The Old Lady in the Freezer

panic buttonBack between 2005 and 2009 I taught quite a few military-to-civilian transition classes up at Fort Meade in Maryland.  Since the traffic was horrendous, I’d leave my house really early and arrive on base at 6:30 AM.  Class didn’t start until 8 so I had some time to kill.  Most mornings I would drive to the Class 6 Shoppette (a gas station that sold groceries and alcohol) to get my Red Bull and a 5-Hour Energy shot.

One morning I was in the Shoppette and heard a woman’s muffled screams coming from the back of the store.  I went back there and saw an old lady in the beer cooler.  She was pounding on the door trying to get out.  I grabbed the handle and opened the door.  She hugged me and said I saved her life.

Then she asked me, “How did you manage to get in here?”

I told her I just pulled the handle.  She told me that she was desperately pulling the handle from the inside.  I guess she didn’t realize she had to push it.  The harder she pulled, the more stuck she became.  Then she panicked and when she did, she thought she was trapped.

I never forgot about that old lady in the freezer.  Some of us are a lot like her.  When trouble comes, we panic and when we do, we do some dumb things.

Today I got an unsolicited email from a gentleman wanting work as a proposal manager:

Good afternoon,
I am available immediately, and have a lot to contribute to your organization.
I have extensive experience in government proposal development.
Recently came off a four month effort, rested a bit, and I’m available immediately.
Also, recently responded to 8(a)Stars, Sources Sought, and IDIQ submissions.
I’m looking for full time or contract work – rates TBD.
My resume is attached for your consideration and phone review.
The pleasure of a reply is appreciated.  Call or write.
Thank you.

He attached his resume to this email.

Now of course he has no idea about what I do so how would he know he has anything to contribute to my organization?  When I read it, I thought of the old lady in the freezer.  Desperation makes you do dumb things, like shotgun a resume to as many email addresses as you can find.

And yet we’ve all been in the same predicament, haven’t we?  Stressed, facing a deadline, needing resources and having lots at stake.  How can we prevent ourselves from looking desperate and also solve our problem?  Here are some suggestions.

  1. Take a deep breath.  Yeah I know this is somewhat of a cliché, but taking a deep breath causes oxygen to flow to our brain.  Your solutions will start in your brain so don’t starve it!  Take a deep breath (or several) and focus on the solution.
  2. Take charge of your self talk.  Start speaking rational language rather than emotional language to yourself.  When you do that, move on to steps 3 and 4.
  3. What is worst case scenario?  It may seem like a stress-increaser but if you at least own what could happen, you know where your solutions need to focus.
  4. What is the most likely scenario?  This is where your thinking brain has to override the emotional one.  Emotions will push you towards worst case scenario but the rational side of you should look at the most likely scenario.  Often this is far better than you can imagine, but you won’t know that if you’re pulling the handle in the freezer rather than pushing it.
  5. Find yourself a support team.  Facing an ominous scenario alone is like finding yourself in a bar fight against four other people.  You need backup!  At least find someone you can call to bounce ideas off.  They might be able to give you a suggestion or point you to a resource.
  6. Take one positive first step towards solution.  Don’t worry about the huge problem.  Focus on just one small step.  It will give you confidence and move you closer to the bigger problem. “One step, one punch, one round at a time.” (Rocky Balboa to Adonis Creed).
  7. Finally, remember Satchel Page’s famous words “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”  Or pulling on the handle.  Or shotgunning your resume to everyone with a pulse and an email address.

None of us are going to be exempt from a crisis but how we handling it well gives us confidence for the next one and gains us a huge amount of respect from the people around us.  Take a deep breath and think about that this week…

 

 

Why You Should Be Motivated Like an Entrepreneur

self-motivatedA few years ago, me and a couple of colleagues ran a free workshop designed to equip people with the necessary skills to start their own business.  I started the workshop off with a talk on what behaviors and mentality an entrepreneur needed to be successful.  My other colleagues talked about the tax implications and how to market using social media.  It was a great morning but later that afternoon I began thinking about the characteristics I said were necessary for an entrepreneur to succeed.  Here is the list:

  • Self-motivated
  • Comfort with risk
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Willingness to work beyond 40 hours a week
  • A constant learner
  • Persistent but not to a fault
  • A strong networker
  • Confidence in talking with others
  • Creative
  • Optimistic

It seems to me that this list is just as relevant for anyone, regardless of skill, career, or trade.  For now, let’s look at motivation.

