to work?
Most people when asked ‘why do you come to work?’ Will first answer “money.” But that's not the real reason why. That is not the motivation for getting up at 6:30 in the morning, rushing around, organizing kids, or ironing shirts the night before. It's because of the kids, or the house deposit they are saving for, or the next mission to help in a developing country. That's the “why.” Every person has a “why.”
That's the reason why they get out of bed every morning. And when a team is engaged in each other’s why, they then understand why they should help each other. There’s an understanding of what their teammate is working towards.
According to Ambition In Motion’s Work Orientation, some people are motivated by work/life balance, some people are motivated by growth and learning new skills, and some people are motivated by having a positive impact on the world. You can learn your Work Orientation here.
At its highest level, this is understanding each other's “why” and helping each other achieve individual goals together. Championing each other to be the best and to have the best.
When team members know why and what they are each striving for personally, and from an organizational view, they will be focused on the right results. Each person will not be focused only on their own goals; they will be working to help their colleagues meet theirs too.
 
How can the 5 Dysfunctions of a team help you?
If your team is struggling, start breaking down the issues. Take a look at the 5 dysfunctions of a team to see if you recognize anything. Then get to work on understanding what's happening for the team personally and professionally.
If you are seeking help with implementing the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team with your executive team, reach out to [email protected] to see how Ambition In Motion can help your executive team implement the methodologies taught in the book.
Tue 28 March 2023
Managing your boss' expectations while keeping your team excited can be a challenging task, but it is essential for maintaining a productive and harmonious work environment. As a leader, you need to ensure that your team is motivated, engaged, and productive, while also meeting your boss' expectations and goals. 
Finding this balance between your boss’ expectations and your teams’ engagement often becomes more challenging in ever-changing situations. For example, a Fortune 500 company acquired a startup company in hopes of expanding their reach and innovation. 
The new team was thrilled to be a part of such a successful company, but they soon realized that the integration process was not going as smoothly as they had hoped. The leaders of the company tried several different approaches for the new team to focus on, but they kept changing the direction, leaving the startup team feeling burnt out and confused.
The first few weeks after the acquisition were exciting, as the team worked on exciting new projects and was given free reign to explore their creativity. But as time went on, the team began to feel the pressure of the constantly changing direction. They struggled to keep up with the ever-changing expectations and goals, which left them feeling drained.
As the weeks went on, the team's frustration continued to grow. They felt like they were constantly spinning their wheels, trying to keep up with the latest directive from their leaders. 
These are the 7 best practices to best help the manager of this team keep their team’s spirits high and stay on track with their new boss’ goals: 

  1. Understand Your Boss' Expectations:
The first step to managing your boss' expectations is to understand what they expect from you and your team. This requires clear communication and regular check-ins to ensure that you are on the same page. Your boss may have specific goals, timelines, or preferences that they want you to follow. Make sure you understand what is expected of you and your team, and communicate any challenges or concerns that you may have.

2. Keep Your Team Informed:
Once you have a clear understanding of your boss' expectations, it is important to communicate this information to your team. Share the goals and expectations with your team and ensure that they understand the importance of meeting them. Keep your team informed about any changes in direction or new priorities from your boss. This will help your team to stay focused and motivated, and it will also prevent any surprises that could impact their work.

3. Set Realistic Expectations:
It is important to set realistic expectations for your team that align with your boss' expectations. Don't overpromise and underdeliver. This can lead to disappointment and frustration, both from your boss and your team. Instead, set realistic goals and timelines that are achievable for your team. Work with your team to break down tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces, and set clear deadlines for each task. This will help your team to stay motivated and on track.

4. Encourage Feedback and Collaboration:
Encourage your team to provide feedback and collaborate with each other. This can help your team to stay engaged and motivated. It can also help to identify any potential issues or challenges early on, which can be addressed before they become bigger problems. Provide opportunities for your team to share their ideas and suggestions, and listen to their feedback. This will help to build trust and respect within your team, and it will also foster a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement.

5. Recognize and Celebrate Achievements:
Recognizing and celebrating achievements is a great way to keep your team excited and motivated. Celebrate when your team meets a goal or completes a project, and acknowledge their hard work and contributions. This can be as simple as a shout-out in a team meeting or as elaborate as a team outing or celebration. Recognizing your team's achievements will help to build morale and foster a positive work environment.

6. Provide Opportunities for Growth and Development:
Providing opportunities for growth and development is another great way to keep your team excited and motivated. Offer training, mentorship, or stretch assignments to help your team to develop their skills and advance their careers. This will show your team that you are invested in their success and that you value their contributions to the team. It will also help to keep your team engaged and motivated, as they work towards achieving their goals.

7. Communicate Regularly with Your Boss:
Regular communication with your boss is key to managing their expectations. Keep them informed about your team's progress, any challenges or roadblocks, and any successes or achievements. If there are any changes to the timeline or goals, communicate these changes to your boss as soon as possible. This will help to build trust and open communication between you and your boss, which is essential for maintaining a positive work environment.


All in all, managing your boss' expectations while keeping your team excited requires clear communication, realistic expectations, feedback and collaboration, recognition and celebration, opportunities for growth and development, and regular communication with your boss.
For the Fortune 500 company mentioned above, after reviewing these methods, the team manager called a meeting with the leaders of the company to discuss the challenges that the team was facing. The manager explained that while they were excited to be a part of the company, they were struggling to keep up with the changing expectations and goals.
After some discussion, the leaders of the company and the team came up with a plan to address the challenges. With a clear plan in place, the team began to feel more confident and motivated. They knew that their leaders were committed to their success and were invested in helping them achieve their goals. Over time, the team began to thrive, and their work began to make a significant impact on the company.
By working together, the leaders and the team were able to overcome the challenges they faced, and ultimately achieve success.


Tue 28 March 2023
Leadership is a critical aspect of any organization, and the skills and abilities of its leaders can significantly impact its success. However, not all leaders have had the benefit of formal training, and many may find themselves struggling to keep up with the demands of their roles. Fortunately, there are several effective ways for managers to upskill leaders who have received minimal formal training. Some of these include opportunities, while others include actual education.

  • On-the-Job Training- One of the most effective ways to upskill leaders is through on-the-job training. This approach involves providing leaders with opportunities to learn and develop new skills while they are actively engaged in their roles. This can include assigning them to new projects or tasks that challenge their abilities and providing them with feedback and support as they progress.
  • Mentorship and Coaching- Another effective way to upskill leaders is through mentorship and coaching. This approach involves pairing leaders with experienced mentors or coaches who can guide them through the process of developing new skills. Mentors or coaches can provide regular feedback and support, as well as offer insights into best practices and strategies for success. One way great tool to help upskill untrained leaders is AIM Insights which provides both coaching and metrics to help leaders better understand their teams.
  • Online Courses and Workshops- Many online courses and workshops are available that can help leaders develop new skills. These courses cover a wide range of topics, from leadership and management to specific technical skills, and can be completed at the leader's own pace. Online courses and workshops are particularly useful for leaders who may not have the time or resources to attend in-person training programs. Sponsoring manager’s further education can also go a long way in developing a leader and their loyalty.
  • Conferences and Networking Events- Attending conferences and networking events is another excellent way for leaders to upskill. These events provide opportunities to hear from experts, exchange ideas with peers, and build valuable professional connections. Leaders can learn about new trends and best practices and gain insights into how other organizations are approaching similar challenges.
  • Job Shadowing and Cross-Training- Job shadowing and cross-training opportunities can help leaders gain exposure to different areas of the organization and develop a broader range of skills. This approach involves temporarily switching roles with another leader or team member or spending time observing and learning from someone in a different part of the organization. Leaders can gain valuable insights into how different teams and departments operate and learn new skills that they can apply in their own roles.

In addition to the actions mentioned above, there are a few actions that direct reports and leadership can take, along with senior managers. As a leader, you have a responsibility to help newer managers learn more about leadership. Effective leadership is essential to the success of any organization, and providing guidance and support to new managers can help them develop the skills they need to be successful in their roles.

  • Encourage Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing- Encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing among managers can also help unskilled managers improve their skills. Managers who have more experience and expertise can offer valuable insights and guidance to their less experienced colleagues. Creating a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing can help managers feel more comfortable seeking advice and support from their peers and can facilitate the sharing of best practices and lessons learned.
  • Be a Role Model- One of the most effective ways to help newer managers learn about leadership is to lead by example. As a manager, you should model the behaviors and qualities that you want to see in your team. By demonstrating strong leadership skills, you can show newer managers what effective leadership looks like in action.
  • Provide Clear Expectations and Goals- Managers who lack experience or skills may struggle to meet the expectations of their roles. Providing clear expectations and goals can help managers understand what is expected of them and what they need to achieve. Setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) can help managers stay focused and motivated and can provide a roadmap for their development.
  • Offer Regular Feedback and Support -Another way to help an unskilled manager is by offering regular feedback and support. Managers who are new to their roles or who lack experience may struggle to identify areas for improvement and may not know how to address them effectively. Regular feedback and support can help managers understand their strengths and weaknesses, identify areas for improvement, and develop plans to address any shortcomings.
  • Delegate Responsibilities- Delegating responsibilities to newer managers can help them develop their leadership skills. By giving them ownership over projects or initiatives, you can provide them with opportunities to practice decision-making, communication, and other leadership skills. Be sure to provide clear guidance and support as needed but allow them to take the lead and learn from their experiences.
  • Provide Opportunities for Leadership Development- Providing opportunities for newer managers to develop their leadership skills can help them build confidence and improve their performance. Consider offering leadership development programs, mentoring, or coaching to help them build the skills they need to be effective leaders.
  • Encourage Continuous Learning- Effective leaders are always learning and growing. Encourage newer managers to seek out learning opportunities, such as attending leadership seminars or workshops, reading books on leadership, or networking with other leaders in their industry. By supporting their professional development, you can help them build the skills and knowledge they need to be successful leaders.

Helping untrained managers develop the skills they need to succeed is critical to the success of any organization. Providing training and development opportunities, offering regular feedback and support, encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing, providing clear expectations and goals, and offering coaching and mentoring are all effective ways to help unskill managers improve their skills and become more effective leaders. By investing in the development of their managers, organizations can improve their overall performance and achieve greater success. 



Fri 12 May 2023
On March 30th, 2023, Ambition in Motion hosted an executive symposium with panelists Laura Iannelli, Syriac Joswin, and Chris Mashburn. These symposiums are an effective way to network with successful executives and get to learn some of what makes them good leaders. High-level executives and thought leaders come together to discuss industry trends, share insights, and best practices, and engage in strategic discussions. The symposium typically features keynote speakers, panel discussions, and networking opportunities for attendees to connect and exchange ideas. 

The purpose of an executive symposium is to provide a platform for executives to learn from each other and gain new perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing their industries. The symposium is usually organized around a specific theme or topic, such as emerging technologies, industry disruption, or global business trends.

During this symposium, an interesting point was brought up by Chris Mashburn.  Every month Chris and his team have a meeting involving a "mistake of the month" where everyone, especially him, shares a mistake they made. In Chris’ opinion- which was soundly endorsed by Laura and Syriac- the best companies have cultures where people can feel open to being honest and owning mistakes. Now, we’ve gone over the process of building and maintaining- a company culture that embraces mistakes, but how much is this actually used, and what else can companies use to enhance not only their culture but their public image as well? 

When a company acknowledges its mistakes openly, it can earn the appreciation of the public in several ways. First, it demonstrates honesty and transparency, which can build trust with customers and stakeholders. Second, taking steps to rectify a mistake and prevent it from happening again can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Third, openly acknowledging mistakes can lead to a strengthened brand reputation, positioning the company as a leader in its industry and a trusted partner. Finally, increased employee morale can result from a company committed to doing the right thing and creating a positive impact, which can lead to long-term benefits for the company.

One example of a company that openly acknowledges its mistakes is Buffer, a social media management platform. In 2013, Buffer suffered a major security breach that resulted in the exposure of its users' passwords. Rather than trying to sweep the incident under the rug, Buffer's CEO, Joel Gascoigne, published a detailed blog post explaining what had happened, how the company was responding, and what it was doing to prevent similar breaches in the future.

Gascoigne's transparency and accountability earned him praise from both customers and industry experts. Buffer's users appreciated the company's honesty and commitment to fixing the problem, and the incident ultimately strengthened their loyalty to the brand.

Another example is Starbucks, which famously closed all of its stores for a day in 2018 to conduct anti-bias training following an incident where two black men were arrested in one of its Philadelphia locations. In addition to the training, Starbucks issued a public apology and announced a series of policy changes to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

By acknowledging its mistake and taking swift action to address it, Starbucks demonstrated its commitment to creating a culture of inclusivity and respect for all customers. The incident prompted a national conversation about racial bias in public spaces and positioned Starbucks as a leader in the fight against discrimination.

In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emissions tests for its diesel cars. The company's CEO, Martin Winterkorn, publicly apologized and resigned shortly after. Volkswagen also agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines and compensation to affected customers.

In 2016, Wells Fargo was fined $185 million for opening millions of fake customer accounts. The company's CEO, John Stumpf, faced intense criticism and eventually resigned. The company also launched a public apology campaign and implemented new policies and procedures to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.

In the 1970s, Nestle faced a boycott over its marketing of baby formula in developing countries, which was found to be contributing to infant malnutrition and mortality. The company responded by introducing new marketing practices and donating millions of dollars to infant nutrition programs. Nestle also established the Nestle Infant Formula Audit Commission, which monitors the company's compliance with international marketing standards.

In 2018, Facebook faced intense criticism after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had accessed the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent. The company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, publicly apologized and testified before Congress. Facebook also launched new privacy controls and policies to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. We are also currently seeing settlements for users as a result of this.

What most of these companies have in common is that they are all massive companies that are present to this day, despite suffering from major accidents and public relations events. By acknowledging these mistakes, they were able to salvage their reputation and preserve their customers.

Mistakes happen, and that’s okay for the business, so long as they are handled appropriately. Ambition In Motion believes in this so strongly that they are hosting an Executive Symposium on How to Build a Culture of Embracing Mistakes.

If you are interested in going to the next Ambition in Motion Executive Symposium, click here! Our next event will be on Thursday, July 27th, 2023, from 5-8pm CDT. Participants will be able to enjoy hors d’oeuvres while networking with leaders, practice working through case studies with other executives, and get to learn from 3 distinguished panelists on how they have been able to effectively build a culture of embracing mistakes, and what mistakes they have made to get to the point that they are at now.

Unable to attend this event? No worries! Click here to stay updated on future events, and to see information about our previous events. For any questions regarding these symposiums, please contact [email protected]



Fri 19 May 2023
In today's highly competitive business environment, exceptional leadership skills alone may not guarantee promotions. Many great leaders often wonder why their efforts and capabilities go unnoticed when it comes to advancing their careers. 
Many outstanding leaders find themselves facing a common hurdle: effectively communicating their leadership capabilities to key decision-makers. 
Leaders often encounter struggles when it comes to effectively communicating their leadership abilities. These challenges can hinder their ability to showcase their skills, connect with their teams, and gain recognition for their accomplishments. 
However, by addressing this challenge head-on and employing strategies to enhance their communication skills, leaders can distinguish themselves from the crowd and increase their chances of promotion.
The key lies in their ability to effectively communicate their leadership prowess and demonstrate their impact. This is where AIM Insights, a cutting-edge performance management tool, comes into play.

Unleashing the Power of the AIM Insights Performance Management Tool
While possessing remarkable leadership skills, extensive experience, and a track record of success, great leaders may struggle to convey their true potential to key decision-makers. This communication gap can impede their promotion prospects, leaving them feeling undervalued and overlooked. 
AIM Insights provides actionable insights and metrics to leaders and organizations to help them improve performance, enhance communication, and drive results. AIM Insights is a robust performance management tool designed to address the challenges associated with effective communication of leadership capabilities. 
By harnessing the capabilities of AIM Insights, leaders can differentiate themselves and significantly improve their chances of promotion.
 
