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Saturday, May 26, 2012

11 Strategies for Dealing with Difficult People

By putting in just a little effort up-front, you can better deal with the difficult people in your life.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “The single most important ingredient of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

Of course, Roosevelt never met that annoying guy in accounting you have to deal with every week, did he? And he certainly didn’t have your in-laws.

Funny thing, it seems that even the folks we find particularly difficult to deal with have friends, spouses, and social lives. So it’s clear that someone is able to get along with them. Why not us? By putting in just a little effort up-front, by taking the high road, you can better deal with the difficult people in your life. Here’s how:

1.      Identify their difficult-ness

Just what is it about them that you find so “difficult?” Think back to the original situation when you officially classified them as such. Make sure that your assessment is the result of a pattern of demonstrated behavior, and not the result of a single interaction upon which you’ve been focusing. Once you’re sure there’s a pattern, come up with a few examples.

2.      Think about their overall goals

They may be difficult, but they’re still human. They have goals and objectives, and in most cases “being difficult” is not one of them. Consider what overall goals are driving their “difficult” behavior. Is that guy in accounting who annoyingly nags you for additional receipts just trying to drive you nuts, or does his pending promotion require that he collect flawlessly accurate documentation? Sometimes reflecting on the goals that affect a person’s “difficult” behavior can provide enough insight to make them tolerable.

3.      Consider their possible fears

We all have fears, even if we don’t realize what they are. Some folks fear not getting work done on time. Others fear criticism. Or they are afraid they’ll be taken advantage of. These fears impact our behavior, even to the point of being perceived as “difficult” to some folks. If you consider that your “difficult” person actually has some fears that drive them, you might just see that person in a different light.

4.      Observe their strengths

Perhaps the office assistant is “difficult” at times, but she’s a little easier to take when you realize that her natural affinity for details and organization actually makes your life easier in some ways. Or think about your “difficult” team leader whose confidence and assertiveness enables her to successfully negotiate a deadline extension on your behalf. What strengths does your “difficult” person bring to the table and how do those strengths provide value to the organization?

5.      Look at the “flip side” of those strengths

Our strengths are positive, right? Most of the time they are, but sometimes they can be over used—and an overextended strength can be at the root of your “difficult” person. For example, self-confidence is a desirable strength. But when it’s overdone, we see that same person as cocky. To better understand your “difficult” person, assess what is annoying you and look for the strength behind it.

6.      Figure out their motivators

As Dr. Phil might say, “What’s their currency?” Is maintaining a harmonious family top priority? Or are they mostly driven by career accomplishment? Does their competitiveness define them? Or is it most important to them that everyone just get along? Is what motivates them contributing to what you’re assessing as being difficult?

7.      Note their reaction to stress

Apply enough stress, and you’ll see a person’s behaviors change. Consider if the “difficult” behaviors you’re seeing are a result of stressful situations. Someone who inspires enthusiasm in others may become glib or appear superficial when under a lot of stress. Under stress, a supportive, dependable team player can become detached, inflexible, and even stubborn.

8.      See their perspective

Perform all of the steps above, and you’ll likely have a pretty good idea of that “difficult” person’s perspective on the world. And seeing that perspective brings some “aha” moments. “Oh, that’s why he got so worked up when I didn’t reply immediately….” Now, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t still exhibiting difficult behaviors that you might need to address at some point, but you probably understand them better now.

9.      Consider your own behaviors

Now that you’ve dissected the “difficult” person, you must consider your own behaviors and how that person likely perceives them. It’s never fun to think that we might be contributing to the problem, but you must take a look at the possibility that perhaps they see you as “difficult.”

10.      Empathize

This step is easy if you’ve actually done each of the prior steps. Once you see things through another person’s perspective and understand their behaviors better, empathy seems to come more naturally.

11.  Speak their “language”

Armed with new insights about your “difficult” person, adapt your communication approach to better match their perspective on the world. If they value accuracy and high-standards, responding to them from that view shows respect to their feelings. Making this effort can help you head-off conflict and avoid triggering the “difficult” behaviors they’ve demonstrated in the past.
These 11 steps take a little effort. You may be questioning why you should have to do anything—after all, he’s the difficult one! Well, a very wise person—who I at one time considered particularly “difficult”—once told me that I had a choice: I could take the short-term pain or I could take the long-term pain.

There are three roads we can take when dealing with others. The low road, the middle road and the high road.

