Try Civility

A recent article by Christine Porath in the New York Times discussed civility in the workplace. That’s right…being nice to one another. Her article pointed out that the bad behaviors we share with each other and from managers contribute to everything from increased health problems to decreased workplace productivity to loss of customers (think about how much tip you leave to a snarly waitperson in a restaurant). Managers often think that they have to be hard nosed and rude to get employees to do what needs to be done—the old control and command model—but her research and stories, particularly around how millennials expect to be managed support the ideas that rudeness is out and regard for other is in. Some Read More

Don’t Take It Personally

In a recent team development meeting I was facilitating, one of the staff members told me that he was expecting some negative comments from his boss that he did not feel he deserved. He asked me how I thought he should handle it? I asked him what he liked about his boss and he told me that good or bad, his boss always spoke in a respectful manner and what he said was usually fair and often right. I asked him to keep his mouth shut for now and just focus on the manner and content in what his boss was saying without judging it. He was surprised that I wanted him to focus on his boss’s best quality but Read More

My Resilient City

The Rockefeller Foundation provided grants for 100 cities around the world to address resilience in their community. My home town, Pittsburgh was recently named one of those cities. For the Foundation their grants are intended to help these communities understand and develop resilience plans that develop both prevention and response strategies for potential natural and man made environmental and social events. These can include everything from fires and floods to homelessness and unemployment. Of course, if there is one city that is the poster child for resilience, that has got to be Pittsburgh. Starting with its early history as the battleground for control of the 18th century frontier to more recent challenges such as the closing of the steel mills Read More

Going at the Speed of the Body

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal was a story about chronobiology or what we use to call “circadian rhythms” relates to the 24 hour cycle our bodies experience and how our  internal clock drives a great deal of our behavior. While I am a big believer in our ability to address our behaviors, over the years I’ve developed a healthy respect for biology. Examples of how powerful this biological imperative is on our bodies include the facts that acid production peaks at nighttime to help digest our evening meal.  The morning sunlight mobilizes cortisol which is the stress hormone that readies us for the day and our body sends out a blood clotting chemical which is thought to have been helpful Read More

Sometimes the Answer is “No”

We may hear “no” many times. It may be in response to a request for a salary increase or in a negotiation on a contract critical to your business. Our teenage children will certainly say no and sometimes in the face of a health crisis, the doctor’s response may suggest that there is nothing that can be done about an illness. While our resilience approach would suggest that we can always carry on and find a path to overcome the challenge, sometimes the best path can also be acceptance that we cannot control or make things work the way we want them to in all situations. Acceptance is a unique art form as it means letting go of what we Read More

They’re Not The Soft Skills; They are The Essential Skills

Time and again, I hear leaders in organization refer to listening, ethics, patience, humor and understanding (among many others) as the “soft skills”. They are referencing them in comparison to data driven quantifiable skills such as creating a spread sheet, analyzing productions schedules, and tracking sales projections. While their intent may not be to demean human relations skills, the net result is usually that people see these people skills as less important than the quantitative  skills. Nothing could be further from the truth. The feedback from the CEO was that one of his team leaders was a great technical leader but that he approached everything in his work with “pointy elbows” and a desire to always get his way. When I Read More