Here are 5 reasons why AIM Insights is the tool to help you best communicate your leadership capabilities:

  1. Comprehensive Performance Metrics:
AIM Insights provides leaders with a comprehensive array of performance metrics, enabling them to track their achievements and demonstrate their impact. These metrics encompass key performance indicators (KPIs), employee engagement levels, project success rates, and financial performance, among others. By utilizing AIM Insights, leaders can quantify their contributions and showcase their ability to drive tangible results.
2. Objective Self-Assessment:
AIM Insights facilitates objective self-assessment by allowing leaders to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses with precision. This valuable feature empowers leaders to understand their leadership capabilities better, identify areas for improvement, and capitalize on their strengths. Armed with this knowledge, leaders can refine their communication strategies to effectively highlight their competencies and achievements.
3. Goal Alignment and Progress Tracking:
AIM Insights facilitates alignment with organizational goals and tracks progress towards them. By clearly demonstrating how their leadership initiatives directly contribute to overarching objectives, leaders can position themselves as valuable assets to the organization. This alignment showcases their strategic acumen and reinforces their commitment to the company's mission, setting them apart as leaders who comprehend the bigger picture.
4. Real-Time Feedback and Coaching:
AIM Insights incorporates real-time feedback mechanisms, enabling leaders to receive timely insights on their performance. This feature facilitates continuous improvement by highlighting areas that require attention or development. Through constructive feedback and targeted coaching, leaders can enhance their leadership communication skills, making them more effective at conveying their capabilities to decision-makers.
5. Dynamic Reporting and Visualization:
AIM Insights offers dynamic reporting and visualization tools that transform complex data into compelling narratives. Leaders can leverage these tools to create visually appealing reports and presentations, effectively conveying their accomplishments and impact. By presenting data-driven insights in an accessible and engaging manner, leaders can make a lasting impression and capture the attention of key stakeholders.

Leaders face the challenge of effectively communicating their leadership capabilities to secure promotions and recognition. By acknowledging and addressing these communication struggles head-on, leaders can distinguish themselves from the crowd. 
Employing techniques such as crafting compelling narratives, emphasizing results, fostering effective listening, embracing authenticity, and continuously honing communication skills will enhance leaders' ability to communicate their unique leadership capabilities. 
AIM Insights, a powerful performance management tool, empowers leaders to overcome these obstacles and distinguish themselves from the crowd. By utilizing AIM Insights' comprehensive performance metrics, objective self-assessment, goal alignment, real-time feedback, and dynamic reporting features, leaders can enhance their communication of leadership capabilities. 
Through the utilization of AIM Insights, leaders can position themselves as high-impact performers, increasing their chances of promotion and ensuring their exceptional leadership skills are recognized and rewarded accordingly.


Wed 7 June 2023
Thomas Edison tried roughly 1,200 experiments before discovering the light bulb. When asked what it felt like to fail 1,200 times, he responded that he didn’t fail 1,200 times, but rather he learned 1,200 ways to not make a light bulb. 

Good thing he was the CEO of his own company!

Imagine the workplace today. How much grace and patience do we give people to succeed?

More importantly, how much grace and patience do leaders say they give their people compared to reality? Most leaders are quick to state they support this idea, but it’s rare to see them follow through.

Instead, we see that being a “perfectionist” is the real preferred character trait from leaders that are hesitant to embrace taking chances. 

When thinking about the best, most innovative companies in the world, the core theme that aligns them all together is this emphasis on progress, not perfection. 

The companies that thrive, regardless of what is going on the economy, are the ones that are nimble enough to run multiple experiments at the same time, diagnose which experiments are achieving progress, and then experiment further until a desired result is achieved. 

This article overviews what both employees and companies can do to build a culture that embraces mistakes.

Employees:

As an employee, regardless of whether you are in a leadership position, you might wonder how much of an impact you, individually, can have on your company’s culture. You might also be wondering if these ideas run the risk of getting you fired.

Disclaimer: Applying these ideas may get you fired.

If you are at a company that would fire you for following the suggestions below, you are likely miserable at this company, and it is time for you to move on. Following these tips will expedite that process and help you move into a better work situation. Also, applying these principles effectively, and documenting them, will make you an extremely attractive candidate to any organization that does in fact embrace mistakes.

  1. Be a scientist
Being a scientist means that you run a series of experiments. To experiment means to introduce one new variable while holding all other variables constant to observe if a different (either positive or negative) result is achieved.

Examples:

●       Experimenting within the company
o   Handling a frustrating boss – Infrequent feedback from your boss can be frustrating, especially when your only chance to learn about your work is during an annual performance review. It’s nerve-wracking waiting to find out how they view your performance when feedback is so rare. If you’d like to change this, try different and unique ways to gather their feedback – perhaps ask them for help, ask them if you are making a mistake, or flat out ask for feedback.
▪        Pro tipTry documenting this process. Write down your current behavior, note what behavior you are changing, and then what your hypothesized results will be. Then create a timeline for when you will evaluate the results and use this to measure the change. Most people give up after half-heartedly trying one thing and assume their situation is doomed. By writing down the experiment, it is easier to be objective about the results and be willing to try new experiments.
o   Handling a frustrating direct report – If your direct report isn’t listening to you or not getting all of the work that you would like accomplished, you are going to have to try something different. Try a new method for better understanding their priority order, their concerns, and their roadblocks – perhaps ask them different questions to help you better understand their situation, schedule more frequent 1:1’s, or communicate why achieving whatever task needs to get done is important to you.
●       Experimenting Externally
o   Sales – If you are struggling to meet your sales numbers, allocate a certain amount of time every week to trying something new that could work. Follow the pro tip above for some help on how to effectively evaluate your experiments.
o   Operations – If you are discovering that there is a communication gap with the handoff of work between departments, communicate to both departments a new strategy for increasing the efficiency, what your hypotheses are, what the timeline of the experiment is, and what success will look like if success is achieved. Also explain that if success isn’t achieved, that a new strategy will be implemented until the desired result is achieved.

This is just the framework for how to experiment. The actual strategies you deploy for working through your work scenario are likely different and better than the strategies I proposed because you know your work situation and yourself best.

2. Communicate your experiments, hypotheses, and results throughout the company
People at your company may wonder why you are acting differently. By writing down your experiments, hypotheses and results, it is easier to communicate with others why you are acting differently. 

However, if your experiment involves other people you are working with, you can’t inform them that you are changing your behavior. If you do, you will be altering multiple variables, rendering your experiment moot. 

For example, if you want your boss to stop showing up late to meetings with you so you decide that you are going to ask your boss’s secretary to schedule their meeting with you for 5 minutes before it is actually supposed to start, if you tell your boss you are doing that, your boss is going to adjust their behavior because they now know this information.

3. Document results so others can learn from you
This is especially important for helping convey why you have an opinion on a matter moving forward. If you properly document your experiments and your results, your perspective will hold much more weight than somebody who is just giving their opinion.

Advice for Leaders at Companies:

  1. Remove “perfectionists”
Anyone who refers to themselves as a perfectionist should be approached with caution and wrangled appropriately. A perfectionist is somebody, based on their current knowledge base and skill set, that will perform the same activity over and over again the exact same way. These people are not interested in learning new ways of doing things because the amount of knowledge they would need to alter their behavior is too great, so any time spent learning a new behavior isn’t worth it. These people are also unwilling to experiment as the fear of making a mistake or not having an experiment align with the hypotheses is too great to overcome. 

Perfection is the enemy of progress. Perfectionists will do everything in their power to not change anything because they have spent all of their time and energy becoming “perfect” at one way of acting.

2. Be collaborative when diagnosing failed experiments
When an experiment is tried and it is determined it didn’t work how you were expecting, invite the entire team to participate in the evaluation process of why it failed and what can be tried in the future to achieve different results. 

This also communicates that failure is okay. 

This is particularly important for leading global teams, especially global teams that were raised in societies with different norms and perspectives on mistakes and failed experiments. 

For example, a technical executive was leading a team of software developers, mostly from India. He ended up learning that a member of his team made a mistake months ago but told nobody. He tried to fix it himself, but the problem got worse and eventually the client called him to inform him that they were pulling their contract because of the technical difficulties they were encountering. Some learning lessons he took from this were that he needs to have a process for identifying these errors and that he needs to build a culture where his team feels comfortable being vulnerable, honest and open when a mistake is made.

3. Document then celebrate the learning lessons
Once a failed experiment has been diagnosed, document it for the entire company to learn from. Holding an experiment and learning that the hypothesis didn’t work is fine. But running the same experiment over and over again and achieving the same undesired result, is not fine. Failed experiments shouldn’t be locked in some vault where only the experimenters can reflect on. Failed experiments should be celebrated! This communicates that learning from failure is endorsed by the organization and creates positive memories associated with lessons learned. 

If you are interested in continuing the dialogue, the Ambition In Motion YouTube channel will be hosting weekly live panel sessions until July 27th, 2023 with executives discussing this topic of How to Build a Culture of Embracing Mistakes.

Mon 31 July 2023
As professionals, everyone has different hopes for the workplace culture they want to experience. As leaders, many may find it difficult to actualize culture changes that every employee will embody. 

The main struggle of enacting new change is that humans are creatures of habit. Routine work habits and communication patterns become repetitive and can get anyone stuck in a rut of redundancy. After years or decades of the same unwavering schedule and workplace practices, it is hard to motivate divergent values throughout your company. As leaders, it is hard to get everybody on board with enacting a cultural shift, even when it is for the better. 

Changing company culture can be a daunting task. It can take time to unwind cultural norms that have developed over years and people can be very resistant to change in all facets of their lives. Initiating culture changes takes consistent time, effort and resources, and patience in the results. 

How do company leaders motivate change and get each employee to practice a new wave of  cultural values? 

From a bird’s eye view, it is easy to imagine the differences culture can cause in the overall makeup of a business, including increases in efficiency, improvements in workplace comradery and overall happiness at work. However, employees can sometimes be affected by tunnel vision and find it challenging to see the bigger picture and importance of workplace culture. Here are four steps on how to get your employees to join in on a new wave of culture changes:


1- Include employees in forming new values 
From an executive position, it can be difficult to know what those several levels below you can most benefit from. In forming your new company values, the most crucial step for getting every employee on board is making sure the new values are important to employees and inspire them to create change throughout the company. Find what values upper management wishes to prioritize and collaborate with other professionals at the company to find a set of values that will enhance everyone at the company. The best way to have employee buy-in is to prioritize values many already find important. Additionally, resistance to change can be minimized by transparency in new values. Many people have anxiety and growing pains when change is in effect due to uncertainty, but if the unknowns are minimized, the change resistance may be too. 

2- Initiate Training Curriculum
To implement your company's culture and get everyone on board, start at ground zero. Implement portions and examples of your culture into training and development throughout your company or better yet, create training programs tailored to specific goals and values. To ensure this is impactful, consider using different training platforms and methods, and include real life applications and examples on how you expect this culture shift to affect your company as a whole. For example, if you want your company culture to reflect a value in innovation, explain to your employees how you are working on embracing mistakes and finding creative solutions  in the workplace. 

As a second portion of training and development, consider implementing a leadership program to teach leaders how these cultural changes should be exhibited in each of their teams. Teaching leaders to lead by example can be tricky when it is in unprecedented areas for individuals. As part of a leadership training, it is important to emphasize a united front to the rest of your company to ensure buy-in from all employees firm wide. 

3- Practice what you teach
One of the most impactful methods of leadership is leading by example. If you want your company's culture to prioritize its people, show that in your everyday actions. After beginning training and development to adjust your company’s culture, be sure to exhibit these values in your everyday life. By demonstrating your ideal culture, you gain credibility and support from others, and inspire others towards new goals. Those in lower level positions look up to those within leadership and will follow your lead of implementing different priorities in your company's culture. Finally, practicing what you teach is crucial for holding yourself accountable and working towards self- growth. If you want to lead a company that prioritizes compassion but you yourself have trouble exhibiting this, your employees may have a hard time endowing such a shift. Self-growth allows us all to become more aware of ways we can better ourselves, and will exhibit to your employees that you are all working on growing and learning at the same time and that it is a team-effort that will result in improved culture for the entire company. 


4- Monitor Feedback and Celebrate Success
Sometimes from a leadership position, it is challenging to see the effect of changes from a top-down view. It is impossible to grow without feedback so, once you have implemented your cultural shifts, be sure to collect feedback at specified intervals from all levels to better understand the execution of changes throughout your employees.  In receiving feedback, it is also important to celebrate success and keep an optimistic view moving forward. Consider using different systems to celebrate success, maybe publicly recognizing those who exemplify your new cultural changes and values. Finding time for both of these items can sometimes take the back burner nevertheless, it is important to collect feedback and celebrate success for continuous execution of your revised culture. 

Remember that these changes won’t happen overnight. It is important to be patient and understanding as everyone begins to enact new habits and values throughout their professional life, it can be a long process to unwind decades of repetitive habits and values. A good leader is able to understand and empathize, be patient in understanding that it is hard to change something as broad as culture and that in practice, your company’s culture will develop and with passion, people will follow. 
Mon 31 July 2023
Regardless of the field you work in or your level of experience, it is highly likely that at some point in your career, you will be in situations where your manager or supervisor may not completely understand your role or responsibilities. As you continue to progress in your career, this will become more common. Navigating this can be confusing and frustrating but with the right strategies and mindset, you can maintain productivity, foster strong communication, and build successful working relationships.

A lack of familiarity can arise when individuals are promoted or assigned roles before they are fully prepared to handle them or when they are given responsibilities they don't fully comprehend. When your supervisor displays this unfamiliarity, it can lead to various issues that affect your work experience.


For instance, you might find yourself facing unrealistic expectations, being expected to complete tasks without the necessary resources or time. This can result in a decrease in productivity and suboptimal results. Moreover, the strain of working under such circumstances can negatively affect the relationship between you and your supervisor, potentially leading to communication breakdowns and workplace tension.

The first step in navigating this difficult situation is to reevaluate your own judgment and mindset. It's necessary to understand that your manager may not have experience supervising a role like yours or may not have experience in your skills. Additionally, being mindful of the challenges and stressors others may be facing in their lives is important, as these factors can impact their attitude and behavior. Keeping this in mind will allow you to approach the situation with a more open mindset and problem-solving approach.
 
To navigate this situation effectively, embracing a proactive approach is key. You should look at this situation as an opportunity for personal and professional growth. By utilizing the right strategies, you can bridge knowledge gaps and collaborate more effectively with your supervisor, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
 
1. Establish a two-way communication channel:
Starting by creating an open and strong communication channel between you and your supervisor can help foster a positive work environment and increase overall productivity. You can start by setting clear and realistic expectations from the beginning, giving regular updates on what you are working on, and requesting and offering constructive feedback and suggestions. Consider participating in a horizontal mentorship program, where all participants must be open-minded enough to learn from each other, regardless of their age or experience. A horizontal mentorship program encourages asking questions and sharing past mistakes, creating a two-way communication process that stimulates mutual growth.
 
 
2. Facilitate Regular Meetings:
Regular check-ins with your manager are an important aspect of navigating a work environment where your manager may not fully understand your role. These meetings provide a comfortable platform to discuss your progress, challenges, and any additional support or resources you may need to succeed in your role. By scheduling these meetings, you can ensure that your manager is aware of your progress and efforts. Moreover, it allows you to show your dedication and commitment to achieving success.
During these check-ins, it's necessary to communicate openly and honestly about any issues you may be facing. Instead of becoming frustrated with your manager's lack of understanding, view these meetings as a chance to bridge the knowledge gap. Clearly explain the nature of your tasks, the skills required, and the challenges you encounter. This can help your manager gain a deeper understanding of your role and the complexities involved, fostering a more supportive and productive relationship.
 
3. Be Proactive in Seeking Clarification:
When faced with unclear instructions or expectations, adopt a proactive approach rather than dwelling on your supervisor's lack of familiarity with your role. Instead, view these instances as opportunities to seek the support and clarity you need to perform your tasks effectively. Don't hesitate to ask questions or request additional information when something is unclear. By seeking clarification, you not only demonstrate your commitment to understanding your responsibilities thoroughly but also show a proactive attitude toward problem-solving. This approach can lead to better outcomes for your projects and tasks, as you can work with confidence, knowing you have a clear understanding of what is expected from you.
 
4. Demonstrate Willingness to Learn and Establish Credibility:
It's important to approach your work with an open mindset and attitude of continuous learning. Express your eagerness to expand your knowledge and skills in your role. This willingness to learn demonstrates your adaptability and growth mindset, which are valuable attributes in any professional setting.
At the same time, share your expertise and insights whenever appropriate. By showing your knowledge and competence in certain areas, you establish credibility within the team and with your manager. This can help build trust and respect, even in situations where your manager may not fully grasp the intricacies of your role.
 
5. Seek Support and Guidance:
Working under a manager who may not fully understand your role can be challenging but remember that you don't have to navigate this situation alone. Seek support and guidance from colleagues who have faced similar circumstances or have expertise in your field. By utilizing the knowledge and experience of your team, you can build a strong support network that empowers you to thrive, even in complex situations. Remember that seeking guidance is not a sign of weakness but rather a proactive step towards continuous improvement and professional development. You can also choose to seek a mentor. Mentors can offer valuable advice and insights, helping you develop strategies to overcome challenges and enhance your performance.
 