The Low road is treating others worse than they treat us.

The middle road is treating other the same as they treat us

The high road is treating others better than they treat us.

Take the high road because it’s the most fulfilling one.

All the success,

PM in the AM

Check your internal communication IQ

Maybe you can articulate a forward-thinking vision that wins over your customers and shareholders, but if you struggle with internal communication, you won’t get very far motivating your workforce to bring that vision to life. The key to getting your message across is understanding what’s important to your workforce.
Take this quiz to identify gaps that you’ll need to fill in order to communicate effectively:

·    Do employees feel you care about them as individuals? Get to know their career ambitions, outside interests, and personal history to show you don’t think of them as cogs in a great machine. Let them know you want to see them achieve their personal goals, not just company objectives.

·    Are you part of the team? Employees shouldn’t feel that they’re held to a higher standard of behavior and performance than their managers. Set the right example, and pitch in to help as necessary to show that your commitment is just as strong as theirs.

·    Do you communicate respect? Consider your employees’ feelings when you speak to them, write emails, or otherwise communicate with your workforce. Take their ideas and opinions seriously—don’t belittle them or act as if you’re the only person capable of understanding priorities.

·    Do you give effective feedback? Your goal when giving feedback should always be to help employees improve their performance. Explain how feedback benefits them, and don’t give the impression that you’re just reminding them that you’re the boss.

·    Does your behavior support a positive goal? You won’t win the trust and support of your people with constant criticism or micro-management. Consider every action you take in the context of your desire to improve performance, the workplace, and your organization’s goals.

All the success!

PM in the AM

Ten Ways to Cure A Bad Day



1.  Give The Matter The Attention It Deserves. Whenever nonsense shows its face in my life I won’t spend time thinking about it or dwelling on it . . . I simply move on. Granted there are some things that you can’t dismiss and that’s where items 2-10 will come in handy!

2.  Try To Find Humor . . . in either the event or just think about something funny to get you laughing. Can’t think of something? Why not listen to some comedy and while you’re at it, have a comedy playlist on your i-pod for those “Momma said there would be days like this” moments!

3.  Try Doing an Activity That Requires A High Level Of Focus: My Grandfather did silver engraving. The focus took the focus off the bad day.

4.   Move! Motion creates emotion because certain types of movement release endorphins which create that “runners high”. You can walk, exercise, pace or moonwalk as I often do in the offices of Smart Development, inc.

5.   Engage Your Spiritual GPS! Certain things are simply beyond us and we need all the help we can get.

6.   Say “Thank You” I’ll preface this one with a firm “I know how difficult it can be to do this” We’re saying thank you because we are about to receive a lesson in something. Whether it be in dealing with a Grade A Jerk or a lesson in keeping ourselves calm, cool and collated as our printers at Staples like to say!

7.    Go through a “Gratitude Inventory” Many of us have the bad habit of taking a “Screw You” inventory of everything that stinks in our life. A gratitude inventory gets you in into a frenzy of positivity!

8.    Talk With Someone! Vent and then shift the conversation to solutions!

9.    Ask Yourself Problem Solving Questions Such As “In what ways can I _______________?” “How can I turn this around?” “Who do I know that could help or offer advice?”

10. Think And Use The Old “Start, Stop Continue” Framework! Ask yourself “What do I need to start doing to fix this?” “What do I need to stop doing to fix this?” “What should I continue doing to fix this?”

All the success!

PM In the AM

Stuck in a Rut? 4 Simple Tricks to Break Free!

Feeling like you're (or the team you lead) just running through the motions every day? Doing the same old things that you've always done?

Get up, go to work, eat, sleep, repeat...Don't feel bad, you're not alone. Most people get sucked into letting routine run the show.

And it's easy to see why. It's not that everyone is lazy; routine is very, very strong, and even the best of us get trapped by it. Fortunately, there's a quick and easy way to beating this problem.

The simple tips below will help you break free of habit and kick start an exciting and successful comeback.

1.      Don't Believe This

Despite what you may have heard, you're never too old to change. If you're alive and kicking, you're more than welcome to go for it. There's no rule book on enjoying life. Any age is the perfect age to go for it.

We have read too many stories about people who were supposed to be too old to do this or that - and they did it. It always has been, and always will be, a state of mind.
So make sure your state of mind is clear about one thing - the right time is now. You, yes you, are the perfect age to do what you want to do.