Self Motivated

What motivates you?  Money?  Family? Fun?  If you haven’t thought about it, you should.  One of the challenges an entrepreneur faces is the constant amount of work that comes their way.  Depending on whether you sell products or provide services, the core of your business requires you to spend countless hours just doing that.  Of course it doesn’t end there.  You have to invoice, balance the books, purchase materials, write ad copy, develop marketing campaigns, meet with customers, build new client lists, present at meetings, etc.  It’s a lot of work.

If you run your own business, there’s nobody to push you but YOU.  Self-motivated people find that it’s all they need to keep plugging along.  Certainly there are other motivators (mine is the threat of having to work for somebody if I should happen to fail!) but it all comes down to you.  Are you able to keep your SELF motivated?  If not, then don’t start a business.

But ultimately self-motivation is what you need to flourish in a regular job.  It’s what drives you to put more energy into a relationship.  It’s what should drive you to participate in volunteer work.  In other words, YOU need to find that ONE THING.  That thing that drives and inspires you.

Without it, you have nothing.

So, if this week if you feel as though you’re just going through the motions, maybe it’s time to rethink why you do what you do.  What is that subtle force that pushes you?  Maybe it’s time to explore it, identify why it’s so important, and take some steps to focus your efforts on it.  All of us go through down periods and depressing periods, but by figuring out what drives you, you’ll know which buttons you need to push to turn on the power.

I know what mine are.  Do you?

Why You Should Be Proactive

We live in a reactive society. It means that most people go about their normal routines until something interrupts them.   Then they work feverishly to try and adapt and when they fail, blame everyone and everything around them.

That’s what we call the REACTIVE approach.

There is a better way. It involves anticipating what COULD change and developing a contingency plan for it.

That’s what we call the PROACTIVE approach.

Here’s an example. Since I fly nearly 40 weeks out of the year, I am rarely thrown for a loop when it comes to travel problems such as weather delays, flight cancellations, or overbooked flights. I’ve done it enough to know what to avoid and then of course how to deal with issues. Here are my proactive steps:

  • Fly non-stop when possible.
  • Avoid connections through troublesome airports such as Newark, LaGuardia, JFK, DFW, Atlanta, Chicago, or Charlotte. Too many weather delays here.
  • Take morning flights. In the Spring and Summer, weather tends to cause flights to stack up increasing chances of delays.
  • Carry on luggage only. This way if you have to make a flight change, you’re not held hostage by your checked luggage.

These are my PROACTIVE steps. If I do them, I’ve decreased my chances for travel problems.

However nothing is ever fully predictable or certain so here are my REACTIVE steps:

  • Use a travel app like FlightTrack to notify me if a flight has changed or cancelled.
  • Keep the airline’s phone number programmed into my phone.
  • If a flight cancels, immediately get in line for customer service and dial up the airline. You often can get hold of someone faster but you hedge your bets by already being in line.
  • Know your final destination well enough to gauge whether you should fly to a different airport and drive some.

These PROACTIVE and REACTIVE steps work well for me and I know they will for you.

But how can you apply this to the rest of your life?

Just spend some time each day anticipating.

If you have an important business presentation to make, do the proactive steps:

  • Make sure you have it on your laptop, on a thumb drive, and in the Cloud.
  • Embed any video inside your slides with a copy on your desktop.  Don’t depend on Internet connectivity.
  • Be sure you have every possible set of adapters you will need.
  • Keep a hard copy with notes.
  • Be prepared to give your presentation even if the A/V stuff craps out on you. Nothing makes you look more incompetent than if you can’t proceed without your precious PowerPoint®

Your reactive steps of course would be how you would deal with technology glitches.  Keep in mind that NOBODY will say “oh, he didn’t have his slides working.  How disappointing!”

The same rules apply to anything else that’s important.   Plan and anticipate.

Nothing is absolutely certain so rather than leave things to chance, learn to be proactive. Your ability to adapt will set you apart from your competitors and detractors.

How to Figure Out What’s Wrong With You

greatperformancestoolOne of the most common question I get asked by managers when they talk to me about poor performers is WHY are my people performing poorly?

There’s a simple model I use that helps us diagnose great performance. It’s called the 3-Legged Stool of Great Performance™.

In a three-legged stool model, all legs must be in place or you fall on your ass. Great performance has three legs too. Here they are in no particular order:

Skill. The first thing you need to ask if you start performing poorly is if you even know what you’re doing. Skills are the “how-tos” of any task. They are built through training. Training is the only thing that can fix a skill problem. If you don’t know what you’re doing, have somebody train you.