In conclusion, navigating a work environment with a manager who lacks a comprehensive understanding of your role can be a demanding experience. However, by adopting the strategies outlined above and maintaining open communication, you can turn this challenge into an opportunity for growth and advancement. Focus on building a strong working relationship with your manager, clarifying expectations, and seeking the necessary support to excel in your role. Embrace the chance to learn and develop professionally, as this mindset will advance your career regardless of the challenges you encounter along the way.
 


Thu 17 August 2023
It is challenging to demonstrate your company's culture in an interview yet, the hiring process is fundamental to organizational success, growth and innovation. The makeup of your team determines productivity, efficiency and the culture practiced in the workplace. 

In interviews, candidates are considering if this is the company for them, if their values align with your firm, and if they will be able to thrive on your team. As the interviewer, you should evaluate the same things. Recruiting “matches” for your company is a crucial part of the sculpting of your company culture. 

You may also struggle with how to be genuine and inclusive of all different backgrounds and experiences. Working towards embracing differences allows companies to enhance problem solving and creativity, encouraging employees to work together in growing through different sets of strengths and weaknesses. In addition to bettering the current workforce, practicing inclusivity will help attract candidates to strengthen the team. 

Using the hiring process as a mutually beneficial proceeding allows both you, as the recruiter, and the candidate to have insight on the potential and future possible. This allows both parties to better understand how aligned their future paths and values are. Being analytical and intentful throughout the process can help you better identify strong candidates who will fit in as a teammate and colleague, both professionally and socially.  

Here are 4 steps on being able to demonstrate your company culture throughout the recruiting process:

1. Get Employees on Board
 To best demonstrate your company's culture throughout the recruiting process, start by focusing on getting employees on board with your decided culture and values. If every employee is able to effectively demonstrate your cultures, it will be reflective in recruiting. If employees fail to follow set culture practices and examples, it will be challenging to express the culture your firm either has or is working towards. 

To help find employees that will hop on board with your company culture, carefully select behavioral interview questions that will reveal if this person's ideal workplace culture and values are aligned with your companies. To best get employees to follow new goals, select values that a lot of employees already believe in or prioritize at work. 

2. Be Transparent about your Opportunities and Challenges
In exhibiting company culture, many recruits will find honesty, transparency and authenticity in the recruiter to be important. In hiring, you should be open and willing to talk about future opportunities, learning and development that may be available to participate in. Take this as an opportunity to demonstrate the firm's dedication to its employees and that they are valued members of the team. 

This also brings the counter, being honest about your challenges. Whether it be within culture, technology or any other aspect of your operation, share what you see needing work to help pinpoint your strengths while acknowledging you may still have some weaknesses and opportunities for growth. To help clarify this step, consider using cultural terms and values in the job description. This will help filter to those who are aligned with your values. 

3. Engage Outside of the Interview
Consider bringing candidates to lunch or to a more casual event other than an interview. This will help you showcase the authentic culture of your company. Instead of explaining your culture and values, show it. Allowing you to get a better look at some of your recruiting candidates, see how they act and if they will fit in socially and professionally with your current workforce. Teamwork is key in all offices and having a difficult team member can heavily detriment projects or discourage teammates.  

4. Seek Feedback
For improvement in recruiting, seek feedback from all parties involved. Just as your firm may provide potential hires with feedback, you should ask the same. Ask what could have run smoother or been done differently and if they have enjoyed their interactions with all of the firm's personnel. Internally, seek feedback from interviewers, new-hires and executives that are involved in the process. Find new ways to improve and exhibit the culture you have cultivated. Additionally, requesting feedback builds a culture of transparency and openness from an executive level. Being available to hear new ideas or revisions to the process can sincerely aid you in further growth.

Moving forward in the hiring process, be intentional and cognizant of your actions. It is crucial to consider your potential recruits’ perspective and outlook on the process and how an executive outlook may differ in intentions and perspective. 

Consider references and establish a pipeline of candidates, whether that be at the university level or on hiring from within. Being able to have a reliable network of potential candidates will allow you to be more selective with their hiring and lead to better fits. 

Another aspect that executives can sometimes struggle with is finding a genuine way to approach diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring. Be conscious of diversity in all aspects, diversity of thought, background in addition to physical forms of diversity. Focus on genuine hiring practices, and prioritize finding value in diverse experiences that allow your company to grow and for new backgrounds to influence for a better future with your team. Be authentic and genuine, be inclusive and be considerate of others' experiences. 

The key to having a strong recruiting process and good experience is investing in your people, creating an authentic culture and being transparent in your conversations. Be intentional with the impact you leave with each candidate and focus on your company brand to produce an appealing and accurate image to those in the job market. 


Thu 17 August 2023
Being a great individual contributor doesn’t equate to being a great leader. As you advance in your career, you’ll need to continually enhance your leadership skills. Prove to your boss that you have what it takes to lead and inspire your team members whenever a new opportunity comes your way.

For example, if you’re a Director looking to become a VP, you should also work toward developing specific qualities that will make you a better fit for a leadership role. These include delegating tasks effectively, prioritizing assignments, setting clear goals, empowering team members, and helping motivate others at work.

Oftentimes, the path towards being an executive requires being a player/coach - meaning that you have to both lead a team and accomplish individual goals. It's crucial to maintain a delicate balance, avoiding burnout and overwork along the way. 

When you’re passionate about what you do, or maybe you just really want that promotion, it can be easy to forget that long hours, nonstop work, and saying yes to extra assignments may boost your career in the short term. But in the long run, it can send you into a terrible spiral.

You may not even see that burnout coming; it creeps up on you as you drive yourself to physical and emotional exhaustion.

The best way to avoid it—without sacrificing your commitment to success? Take a few proactive measures while your star is rising, and when you get to the top, you’ll have a great set of career best practices that will take you wherever you want to go.

Embrace the Journey of Growth

To embark on this exciting journey, embrace a growth mindset—one that celebrates the transformative power of dedication and hard work. Visualize the path ahead as an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. This mindset not only fuels your motivation but also demonstrates to decision-makers your capacity to adapt, learn, and thrive in the face of challenges.

Unleash the Power of Prioritization

It's easy to get overwhelmed by a sea of tasks and responsibilities. However, the key lies in mastering the art of prioritization. Channel your focus into areas that align with your long-term goals and resonate with the organization's vision. Embrace delegation as a means of empowering your team while you concentrate on tasks that genuinely propel you forward. Remember, it's not about doing more; it's about doing what truly matters.

Lead from Within

As an aspiring VP, the journey isn't solely about attaining a title—it's about leaving an indelible mark through your leadership. Lead by example, guiding your team with unwavering dedication and passion. Showcase your unwavering commitment to excellence, and you'll inspire others to do the same. Authentic leadership not only makes you stand out but also paves the way for your team's collective success.

Embrace Feedback 

The road to greatness is paved with feedback and self-improvement. Invite constructive criticism from peers, team members, and mentors. Let go of any defensiveness, and instead, view feedback as an opportunity to refine your skills and approach. By humbly embracing growth areas, you demonstrate your commitment to becoming a more effective leader—one who is attuned to both successes and areas for development.

Nurture Meaningful Connections

As you ascend the corporate ladder, never underestimate the power of relationships. Cultivate strong connections within and outside your organization. Engage in meaningful networking, driven not solely by ambition but by a genuine desire to learn and support others. Building relationships fosters a supportive environment, one that recognizes your potential and fuels your pursuit of success.

Champion Your Own Journey

Your accomplishments deserve recognition, and advocating for yourself is crucial on this journey. Celebrate your achievements while humbly sharing them with key decision-makers. Articulate how your contributions align with the company's vision and values. Be confident, poised, and authentic in showcasing your potential and aspirations.

Balance and Thrive

As you strive for success, don't lose sight of the importance of a balanced life. Avoid the trap of overworking yourself to exhaustion. Remember that sustainable achievement stems from a foundation of well-being. Make time for hobbies, relaxation, and loved ones, as these elements provide you with the resilience and clarity needed to thrive on your journey to VP.

In your pursuit of the VP role, you'll inevitably encounter obstacles and challenges. Rather than being deterred, approach these hurdles with a solutions-oriented mindset. Your ability to identify innovative and strategic solutions will set you apart as a leader who thrives under pressure. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and showcase your resourcefulness when faced with complex situations.

The path from Director to Vice President is both thrilling and transformative. Embrace the journey with a growth mindset, prioritizing meaningful tasks, leading with authenticity, and embracing feedback and challenges. Nurture relationships and be your own champion, advocating for the recognition you deserve. Most importantly, maintain a balanced approach, caring for your well-being along the way. 

By mastering the art of climbing the ladder with purpose, you'll not only ascend to the VP level but also leave a legacy of inspiration and leadership.


Mon 9 October 2023
An increasingly prevalent menace in the workplace, switchtasking ignites a variety of problems for productivity across all levels. Rather than devoting full attention to one task at a time, many jump from one tab to another, attempting to tackle their overload of responsibilities. 

Switchtasking is the rapid change of tasks; toggling from email, to instant messaging, to a presentation and back to the task at hand, which undermines productivity and creates inefficiencies in the workplace. In a managerial or leadership role, it is challenging to reduce switchtasking while still expecting timely responses and completion of tasks. Switchtasking has also been associated with increased mental fatigue, lack of creativity, poor quality work and employees feeling overworked.

In the modern world with technology and the seemingly instant demand of information and collaboration, how do managers regulate switchtasking to optimize their teams productivity and efficiency? 

Tackling each of these negative outcomes begins by understanding the root of the cause. The association between mental fatigue and switchtasking likely stems from individuals feeling as though they have attempted to solve a variety of problems and have worked on a number of tasks throughout the day. Yet, in reality they have worked on the same task in 20 minute increments then, have lost focus and had to re-evaluate the situation once returning to the original task. Which directly explains a lack of creativity in problem solving. Having a stop-go motion does not allow for continuous, devoted and fully developed thoughts on how to address specific situations. Being a large contributor to company success, innovation and productivity, behaviors that halt creative thinking are counter productive to the workplace. 

Switchtasking has also been associated with lower quality work and increased errors. When switchtasking, attention to detail seems to be spread among a number of different tasks `whereas in a traditional focus of one task at a time, all of the attention is devoted to one objective at a time, improving quality and clarity in outputs. Finally, the obstacle of switchtasking seems to heavily impact reports perceptions of their work-life balance. Individuals frequently feel overworked because with switchtasking, the tasks do not end once individuals leave the office. Switchtasking can frequently grow from the feeling that direct reports need to immediately respond to emails, messages and drop whatever they may be doing to address these things which will continue at home. 

Here are some tips to help managers reduce the level of switchtasking within their teams:


1. Create a clear prioritization system for direct reports
Creating a clear prioritization system for direct reports will significantly reduce switchtasking in teams. If direct-reports are able to analyze and determine the importance of tasks, they will be more apt to individually focus on one task at a time and they will be less likely to use time on less-important tasks. A prioritization system will also communicate to direct reports that each task is not urgent and can wait until they have completed their current task. This will also exhibit significant improvements in the quality of work and creativity in the workplace that impact direct reports attitudes, job satisfaction and job performance. 

2. Encourage Time Management Planning
Another contributor of switchtasking is direct-reports feeling as though they will not have enough time to address all of their responsibilities. By encouraging segmented days and improved time management with plans of certain assignments, managers can expect improved quality of work and continuous creativity as team members are devoted to specific tasks for specific amounts of time to focus. Direct-reports will be confident that they will eventually address each task they are responsible for. Additionally, direct-reports may heavily benefit from breaks in between these tasks to ensure they do not feel overworked, overwhelmed or that they are experiencing unequal work-life balance. Encouraging transitioning times throughout the day and predetermined plans will significantly decrease switchtasking in the workplace. 

3. Set communication expectations
By setting clear communication expectations, managers can indirectly discourage switchtasking. Creating clarity in expectations will allow teammates to address emails or messages once they get a chance, in a break period or, within the time they are working on that specific task. Do not expect immediate responses from every employee the instant they are contacted, appreciate that they are devoting their time and full attention to produce the best quality work possible. 

4. Lead by example
If managers expect direct-reports to avoid switchtasking and devote full attention to tasks, they should be exhibiting the same standard. When in meetings, managers should focus fully on the topic of discussion, avoid taking phone calls when in meetings with teams and, confidently demonstrate the expectation of complete attention, effort and persistence when working on tasks that will overall create better results team-wide. 

5- Be flexible!
A great deal of managers struggle to embrace mistakes. In implementing these new ideas to improve productivity, managers should focus on building a culture that embraces mistakes and allows collective learning and improvement for an entire team. Being a flexible and innovative role model will heavily improve the effectiveness of these steps. Effective leaders focus on understanding others and the best practices for specific teams. Know that sometimes switchtasking is necessary but, that does not undermine the effectiveness of these tips in a team setting that will overall contribute to the betterment of the team both in the output of work and, the well-being of the team's members. 

Reducing switchastking requires time, effort and clear explanation of the new programs for effective implementation. Managers who promote the above efforts and prioritize their employees will see results in attitude and work product. 

Although difficult, managers should remember that it may take time to see results and feedback is crucial for growth. To view metrics on the implementation of new programs, consider utilizing AIM insights to view data at any given point throughout the year. Additionally, take time to focus on relationships within teams that lead to productive and cooperative dynamics that will improve the overall efficiency in the workplace. 


Wed 18 October 2023
Leadership happy talk is the propensity for leaders to paint a rosy picture of how the business is performing to their team when the business is struggling. 

Oftentimes, business owners and executives engage in leadership happy talk because they think it is the more mature thing to do. They’d rather hold onto the stress and frustration of business struggles and not put it on other people. 

This might seem like a laudable motivation: why stress out your team? But refusing to share and be vulnerable with team members ultimately creates missed opportunities for the team to tackle problems together. This leads to poor outcomes like surprise layoffs, outbursts from leaders, and misallocated priorities during crucial periods.

This article covers some of the causes of leadership happy talk, how to catch yourself engaging in leadership happy talk, how to overcome it, and why it is critical to not engage in this behavior. 

Leadership happy talk stems from pressures, both real and perceived, to show the world and one’s team that everything is going great. Many startups engage in this behavior because they need to put on a show and generate “buzz” so investors perceive their company to be the next hot business. Many business owners engage in this behavior because they fear their employees will leave if the business isn’t performing well. From a business owner’s perspective, they would rather wait and hope their business turns around. They’d rather risk a surprise layoff than inform their employees that the business is struggling and engage them in a potential solution. Many executives for large companies engage in this behavior because they have shareholders and quarterly goals to meet, and they would rather keep up an obvious charade rather than risk looking ineffectual. But only luck can save these leaders from near-certain failure if they aren’t willing to open up. 

There’s also the egotistical explanation: They want everyone to think they are a success. 

As a leader, you might be reading this and thinking to yourself, “what if the news of our business struggling has nothing to do with my employees’ work? How will that help?”

The answer: if this person is at risk of getting laid off, being asked to work reduced hours or for reduced compensation, or having their work impacted in any way at all, they should know about it.

Why? This initial worry assumes that your team can’t handle the truth or that they may leave upon learning the news. That risk pales in comparison to the possible reward from including them in a solution that saves your business. 

By not sharing the truth of the business’s situation with the entire team, leaders are communicating to their team that they don’t trust them to work together on identifying a solution or that they aren’t smart enough to have any good ideas on how to solve the issue.

No business is going gangbusters all the time every day. Businesses tend to oscillate between up periods and down periods. As a leader, it may be tempting to paint the down periods with a rose hue because things could turn around. However, when leaders find themselves in a position of identifying some negative trends, the best decision is transparency and collaboration. 

By being vulnerable instead of stoic, leaders are communicating that they trust their team and that they value their perspective. Sure, some investors may choose not to invest, some employees may leave at the first sign of bad news, the stock price might go down temporarily, but leaders that engage in openness, transparency, and collaboration lead to healthier more resilient businesses. Strong, resilient businesses are much more likely to succeed long-term compared to businesses run by leaders that engage in leadership happy talk and can’t tell their employees the truth. Next time business is slow, take a chance and open up to your team. The solution could be right in front of your eyes, all you had to do was ask. 

 

Fri 17 November 2023
As communication has become more immediate, it is also increasingly casual. Receiving emails that are overly aggressive or written in an inappropriate tone are situations that many people encounter within the workplace. Whether it is a message from a team member or a direct report, it is important to be conscious of how to respond to these situations to remain professional while upholding boundaries. 

Here are some steps to help navigate responding to an unprofessional email: 

  1. Maintain Composure 
An initial reaction to an aggressive or rude email is often anger or frustration. It is important to recognize and refrain from acting on this initial response. Taking deep breaths to calm down or even stepping away from the situation and finding a distraction for a few minutes can help to de-escalate initial reactions. 