Check out our post about Ray Kroc:

After you've got the age issue in check, it's time to beef up on your imagineering skills...

2.      Can You See the Picture?

Life is a blank slate waiting for you to fill it up with your own thoughts, hopes, and ambitions. That's why it's important to master the art of imagination.
The better you are at creating exciting and motivating pictures of your future, the more excited and motivated you will be to make them happen. Let's say you want to refine your leadership style but can't seem to find the motivation you need to get things moving.
Here's what you do. Imagine everything going exactly the way you want it from very first next day at work.

Picture yourself coming to work with a smile, making new connections with your people, and enabling others to do their jobs better.  Everything you want to do or become should have an exciting mental picture to go with it. Have you been using your imagination as often as you should be?

3.      I Can Do That Too

One of the best ways to get excited about changing your own life is to learn about the life of someone else. Many of the great men and women we learn about in history class found their inspiration through the stories of those who came before them. They scratched their heads thinking, 'If one person could do all that, couldn't I do the things I want to do?'
Yes. Consider the things you want to do with your life and then get out there and learn about people who followed a similar path. Better yet, uncover the stories of people who went much farther than you are planning on going. It will motivate you to think about a bigger and better picture of tomorrow.

Just one more step...

4.      I'm Not Afraid Anymore

You may not want to admit it, but you're not doing the things you really want to do because a small - or large - part of you is afraid. It's okay. We're all afraid of leaving our comfort zone.
It's universal. But that doesn't mean you have to let it beat you. You can work through the fear and get what you want.

The first key is focus. You need to know what you're afraid of instead of avoiding it like most people do. You know you can't fix a problem you can't even see. That's why you need to get clear about what's going on in your head.

When you do, you'll be amazed at what happens.

Fears that linger beneath the surface take on a size that is much larger than reality. In other words, when you don't know what you're afraid of, it can feel like the fear is an enormous, overwhelming thing. But when you shine light on it, you see it for what it really is - a much smaller matter than you thought it was.

Check out our post about Why Discomfort is Good for Us:

All the success!

Peter McLees


Routine Can Kill Progress

Routine is the pattern of living that, like molten lava, slowly crawls into adulthood, covering and consuming our hopes, dreams, and ambitions.
It's doing the same thing every day because that's what we’ve always done. It's a vicious circle of repeating actions and events that leads to the same results.
It’s easy for anyone to get stuck in a routine: Every day following the same basic outline of living: wake, work, sleep, repeat. We may have new ideas, to be sure, but our actions are still old.

The sad reality is that many people never realize what’s happening until its too late. That is the skill and cunning of habit and routine. It wraps its arms around the minutes and hours of our lives, distracting and luring us into autopilot, into a dazed mode of living.
All the while, the little time we have to construct our ultimate impact as a sales person or personal experiences is being sucked away, stolen. Routine is a assassin. It kills hope and the chance for change. It blinds us to the truth and with a scalpel cuts away our goals and ideas. Routine puts a hand in the face of growth and improvement, leaving room for nothing but the same.

The good news is that there is a way out of the routine. The way out can come in the form of a simple question. Ask yourself or your people the following:

'If you continue to follow the same patterns, what are the chances you'll ever experience the things you want to do in your personal and work life and ever become the person or achieve the success you hope for?

The answer is that our chances are slim to none. We will never do the things we had always thought about, never grow into the character we have hoped for. If we follow the same routines, the same patterns, we can expect pretty much what we’ve been getting. For some, this is the perfect scenario. But for others, we know how much life has to offer and we want to experience it all and live a life worth living again.

This brings us face to face with a truth that most men and women would rather avoid. It's relieving to let our goals live in 'someday.' We don't have to worry about never attaining them. Instead, we can put them off and fool ourselves.  It will happen someday.' No, it won't.
The truth is, if we you don't change our routines now; we will never reach those goals. We will never wake up to a life that matches the one in our minds. Never.

We don't need to hide from this. We can accept it. Embrace it. Use it to smash through the chains of routine which drive us into a new way of life, into a new pattern of progress.

We can jump start a positive change in our lives by simply changing the questions we ask of ourselves and others and then talking immediate action on the answers.

Check out part 2 for more ways to break free of ruts:

All the success!