Will. Will becomes an issue when you KNOW what and how to do something, you just don’t WANT to do it. It’s expressed in boredom, procrastination, apathy, and lethargy. The only way to fix a will problem is motivation. When you get WHAT you need WHEN you need it, you’ll be motivated. It could be a hug or it could be a threat. By the way, training won’t work on a will problem. Forget the classes on “how to deal with change” or worse, any type of sensitivity training. That’s a complete waste of time and money.

Focus. Focus becomes an issue when you know how to do something and really want to do it, but something holds you back. It could be minor things like not communicating effectively in an organization, ignoring or violating established norms, or not completely understanding the politics. Focus problems are fixed by coaching and mentoring. Coaching is telling you how to get back in focus and mentoring is setting the example to follow.

If you or the people who report to you aren’t performing well, it’s time to consider the three aspects of great performance. Diagnose well and be sure to treat the real problem. It’s the only way to ensure long term success.

Time Management is a Stupid Phrase

A few years ago, I was approached by a company to write a time management course which I would then deliver at a conference for HR reps with the Department of Veterans Affairs. When I asked them what the objectives were for the course (kind of important if you want to ensure the course you teach hits the target) there were none. That made me happy.

I’ve taken a few time management courses throughout the years, including those given by the Covey people. All of them advocate a cumbersome tool or key principles such as “never touch a piece of paper more than once.” None of them worked for me, and as far as I know, nobody else either.

Why?

There is no such thing as “time management.”

Time can’t be managed. It’s nothing we can control. It’s no different than doing a class on How to Manage an Earthquake. You can’t manage it, only your reaction and response to it.

Think about it. There are 24 hours in a day. We all have the same 24 hours. How then do you explain someone who manages to get a host of tasks accomplished in a day while a co-worker in the same job gets nothing done? Time has nothing to do with effectiveness. The only think you can control is your ability to manage yourself in relation to time.

So back to the workshop. Without the constraints of somebody else’s “system”, I put together an outline that addressed all the things that get in the way of a person’s ability to manage themselves in relation to time. Then I simply developed strategies around them. If you figure out what your challenges are, you can implement changes that will solve your unique issues.

Here are the challenges:

  1. Your personality and style of interaction. All of us are conditioned and “wired” to plan and interact in a certain way. Some folks get very distracted by other people and can’t focus. Others need to be around people and activities to focus. I used my own personality assessment, The Bug Factor™ to give my participants some insight on their style and how it affects them.
  1. Your ability to plan. Some folks can structure their day around a set plan of events while others need flexibility.
  1. Your ability to organize. Prioritization is different than planning. Planning gives the sequence, prioritization dictates the order. This is dependent on the task, outcomes, stakeholders, an of course the individual.
  1. Your ability to direct. Direction is the action steps of getting things done. It’s how to execute the plan. It also involves marshaling other resources to help you. Sometimes this is impacted by a person’s personality, other times by their willingness and need to engage others.
  1. Your ability to control. The best plans fail if there are too many distractions. By identifying what the distractions will be, you have a better chance of minimizing them by planning for them or avoiding them all together.

Now notice here that I didn’t give you a formula. The tools are there and your job is to pick and choose which ones can solve the problem. I told the attendees to visualize the workshop as a buffet where they could take whatever looked good to them. If you’re hungry for Mexican food, hot dogs won’t do. If your time management challenges are around distractions but you plan pretty well, leave the planning tools alone and deal with distractions.

So all in all it was a big success. The attendees left happy and hopefully are implementing what they learned. The biggest lesson they got (which I repeatedly drilled into their heads) was that “you can’t manage time, only your ability to manage yourself in relation to it.”

This week, think about what prevents you from “managing” time and think of strategies to fix that.

Rapid Spread of Diarrhea (or How to Get People’s Attention)

NORWEY - 2013: shows Detail from The Scream by Edvard Munch (189A few years ago, my then 16-year old daughter showed me the Subject Lines of some of the daily email blasts she got from the President of the Key Club (a student volunteer organization at her high school):

Donkey Attack in East Clarksville

Rapid Spread of Diarrhea

She told me the President wasn’t getting people to open up her announcements so she resorted to clever and shocking headlines. It worked. She says that Key Club members anxiously await new emails…and they actually open them.