After regaining composure, reread the email to see if the message still seems inappropriately aggressive. If the message still seems overly harsh, identify the elements that are concerning from the actual context of the message. This will help to complete a more objective analysis of the email and allow for a more constructive response. 

2. Consider the Method of Response 
Depending on the sender of the email, a response may be most appropriate over email, the phone, or in person. If the sender is someone who works nearby, approaching them in person may be the most effective method to handle the situation. Over email, messages can be misinterpreted and words that seemed harsh may not have had that intention. Talking things out can prevent any miscommunications that result from written communication. 

The relationship with the sender may also help determine the most appropriate means of communication. If the sender is a direct report, an in-person meeting to discuss the aggressive message can help to convey the severity of their actions and deter them from communicating with this tone in the future. 

3. Establish Clear Boundaries 
When dealing with inappropriate emails, it is crucial to communicate boundaries to prevent these issues from occurring in the future. Clearly and assertively articulating areas of discomfort and that this type of behavior is unacceptable. Be concise and specific about what is inappropriate within the message. 

Establishing boundaries is an important step to communicate that their tone is not welcome in future messages, however, avoiding escalating the situation is crucial during this step. Communicating with a polite tone can help to prevent the sender from feeling attacked. Discussing the message itself rather than targeting the sender when criticizing the tone can prevent them from feeling the need to be on defense during this conversation. 

4. Proofread 
If the best method of communication is emailing, proofread any response before sending it. Ensuring that there is a neutral tone, concise sentences, and no redundant information will allow the recipient to clearly understand any response. 

Maintaining a professional tone is vital because the situation can quickly spiral out of control if there is inappropriate communication on both sides. Responding aggressively or passive-aggressively may further validate the sender's feelings and encourage them to continue this unprofessional tone going forward. 

5. Document the Interaction 
It is essential to document this interaction in case aggressive emails continue in the future. Save copies of the emails with headers and time stamps as evidence of this interaction. This documentation will be beneficial to submit to supervisors or human resources if the aggression continues. Keeping evidence will help to maintain a clear timeline of events and ensure that these interactions aren’t lost. 

When documenting the interaction, also ensure to document how the situation was handled. Saving any emails that were sent in response to this inappropriate email can help to document instances in which boundaries were set and communicated to the sender. This way if the sender continues to act unprofessionally, there is a record that they were told that this behavior is unwelcome. 

6. Seek Support 
Don’t hesitate to seek support if the inappropriate behavior persists. Reaching out to colleagues, supervisors, or human resource professionals to share concerns can be a helpful resource. Horizontal mentorship groups can also serve as a beneficial resource to gain insights from others who have encountered similar situations. Having this support system can help to navigate this difficult situation and introduce an outside perspective. Additionally, reaching out to these outside individuals within the firm may allow others to find a resolution. 

When seeking support, it is incredibly beneficial to have the documentation available to show them. This will allow these outside resources to have a better understanding of the situation at hand and allow them to provide more direct support as they are aware of what was specifically said. 

7. Learn and Improve 
The final step when dealing with an inappropriate email is to learn from the interaction. After addressing the inappropriate behavior, the next response can be used to gauge the effectiveness of how the behavior was addressed. This can help to improve personal communication skills going forward. Take note of what worked and what may have been unsuccessful to identify areas for improvement going forward. 

Although difficult to navigate, these interactions can serve as a great opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. Evaluating how personal communication contributed to the de-escalation of the situation can serve as a beneficial tool for any difficult situations that arise in the future. 

It is important to consider inappropriate messages on a case-by-case basis. The relationship with the person, their position within the firm, and the context of the email, may warrant different responses. The context of the email is particularly important to consider because in some cases, a frustrated email may not entirely be inappropriate. 

For instance, if a team member completed their portion of the project, but the remainder of the project was not completed by the deadline. In this scenario, the team member may be frustrated and rightfully so as they upheld their responsibilities. Validating their emotions and owning up to mistakes may be critical aspects of responding to an email in this capacity. 

When dealing with an inappropriate email, there are many things to consider when assessing how to respond. The most important thing to remember when handling these difficult situations is to remain professional and consider what can be done to prevent this behavior from persisting going forward. 

Mon 4 December 2023
Good managers are good listeners. As a manager, it is crucial to practice active listening to make the best decisions for an organization or team. Rather than simply hearing the words an individual says, managers should practice active listening through demonstrating genuine interest and undivided attention with their members. In active listening, managers should focus on hearing the communication beyond the explicitly stated words but understanding feelings, intentions and underlying messages. In any industry, encouraging managers to practice active listening deciphers opportunities for growth and learning that may result in increased customer and employee satisfaction. 

Leaders must practice thoughtful, active listening to foster a collaborative and thriving work environment where employees feel valued. When employees feel that they are valued by the organization, they demonstrate stronger organizational commitment and job performance which leads to increased job satisfaction. With the necessity of technology in the workplace, work from home, and hybrid cultures of companies, active listening skills in the workplace have depleted. 

When communication habits shift from in-person to online chat, communications become far less effective. Without face-to-face contact, 93% of communication is lost from nonverbal and vocal communication, leaving a mere 7% left to recognize opportunities for growth and learning. Albert Mehrabian, a body language researcher, led a research campaign to discover what portion of communication is based solely on diction. Mehrabian found that 55% of communication is non-verbal cues, 38% of communication is vocal, and only 7% is from specific words.Through using video calls, individuals may be able to recover effectiveness in conversation through vocal and non-verbal cues but, most will continue to struggle with active listening. 

Although convenient, using online chats and emails as the primary conversation medium significantly diminishes the efficacy of communication attempts. Leaders must find creative ways to combat these changes to uncover hidden growth opportunities and team discrepancies. The subtle art of reading undertones and ensuring psychological safety to team members reflects within team culture. Managers can enhance their active listening in the following seven ways:

  1. Listen for the Undertones
As is human nature, it is expected that we hear an individual’s words but only sometimes comprehend the underlying objective or purpose of the communication. Managers should be deliberate in decoding communications to find the concealed message within an interaction or suggestion from employees. Additionally, managers should be aware of differences and communication barriers between cultures. When working in international settings, leaders must consider the cultural norms and barriers that could affect communication effectiveness. 

2. Be Present
Actively listening to direct reports requires undivided attention and devotion to hearing what employees are saying. This means minimizing distractions, eliminating interruptions, and thoroughly thinking and understanding not only statements made but also body language and verbal cues that showcase the intent behind the communication. Being a present and engaged listener will aid the leader's contact with the team by valuing thoughts, opinions, and experiences. 

3. Prioritize Psychological Safety
For a strong team, diversity of thought and diverging opinions are invaluable. To encourage these crucial conversations, managers must create an environment of psychological safety that will enable direct reports to come to leaders with ideas, suggestions, and experiences that managers may use to better an organization. Those who are unaccepting of others deteriorate psychological safety within a team. In creating psychological safety, managers need to focus on empathy, support and understanding amongst all team mates. 

4. Withhold Judgment
To be better active listeners, leaders should avoid instances of judgment by entering each conversation with an open mind. In these conversations, managers should avoid responding to suggestions with defensiveness or hostility. Instead, take each conversation as a learning opportunity rather than a personal attack. Open mindedness and improved relationships with team members will enhance problem solving and creative thinking team-wide. 

5. Cultivate Empathy
An essential part of active listening is cultivating empathy and understanding for those around you. Managers must prioritize a culture of empathy by being understanding and adaptable to their employees. Adding to a culture of compassion, leaders must focus on making every team member feel valued and welcomed. Once a team has established a culture of empathy, all members will grow as active listeners, streamlining communication for all parties. 

6. Ask Questions
In practicing active listening, asking questions is imperative to thoroughly understand the topic. Asking questions demonstrates genuine care and interest in the case, leading employees to feel heard and understood, even if their suggestion is not implemented. In asking questions, prioritize creating a conversation of open dialogue, with explanations and reasoning on either side, to encourage a culture that welcomes diverse opinions and embraces mistakes, allowing for further growth and success. 

7. Ask for Feedback
Managers seeking feedback on their active listening skills are crucial for team growth. Regardless of the industry or specific role, all leaders must be good communicators, meaning strong listening and speaking skills. One without the other will not foster the productive work environment that makes groups successful. Managers should consider their self-awareness and seek opportunities to grow in the communication field. To collect this feedback, consider using AIM Insights, which will provide continuous feedback for all organizational levels, enabling constant improvement.

 Leaders may encourage the process of prioritizing psychological safety for active listening by establishing group norms or policies within their team. For example, a manager may have an “open door policy” to welcome any concerns, questions, and suggestions from employees. Other managers may cultivate this through weekly team-wide discussion meetings that allow individuals to share their concerns. In determining which approach is best, leaders need to evaluate their teams  to determine which route is most impactful for their team.

Throughout the process of improving active listening skills, managers should remember that changes may take time to happen. It takes time for trust to be fostered within a team and psychological safety to develop. Growth paths may not always be linear, but should have ups and downs and obstacles along the way. By actively listening to feedback, managers can find the next step forward for bettering their team. 


Mon 4 December 2023
Emotional intelligence is a unique strength that doesn't just benefit those who possess it; it enriches the entire organizational ecosystem and is something you want to incorporate into your business in order to have an edge.

Effective leadership goes beyond strategic decision-making and task management. Leaders who possess high emotional intelligence (EQ) can create an organizational culture that fosters trust, collaboration, and overall team satisfaction. This article delves into the profound impact of emotional intelligence on leadership, emphasizing the importance of understanding team members' emotions and needs. 

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence comprises four core elements: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. It involves recognizing and understanding emotions in oneself and others and using this awareness to manage one's behavior and relationships.

Emotional Intelligence and Trust Building

Leaders with high emotional intelligence showcase a keen awareness and understanding of their own emotions, as well as those of their team members. This heightened emotional awareness enables leaders to navigate interpersonal relationships with empathy and authenticity, laying the foundation for trust and rapport.

When a leader demonstrates empathy by acknowledging and validating the emotions of their team members, it creates a positive work environment. AIM Insights, as a performance management tool, aligns with this principle by encouraging individuals to express their feelings and challenges in a safe and confidential space. By articulating their concerns in writing, employees may find it easier to open up about their emotions, fostering vulnerability and trust.

Positive Work Environment and Employee Satisfaction

Leadership styles heavily influence the work environment. Leaders with high emotional intelligence tend to create a positive and supportive atmosphere where team members feel valued and appreciated. This, in turn, boosts employee morale and satisfaction.

AIM Insights takes this a step further by prompting individuals to articulate their ambitions and the "why" behind their work. Through this reflective process, employees gain a deeper understanding of their personal and professional motivations. Managers armed with this knowledge can tailor their leadership approach, aligning organizational goals with the individual aspirations of team members.

Guide: Enhancing Leadership through Emotional Intelligence with AIM Insights

  • Understand Work Challenges:
    • Encourage team members to express their biggest work challenges using AIM Insights.
    • Leverage insights to address specific obstacles hindering productivity.
  • Explore Professional Ambitions:
    • Prompt individuals to articulate their aspirations and career goals through AIM Insights.
    • Align organizational objectives with personal ambitions to foster growth.
  • Uncover the "Why" Behind the Work:
    • Use AIM Insights to delve into the deeper motivations driving professional pursuits.
    • Align job responsibilities with personal passions to enhance job satisfaction.
  • Empathy in Leadership:
    • Develop and demonstrate empathy by understanding challenges expressed through AIM Insights. 
    • Proactively address concerns, fostering a supportive work environment.
  • Tailor Leadership to Individual Needs:
    • Leverage AIM Insights to reveal individual ambitions and work preferences.
    • Customize leadership strategies to support individual growth and enhance team dynamics.

Work Challenges: The Power of Vulnerability

When employees have the opportunity to articulate their biggest work challenges, they often reveal more profound insights than in face-to-face interactions. The act of typing out concerns allows individuals the time and space to express themselves with greater vulnerability. Leaders who leverage AIM Insights gain access to a more authentic understanding of the obstacles hindering their teams' productivity.

Example: A team member might express concerns about feeling overwhelmed with tasks. This insight provides leaders with the opportunity to address workload distribution, implement strategies to alleviate stress, and demonstrate a commitment to employee well-being.

Ambitions: Fostering Growth and Development

Understanding individual ambitions is crucial for leadership that promotes growth and development. AIM Insights prompts individuals to articulate their professional aspirations, creating a roadmap for leaders to align organizational objectives with personal goals.

Example: A team member might express a desire to lead a project or develop a particular skill. Armed with this knowledge, a leader can offer targeted mentorship, assign relevant tasks, or provide opportunities for skill enhancement, ultimately contributing to the employee's growth and job satisfaction.

The "Why" Behind the Work: Aligning Purpose and Productivity

AIM Insights delves into the fundamental question of "why" individuals engage in their work. This introspective query uncovers the deeper motivations that drive professional pursuits.

Example: Consider a scenario where a team member expresses a strong passion for environmental sustainability. Armed with this knowledge, a leader can explore ways to align the employee's role with projects related to sustainability, fostering a sense of purpose and contributing to heightened job satisfaction.

Empathy in Leadership

Empathy is a cornerstone of emotional intelligence. Leaders who empathize with their team members build stronger connections and trust. AIM Insights, by encouraging individuals to share their experiences in a written format, provides leaders with a unique opportunity to develop and demonstrate empathy.

Example: By understanding the challenges expressed through AIM Insights, leaders can proactively address concerns, demonstrating a commitment to the well-being of their teams. This empathetic approach fosters a supportive work environment, enhancing employee satisfaction and loyalty.

Tailoring Leadership to Individual Needs

One-size-fits-all leadership approaches often fall short of addressing the diverse needs of a team. AIM Insights helps leaders tailor their strategies by revealing individual ambitions and the "why" behind each team member's work.

Example: A leader who learns about a team member's aspiration to take on more responsibility may provide opportunities for leadership development. This customized approach not only supports individual growth but also enhances overall team dynamics.

Leaders who prioritize understanding and responding to the emotions and needs of their team members foster trust, collaboration, and job satisfaction. Embracing emotional intelligence and leverage tools like AIM Insights are poised to not only navigate challenges effectively but also inspire and lead their teams to new heights of success and fulfillment.


Fri 15 December 2023
Communicating layoffs to employees is a tough situation that requires considerable thought and compassion. Layoffs can have a dramatic effect on the organization and steps must be taken to help preserve workplace culture when relaying such changes. When informing employees about these difficult decisions, creating a strong communication plan can assist in lessening the emotional turmoil resulting from layoffs. 

Here are 4 steps to developing a strong initial communication plan: 

  1. Be Transparent
Employee response to layoffs is largely determined by the perceived fairness and transparency utilized throughout the decision-making and communication processes. Clear messaging regarding why the decision was made, alternative solutions considered, and the future of the organization will help prevent employees from creating their assumptions. Increased transparency works to build trust with employees and reduces damage to company morale. 

2. Include Employees in the Process
During the process of determining layoffs, all possible solutions are often exhausted prior to reaching a decision. However, if appropriate include employees from all levels in identifying solutions. Motivations for layoffs are most often to take cost cutting measures.  Engaging with employees to gather feedback and consider alternative areas to reduce costs can help empower employees and increase collaboration. Inclusion within the problem-solving process also helps to gain a better understanding of the process that was utilized to come to the solution of laying off employees. 

3. Consider Word Choice
An important, but often overlooked, consideration is word choice. Being sensitive to nuances will avoid a negative tone. Phrases that sound voluntary such as “leaving” or euphemisms like “restructuring” detract from the situation at hand and can diminish the hard work contributed by the employees who are laid off. Consider the feelings of the employees who are being let go and develop a tone that is sensitive to these emotions. 

4. Consistent Messaging
Regardless of whether a message is intended solely for employees, information may get leaked to media outlets or other outside sources. When developing internal and external messages, messaging should be consistent. Conflicting information will increase confusion and cause distrust among stakeholders. All messages should be crafted with the idea that any stakeholder may see the information. Additionally, all stakeholders should be addressed when communicating the news of layoffs. Since, likely, all stakeholders will eventually hear about the layoffs, creating specific content for each audience can ensure that no group of stakeholders is left out of the loop

Transparency, inclusion, word choice consideration, and consistency are key elements that can guide the communication process across all stakeholders. Since employees are personally being impacted by layoffs, increased consideration of how to approach communication with this group of stakeholders is vital. Whether the employee is being laid off or one of their peers is being let go, all employees will feel the effects of the organizational change.  

When communicating with laid-off employees and remaining employees, here are some important considerations to best support both groups: 

Support Laid Off Employees: 
  • Individualize the Process
Conducting one-on-one meetings with laid-off individuals is an empathetic approach to communicating the difficult news. Individual meetings communicate respect for the employees who are laid off and serve as an opportunity to support their emotional needs. During this time, laid-off employees can feel heard and ask questions that will help them get a better understanding of reasoning and future steps. 