Peter McLees


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Finding and Supporting Employees with Ownership

Ownership vs. Rentership
Ownership is something that is easily recognized, but not easily defined. An obvious illustration of ownership can be found in real estate. Generally when you own a property, you treat it with respect, keep it in good repair, and make improvements to protect your investment and increase its value. When you’re just the renter in a property, you don’t have much motivation to care about the spills, the holes, the burns, or how your daily activities affect anything beyond your security deposit.
A sense of ownership is activated naturally in people when they have a financial or emotional stake in something. When something can be described as “mine,” it triggers feelings of possessiveness and accountability that are not present from a position of “yours.”
Ownership in the Retail Industry
Ownership in the retail industry is not much different from the real estate industry in that there are those with an “owner” mentality and those with a “renter” mentality in each. In any retail business you can usually identify the owner or manager just by observation. It’s not just that they’re wearing better clothes or walking around with an air of authority. You can point out the head honchos because you can see that they are operating from that position of “mine-ness.” They notice more, engage more, and care more because they have a greater financial and emotional stake in what they’re doing every day.
Occasionally you will encounter a non-managerial employee who possesses that elusive quality of ownership. This is the employee who treats the company they work for and the customers they serve as their own. To the employee with ownership, every success, big or small, is something to celebrate. Every failure, big or small, is something to worry about. This rare and wonderful employee takes every aspect of their job personally and is internally driven towards excellence because that’s the way they like to show up in the world.

Finding Employees with Ownership
Many managers don’t know there is such a thing as ownership until they accidentally hire someone with it. Suddenly the sharp contrast between the employees with the owner mentality and the employees with the renter mentality becomes apparent. The newly awakened manager can now see that the quality of ownership brings with it the kind of proactive and productive behaviors that get things done and get them done well. Since employees with ownership are usually self-directed and low maintenance, managers find that they have few time-consuming supervisory hassles with them. Liking what they see, managers instantly want more of this ownership stuff, but since they’re not sure how they got it in the first place, they’re not sure how to go about getting more employees with it for the future.
It’s not as mysterious as it may seem. Understanding what ownership is, deciding that you want it, and recognizing it when you see it brings it closer. A manager who wants to establish a strong sense of ownership as the standard operating attitude with an employee team just needs to ask for it, support it, and positively reinforce it in order to get it and keep it alive.
Hire for Ownership
Perhaps a candidate seems qualified in every way but seems to lack that elusive quality of ownership. Should you hire that person anyway? It’s important to consider the value of ownership in this job position for the organization. Ask yourself these questions:
·    Will the employee be working without supervision?
·    Is there a large amount of direct customer contact that the employee will have as a regular part of their job?
·    Is this a unique position with unique responsibilities as opposed to a duplicate position on a large team?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, then it would serve you and your organization best for you to hold out for ownership. In an unsupervised position, a person with ownership will be productive and motivated without any external source of inspiration or direction. In a customer contact position, a person with ownership will take charge of the interactions and ensure that they are led to their best possible conclusions. In a position that is not duplicated anywhere else, a person with ownership will know that others are depending on their contribution, and will thrive in that position of key responsibility.
There are some job positions in which ownership would be nice, but it’s not necessary. But if you’re hiring for a position in which ownership is key factor for success, then it is a quality worth waiting for.
If you think that anyone can be taught ownership behaviors, then you might want to think again. You can encourage an ownership tendency and watch it grow, but if the seed isn’t there, you can dig all you want and you’ll never find that proactive, responsible employee that you really desire. Skills can be taught. Personality and internal qualities cannot. In the hiring process, it’s important to get clear about the intangible qualities that the candidate is bringing to your party before you decide to invite them in.
Train for Ownership
If you can’t teach the quality of ownership to someone who doesn’t inherently possess it, is there any point in thinking about how ownership fits into the training process? The short answer is “Absolutely!” Training will not magically insert the quality of ownership into every employee who walks in the door. But any person who does walk in with an ownership attitude can easily have it sucked out of them quickly, starting with the training process.
When conducting employee training, it’s important to differentiate between teaching skills and conditioning behavior because each aspect demands a different strategy. Specific skills like running a cash register, using the computer, completing reports, etc. need to be taught with specific how-to steps. These are the robotic parts of the job in which creativity and deviation are not acceptable.
However, any other aspect of the job, like courtesy, efficiency, cleanliness, safety, etc. should not be taught in a robotic how-to way. These are the aspects of the job in which you want employees to be express their creativity, insert their personality, and make an emotional investment. You encourage ownership when you use an outcomes-based training strategy whenever possible. By clearly establishing a desired outcome, giving performance guidelines, and then allowing employees to put their personal spin on achieving the outcome, you will give the seed of ownership room to grow.