As a human race, we all suffer from some form of A.D.D. It’s not a medical condition as much as it’s a habit that’s reinforced from all of the many distractions we face. Multi-tasking, much as it’s warned against by brain doctors, is valued among employers. With all of the potential attractions we have in front of us, smartphones, TV, billboards, radios, and people around us, it’s no wonder we can’t get anything done. It’s also no surprise that we quit paying attention to important messages as they’re lost in the noise.

Which brings us back to the Rapid Spread of Diarrhea.

The language of Impact uses interesting, shocking, or creative ways to get people’s attention. It’s a way to break through the noise and pinpoint focus on one key message. As writers and speakers, we need to at least hold enough attention to get the audience to stay with us and get hooked on our message.

As employees, our job is to enlist the help of our boss or co-workers for support on a project or to convey a very important message to different groups. What we do to gain that attention can mean the difference between succeeding or possibly losing our job.

To use the language of Impact, consider the following:

  • State the unexpected and tie the common to that. Doing the opposite relegates our message back to the noise.
  • Use creativity to create your headline. Engage the audience or the reader. A Tax Diversification Strategies seminar won’t get the same attendance as 5 Ways to Keep Uncle Sam’s Hands Out of Your Wallet.
  • Don’t over use the language of Impact. This explains why most of us don’t fall for creative headlines in our email as much anymore. We fear losing our fortune to a Nigerian millionaire who needs our help or we’re wary of being suckered into reading someone’s conspiracy theory on how the dropping price of oil is one more tactic to make George Soros our next world dictator.

This week, evaluate your messages. See if an occasional use of the Impact language might improve your success.

And steer clear of East Clarksville. I hear donkey attacks can be quite frightening.

Career Tips for Young Folks

Think outside the box conceptGraduation from college into the “real world” is a big event.

Thinking back to my own high school graduation, I remembered that feeling and the sense of hope and promise. Unfortunately, my moment of career enlightenment was still 15 years away. Between that moment and the day I decided my current career path, I endured plenty of failures, disappointments, bad jobs, horrible bosses, and uncomfortable work environments. Maybe it made me who I am today, but I certainly could have used some good career coaching early in my career!

From what I see, these are the common challenges facing today’s young folks (and I define “young” as ages 16 – 24):

  • High school curriculum that requires a student to choose between a college degree and nothing else.
  • Colleges actively marketing liberal arts degrees that don’t translate into marketable or even transferable skills.
  • High levels of unemployment and a logjam of college grads that are competing for jobs along with seasoned professionals.
  • The rising cost of college educations that translate into massive amounts of student load debt.
  • Pressure from parents and teachers to follow a “traditional” career path.

So what’s a student to do?

In preparation for a move from high school to college to career, I recommend students consider the following:

  • Look at current career fields and talk to professionals in those fields about its future – what is the long-term viability of this field? Where will it go in the future? What should I be learning now to be prepared for the current and future trends?
  • Think about what customers and industries your chosen career path supports. Watch and read the news to see the trends. Right now if your field involves seniors (old people), then you will have about 20+ years of an expanded population to work with. If you’re thinking about the Federal government or a contractor-type job, remember that even after sequestration, you can expect federal budgets to be much smaller, leading to less opportunity.
  • Think MONEY and JOB OPENING first. PASSION LATER. You’re young. Trust me, you’ll have time to do the fun stuff later!
  • Seriously consider STEM degrees. I’ve been beat up before in blogs about this one but if this is where the future jobs are, get in now. You can pursue your passion later once you’ve managed to set up your household and started your investments for retirement.
  • Consider blue-collar trades. As 81 million Baby Boomers are nearing retirement, many of the current tradesmen such as plumbers, carpenters, auto mechanics, electricians, machinists, etc. are retiring too. Learn a trade now and go back to college later to gain the business skills to start your own business.
  • Consider entrepreneurship. Think about what problems plague you and people you know. Can you solve them? Can you make money solving them? If so, maybe that’s your path.
  • Consider relocating. I watched a program a few months ago about the great Dust Bowl that devastated the Midwest during the Great Depression. When the money and the opportunities dried up, people physically moved. If opportunities in your career field don’t exist where you want to live, MOVE!
  • If you do in fact choose a career in teaching, counseling, etc. just realize that your salary will be low. Additionally, if you’re thinking about these fields, remember that many of these positions are state-funded and with most states in significant debt, these positions are being cut frequently.
  • Set a goal and think about the path to get there. Want to be a physician? Consider joining the military and using the Health Professional Scholarship Program (HPSP) to have your degree paid for. Yeah you’ll own the military your time, but you’ll get good experience and have NO debt!!!
  • Finally, it’s not to soon to sign up for life insurance and begin investing in your retirement. Social Security won’t be there for you. Unless you want to be a homeless old person, invest now. Life insurance seems like a negative purchase, but if you have a family later and end up dying, you’ll want to make sure your income is replaced so your family won’t suffer economically. It only gets more expensive the older you get. Get in now and lock in a low rate!