  • Share Support Resources
When initially receiving the news that they are laid off, employees may not fully process the news and may have questions they fail to ask during the individual meeting. Providing additional support resources for employees following these meetings is a key way to address concerns and continue to demonstrate empathy. Support resources may include a contact within the company that can be used to answer further questions regarding the layoffs or details about benefits and severance packages.  

Address Remaining Employees: 
  • Clarify Effects Going Forward
While layoffs are particularly difficult for employees losing their jobs, the remaining employees also endure emotional hardship. The remaining employees are tasked with the ramifications of the layoffs and will need to navigate the new environment. Providing specific operational changes that will be implemented can help to reduce the uncertainty for remaining employees. 
 
  • Recognize Productivity May Decrease 
Following layoffs, it is common for teams to work at a lower capacity. This lower productivity can result from increased workloads for remaining employees as well as the emotional toll from losing team members. While it may seem effective to continue to motivate employees to work at 100% efficiency, allowing employees time and space to grieve these changes will provide more significant benefits. Allowing time for positive adjustments to change will work to strengthen employee morale and engagement as they will be able to better process these changes. 

  • Assure No More Layoffs
When undergoing layoffs, there will be increased fear of future layoffs for the organization. While assuring there won’t be future layoffs certainly shouldn’t be done if there are plans for continued layoffs, if there aren’t plans for additional layoffs that should be communicated to the remaining employees. It is natural for employees to stress about their jobs when they see peers losing their jobs. Offering support to team members through open communication and availability for questions can help ease the minds of remaining employees. 

Anytime a company has to lay off employees there are a lot of hardships. Ultimately, effective communication with all stakeholders is important to best navigate the changing environment. While layoffs have many negative implications on the employees leaving the company, consistency, honesty, and empathy must be utilized through all phases of communication to prevent the company image from being damaged and best guide the company toward future success.  


Fri 15 December 2023
Mergers and acquisitions present opportunities for companies to streamline their operations, develop economies of scale, create synergies, and establish various other growth opportunities. Despite all these beneficial changes a company may experience, mergers and acquisitions can be a stressor for employees as there are many uncertainties. 

Undergoing mergers and acquisitions can create structural and cultural changes for organizations, leaving employees unsure of what to anticipate. Organizational changes and redundancies within the workforces of both companies can lead employees to have serious concerns about their job security. 

Even minor changes that result from mergers and acquisitions such as cultural shifts, slight process adjustments, or changes in communication channels can enhance the anxious environment and threaten psychological safety. Recognizing the emotions arising from these changes is essential for a smooth transition and continued team success. 

Here are some ways to create a more people-focused approach to navigating a team through a merger or acquisition: 

  1. Develop a Communication Plan
When conveying the news of a merger or acquisition it is important to consider how to best articulate the intentions of the decision. Communicating the overarching vision, company beliefs, and future of the company that led to the decision can help employees better understand the motivations for undergoing such changes. Presenting an optimistic vision for the company will encourage employees to support the new direction of the company. 

Lack of communication or poor communication can lead to the spreading of misinformation and decreased employee engagement. To prevent issues from arising with employees drawing inaccurate conclusions about future steps, ensure that there is constant communication as the process evolves. Immediately when information is allowed to be shared with direct reports, communicate the information to demonstrate that all employees are valued and informed. 

2. Ensure Transparency
Simply communicating updates to the team isn’t sufficient during uncertain times. Honest and frequent updates are most suitable for ensuring all members of the team understand how the changes will personally impact them. 

When permissible, communicate as much detail as possible about the deal's implications. Although it may feel obligatory to reassure team members that everything will work out and they won’t be negatively affected, it is important to communicate the truth. If there is a risk that the team will be impacted by layoffs or structural changes, communicate that uncertainty and work with them to develop action plans. If the team does experience negative changes as a result of the deal, it is best to avoid a complete blindside. 

3. Positive culture 
Continuing to celebrate team successes can help to improve team morale and motivation. Amidst these big changes going on within the organization, recognizing the achievements of individuals or the team as a whole can help empower the team and reinforce a positive future outlook for the team. 

Connecting these celebrations to the core values of the merged company. Aligning the celebrations to organizational values reinforces their importance within the organization. Drawing these parallels will ultimately help reassure the team that their efforts are valued and key attributes of the entire organization. 

4. Involve and Empower Team
During times of uncertainty, it is crucial to allow direct reports to be involved wherever possible. Opportunities to share concerns, feedback, or other insights will allow employees to feel heard. Providing such opportunities will allow for a smoother transition to the new organization since adjustments can be made to best support the team. 

Team involvement develops a sense of ownership. During times of uncertainty, employees may begin to search for outside opportunities. Allowing employees to make an impact on the organization through their input and inclusion in the decision-making process, will increase their sense of commitment to the firm. 

5. Provide Resources
As a manager, providing ample resources for team members to navigate these changes is a necessary step. Mentorship initiatives, training programs, or external professional development opportunities can help employees prepare for potential future steps. 

Directing team members to consult with human resources or other applicable internal resources can serve as a good reminder of the readily available options they can contact. Continuing to identify various resources that can support team members will help ensure that they feel more in control of their future and can make more informed decisions. 

6. Lead by Example 
Increased stress is inevitable when transitioning through a merger or acquisition, however, employees look to their manager as an example of how to handle these unpredictable times. Remaining composed and adaptable will encourage the team to exemplify these characteristics as well, and embody the vision of the organization. 

Exemplifying other characteristics such as prioritization of work-life balance is another key way to guide a team to stay on track. During periods of change, ensuring all team members take care of their well-being and not overworking themselves can help to prevent additional stress. When direct reports see their manager balancing their personal life and their work obligations, they will feel more comfortable making balance one of their priorities which will ultimately lead to a more sustainable work environment. 

As a manager, it is important to continue to advocate for the team and take steps to support their best interests. During these periods of uncertainty, managers serve as a guide for their team to help them understand what is going on around them. 

Determining the best method to navigate these organizational changes can be incredibly difficult. Utilizing horizontal peer mentor groups can be a powerful tool to gain insight into how others in similar situations manage their teams. Within these groups, peers can share strategies they found to be successful and advice specific to the situation at hand. 

Remember that managing a team through large organizational changes such as mergers and acquisitions is specifically difficult for managers as they must balance personal stress resulting from the changing environment along with team concerns. Strategies on how to best lead a team depend on the team dynamics and the changes the organization is experiencing. Keep in mind that big changes are stressful and personal mental health should be prioritized. A sound-minded manager will be most suitable for leading a successful team through mergers and acquisitions. 


Thu 28 December 2023
Effective communication is a key component of successful leadership, and an important contributing factor to developing effective communication is word choice. Carefully chosen words when communicating can help to empower, motivate, and guide teams more effectively. While many managers recognize the importance of word choice, it can be difficult to identify areas of improvement. 

When communicating with a team or direct reports there are two main considerations: what to say and how to say it. While the message is incredibly important, how the message is communicated can directly affect how it is received and interpreted. Being conscious of how words can be used to properly communicate messages is an important skill for managers to develop. 

These are some strategies to consider when communicating with a team and direct reports: 

  1. Use Confident Verbs
Replacing words that undermine a leader's confidence is an important word choice consideration. Weak verbs should be substituted for more confident phrasing such as “we will”, “I know”, or “I believe” to convey reassurance and empowerment to a team. Dedicating time to developing more assertive language will help to improve team buy-in and can even contribute to improved self-confidence. 

A common way that managers compromise their confident word choice is through over-apologizing. While it is important for managers to be conscious of when they have made a mistake and to own their actions, over-apologizing can be a detrimental habit. Continuously apologizing for a mistake can present miscommunications and decrease credibility tremendously. Ultimately, over-apologizing spends unnecessary time and shifts managers away from their confident word choices. 

2. Be Concise 
Avoiding overly complex language and unnecessary jargon is a great practice for creating concise wording. Simplifying word choice can help ensure all team members understand and avoid confusion. Choosing specific words that are simple yet effective will also make communication more efficient. 

When developing more concise language, eliminating idioms and metaphors can also prove beneficial. If a team member doesn’t understand a figure of speech or is unfamiliar with it, the phrase can lose its meaning and cause a lot of unnecessary confusion. Working to avoid such phrases can help ensure that everyone understands the message while eliminating unnecessary words that take up additional time. 

3. Take Time 
Devoting time to consider proper word choice is an underutilized practice. If an instance occurs that seems difficult to navigate and may not have a ‘right answer’, don’t feel pressured to respond right away. Stepping back and communicating that more time is needed before providing a firm answer can help to ensure ideas are communicated correctly. 

Taking time to carefully consider a response can be done with both written and verbal communication. While more commonly implemented for written communication, stepping back from a conversation can be used with verbal communication similarly. During the conversation, indicate that more time will be needed to properly consider the next steps and provide a specific timeline of when they can expect a response. Clearly articulating the future steps is necessary to ensure that both parties understand when the situation can be resolved. 

4. Specify Terms 
When communicating with a team, specificity is key to ensuring everyone is on the same page. Terms such as ‘commitment’ may be interpreted differently across a team. To one team member commitment to a project may mean staying over time until completion, others may interpret commitment as delaying other projects until further notice. Being specific about how the team should be committed to the project would provide more unified results. Similar terms such as punctuality can also have varying interpretations across a team (or even between a manager and an individual). Clarifying expectations and being conscious of these words can help to ensure everyone has the same understanding. 

Avoiding standardized responses to team members can also work to improve specific word choices. Rather than telling a team member “I will look over your work and get back to you”, more concrete language should be used “I will review your work and provide feedback by Wednesday”. Articulating more specifically what the team members can expect will help them to feel more valued. Using generic language will leave increased ambiguity for team members and create an uneasy environment. 

5. Positive Intent 
Articulating a positive intent when communicating with a team is vital to improve morale. Even during difficult times, shifting language to have a positive frame will motivate employees.

When developing more positive word choice while relaying constructive criticism, avoiding the negative construction of sentences should be implemented. Words such as just, try, and maybe are passive words that aren’t empowering to a team. Using phrases like “we will’ gives a much more positive energy. 

6. Inclusive and Respectful 
Specifcially when communicating within a team setting, leaders must be inclusive of everyone. Utilizing words that address the group as a whole will ensure that everyone is prioritized throughout the meeting. 

Avoiding unintended microaggressions is another key aspect of developing inclusive and respectful word choice. Addressing personal unconscious bias can work to consider how they may be present within word choice and help to take steps for more inclusive wording. Employee engagement and sense of belonging can be diminished when there is a lack of inclusivity and respect from their managers. By carefully considering word choice, managers can ensure everyone feels comfortable within the workplace. 

Identifying strategies for improving communication is incredibly important in making adjustments, however, it is equally important to develop a plan to ensure consistency and proper application. An effective way to improve word choice is to model communication off of executives who are well-known for their communication skills. Finding executives with styles of communication that are effective can give inspiration on how to handle difficult situations or even more day-to-day examples. 

A word choice reminder is another method that can be used to ensure consistency. Designating certain items such as a bracelet or ring as a word choice reminder can be a way to constantly form these beneficial habits. Even more directly writing a note or daily phone reminder to keep word choice in mind throughout the day can effectively make these adjustments. 
When considering these strategies it is important to develop tangible ways to 

Practicing the implementation of proper word choice strategies is one of the most effective ways to ensure improvement. Role-playing a scenario with a peer or coach can help to thoroughly consider the precise wording to use when tasked with communicating difficult messages to a team. During these practices, peers or coaches can help to provide feedback and continue to ensure effective communication. 

Managers who recognize the impact of word choice can positively contribute to the improvement of their work environment. By developing strategies and concrete improvement steps, managers can enhance their communication skills and build a stronger team. Remembering that the words managers choose can have a direct impact on the productivity of their team will guide the team to be more effective and cohesive. 


Fri 12 January 2024
The success of an organization is heavily dependent on the collective performance of its teams. With these cross-functional collaboration dynamics, managers can encounter situations where the underperformance of teams outside of their direct oversight impacts their team's performance. Addressing and rectifying the underperformance of other teams may appear challenging due to the intricacies of organizational dynamics. Through embracing proactive strategies and creating a positive environment, managers can develop mutual support and elevate the organization's performance. 

Identify the Issue 
Determining that an inefficiency stems from the underperformance of another team may be easy, but it may prove difficult to identify the specific issue caused by this underperformance. Gathering data to specifically support observations can help to uncover the root of the issue. Data can be observational data or even the collection of performance metrics for the team/ projects. 

Gathering data can also be conducted through receiving feedback from direct reports. Their sentiments and experiences working in conjunction with the underperforming team may yield important insights that are not reflected in the data. Feedback can be gathered outside of the team as well. It is possible that other teams that collaborate with the underperforming team are experiencing similar issues and may have a different perspective on the situation. Consider gathering as much information as possible to develop a complete understanding of the current problem. 

Communicate with Team Leader 
After gathering information and identifying the issue, communicating with the other team leader is an imperative next step. As a manager of an outside team, no feedback should be given directly to individual team members; any concerns should be directed to the manager of that function. Set up a one-on-one meeting with the other manager and transparently communicate the situation. 

During this conversation, ensure that the productivity concerns are shared in an empathetic manner. Placing blame on the manager will not evoke a productive conversation as it will put them on the defensive. Clearly articulate the data that was collected to demonstrate how the underperformance is impacting the organization and other teams. 

It helps to practice this conversation ahead of time. Having a coach to help practice and guide the conversation can be incredibly helpful in the message sticking. 

This conversation is also an opportunity to collaborate on a mutually beneficial solution. Come prepared with potential resolutions that the other team manager could implement. Recognize that as an outside party, these solutions may not be feasible, so be conscious that the other manager may have a different perspective. 

Setting clear expectations is another key component of communicating underperformance. Articulate key metrics that should be improved and actionable steps the team will take to make these improvements. Implementing changes can take time, so collaborate on a feasible timeline so that these steps can be accomplished. Making numerous drastic changes in a short period could worsen the underperformance. 

Provide Resources 
Recognize that an underperforming team can be incredibly difficult for the other team leader to navigate. As a peer, providing additional support and resources can create a more efficient route to resolution. At the intersection of functions, there may be areas where both teams can improve their processes to streamline performances. 

With many team responsibilities, directly providing support to the other manager may be difficult. Sharing resources such as performance tracking software or external coaching can provide relief without personally assuming responsibility for providing constant support. 

Document Everything 
From the beginning stages of addressing the underperformance of teams, ensure that all information is documented. Specifically, when communicating with the team leader of the underperforming team, it is crucial to create a record. During the conversation, ensure that diligent notes are taken regarding the issue that is communicated, resolution steps, and future expectations. Following the conversation, share the meeting documentation with the other team leader to ensure both parties are on the same page and provide a reference for the future. 

Documentation serves as a record if further steps are required. If collaboration with the other team leader is difficult or the resolution steps are not adhered to, reaching out to upper management may be the next step. Providing this record of previous communication and acknowledged expectations will allow upper management to have a better understanding of the steps previously taken to resolve the issue. 

Reach Out to Upper Management 
The previous strategies are good methods to work towards a solution, however, complications while collaborating on a solution can arise. After valiant efforts to solve the issue don’t prove successful, consider reaching out to upper management. If both managers have exhausted all potential solutions, involving another member of leadership can help to provide a different perspective. 

Another instance that may require upper management involvement is if the other manager has extreme resistance to resolving the solution. Serious efforts should be made to collaborate with the other manager or even encourage them to independently consider strategies to increase performance. However, if they are unwilling to discuss the problem or refuse to make adjustments, involving management may be a more effective step. Using the extensive documentation of all the steps taken to resolve the issues, communicate what the problem is and potential solutions. Articulate that the other manager was contacted and share the records of attempts to resolve the issues with them before deferring to upper management. 

Monitor Progress 
Following the implementation of adjustments, monitor for improvements. Analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) for the underperforming team's responsibilities for improvement can help track the impact of the implemented solutions. Gathering feedback from both teams can also serve as a gauge of the effectiveness of the solution. 

Periodic check-ins with the other manager are another beneficial method for monitoring progress. Dedicating time to discuss the adjustments made and how it has affected both teams will help to make sure both teams are moving in a positive direction. Results from adjustments may not be observed immediately. After some time, if there is little improvement, consider finding an alternative solution. 

Support a Positive Environment 
When improvements occur, recognize and celebrate them. Continued positive reinforcement can motivate the team to sustain these improvements. Making changes can be difficult, so even the small success should be celebrated. Approaching the situation with understanding and a positive attitude will encourage everyone to truly help the team succeed. 