As an example, the employees at the Walt Disney theme parks are world-renown for their proactive courtesy. These employees are not taught a series of how-to behaviors that will produce courteous interactions. Instead, they are told that the desired outcome of every interaction is to delight the guest, and whenever possible, exceed the guest’s expectations. They are given guidelines about safety, efficiency, cultural diversity, and cost control, but they are never told exactly what to do or when to do it. They are allowed to devise their own creative solutions based on the unique situation that is in front of them.
As a result of this outcomes-based training, the Disney employees are encouraged to take ownership for each and every guest (customer) transaction, and they remain mentally and emotionally engaged in their work. This is how Disney employees are “trained” to make magic. Employees in any retail business can be encouraged to take ownership and add their own “magic” to their work during the training process. The operational support they receive on a daily basis will then determine if they actually do it.
Support Ownership
If you find yourself constantly having to stay on top of people in order to get things done, then one or more of these statements is probably true:
·    You’ve hired people with renter mentality
·    Your stifling management style has caused people’s ownership qualities to become dormant
·    The owner mentality people have left to work somewhere that supports and appreciates them more
Outcomes-based training can activate the quality of ownership, but only outcomes-based management can keep it alive. Instead of focusing on telling employees what to do and how to do it all day, managers who support ownership spend their day reminding employees about desired outcomes and offering support as the employees work their own strategies to achieve those outcomes.
This release of control is difficult for many managers because they think the reason they were chosen to be a manager is so that they could boss people around. Employees with ownership won’t work for bosses with a controlling style of leadership for very long. And those employees who are comfortable being told what to do will never have a sense of ownership.
In an environment of ownership, the expertise and authority of the manager is best used to eliminate the barriers that make taking ownership difficult or impossible for the employees. For instance, employees who don’t have the magical cash register code can’t take ownership for a return transaction. Employees who have never seen or don’t know how to read the plan-o-gram can’t take full ownership for their stocking responsibilities. Employees who don’t have the authority to make decisions to remedy a customer complaint will never take ownership for service recovery. By removing these barriers, the manager makes ownership possible and keeps the owner mentality alive.
Nobody can eliminate barriers to success more quickly or more easily than a supportive manager who understands the value of ownership. Using your time to eliminate the barriers to taking ownership is time well spent because at the end of the day you will be encouraging employees to rise to a new level of responsibility in their daily activities.
Reward Ownership
What you give your attention to is what your employees will give their attention to as well. When you “catch” employees demonstrating ownership, make sure they receive recognition in a way that is visible to their teammates. When employees observe their teammates being rewarded for certain behaviors, they are likely to adopt those behaviors as well.
When choosing the most appropriate reward for ownership behaviors, remember that people with ownership are emotionally invested in their work. The recognition that will have the most impact is the kind that is customized and personal because it will connect with the employee on an emotional level. Just like with any special occasion, the nice present is appreciated, but a sincere and genuine message in the card is treasured.
Leading for Ownership
Many managers say they want more ownership, but secretly fear the chaos that might come with the loss of control. The goal of ownership is not to have everybody running around “doing their own thing,” but rather to allow everybody to do their job and still be their own person. Control (or the illusion of it) can still be maintained with clearly established goals, performance levels, and accountabilities.
Those who exert their managerial powers by telling people what to do, what to think, and how to behave, have unconsciously confused managing with parenting. The kind of adults who will allow themselves to be treated like children are not the same people who will be the proactive, self-motivated employees with ownership that most managers desire. Managers can have total control or they can have ownership, but they can’t have both. The key is to choose consciously which you want, and then focus on your own behaviors so that you can get what you've chosen.

All the Success!

PM in the PM

Dealing with Personal Issues at Work

Dealing with personal issues at work is a balancing act and is the subject of this week’s -  

Leader’s Digest Mail Bag Q & A

Dear Leader’s Digest,

One of my employees is going through a very difficult divorce. I advised her to take time off to settle her affairs, but she said she enjoys her time at work because it takes her away from her home and gives her a break from family issues.

