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Find the Truth

How do you feel when someone hides the truth? I've worked in organizations that had upper management who, well, kept secrets. They knew about major moves. They planned major changes. But, they didn't tell us what was going on. The truth can rattle your feelings, but how can you deal with it if you don't know it. Successful supervisors know that their team members need to know the truth. What to expect. Hiding the truth is temporary at best, because the truth will always bubble to the top. It will always emerge. Why not bring it out sooner, with integrity, honesty, and grace? A hidden truth is not very helpful. Real truth sees the light of day in time to shine value on the people involved. Go for the value. Shine your light of truth. -- Doug Smith

Send Your Inner Judge Away

What's wrong with performance evaluations? Evaluation. We are all constantly evaluated. Judged. Scored. There are surveys after nearly every transaction. On the phone, online, even in person -- people ask for your feedback but hope against hope it's all good -- 5's on a scale of 5 or 10's on a scale of 10. Why? Because none of us enjoy being judged. Yet, we all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. We all carry around our broken pieces. We might even have moved on from those broken pieces and changed enough to avoid repeating mistakes. We do learn how to make customers pleased. We do learn how to provide our boss with what she most wants. The broken pieces remain. Judging us for them does not fix them. Judgement does not fix the broken pieces. Time, growth, compassion, and learning fix the broken pieces. Healing takes time and care. Judgment gets in the way. Send your inner judge out of the room for an hour. You'll be finally free. Yes, you do nee

Silence Is a Valid Response

One of my favorite quotes comes from Susan Scott and her essential book, "Fierce Conversations" when she says "let silence do the heavy lifting." So often we are uncomfortable by silence. We feel the need to fill the silence with something, anything. Silence is a valid response. Big work can happen during that silence. Higher quality thinking can be encouraged, nurtured, and born during meaningful, patient silence. I work to be silent when my words would wound another. Instead of blurting out that response, I work on the pause. Silence. Instead of getting even with a better dig, a sarcastic reply, I work on the breathing. The pause. The silence. Pause. See what happens. Let that happen. Breathe. Silence is a valid, useful, rich response. Honor that silence. -- Doug Smith

How Are You At Handling Questions?

Do you remember your first day as a supervisor? How many questions did you get? It seemed to me that the questions were endless. Little questions about technical details that were easy to answer, and big questions about vacation time and doctor appointment time that required some thought. Hundreds of questions. If you knew how many questions you were going to receive you might have asked to be paid piece work: by the question. But, do supervisors need to have all the answers? Some answers, yes. Important answers, yes. But one of the biggest lessons I learned early on as a first time supervisor was this: anyone could ask any question -- as long as they also had an answer in mind. It might not be the right answer. It might not be my preferred answer. It might not even be an answer I would immediately approve. But by coming to the boss with a question AND an answer, it was often much easier for a team member to get what they really wanted. And guess what? Eventually, they d

Improving Performance: Help Your Team Change

How does your team handle change? Front line supervisors sometimes run into frustration implementing change. People resist. People forget. People may fail to change in the direction they need to change. As a leader, you can help. Provide all the information that people need to embrace the change. Train on any new processes, new procedures, new skills, and yes -- even new attitudes that you want. The courage to change is both developed and earned. Find ways to earn that change by being the type of supervisor who is both tough and tender. Tough on the tasks, tender on the people. Change requires both. Show your leadership courage, with the compassion it takes to stay patient, and watch that change appear. What change are you working on today? -- Doug Smith

Keep Working On That Goal

It's not always easy. It's not always what you'd rather be doing. It just happens to work: Work on your goal even when it's not easy. Especially when it's not easy. What goal are you working on today? -- Doug Smith

Speak and Act with Courage

What are you afraid of? Everyone who is honest is afraid of something. It could be that performance interview. It could be that presentation. It could be standing up for your team members when your own boss is being unreasonable. We're all anxious about something. Some days, it feels like a whole list of fears. Breathe. Relax. Let it go. The fear is your signal. The fear is your signal that you have a chance to show your commitment, show your passion, show your resolve. And...importantly, to show your courage. Successful supervisors speak and act with courage. Start there. -- Doug Smith Interested in developing your front line leaders? Bring our two-day workshop Supervising for Success to your location and see immediate improvement in your supervisors. Contact:

Keep Getting Feedback

Are you a strong boss? Are you totally sure of yourself? Is your team a wild success? Get feedback. Pay attention. Assume nothing. The stronger the boss, the more compelling is the need for honest feedback. Promote honest feedback, listen, and continually improve. -- Doug Smith

What to do when people stand in the way of your goals

How does it feel when someone stands in the way of your goals? Frustrating? Senseless? People who stand in your way could have lots of reasons why. Maybe they even are standing in the way on purpose, to slow you down. Chances are though, that it's not about you, but about your goal. If your goal is ambitious and noble, why would anyone stand in the way? Wouldn't they get behind your efforts once they know how cool and important they are? It's all about communication. Have the conversation. Let people know about your goals. Get their help. Test your theories with friendly dialogue. You'll learn, you'll grow, and you'll find more influence with people once they have a real chance to discuss your goals -- the good, the bad, and the ugly parts. Who can you tell about your goal today? -- Doug Smith

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Ask Why

Is "why" the toughest question? It can sound accusatory. It can sound provocative. Used clumsily it can prevent information from being shared. It's a dangerous question. But it's useful. Sometimes as leaders we do need to know why. Stay curious. Not judgmental. When we need to know why, we need to know why. Part of communicating for results is getting the information that we need to make decisions. Hedging is for the stock market, not feedback conversations. It takes courage to ask why, and it takes courage to answer why. Ask it anyway. Ask it because. Why? -- Doug Smith

Solve Those Big Problems

Are you ever tempted to major in the minors? Do you ever find yourself working diligently on things that barely matter? It's happened to me -- a whole day spent answering and reading email. A whole day perseverating over one slide or one learning activity. A night in a new city spent revising the 50th draft of a program I'm already doing. Instead, let's focus on making things better. Let's tackle the big problems, before they make all the little cares obsolete. Big problems need not be ignored. We dare only to tackle them before they bury us. Reform banking. Stabilize climate change. Feed the hungry. House the poor. Eliminate exploitation and inequality. Which problem concerns you the most? What ideas do you have about solving that problem? -- Doug Smith