The ability to address and help resolve the underperformance of teams outside of one's oversight is a testament to effective leadership. Communicating, collaborating, and problem-solving can contribute tremendously to overall success. Proactively addressing team underperformance will not only elevate their success but also develop a culture focused on collaborative success. 


Fri 9 February 2024
As a new hire, entering a new environment can be incredibly intimidating. Especially during the first few months, it is crucial for new hires to have sufficient resources to support them in their new role. A smoother transition to a new culture and new responsibilities can be achieved through effective mentorship. 

Why is mentorship important in the workplace?

Mentorship provides many benefits to the mentee, the mentor, and the organization as a whole. As a mentee, mentorship serves as an opportunity to gain insider knowledge of the culture and the internal processes of the organization. Assimilation to workplace culture can be a struggle for many mentees. Having a resource who has worked for the company longer to ask questions about the workplace environment can help ease some of the initial awkwardness. Mentors can also help mentees navigate the simple issues that a mentee faces such as feedback on a deliverable, or even larger scale situations such as what future opportunities to explore within the organization. A more experienced perspective on how to handle these issues both big and small can truly help ensure that new hires are set up for success. 

From a mentor perspective, mentorship is a great opportunity to make an impact and demonstrate leadership. Effectively communicating constructive feedback, improved time management, and opportunities for self-reflection can further provide professional development for mentors. This commitment to supporting others within the organization is a great demonstration of responsibility and may increase the chances of promotion consideration. 

Organizations benefit from mentorship as it can help to reduce unhappiness and turnover rates. 

Given all the benefits of mentorship, what is the best way to be a successful mentor? 

  1. Dedicating One-on-one Time Early On
If possible, set up an in-person coffee chat or lunch early on. An early opportunity to get to know each other and allow the mentee to ask any burning questions. During this conversation an important topic to discuss is what this mentorship relationship will look like. Frequency and means of communication as well as what can be done to set them up for success within the organization are great things to establish within the first meeting. 

2. Encouragement of curiosity 
Recognize that mentors are supposed to be a stress-free resource to help mentees. Create a safe space for asking questions that is free of judgement or harsh criticism. Mentees may pose questions that seem to have an obvious answer. Recall that everyone comes into an organization with different skill sets and experiences, and there may be gaps that a mentee needs additional guidance for. 

Early on after joining a new organization, employees may be interested in learning about other careers and future opportunities. Encourage the exploration of other career paths within the organization and share personal career path experiences. 

3. Sharing Personal Experience
Building a relationship with a mentee that has open communication can be difficult. Sharing personal stories and experiences can help to break the initial uncomfortability. Reflecting on areas of personal struggle during the early stages of joining the firm can identify different areas to provide insider tips/ information to ease initial difficulties for a mentee. Providing specific tips and feedback based on personal learning is the best way to both help a mentee and develop a stronger relationship. 

4. Facilitate Relationships with Seniors 
Developing relationships with senior members within an organization may be daunting to new employees. As a mentor, it is extremely important to help mentees communicate and develop relationships with senior or experienced employees. This can be a pivotal component of a mentee's future success within the organization as the networking may open opportunities for future positions that align with their interests. 

5. Hold Frequent Check-ins 
A successful practice for effective mentorship is frequent check-ins. Waiting for mentees to reach out may prove difficult as sometimes mentees may hesitate to reach out about their concerns. Periodically sending messages and regular meetings with mentees can ensure that there is ample opportunity for questions and the development of a relationship. 

6. Gather Ideas from Peers 
When mentoring a new employee, it can be helpful to gather insights from peers on mentorship tactics that were successful. Reaching out to colleagues or even previous personal mentors can be a great way to learn about mentorship. Another way to gather insights from peers is through joining a horizontal mentorship group to also experience the mentorship experience from a different perspective. Groups such as horizontal mentorship groups are great opportunities to learn from peers within the industry and to learn how to be a more effective leader. Within these groups, ideas can be shared and real-time feedback can be received. 

A key component of being a successful mentor is being a strong role model for mentees. Following correct practices within an organization, recognizing when other resources are necessary to help solve a problem, and an overall positive attitude go a long way in effective mentorship. Remember that this role requires commitment, so before volunteering to be a mentor consider the time required for the role and if it is manageable. Another consideration is that Mentorship doesn’t have an expiration date. A good mentor-mentee relationship can extend past the company-mandated timeline. Also, feel free to serve as a mentor to any new hire that asks for additional mentorship. Mentorship doesn’t require a formal written title in order to build a mentor relationship with new hires. 

A mentor’s goal is to provide assistance to new employees and guide their experience throughout the organization at an appropriate pace. Keep in mind that all mentorship relationships look different and developing strong mentor skills takes time and trial-and-error. Be patient and attentive to mentees, and there will be growth. 


Fri 9 February 2024
In 1998 Daimler Motor Company Group (now Mercedes-Benz) attempted a merger with Chrysler Corporation. On paper, Daimler-Chrysler was a perfect combination. Daimler and Chrysler brought price points for different target audiences and their respective leaders had high hopes for a successful merger of the companies. Internally, Daimler had a vertical structure with enforced hierarchical roles while Chrysler used a horizontal structure with less formalities. The two entities split shortly after because they could not find a mutually beneficial culture or compromise the two hierarchical structure approaches. 

Finding the perfect team culture is challenging as is. Combining with another entity only creates additional battles for managers to face. Finding ways to maintain team or group culture through organizational changes puts a further burden on executive leadership and team managers within companies. 

In learning to deal with this new, unique workplace challenge, here are ten tips for managers in leading their teams through organizational changes:

  1. Understand the Stages of Team Development
Using the four normative stages of team development, leaders should allow teams to autonomously develop and grow into a culture that fosters specific team values. Allowing teams the time to go through the stages of forming, morning, storming, and performing to find the best-fit roles can be a daunting challenge for hands-on leaders going through organizational changes. However, by enabling new teams to flow through these changes, they will develop a productive team environment that allows a team to be efficient and effective.

2. Practice Effective Communication
Effectively communicating in times of change enables leaders to collect feedback and grow from two-way communication with their direct reports. Leaders practicing active listening will be able to voice employee concerns throughout the process of organizational change. On the flip side, leaders effectively communicating with their direct reports will provide clarity and reduce resistance to changes within a company. 

3. Use Inclusive Decision Making
In management decisions, allowing direct reports to voice concerns and opinions whenever possible will improve adaptability and allow for creative solutions that will satisfy all levels within an organizational hierarchy. Ensuring that team members feel heard and valued will foster a team culture that is beneficial to employees and executive management. Inclusive decision-making empowers company leadership to adapt from direct reports' experiences when undergoing an organizational change in addition to whole team efforts to creative problem solving that will be most beneficial to sustaining the organization's culture. 

4. Develop Employee Support Programs
If managers find that certain employees struggle with organizational changes, they should consider developing an employee support program. This may be as simple as having a point person for employees to direct questions to or creating a guide of all expected changes and how the firm will adapt. Unexpected changes create anxiety for team members that some may struggle to overcome. In dealing with anxiety in crucial conversations and organizational changes, managers need to practice caution and 

5. Prioritize Psychological Safety
In addition to developing employee support resources, a necessary concern for management should be the psychological safety of all professionals in the organization. Psychological safety can be a largely impactful aspect of an individual's ability to adjust to organizational changes and to maintain the most beneficial culture for the company. To maintain an environment of psychological safety, managers should focus on clear communication and allowing individuals a safe environment to grow and learn with the company. 

6. Foster Cohesion
In going through a merger, acquisition, or general organizational changes, establishing an environment that fosters cohesion and camaraderie can make a drastic difference. Facing changes as a united front will communicate support and community to all direct reports, especially those struggling with finding their place in organizational changes. A cohesive group also creates a safe environment for direct reports to voice concerns, opinions, or opportunities for growth. 

7. Set SMART Goals
A smart goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Managers setting team-wide SMART goals will provide realistic and effective areas for professionals to concentrate on when undergoing hectic changes that frequently disorient teams' progress. Setting SMART goals with continuous feedback is essential for the stable growth of an organization undergoing foundational changes. 

8. Celebrate Success
Celebrating successes through an organizational change brings a variety of benefits to the team working to maintain their group culture. Specifically, celebrating success at all levels will boost team morale and work to reinforce the best practices before and throughout big changes. The ability to reinforce best practices will highlight values, behaviors, and achievements that are best for the organization. In addition to moral support, acknowledgments of individuals' hard work and dedication throughout the process.

9. Collect & Utilize Continuous Feedback
The collection and use of continuous feedback is crucial to sustaining an organization's culture through large changes, mergers, or acquisitions. In collecting this feedback, consider using a platform such as AIM Insights that will aid in setting SMART goals, finding measures of feedback, and collecting the feedback year-round to provide opportunities for continuous growth across all hierarchical levels in an organization. 

10. Seek Guidance
If a manager feels that they need additional support for guiding a team through a foundational organizational change they should consider finding additional support and guidance. First, leaders should consider joining a horizontal mentorship group that will create an environment for executives and managers to speak to other professionals at their level for collective feedback and learning. Additionally, if managers feel that they need additional guidance in aiding their team, they should reach out to their company's human resources department. The HR professionals will likely have developed guides or tools that will help teams practice flexibility and adapt to continuous changes within a firm. 

Addressing organizational changes is a unique challenge with unique experiences for every team. Although a daunting challenge, managers have the tools necessary to sustain organizational culture throughout times of change. It is crucial to collect and use feedback from direct reports as the most impactful tool for determining a team's next steps, growth areas, and opportunities for learning or development. In supporting teams through organizational changes, leaders can boost employee engagement, hopefully improving job satisfaction and commitment. 


Thu 22 February 2024
Sarah is a diligent project manager at a thriving tech company. She's skilled at what she does, leading her team with precision and effectiveness. However, Sarah often finds herself isolated within her department's bubble, unaware of the challenges and triumphs experienced by colleagues in other divisions. Despite her dedication, she feels disconnected from the broader company culture, yearning for stronger bonds and improved communication across departments.

Sarah's experience is not uncommon in modern workplaces where information silos can hinder collaboration and innovation. Building robust team communication and overcoming these silos is crucial for fostering a cohesive company culture where every employee feels valued and connected. 

Understanding the Importance of Connectivity
At the heart of a thriving company culture lies effective communication and collaboration. When employees interact across departments, they gain valuable insights, share diverse perspectives, and develop a deeper understanding of the organization as a whole. This interconnectedness fosters creativity, enhances problem-solving capabilities, and cultivates a sense of belonging among team members.

A strong company culture is the foundation upon which successful organizations are built. Cultivating connections within your team can foster a sense of belonging, collaboration, and shared purpose. Research has shown that employees who feel connected to their colleagues and organizations are more engaged, satisfied, and motivated.

By encouraging open communication, fostering team-building activities, and promoting a supportive work environment, you create opportunities for connection to flourish. Studies indicate that positive workplace relationships not only boost employee morale but also improve productivity and overall performance. Investing in connections within your company culture can create a sense of belonging that inspires creativity, innovation, and loyalty among your team members.

5 Ways to Break Down Information Silos
  1. Encourage Cross-Departmental Collaboration: Create opportunities for employees from different departments to collaborate on projects or participate in cross-functional teams. This not only promotes knowledge sharing but also builds trust and strengthens relationships among team members.
  2. Utilize Technology: Implement communication tools and platforms that facilitate seamless information sharing and collaboration. Whether it's project management software, instant messaging apps, or virtual meeting platforms, leveraging technology can break down geographical barriers and foster real-time communication across departments.
  3. Promote Open Communication Channels: Establish open-door policies and encourage employees to voice their ideas, concerns, and feedback. Regular team meetings, town halls, and suggestion boxes can provide avenues for transparent communication and ensure that everyone's voice is heard.
  4. Organize Social Events and Team-Building Activities: Foster a sense of community by organizing social events, team-building activities, and networking sessions. These informal gatherings provide opportunities for employees to connect on a personal level, forge meaningful relationships, and strengthen team bonds outside of work tasks.
  5. Lead by Example: Cultivate a culture of collaboration and inclusivity starting from the top. Leaders and managers should actively participate in cross-departmental initiatives, demonstrate transparent communication practices, and prioritize building relationships across the organization.

Embracing a Unified Company Culture
As Sarah implements these strategies within her company, she begins to witness a transformation. Cross-departmental projects ignite creativity, communication channels flourish with meaningful exchanges, and social events foster a sense of camaraderie among colleagues. With each interaction, Sarah and her peers develop a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of their roles within the organization.

Fostering team communication and overcoming information silos is not merely about sharing data; it's about building relationships, cultivating trust, and embracing a unified company culture. This represents a shared responsibility in a company’s workplace for all employees to work together to embrace company culture, stemming from the company’s leadership teams. 

A company’s culture needs to be adaptable. There are many external factors exerting pressure on any business as well as internal changes such as leadership transitions and expansions. The culture needs to change to keep up with these changes. Attempts to lock in a certain type of culture over the long term at best will fail; at worst, they will hinder the organization’s competitiveness and sustainability.

This points to a key requirement of the shared responsibility approach to culture-building. Changes to the culture must be explicitly communicated and vetted by all. Everyone may not agree with the changes, but they must understand them and agree to support them.

To achieve the desired culture, everyone must have a clear, consistent, common understanding of it and everyone must work together in a deliberate and coordinated effort to cultivate it. While each person or group is accountable in their own way, everyone shares accountability for achieving the desired culture.

By breaking down barriers and promoting collaboration across departments, organizations can harness the collective power of their workforce, driving innovation, and success. As Sarah and her colleagues demonstrate, when every part of the company is bonded together, the result is a vibrant, cohesive culture where every employee thrives.


Fri 15 March 2024
Sarah is leading a team of 700 talented individuals toward success. However, the winds of change bring a daunting task: she must trim down the team by 300 members, nearly half its size. The question is large: how does one execute such a significant reduction in workforce effectively?


Sarah ponders over various strategies. Does she opt for a series of gradual layoffs, minimizing the shock but prolonging the uncertainty? Or does she choose the bold approach of a single, decisive cut, akin to ripping off a bandaid? Each path presents its challenges, but Sarah knows that communication and trust will be the cornerstones of her approach.


One option is to stagger the layoffs over several months, allowing individuals to prepare emotionally and financially. However, this method risks creating a sense of instability and anxiety among the remaining employees. Sarah worries about the toll it may take on morale and productivity.


On the other hand, a swift and decisive action could minimize prolonged uncertainty and allow the organization to swiftly realign its resources. However, the shockwave from such a move could erode trust and breed resentment among the workforce.


Sarah pondered over various strategies: 

  • Does she opt for a series of gradual layoffs, minimizing the shock but prolonging the uncertainty? 
  • Or does she choose the bold approach of a single, decisive cut, akin to ripping off a bandaid?


1. Gradual Layoffs Strategy

  • Advantages:
    • Minimizes immediate shock and disruption to the workforce.
    • Allows individuals time to prepare emotionally and financially.
    • Provides opportunities for retraining or redeployment for those at risk.
  • Challenges:
    • Prolongs uncertainty, potentially impacting morale and productivity.
    • Requires careful planning and coordination to manage ongoing transitions.
    • May lead to a perception of instability within the organization.


2. One Big Bandaid Rip-Off Strategy

  • Advantages:
    • Offers swift resolution and clarity to the workforce.
    • Minimizes prolonged uncertainty and speculation.
    • Allows the organization to quickly realign resources and move forward.
  • Challenges:
    • Poses a significant shock to the workforce, potentially eroding trust and morale.
    • Requires meticulous planning to mitigate immediate impact and support affected individuals.
    • Carries a higher risk of negative perception both internally and externally.


Building Trust Through Communication


Sarah recognizes the importance of transparency and honesty in navigating this delicate situation. 


First, she starts with identifying what metrics are not being met and what needs to be changed for the organization to right the ship. She realizes that it can be anxiety-inducing if there isn’t a clear goal or metric that everyone is working towards as if there isn’t a clear goal or metric being worked towards, it is unclear whether or not anyone’s job is safe.


By clarifying those metrics and where the team has fallen short, and giving them a few months to try and turn things around, she can start to make the reductions in force.


The reason she chose this mode of decision-making versus just announcing the layoffs was that it gave clarity to her team as to what metrics needed to be hit for the company to succeed. Even if the metrics were vastly different from where they were when she first announced the metrics, there is still clarity as to why a change like a reduction in force is necessary. Essentially, her team felt less blindsided when they knew they were underperforming.


As the months pass, Sarah maintains open lines of communication, offering regular updates on progress and addressing any concerns or questions that arise. She fosters a culture of transparency and inclusivity, inviting feedback and suggestions from her team members.