However, I have noticed that she receives an excessive amount of personal calls and spends a lot of time responding to her personal e-mail during work hours. I do not want to be insensitive to her situation. How can I show my sympathy as I talk to my employee about her excessive use of personal communication at work?

Sympathetic Manager

Dear Sympathetic Manager,

Your employee is lucky to have a supervisor who is concerned about her well-being and who is doing his or her best to balance individual needs with company demands. You're correct in concluding that tough problems at home can indeed carry over to the workplace and they need to be carefully and respectfully managed.

Unfortunately, not everybody wants this to be true. For example, years ago I watched video clips from a training video library a friend loaned to me. In one of the performance management clips, an employee who showed up late to work pointed to a problem at home as part of the reason he hadn't been on time. In response, the boss stated (and this was supposed to be a positive example) "At our company, we leave our personal problems at the door."

I understand why a boss might want this to be true—you know, separate home and work to avoid any nasty conflicts—but I couldn't help but chuckle as the video clip unfolded. Really? You think people can divorce themselves from their problems by simply willing themselves to do so? All they have to do is "leave their problems at the door"?

When this same video clip was shown during a training session I attended a few weeks later, the audience actually laughed at the line. People watching the video thought it was bizarre to even suggest that you could pause at the entrance to work, take a deep breath, and then completely separate yourself from whatever debacles, calamities, and misfortunes are taking place back at home (and they are taking place).

Make no mistake; when you hire someone, you hire the whole employee—including the life they live outside company walls.

And now for the other part of the problem you've identified. Those very same people who walk in the doors—complete with personal problems of all kinds and shapes—make promises to the company and that's where the second half of the problem comes into play. Employees need to be anxiously engaged in serving the company's needs—at reasonable speed and for a reasonable number of hours.

Here's where it gets tricky. What, for example, is the appropriate amount of time to spend answering personal phone calls and e-mail? Zero? You're suggesting that the employee in question is spending an "excessive" amount of time and I don't doubt that. I also believe that you aren't going to lay down a law that includes "never" in the guideline.

In fact, my bet is that you yourself take calls from home—I know I do. In fact, it's not uncommon to see people in our company stay on task and put off interruptions in meetings such as phone calls from vendors and the like—but when it's from home, they often take the call.

All of this, of course, leads us to the question of how many interruptions are too many? The answer lies in the nature of the job itself. Jobs on production lines, for example, afford little or no time for anything other than hooking on widgets as the parts flow by. Obviously, that doesn't fit your circumstances. Free-effort jobs like yours and your employee's do allow for the occasional side issue.

So, the question with your employee is, what are the consequences associated with her taking too many personal calls and messages? It bothers you and you think it's excessive. Why is that? If your employee is simply spending too much time on personal business, then you might want to ask her to work an additional 15 minutes each day, as a way of making up for the loss. She can talk, she just needs to add back the time.

If the interruptions are disturbing meetings with coworkers, this is another problem with a different solution. If coworkers see her off task and complain about it, that's still a different issue.

So, start by setting up a meeting with your employee. Think of the consequences that currently have you concerned and enter the conversation with these in mind. Explain to that you want to be sensitive to her changing needs while also balancing the needs of the company.

In the spirit of being supportive, share what you're currently doing to be helpful. For example, you advised her to take time off, you've agreed to build in flexible time to allow her to talk with lawyers, and so forth. Ask what else you can do to be of help during this stressful time.
Next, explain the challenges currently resulting from your employee's frequent use of personal calls and e-mail. Don't make this heavy-handed or punitive, simply state the facts. Once again, make it clear that your goal is to balance her needs with the job requirements. Openly discuss both the challenges and possible solutions.

Here is where you'll need to focus on the specific consequences you want to mitigate. Are you dealing with number of minutes, unfinished tasks, interruptions, unhappy coworkers, etc.? Identify the issues that are relevant. Ask the employee for steps she can take to either make up for or resolve the negative consequences you've outlined. Jointly come up with a solution that meets everyone's needs. Set clear standards for future behavior and thank her for her willingness to sit down and work through the challenge.

Kudos to you for wanting to do what's right for everyone concerned.

All the success!

PM in the PM

Probe performance issues with these questions

You’ll diagnose and resolve performance problems more quickly by talking directly—and candidly—with your employees.

Get to the bottom of the situation by asking questions on these important topics:

·    Job satisfaction. How satisfied is the employee with his or her job and role in your organization?