This is the kind of advice I wish I got way back in 1982. Now it’s my gift to you. If you’re a student, it’s probably what your parents have said but often I find that kids will listen to strangers first. Consider me that stranger and listen OK?

How to Be More Productive

newtons cradle silver balls conceptI often get asked what my secrets are for staying productive. Between traveling, teaching, blogging, marketing, speaking, writing, and oh yes, family too, my schedule is pretty packed. In spite of this, I’ve managed to keep all the balls up in the air. This week I thought I’d share my philosophy on time management and also let you know what tools I find most valuable for staying productive.

Philosophy first.

Life is made up of multiple pockets of time. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. How much you use and how much you waste is up to you. Here are my rules:

  1. Eliminate junk that fills those pockets.
  2. Equip yourself to take advantage of time pockets.
  3. Be more efficient to create more pockets.

Eliminate junk that fills those time pockets.

As my good friend Bruce Johnson says, “You can’t add anything in unless you take something away.” Think about what you do when you have downtime. If you’re like most people, you’ll probably waste more time than you’ll use. Take note of what you do when you’re standing in line, waiting for an appointment, or sitting in traffic. Most people reach for their smartphone and check in on Facebook (yes, even the ones sitting in traffic!). Ask yourself what intrinsic value you’ll get from the activity you do. If it’s junk, begin a systematic approach to eliminate it. Try shutting off the data signal to your phone. You’ll still get calls and texts, just not your social media apps. Keep a book handy with you. Keep a small notebook where you can write down your thoughts or ideas. Use your commute time to either reflect in silence or listen to some audio books.

Equip yourself to take advantage of time pockets.

Since I spend an inordinate amount of time on airplanes or sitting in airports, I’ve learned to always come prepared. Here are some things I recommend.

A light laptop. I have the Macbook Air which has that SSD drive that boots up in 8 seconds. It’s worth the price. Think about how long it takes for your PC to boot up. New tablets and PCs have that SSD. You can work, save, and then quickly shut down or fire up with this.

A mobile hotspot. I have the one from Verizon and it’s great if I’m someplace with no or slow WiFi. It’s also a whole lot more secure. If you have some time to get work done, use it wisely. Don’t let Internet access (or lack thereof) be an excuse.

A good cloud account. I use Dropbox and Google Drive which enables me to access and keep files safe. One I forgot my Macbook on a road trip to Connecticut. I had to buy a cheap PC laptop but with Dropbox, I was able to access the files I needed to teach my workshop.

Good productivity Apps. My favorite is Evernote. It syncs up to the cloud and lets me type out or do audio notes. I often come up with good ideas when I can’t easily write them down. Having Evernote allows me to speak them and access them later. Otherwise I know I’ll forget what I was thinking.

Books or a device that lets you store digital books. I have a Kindle and an iPad Mini with the Kindle App. When I have downtime, I’ll read. It also helps to have my library with me at all times especially if I’m doing a workshop and need to cite a particular concept. What you read is important too. For a list of books I recommend, click HERE.

Be more efficient to create more time pockets.

Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment. Take some simple steps to maximize the productive times. Start with shutting off email. Check it only a couple times a day. Turn off your phone if you need to focus. Find the best place to work. You’ll get more done, more efficiently with the right environment. If you’re an introvert, find a quiet spot or go to a library. If you’re an extravert, go to a busy Panera or Starbucks. Work in your zone when you’re in the zone and you’ll get more done. Make good use of your time. If I’m waiting for a flight at the airport, I can find a table, boot up my Macbook and bang out a blog post. Use downtime to check in with your network…by phone! My good friend Fred Allan makes it a point to call me to check in at least every couple of months. “Malcolm,” he says. “I know you’re busy but I just wanted to call and check in and see how you’re doing.” He’s a great example for all of us!