Throughout the process, Sarah remains steadfast in her commitment to building trust and maintaining morale. She acknowledges the challenges and uncertainties but instills confidence in the team's ability to get through this together.


By the end of the period in which performance is being evaluated, Sarah still needs to lay team members off. She decides to do the layoff in one big bandaid rip-off strategy. She then reinforces that everyone after the layoff is safe and why they are safe - e.g. the metrics they were achieving were aligned with the metrics she set at the beginning.


Being clear is kind and having clear expectations from the very beginning, allowing team members the time to change their behavior and attempt to turn their performance around, and following through on the unfortunate need of laying people off for those that aren’t performing creates the best outcome from a tough situation. By prioritizing the well-being of her team and fostering a culture of transparency, she ensures that even in the face of adversity, they emerge stronger and more resilient than before.



Fri 15 March 2024
Nearly every individual will at some point in their career face an ethical dilemma. Whether that question comes from a superior or direct report, these decisions take a significant toll on mental health, psychological safety, and burnout in the workplace. 

Ethical concerns can take place in a variety of ways. Every ethical question is not as extreme as fraud or lying on financial statements but, ethical dilemmas can be seen in everyday workplace experiences. For example, consider Kelly, who is a senior manager at a large sales firm. Executives of the firm are expecting to be acquired by a much larger company and thus, are pushing for increased sales and revenue from Kelly’s sales team. Because of this, Kelly’s team members are pressured into making one-time sales so the acquirer notes better results for the firm rather than the more accurate, transparency of the expected revenue. How do these decisions affect the health and psychological safety of these parties?

To begin, these employees are now subject to immense stress to make sales, which will likely negatively impact psychological safety and contribute to burnout. Additionally, these individuals' psychological safety and mental health may be negatively impacted if they have to confront their manager or miss a sales goal. If there are pay differences due to falling short of a sales goal during this time, these individuals may become significantly dissatisfied leading to impacts on mental health, psychological safety, or even turnover. On the other hand, Kelly is now stressed and concerned that her team will not meet these sales goals and, she is concerned about what the acquirer will find once they are bought out and the sales decrease. 

Once the firm is bought, many parties may see an adverse effect from the inauthenticity of the sales revenues. For example, the purchasing company may move forward with laying off or letting go of employees because the sales projections based on the perceived recurring revenues right before the sale of the company (which turn out not to be recurring and therefore shouldn’t be in the projections) are not met. Additionally, the purchasing company may potentially alter the compensation structure of the employees, negatively impacting their motivation to work if compensation is based on inaccurate data, these sales goals may be challenging or unachievable for these employees. For example, sales and performance quotas based on projections that aren’t based in consistent results.

Now, how should Kelly address her concerns with her current boss, Michael? 

If Kelly approaches Michael with this ethical concern, she may see unfavorable effects, especially moving into a merger or acquisition with the firm. In discussing this sensitive matter, it is crucial for professionals to be extremely cognizant of the surrounding environment to find the right time and manner to discuss a concern without becoming accusational or placing blame on superiors. Here are 5 tips for discussing an ethical concern with a superior:
  1. Be Objective
In bringing up concerns about a sensitive topic, it is crucial for individuals to maintain objectivity and avoid placing blame on the superior. For example, in the aforementioned situation, Kelly may ask to schedule a meeting and begin by saying she is concerned about how sustainable the sales are. This statement does not place blame on Michael or suggest that he is acting unethically. Rather, this statement brings up a sincere concern. Additionally, this statement does not bring up the variety of negative effects that may be possible in the situation but just focuses on the one main concern to be addressed. Kelly may also not realize the pressure Michael is under and that he might not have been the person that decided to fluff up the sales numbers but was instead following orders.
2. Propose Solutions
Continuing in the meeting with a superior, leaders should be cognizant of their attitude and propose potential solutions to move forward with. These solutions should be constructive and should directly address ethical concerns. For example, Kelly should consider offering solutions to the situation of sales data representation. Perhaps Kelly can head a new and sustainable marketing campaign for current clients or, suggest a different way to encourage sustainable sales in this situation. 
3. Highlight Possible Consequences
If Michael needs additional convincing to approach this ethical concern, Kelly should consider bringing up possible negative consequences, backed by data. For example, Kelly could share that if sales are to drop after the acquisition, her team may be downsized or, brand reputation or morale may have negative effects for the team moving forward. In this area of the conversation, individuals need to bring concerns that are sincere possibilities with adverse effects and, avoid blame placing. Being empathetic to the superior will always help both parties better understand the other and how to best move forward. Kelly could also acknowledge who benefits from having inaccurately boosted sales numbers, their proximity to everyone else at the company, and who may face consequences after the sale is completed.
4. Encourage Open Dialogue
In these discussions with a superior, managers should be considerate in finding a comparable solution for the superior's objectives to be met in a more ethically sound manner. In Kelly's case, suggesting possible solutions and then asking for feedback or other ideas to find a compromise of the way the problem is approached and the objective solution that is best for the company. Managers in this situation should also listen carefully to the superior to find any other information or data that could help find an ideal solution to move forward with. 
5. Seek Guidance
Finally, managers should consider seeking guidance in moving forward with an ethical concern. To find help, managers can consider a variety of methods. First, the manager could reach out to the firm's human resources. But, leaders should be conscious that these individuals may be required to report potential problems or concerns within the company. If an individual is seeking some mentorship outside of the firm, they should find a horizontal mentorship program or an executive mastermind group. These programs focus on building relationships with peers in other organizations at similar levels or, with more experience. Being able to privately discuss concerns with other professionals is a fantastic resource for effectively approaching sensitive topics. For example, Kelly may benefit from a horizontal mentorship by speaking with a sales manager at a different firm and learning more about how to best approach the situation from an outside perspective. This method also works to reinforce psychological safety that promotes open discussion and conversation. 

Although challenging, voicing concerns about ethical topics is crucial for companies to maintain their cultures and positive work environments. And, as leaders, managers have a responsibility to represent their direct reports and work in their, and the company's best interest. In this pivotal role, individuals can become stressed and overworked so, it is necessary for leaders to maintain clarity and thought processes in decision-making processes that will affect a whole team. 


Mon 25 March 2024
Jane is a middle manager who finds herself at a pivotal point in her company's future. Her company has been exploring new initiatives that would entirely pivot from their current business focus. Although there is immense excitement between management about this potential new direction, Jane recognizes that navigating the balance of honoring the legacy business that her current team is a part of while also embracing the future innovation is a precarious task. 

With her team's focus on the legacy business, Jane must continue to keep her team engaged, excited, and informed about the potential shift without discouraging her team and slowing progress. The following strategies can be implemented to ensure high morale, sustain engagement, and effective communication during this transition. 


Communicating Effectively 

Navigating proper communication methods during these transformative periods is an incredibly difficult task. With a gap of knowledge between management and team members regarding the shifting landscape, determining what information to share and when can prove challenging. Work closely with upper level management to determine when information will be available to non-management staff. Once information can be shared, have an open conversation with the team to ensure transparency. Detail what the new initiative is and why the company believes this is the most advantageous avenue to pursue going forward. Emphasize that there are still unknowns in the evolving environment and that they will be informed as the situation continues to develop. 


Communicating effectively may also manifest through facilitation of feedback. Establish channels for team members to provide feedback regarding the transition. This can be achieved through allowing one on one conversations, anonymous surveys, or even team wide discussion. Implementing methods for team members to voice their questions and concerns will make them feel validated and heard during these uncertain times. Feedback is also an essential mechanism for company wide improvement. Gaining additional insights from current staff will steer the company to be more united as it moves towards this new direction. 


Ensuring High Morale 

Amidst the uncertain environment, it is imperative to ensure enthusiasm within the legacy team. As a middle manager, recognizing and appreciating team members can make a large impact on maintaining morale. Whether the achievement is big or small, celebrating the successes of team members can help the team gain a sense of importance and confidence. Take note of these accomplishments as it may be reassuring for team members to have a record of their achievements. 


Maintaining a high morale may also be achieved through allowing increased autonomy. A sense of responsibility and pride can arise from team members gaining more flexibility in the decision making process. Delegating some authority will increase innovative thinking and foster a culture of trust. Additionally, this can set team members up for success by allowing them to gain additional skills. These leadership skills can be applicable in the event that the scope of team members work shifts after the company further embraces the new direction. Increased responsibility for team members will produce further team buy in as they are truly more involved in the team. 


Sustaining Engagement 

While shifting towards the future, it’s important to recognize the significance of the legacy teams and their expertise. Managers should emphasize the impact the legacy teams have had on the organizations success. The company would not have reached its current level of success without the hard-work and dedication of each team member. Acknowledge the teams contributions to generate a sense of pride and reaffirm their role in the organization’s achievements. Continuing to recognize the importance of the legacy team will sustain engagement as it will support the notion that the team is truly making a lasting impact on the organization. 


Providing additional learning opportunities also sustains engagement. With this transitional period, team members may be concerned about the future of their role in the company. Adding methods for team members to improve upon current skills or develop new skills, can ensure preparedness for the evolving needs of the company. Although the current team function may remain after the pivot to this new direction, it is imperative to set team members up for success for potential new opportunities. Training workshops, online course, or mentorship programs can assist team members in developing new skills and adapt to the changing environment environment. Exploring cross-functional opportunities with the new business function may be a positive collaboration. This introduction to the team involved with the new business idea may allow for innovation and increased learning opportunities that will benefit both groups. 


Navigating the transition from legacy systems to future business ideas presents various challenges and opportunities for middle management. Through utilizing transparent communication practices, sustaining team morale, and fostering high engagement, managers can successfully lead their team through this transition. Although there are still many uncertainties for her to face, Jane has all the skills and leadership capabilities to ensure her team is productive and supported as her company takes on a new journey. 



Fri 5 April 2024
It is crucial for managers to advocate for their team in a deliberate and intentional manner to promote a positive work environment. In meeting with executive leaders, managers should prioritize the needs of their team as a whole in order to be optimally productive. 

However, sometimes executive leaders can be a bit out-of touch on the day to day details of teams activities. Unrealistic expectations can lead to burnout, turnover and massive inefficiencies, producing problem areas for all levels of an organizational hierarchy. 

How can managers advocate for the needs of their team without compromising their own ability? How can direct reports voice their needs to their manager without affecting their work ethic or commitment?

To better analyze the impacts of this situation, consider Alex who is a manager of a mid-size team at a large accounting firm. Alex’s superior is Sophia, a director, who is responsible for eight groups similar to Alex’s across the office. In meeting with his team, Alex realizes that his team has been asked to work significantly more hours this past month compared to previous months. In continuing the conversation, Alex is stunned to hear that many members of the team have felt overworked and exhausted over the past month. Individuals on the team voice their concerns and request for a reduction in work, lowered expectations, a clear plan to help them achieve some semblance of balance, or a combination of these outcomes. 

Now, Alex must meet with Sophia and explain the circumstance, while trying to demonstrate that this is not a representation of ability or willingness to work, but a result of the psychological safety and productivity expectations set for Alex’s team. 

When Alex has his meeting with Sophia, there are a couple of important factors he should keep in mind in order to find the best results for his teams productivity and contributions to the company. Rather than beginning the meeting with an accusation of overworking employees or assigning too heavy of a workload, Alex should explain this situation to help Sophia better understand the effect on the team. 

When Sophia begins to discuss the new work assignments for this month, Alex could ask a question like “Where should this be on the priority list?” This question respectfully points out that his team is working on several assignments and puts the responsibility on Sophia to recognize the tasks the team is already working on. Additionally, this gives Sophia an opportunity to explicitly state what the main focuses are, enabling Alex to prioritize these goals across his team. In any circumstance, it is crucial for managers to advocate for their teams while still prioritizing the needs of the business. 

Here are 5 tips for managers to be better advocates for their direct reports: 
  1. Encourage Communication
Encouraging communication enables managers to better understand their direct reports. Through increased communication, managers should be able to find fixes and suggestions to improve the experience, lives, and workload of their direct reports. For example, in the scenario above, Alex’s team could have previously shared their feelings of burnout and exhaustion, allowing Alex to discuss with Sophia in advance and better plan the workload for his team. Communication between managers and their direct reports will optimize productivity and quality of work throughout a team. 
2. Collect Feedback
As always, a crucial part of success in a leadership role is collecting feedback. If managers work to collect constant feedback, they will better understand the lives of their direct reports. Managers could consider utilizing software such as AIM Insights to collect continuous feedback on performance measures and goal attainment. With a tool like this, managers can view the work put in by their direct reports and alter expectations to meet the needs of the team and business. 
3. Set Goals
Setting goals sets an expected standard for a team. With these goals, members of the team can have a better understanding of the work they should be inputting. In the case of Alex and his team, if he had set an hours-based goal for the team, these members may not be experiencing such burnout. Setting goals is a great method of communication for managers to set clear forecasts for direct reports. In practicing SMART goal setting, managers could consider using software such as AIM Goals to help set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals. 
4. Use Quantitative and Qualitative Data
In serving as an advocate for their team, managers' use of employee data and feedback is an extremely impactful tool for guiding a discussion. In the case of Alex and Sophia, Alex should bring the monthly productivity or hours worked reports as a demonstration of the work that his team has been inputting. With this quantitative data, Sophia will better understand the pressure and workload put upon these individuals. 
5. Prioritize Work-Life Balance & Psychological Safety
In working as an advocate to create an ideal team environment, it is crucial for managers to put work-life balance and psychological safety at the forefront of their focus for teams. Psychological safety focuses on ensuring a compatible and inclusive environment in the workplace and throughout teams. With psychological safety prioritized, individuals will feel encouraged and valued to share their opinions and thoughts, even if they oppose those of the group. In focusing on promoting work-life balance and psychological safety, managers should work to lead a team that values learning from mistakes, innovation, sharing ideas, and setting transparent goals for growth.

Serving as an advocate is not easy. It is challenging for individuals to represent and speak on behalf of others but, working in the best interests of their team, advocacy is a crucial component of leadership. In learning to advocate for other individuals, it is essential for professionals to prioritize transparency and accountability along the process. Additionally, if managers feel they need additional assistance, they should consider joining an executive mastermind group. Joining an executive mastermind group allows individuals to discuss scenarios with leaders with similar experiences in the workplace. As always, managers need to remember that change may not happen immediately and will take time to see the effects across a team. However, when individuals feel valued within a team, they are more likely to demonstrate increased job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Serving as a representative for a team is an integral component of leadership and allows great opportunities for managers to grow as well.
Wed 17 April 2024
Layoffs are an unfortunate aspect of a business’s lifecycle.

Whether a company over-hired during a period of steep growth in anticipation of potentially continuing that growth.

Or a company had a client that represented a large percentage of their total revenue leave and is trying to figure out where to come up with the revenue to pay for everyone’s salaries.

Or a company has gradually fallen on harder times and has decided that restructuring how the organization looks and operates is critical to being successful in the future.

Or a company could have had an informal layoff where they decide to not backfill positions after someone leaves and just ask those who are left to take on additional work.

They are part of a business’s natural ebbs and flows. One could argue that if a company isn’t putting themselves at risk of having a layoff (e.g. hiring to pursue new opportunities), they aren’t effectively preparing themselves for opportunities for high growth when they present themselves.

But what happens to those who are left?

Those who are left oftentimes feel a sense of survivors guilt – as if they are the lucky ones for not getting fired.

This is oftentimes quickly followed by burnout because they are now being asked to do the work of multiple people after growing accustomed to doing the work they had been doing.

Once burnout occurs, people start to formulate their own assumptions about what is next for them and the business. This narrative people create about their future fate is oftentimes way worse than the reality of the situation because the news of the layoff in the first place was likely a huge surprise and has tarnished their belief in the business long-term.

As a leader of a company, here are 3 things you can do to help build back morale after a layoff:

1.      Control the narrative

If leaders don’t control the narrative after a layoff, their people will come up with their own narrative. One leader I interviewed 3 months after a layoff her team decided to pursue shared that she heard from one of her team members that the company was about to go through a merger or get acquired. She had no idea where that news came from. As the second largest shareholder in the company, she reassured her team member that a merger or acquisition was not going to happen, but she couldn’t help but wonder where this rumor came from and how many other rumors might be flying around that she has no idea about.

To minimize surprises around a layoff, some leaders will practice open book management or sharing the financials of a business with all of the employees.

The challenge with the assumption that employees who know the financials will be less surprised if a layoff happens is that the employees don’t know how an executive team will react to multiple down revenue months in a row. Multiple down revenue months could mean no bonuses this year or it could mean layoffs. Knowing how an executive team will react to multiple down months in a row is not the job of the employees.

