Why Your Goals Should Be FAST, not SMART

Originally appeared at Inc. Leaders are responsible for setting and managing goals for their teams. For most people, this means following a well-established process of designing SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. This approach has been used by many leaders to execute strategy andtrack performance, but is the conventional thinking on goal-setting doing enough to communicate each team member’s promise and potential? According to researchers at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, SMART goals undervalue ambition, focus narrowly on individual performance, and ignore the importance of discussing goals throughout the year. Instead, they recommend that leaders… Read More

Turn Feedback Into A Partnership With These Conversation Prompts

Originally appeared at Inc. When was the last time your feedback felt like a partnership? Getting others to accept feedback can prove challenging, especially when it’s critical. Negative feedback triggers a primal threat response, leading others to become defensive, angry and self-conscious. It can weaken their overall effectiveness at work. And it might even cause them to prioritize relationships with those who affirm, rather than challenge, their positive self-view.  Whether it’s provoked by a heightened state of stress or the pale of rater bias, our resistance to feedback runs deep. That aversion cuts both ways. According to a… Read More

Humbler Ways To Make A Bold First Impression

Landing a new job, especially a promotion, can be an exciting career move — but not without its share of complications. This can be particularly true for leaders whose zeal for racking up early wins can be perceived as threatening to those who don’t know them or their intentions, setting up these leaders and their teams for potential conflict and friction.  Instead of waiting for acclimation, new leaders can take control of their own image with deliberate and proactive actions that demonstrate humility and earnestness — qualities that go a long way… Read More

How To Spot Your Your Next Hire In 10 Seconds

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This article originally appeared in Inc. Hiring the right person for your business or team is one of the most critical decisions you’ll make. The effects on resources and morale can be significant: According to a recent survey by Robert Half, the high costs of even one bad hire include time lost to training, increased team stress, and diminished faith in the leader. It may even cause illicit activity to spread. And while due diligence helps, interviews that rely on heavily scripted and surface-level questions often fail to predict how someone will actually behave on the job. Here’s… Read More

Try a Feedback “WRAP” Instead Of A Praise Sandwich

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This article originally appeared in Inc. Giving feedback, especially when it’s critical, is a difficult but necessary function of managing people. Managers who don’t want to come across as confrontational will often resort to a “praise sandwich,” tucking negative feedback between two compliments. And while it remains a popular option, the praise sandwich is a stale choice. Not only do some people find this manner of feedback less reliable, they are often more likely to focus on the praise at the end of the sandwich instead of the critique in the middle — serving neither the feedback giver nor… Read More

Why “Mirror Holders” Give Great Feedback

This article originally appeared in Inc. Getting others to accept our feedback, especially when it’s negative, can be challenging. And while it certainly helps to share feedback that’s timely, specific, and growth-oriented, the best way to get others to be receptive to feedback is to describe a future they can still change and control. Too often, managers share feedback that’s rooted in the past and prescriptive in nature. If you want your message to produce a more positive and meaningful result, start by changing your feedback mindset. In short: Become a “mirror holder,” not a “window… Read More

Steph Curry and The Power Of Growth Mindset

This article originally appeared in Inc. Throughout his career, NBA star Steph Curry has demonstrated key lessons in leadership and mental toughness–not to mention, the power of a positive team culture. And as the NBA post-season heats up, Curry is taking aim at the value of a growth mindset. “Everything that I do great right now,” Curry recently told the Wall Street Journal. “I want to do even better.” That’s a neat summary of a growth mindset, the belief that basic qualities can be cultivated and improved through ongoing effort. As research by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has shown, people… Read More

3 Ways Leaders Build Winning Teams

This article originally appeared in Inc. All managers want their teams to take ownership, work collaboratively and exhibit growth mindset. But what concrete steps can they take to supercharge others and bring out their best? In my work with leadership teams, I’ve noticed that managers of high-performing teams consistently broaden and build the talents of the people around them. These leaders recognize that making adjustments to their management style is the key to building winning teams.  They play to people’s strengths. In a survey I conducted among nearly 500 employees in the professional services industry, members of high-achieving… Read More

A Small Act of Gratitude Can Produce Big Results

This article originally appeared at Inc. Good leaders are constantly looking for ways to boost their employees’ sense of engagement and shared purpose. But you don’t need grand gestures to make people happier or more productive. In fact, the biggest payoff may come in small packaging. The handwritten thank you note. It’s a practice that has gained traction with executives at major companies. During his tenure as CEO of Campbell’s Soup, Douglas Conant delivered close to 30,000 handwritten notes to employees at all levels of the company, from senior executives to maintenance staff. Mark Zuckerberg made it his personal goal… Read More

How One Post-It Note Reshaped A Culture

This article originally appeared at Inc. Culture is the stealth force of organizational behavior. Positive cultures can lift people to higher levels of performance, while negative cultures can deflate even high-performing people. There’s little doubt that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” as Peter Drucker famously put it. But what can leaders do to create a culture that doesn’t eat its own people? According to a 2013 study on motivation and culture by the American Psychological Association, it starts with just 19 words: “I am giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know you can reach them.”… Read More