I don’t profess to be an expert but this is what’s worked well for me. Remember, we all have the same amount of hours in a day. How much you use and how much you waste is all up to you. Take some time this week to evaluate your workday and start making some changes.

Beware of the Easy Score

Nice Try conceptOne of the most comedic, frustratingly annoying experiences I have nearly every week is watching the boarding process on Southwest Airlines. If you’re not familiar with how it works, you’re going to be very confused.

Southwest doesn’t assign seats. It will assign a boarding number when you check into your flight. The boarding numbers come in three groups, A, B, and C. If you’re a frequent traveler like I am, pay for automatic check in, or buy a Business Select fare, you get in the A group, usually in numbers 16 to 60. Once the A group goes, then B and C follow. They key of course is getting a number as close to A-1 as possible. That allows you to have a greater choice of seats. God help you if you’re in the C group. You won’t find a space for your gigantic carry-on steamer trunk in the overhead bins and you’ll be stuck in the dreaded middle seat, probably between a huge fat guy and a mom with a lap child.

One area of seats that always seems to LOOK open is the very first row, the bulkhead seats. It’s open for a reason. You can’t store any bags in front of you or under the seat. Everything has to go in the overhead bins. Since it’s usually old people who sit there because they do the pre-board, the bins are already full with purses, canes, and medical devices. For the unsuspecting novice traveler, they walk on the plane with their “C” boarding group and jump in, thinking they got the easy score. Then they’re told they can’t sit there, as there is no space for their luggage. Dejected, they slink back to the steerage section of the plane doomed to a middle seat. This happens at least three times per flight I’m on. The easy score is usually too good to be true.

Not to be a pessimist, but if things look too good to be true, they probably are. That empty parking spot at the front of the row at the mall on Black Friday will be a handicapped spot. The empty seat on the bus will have a homeless whino with bad B.O. sitting next to it. I once saw a guy at the bathroom in the BWI airport cut in front of the line to head into the ONLY empty stall. A second later he rushed out when he discovered there was diarrhea all over the walls and floor. Not sure how that happened.

Rather than wait for something to miraculously happen to you, why not go out of your way to create awesome opportunities? Rather than check in two hours before your Southwest flight and HOPE you get a good seat, check in right at the 24-hour mark? Instead of hoping for that great seat, open parking spot, or clean bathroom stall, plan better and get an earlier start? The same goes for opportunities at work. Rather than hope for a promotion, do the hard work to prepare for it. Instead of hoping you’ll be noticed, go out of your way to get noticed.

Nothing good in life will routinely fall into your lap. The easy score is often deceptive. There is a quote, attributed to everyone from Plato to Henry Ford that says “The harder I work, the more luck I seem to find.” If that’s true, there is no easy score. It’s all the result of preparation and hard, diligent work.

What are you prepared to do?

How to Be a Boss Worth Keeping

Employee gets punched through smart phone by angry client because of bad service, product, or bad behavior

Employee gets punched through smart phone by angry client because of bad service, product, or bad behavior

If you’re a manager, supervisor, director, or anyone we could refer to as “the boss” then you may not realize you’re the #1 topic of conversation around the dinner table each night.

The question is: What are people saying?

I’m sure all of us have at one time or another, had the “boss from hell.” Being a retired sailor, I can tell you I had more than my share on active duty, but maybe the worst one I had was the VP of Human Resources at one of my post-Navy jobs.

Working now running my organizational repair business, I can tell you much of my work is centered around fixing the damage caused by bad bosses. It runs the gamut between high employee turnover and dwindling customer purchases. It includes legal troubles, low productivity, and in some cases complete process redesign to minimize the negative impact of the bad boss.

The short answer to this of course is simply firing the bad boss. That almost never happens. If you’re a business owner or corporate CEO, do everyone a favor and fire your bad bosses!

The question then remains: what are the characteristics of a boss worth keeping? Based on my experience, here are three:

  1. Technically-skilled. Few things are worse than having a boss that’s dumber than the workers. While a boss needn’t be in the weeds, they still need to understand the larger scope.
  2. Mentally-skilled. This means they’re good at making decisions. A boss needs to realize that their actions and choices affect more than just them. Learn to think like a chess player: 3 moves ahead at all times.
  3. Relationally-skilled. Nobody will care how smart and wise you are if you can’t get along with anyone. Learn some people skills. We’ll all be much happier.

So there they are. Just three things to do if you want to be a boss worth keeping. Pick one and get started, then be sure to do the other two. There is no success in being one-dimensional in this field!