·    Purpose. Does the worker feel a sense of purpose in the job and role?

·    Confidence. Does the employee believe in his or her skills and ability?

·    Personal life. Is he or she having any personal problems that may be hurting performance? Probe carefully—you don’t want to invade your employee’s privacy.

·    Commitment. How committed does the employee feel to your organization? What might change that?

·    Training. Does the employee feel he or she has adequate training for the job?

·    Guidance. Does the employee know what to do—what rules and procedures to follow on the job? Does he or she know whom to ask or where to find answers?

·     Goals. Are goals realistic and challenging enough? Does the employee want more responsibility (or less)?

·     Recognition. Is the employee receiving the right amount of recognition and acknowledgement for achievement?

All the success,

PM in the PM

15 essential people-skills for leadership

Strong interpersonal skills are at the core of leadership success.

Non-intuitives and many technical professionals tell us that mastering the not-so-obvious aspects of interpersonal skills is a real head scratcher. Where are the people-skills rules?
Scratch your head no more.
If you have the desire to connect well with others, you can master and use these 15 not-so-obvious people-skills so that everything stacks up. If you’re not sure why it matters, consider that these soft skills impact comprehension, influence, and trust. All of this shapes the results you can achieve with others.
Consider these 15 communication skills:
1. People cannot observe your intentions. Therefore, they infer them from your words and tone of voice. State your intention to minimize confusion.
2. Everything you say impacts others emotionally. Even if you stick to the facts, your message leaves a human mark. Consider a doctor telling a patient, “You have cancer” and then leaving the room. The lack of empathy inflicts added pain.
3. Basic etiquette is a starting point for connection with others. Rules of etiquette are more relaxed today than years ago, yet they are still a powerful base to rely on when meeting new people.
4. Ask people how they feel and/or what they think. Don’t tell them, “I’m sure you feel…” It seems presumptuous and shuts down dialogue.
5. Addressing someone by name (or at least surname or title) eases tension and helps communication. In the South, start with sir/ma’am.
6. A handshake is your silent résumé. Make it great. If someone extends their hand to you, give them more than your finger tips. A “finger tip” shake tells the other person no, I don’t like you, I don’t trust you. Shake the hand all the way to the thumb joint, up and down, with eye contact.
7. Words can woo or wound. It’s important to create bonds with your words and tone of voice. Too many people misspeak and create scars instead of rapport. Speak the truth with tact and caring.
8. Sarcasm is often misunderstood. With those you don’t know well, skip the sarcasm. Leave it to the late night comics. With people you know well, don’t direct it at them. It’s often seen as an attack.
9. Good questions unearth possibilities for connection, results, and success. Ask open-ended questions to learn; closed-ended to confirm. People who do well with others  ask more open-ended questions and are seen as open and friendly.
10. Use focused words instead of minimizing words. For example, primarily is a focused word whereas just and only are minimizing words. “Are you just concerned about the deadline?” is a question that can minimize someone’s perspective and sound dismissive. “Are you primarily concerned about the deadline?” can fuel a valuable discussion. “What are your primary concerns?” is even better because it is open-ended and allows for true dialogue.
11.Great listening is about balance. Too much silence or too much talking can be annoying. The former is also seen as manipulative; the latter as self-absorbed.
12. Ask permission to give help before offering advice. Unsolicited advice can come across as intrusive and patronizing.
13. If someone thinks you have flattered them with your words or actions, don’t tell them you didn’t mean to! This is not the time to give literal details. It’s the time to simply say you’re welcome.
14. One “I told you so” sticks forever. Even if you don’t use those words, the message becomes your blatant blemish. People will avoid interacting with you to spare themselves the emotional scourge. Celebrate your foresight silently.
15. Authenticity and adaptation are not contradictory behaviors. Today’s trend is to be your authentic self. Sure — as long as you adapt to others when interacting. Being yourself without adapting paints you as a boorish nit and earns you the label of selfish and/or self-absorbed.
What will keep you motivated to use these 15 skills? It’s all about desire and results. Lack of desire will inhibit your progress.
As I was facilitating a workshop one day, a very bright technical professional in the room showed resistance. At the break, I asked him privately if he wanted me to explain anything again or differently. He said no, that he understood. He said it’s too much trouble to use the people-skills and suggested people adapt to him! Quite a decision. It will hold him back.
All the success!
PM in the AM