VIDEO: Turn Power Point into Performance Art

A big challenge when presenting in PowerPoint is the dual task of creating content and delivering authenticity simultaneously.

While the slide may contain information, it is not your whole message: the total message is what you say and how you say it. This balancing act creates a dilemma that pulls at two distinct disciplines: creativity and delivery.

You can simplify this dual challenge by preparing not only your message but also your delivery in advance. Sharpen your message as you do your slides and the presentation will come more naturally. You will be ready to engage your audience.

First posted on Smart Brief on 4/25/2014

Good Recoveries from Bad Communications (HBR)

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses and All the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

But maybe someone in human resources can!

I was reminded of this nursery rhyme when I received a query from an HR manager seeking advice on how to help one of her colleagues. An email announcing news of a reorganization had unsettled employees. It fell to the managers to calm everyone down and try to restore team effectiveness and performance.

This story is not unique; it happens in large and small organizations regularly. People in charge release information in ways that demonstrate a profound lack of sensitivity toward individuals and teams. The communicators, very often senior leaders, mean no harm; they are merely acting without thinking enough about what they are communicating. And so when things are communicated poorly, it falls to managers on the ground to “put Humpty together again.”

If you find yourself having to smooth over a bungled communication, here are some things you can to try to set things right.

Acknowledge the problem. People are upset and confused. You need to note their disgruntlement. To ignore it is to be as rude as the communications directive.

Click here to read more:

First posted on HBR.org 12/30/2009

VIDEO: How to Manage Change the Right Way

No reorganization is ever easy. Especially when you are hired from the outside.

When this occurs, the newly appointed leaders must do what Alan Mulally of Ford and Sergio Marchionne of Fiat Chrysler did when they transformed their organizations. Their example works also works for leaders who have been in their jobs for a while.

  • One, respect tradition.
  • Two, make change urgent.
  • Three, treat employees with respect.
  • Four, insist upon personal accountability.

Managing change is never easy, but when you respect the work and the people who do it you have the opportunity to make change work for the organization.

First posted on Smart Brief on 6/12/2015

Your Least Engaged Employees May Be Your Best

Some of the most engaged employees in your organization are your worst performers. And some of the least engaged are your highest performers.

This conclusion comes from new research by the consulting firm, Leadership IQ. The study “matched engagement survey and performance appraisal data for 207 organizations.” According to CEO Mark Murphy (who I interviewed via email), “We had long suspected that high performers might not be as engaged as has traditionally been assumed. But seeing that, in 42% of cases, high performers were even less engaged than low performers was a bit of a shock.”

This conclusion runs contrary to conventional wisdom as well as many studies (including this one from Gallup) that show high engagement — that is, how much employees are committed to their work — correlates with better bottom line results, including productivity and profitability.

You could think of these low performers as hamsters on a wheel, spinning fast but actually going nowhere. Conversely, high performers may be coasting like swans on a pond, just gliding by. You don’t see their effort because it’s below the water. As Murphy says, “in our study, high performers gave very low marks when asked if employees all live up to the same standards.”

Click here to read more:

First posted on HBR.org 4/08/2013

VIDEO: How Much Time Is Too Much Time with the Boss?

Are you spending too much time with your boss?

If you are, you may suffer a drop off in engagement, innovation and productivity. At the same time if you don’t spend enough time with the boss, the same can occur.

So what’s the optimal time spent with a boss? Well, according to a study by Leadership IQ, a leadership and training firm, six hours per week is optimum. More hours can hinder an employee’s productivity and engagement just as too few hours can.

By contrast if you spend too much time with an employee, then you likely have not hired the right person.

Or you don’t trust them. It’s OK to keep a new hire close, but if you never let go that person will not develop his or her skills. And if that individual does have talent, he or she will migrate somewhere else. No one likes to be micromanaged.

Spending six hours per week with the boss is a good idea, sure, but more important is time invested by the leader — together with employees — in building an enterprise where people can work with intention and purpose that deliver results that are mutually beneficial.

First posted on Smart Brief 8/07/2016

VIDEO: Truth Will Set You (and Your) People Free

Governance is the challenge that faces every leader. The ability to get things done is management’s role.

The ability to inspire people to get those things done right is a leader’s responsibility. Trust is vital to inspiration.

Mark Twain opined, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

This is good advice for anyone seeking to provide backbone to governance and substance to actions that benefit individuals as well as organizations.

First posted on SmartBrief 12.04.2015