Companies also often face the challenge of leadership happy talk. This is the act of a charismatic leader (oftentimes the founder or CEO) who say things like “we have been around for 25 years and aren’t going anywhere!”

This talk, when times are good, boosts morale and makes people feel secure. But when a layoff happens, it completely tarnishes morale and the trust employees have in the company moving forward is severely tarnished.

Therefore, if leaders are to control the narrative for those employees that are left, they need to explicitly share why their performance justified keeping them and how that helps the business grow into the future. Leaders essentially need to reassure employees why their job is safe or else employees will assume their job isn’t safe and starting looking for jobs elsewhere.

2.      Make people feel heard

There was a prison study in which inmates were to submit feedback on the state of the cafeteria food. This suggestion box had always existed in the cafeteria but the results of the dining experience never seemed to change. Leadership in the prison wanted to get Likert scale feedback on the quality of the dining experience in the prison and to little surprise, their scores were very low.

Eventually, a leader within the prison decided to do something different. He decided to read all of the suggestions out loud in front of all of the inmates. Regardless of how feasible the suggestion was, he read them all out loud in front of everyone.

Then, something interesting happened. The scores for the quality of the dining experience at the prison improved on the Likert scale. The prison didn’t in fact do anything to improve the dining experience for the inmates, but they let them know that they were heard. 

The same holds true for employees.

I am not advocating for gaslighting the employee experience (e.g. listening to what they have to say and doing absolutely nothing about it), but what I am writing is that helping employees feel heard, even if the leader can’t do anything about their concerns, is much better than ignoring employee concerns altogether to avoid the hard conversation. 

3.      Elaborate on the why to the nth degree and repeat, repeat, repeat

Too many leaders assume that all employees are privy to all the information that the leader is and should therefore understand why certain decisions were made.

Too many leaders assume that explaining why a decision was made once is sufficient for employees to fully digest and understand moving forward.

These are toxic assumptions because employees are not aware of the information a leader has at their disposal, and although the leader may have explained the situation once to the employee, the leader needs to go further to explain the why behind the decision.

For example, a leader could share “We have decided to layoff 5% of our workforce. We made this decision because we over-hired the year prior. We were on a major upward trajectory and wanted to be prepared if the market continued to climb. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and we let go of these employees for the sole fact that we don’t have enough business to justify having them on the team moving forward. Moving forward, we believe we have right-sized our business to be commensurate with where the market is now. As long as we are able to achieve xyz profitability, we should be able to grow a steady growth rate moving forward. When our company is able to achieve xyz profitability, it allows us the freedom and ability to grow our business in a stable way. When we are below that profitability, it puts the business at risk of going under. If the business goes under, nobody has jobs and we won’t be able to work together anymore.”

This may seem like overkill, but by being abundantly clear about how the business operates and the numbers the business needs to achieve to thrive, it empowers employees to know where they stand with the business. 

Then repeat, repeat, and repeat some more. And when you feel like you have shared this message a million times, share it one more time just to be safe. 

Oftentimes, employees will need to hear a message multiple times for them to become conscientiously aware as to what the message means and the ramifications it has on them.

Overall, building back team morale after a layoff is hard. It is the companies that can control the narrative, make people feel heard, and explain the why with enough repetition that are able to achieve success after a layoff.

Mon 29 April 2024
Cross-cultural teams provide immense benefits to organizations such as enhanced problem-solving skills and diversity of perspectives from the culmination of various backgrounds. Although these benefits can contribute to an organization's success, difficulties can arise for managers tasked with leading these cross-cultural teams. Scheduling conflicts and communication barriers can create points of conflict for managers. Additionally, less apparent issues such as cultural norms and creating a unified team environment can be detrimental to the success of a cross-cultural team. Increased awareness about cultures can work to prevent potential tensions from arising within the workplace. 

Cross-cultural teams may be comprised of individuals working remotely from different countries or expatriates. Regardless of the composition of the physical locations of group members, cultural differences can present tensions in the team environment and communication methods because individuals from different cultures may have drastically different approaches to tasks in the workplace. Various strategies can be implemented by managers to develop cultural understanding, enhance communication, and develop team norms ultimately improving the team's performance. 

Understanding Cultural Differences 
Learning about differences between cultures present on the team can develop increased awareness about why team members may do or interpret things differently. A helpful resource to understand more about different cultures is Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension Theory. Hofstede’s theory explores six key aspects of cultures: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism-collectivism, masculinity-femininity, and short vs. long-term orientation. Comparison between cultures using these cultural dimensions can work to explain variances in workplace behavior. For example, team members from cultures with higher power distance increasingly value hierarchy and are more likely to rely heavily on those with positions of power for explicit direction. This may present an issue for teams that depend on quick decision-making processes and independent work. Being conscious of these potentially ingrained cultural differences can guide managers to communicate more about proper procedures and create a more inclusive workplace environment. 

For team members recently relocated to a new country, there may be some distinct cultural differences they are not accustomed to within their new home. Developing proper mechanisms for expatriate training is incredibly important for easing this transition for newly relocated team members. While many companies have established systems for assisting relocated employees to adapt to the new location, as a manager, it is important to develop an inclusive and comprehensive introduction to the new space they are working in. Aiding a seamless transition to the new working environment can include more one-on-one conversations to learn more about the recently relocated team member and discuss any potential concerns they have adjusting to the new environment.

Effective communication 
Communication barriers are another important consideration when working with a cross-cultural team. For team members who aren’t working in their native language, aspects such as tone and sentence structure may vary considerably. These differences in communication and understanding present many points of misunderstanding between workers. Strategies to prevent misinterpretation consist of utilizing clear and concise messages. This way there are fewer opportunities for potential misunderstandings. Another strategy to emphasize amongst team members is to encourage clarification. If a team member does not entirely understand something, asking further questions can prevent issues later. Working to develop an environment that promotes questions and clear communication will benefit the entire team. 

Another important facet of communication that can vary across cultures is “taught behaviors”. Within different cultures, there are different cultural norms of communication. For instance, American team members may be abrupt over chat function and directly start conversations with a question or request, while Indian team members tend to practice more indirect communication and may include a greeting and more pleasantries before requesting something. Although a seemingly insignificant difference in communication, this can cause frustration for American team members who prefer more immediate communication and conversely cause frustration for Indian team members who interpret the abrupt communication as rude. Working to discuss appropriate communication practices can help to relieve unnecessary issues arising from these “taught behaviors”. 

Establish Team Norms 
With team members coming from various places, establishing team norms increases progress timeliness. Technology developments help to mitigate time-zone-related issues as there is increased communication and immediacy. 24/7 accessible applications such as SharePoint and live documentation features help to allow for consistent communication among all team members. While some team members are off the clock, team members from different time zones can update the live documents and have a record for team members who aren’t currently working. This allows for greater communication and consistency between team members working during different times.  

Another potential issue solved through team norms is establishing a sense of team unity. When managing a team from various cultures, team members may develop an “us vs. them” mentality between different regions when mistakes are made. For teams that have little periods of overlap due to time differences, it can be difficult to foster collaboration and create a sense of division. When an error occurs, for instance during the Australian Central Standard shift, British team members may get frustrated with Australian team members causing increased tensions. Although there is a considerable time difference between these two teams' standard working hours, utilizing some of the overlapping time for weekly or monthly team meetings can unify the team and create a greater sense of appreciation for team members working during the other shifts. Overall, managers need to work to break cultural divides and help build a strong team environment.  

Implementing strategies directly focused on creating seamless interactions between team members of various cultures can be achieved through conscious efforts from all team members. As a manager, introducing measures to develop cultural understanding, effective communication methods, and team norms are important steps for preventing tensions arising from cultural differences is incredibly important. 


Mon 29 April 2024
When Emily was promoted to be the manager of her software development team at a technology company, she faced a mix of excitement and uncertainty. Having worked alongside her teammates for over five years, Emily's promotion was not just a personal success; it was a dramatic shift in dynamics. Among those affected was Mark, a close colleague and friend who had also vied for the same managerial position. The challenge for Emily was not just about adopting a new role but navigating the complex emotions and relationships within her team, particularly with Mark. 

As coworkers, Emily and Mark had shared countless hours troubleshooting code and celebrating project milestones. The sudden shift from colleagues on equal footing to a new leader dynamic posed an emotional challenge, especially after being in competition for the new position. While Emily dealt with the excitement of her new role and the guilt of surpassing a friend, Mark faced the disappointment of missing out on a position he felt equally qualified for. 

This delicate situation required more than just professionalism; it demanded emotional intelligence and sensitivity. Emily knew that her first task as a leader was to cultivate an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, reaffirming her commitment to team cohesion and collective success, despite the undercurrents of competition that had brought her to this pivotal point in her career.

7 Ways to Maintain Positive Team Relationships

The foundation of a smooth transition is empathy. Recognize the disappointment among those who competed for the position and acknowledge their feelings. For Emily, having a private conversation with Mark was crucial. She decided to express her desire to maintain their strong relationship and sought his support and insights in her new role. This approach not only helped preserve their friendship but also reinforced Mark's value to the team.

Additionally, adopting an inclusive leadership style can make the transition easier for everyone involved. As a new leader, Emily made it a point to involve her team in decision-making processes, giving them a sense of ownership and a voice in the new structure. This inclusivity helps in mitigating feelings of resentment and promotes a culture of collaboration.

  1. Maintain Open and Honest Communication:
    1. Regular check-ins: Schedule individual meetings with team members to understand their career aspirations, challenges, and feedback on team dynamics.
    2. Transparency: Keep the team informed about changes and decisions that affect them directly or indirectly to avoid rumors and misunderstandings.

2. Recognize and Validate Feelings:
  1. Acknowledgment: Recognize the feelings of team members who might have also applied for the leadership position, validating their disappointment without diminishing the significance of the new role.
  2. Supportive Conversations: Offer a safe space for open dialogue where team members can express their concerns and feelings about the new changes.

3. Leverage Team Strengths and Insights:
  1. Inclusive decision-making: Involve the team in decisions, especially those that impact their work or the team’s direction, to foster a sense of belonging and importance.
  2. Utilize diverse perspectives: Encourage team members to bring their unique insights to the table, reinforcing the value of each team member’s contribution.

4. Foster Professional Development:
  1. Growth opportunities: Promote continuous learning and development opportunities tailored to the career goals of team members.
  2. Mentorship roles: Encourage experienced team members, like Mark, to take on mentorship roles, enhancing their engagement and providing recognition.

5. Celebrate Team and Individual Achievements:
  1. Recognize contributions: Regularly acknowledge and celebrate successes, both big and small, to motivate and build morale.
  2. Team events: Organize team-building activities and outings that are not just work-related to strengthen interpersonal relationships and team cohesion.

6. Build Trust Through Consistency:
  1. Fair treatment: Ensure all team members are treated fairly, with consistency in how rules and policies are applied.
  2. Dependable leadership: Be reliable and follow through on commitments and promises, setting a standard of trust and reliability.

7. Promote a Positive Work Environment:
  1. Respectful interactions: Cultivate an environment where respect is foundational in all interactions, regardless of role or seniority.
  2. Constructive feedback: Provide feedback in a way that is constructive and supportive, aimed at improving performance and personal growth.

Additionally, clarity in roles and responsibilities helps reduce confusion and aligns team efforts with organizational goals. For Emily, clearly defining everyone’s roles, including her own, helped set expectations and streamlined team operations, which is essential in maintaining productivity and morale.

Utilizing Performance Management Tools

Regular feedback sessions are essential for maintaining open lines of communication and for personal and professional growth of team members. Emily implemented bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with her team members, including Mark, to discuss their progress, address concerns, and provide support. This not only helped in maintaining strong relationships but also in fostering a culture of trust and respect.

Effective use of performance management tools can aid new leaders in setting clear, measurable goals for their team, especially during the meetings that Emily was conducting. Emily utilized software tools like AIM Insights to track the progress of individual team members and the team as a whole, aligning them with the broader company objectives. This transparency in goal setting and progress tracking ensures that everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.

To further support her team's growth, Emily introduced regular training sessions and development opportunities that were aligned with the team’s goals and individual career aspirations. This not only helped in skill enhancement but also showed her commitment to her team's success.

Transitioning from a team member to a team leader is a significant change, one that requires careful handling of relationships and effective management strategies. By fostering a supportive and inclusive environment, maintaining clear communication, and utilizing performance management tools, new leaders like Emily can ensure a smooth transition and sustained team success.


Fri 17 May 2024
The state of California has proposed new legislation that will discourage managers and supervisors from contacting their employees outside of contract work hours. If enacted, this legislation could significantly impact modern work expectations in California and potentially across the country. 

Setting work boundaries is crucial for individuals to avoid burn-out and keep a healthy work-life balance. However, it is challenging for professionals to set these boundaries with their supervisors and bosses when each party has a different understanding of the expectations. A legal obligation to honor contract hours as the only available hours for an individual will set a clear boundary, beneficial to promoting balance for both direct reports and executives. 

When managers stay past normal work hours and email, chat, or contact others on their team they send implicit communication that those receiving the communication should be working as well. Even if a superior says they do not expect overtime, their sending of emails or messages implies to others that they should be working as well. Getting a late-night email from a boss can be stressful and lead to overworking and burnout of professionals across all levels. Limiting these communications will enable individuals to truly log off at the end of the day and step away from work. 

The California law is based on a concept called “right to disconnect.” Right to disconnect means that once an employee is outside of explicitly stated contract hours, they have no obligation to respond to any communication unless related to an emergency or schedule change within the next 24 hours. Several countries around the world have adopted this mentality working to promote work-life balance and mental health, France, Canada, Portugal and others work to support their citizens (CNBC).

Nevertheless, monitoring employee contact outside of contract hours is a challenging task and will likely take weeks or months for the turnaround in the government to report a complaint to eventually charge a fine to the individual in violation. To better promote work-life balance in this sphere, managers and leaders should consider new ways to limit work to work hours. For example, managers should set clear, explicit team expectations for work and communication habits. Additionally, managers and leaders should be considerate in utilizing their team's preferences and experiences to create a team norm. 

To further promote work-life balance, managers should consider “transition time” to and from work that will optimize efficiency and energy within a team. Transition time is a short amount of time in between different parts of a person's day that allows a small break to reflect and prepare to move forward while leaving the stress from the previous focus behind. Transition time helps mitigate stress and burnout and aids in creating feelings of control and preparedness. Many individuals may have transition time on a train or in a car during a commute. Through the COVID-19 pandemic transition to online work, many individuals lost their transition time between work and home life changing professionals' ability to recharge and prepare for the next phase of their day. 

Although it is sometimes challenging for managers to limit work contact, managers should be deliberate in promoting transition time. When a team member has adequate time to mentally prepare for their day, they will have higher energy and show increased efficiency while at work. On the other hand, without transition time, individuals may come into work feeling disorganized or unprepared, leading to a disheveled and inefficient work day. Once managers have set clear expectations with their team, they may focus on promoting autonomy for their team's growth and learning. 

Moving forward, promoting transition time for remote or hybrid employees is a great tool for improving focus and preparedness in the workplace along with prioritizing mental health and work-life balance. Transition time is a critical component of a person's day that encourages well-being and productivity. Here are 3 tips for individuals trying to find transition time to cultivate healthy habits and optimize performance. 

  1. Make Lists
Transition time can appear in all different mediums. For example, some individuals may like to sit and listen to music or meditate. To be effective in using transition time, individuals should consider making lists to prioritize what items need to be handled in a day in which order. For example, an individual may get to work and create their work to-do list for the day and after work, they could do the same thing for their home life. Or, an individual could use transition time every day after work to create their to-do list for the next day. Either way, lists are a great tool for transition time to focus on activities and priorities. Knowing the order of tasks, time constraints and priorities allows for increased productivity and efficiencies throughout the day. 

2. Recap Activities
Transition time could be a moment of reflection or a recap of big events. For example, if an individual is nervous about a meeting, they may take time before to prepare their resources and a moment after to reflect and recap the meeting. Using transition time in between different focuses enables individuals to leave the stress from the first task behind and move into the next task energized and prepared. 

3. Set Boundaries
As discussed above, after-hours communication and messages from bosses can be a significant stressor in an individual's personal life. Using communication boundaries and set expectations can add to the impact of transition time. If an individual logs off for the work day at the end of contract hours and takes a moment to reflect and prepare for the next day but is later contacted by their boss, the value of their transition time is lost. Transition time works best when individuals are shifting from one focus to another, but if after-hours communication is occurring, this deteriorates the benefit of transition time for the direct report who is now asked to shift back to work mode. 

In working to prioritize mental health, work-life balance, and boundaries in the workplace, it is crucial for direct reports and their superiors to fully understand the mental impact of burnout and its causes. Managers who promote balance and well-being for their employees will see increased productivity and focus within their teams. 


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