Verbal Attack — Fight? Flight? Or Aikido?

When was the last time someone said something that offended you? What was your reaction? Did you withdraw? Did you return fire? How many conflicts have you been party to that didn’t end well? Right or wrong, conflict is a part of human existence. The problem is not that it exists but that we don’t respond to it well. Like their …

Employee Engagement – What It is, Why It Matters and How to Achieve It

What’s your definition of “employee engagement”? Here’s mine: “Enthusiastically committed to and aligned with the employer’s goals.” Each word matters. Together, they mean having employees who feel fortunate to be employed where they are, know what is expected and needed, and come to work every day to make a positive difference. In this post (including the two posts hyperlinked in …

Lawyers, Risk Aversion & Resistance to Change – What’s the Connection?

According to validated personality test studies, lawyers lead other professions in “standard deviations.” That is, compared to other professionals and the populace in general, we score unusually high and low in several personality traits. These include skepticism (high), autonomy (high), sociability (low) and resiliency (low). This cocktail of personality traits creates challenges for leaders of law firms and other law organizations …

Jerks at Work

Work jerks come in all shapes and sizes. There is the harasser, the bully, the passive aggressor, and the plain old low EQ ( Emotional Intelligence) jerk who says or does things that make stomach acid churn. Work jerkishness is always a problem, and sometimes it crosses the line of law. Some time ago, I wrote a magazine article discussing …

Leader As Coach, Not Boss

When Ravila Gupta became President of Umicore USA, a global materials technology company, she was told she needed an executive coach. She was puzzled at first, thinking “Why would they promote me to such a high level position if they thought I needed coaching?” However, she soon learned that it was because of this position – overseeing 16 facilities in …

It’s Annual Performance Review Time!

The Annual Performance Review: What better way to cap off the current year and begin the next one??? On a scale of 1-5, with 1 meaning “strongly disagree” and 5 meaning “strongly agree”, what number would you give the following statement: “The annual performance review is a valuable employee relations tool, well worth the time and effort because of its …

A Retired Corporation President’s Reflections on Employee Engagement

For 23 years, Ken Couch, R. Ph., was President of Smith Drug Co., a $2.4 billion pharmaceutical distributor. During his tenure, the company grew to become one of the largest in its industry. Both employee engagement and business metrics such as profitability were admirably high. In this interview, Couch shares what he considers were the key practices that created an engaged and …

Disciplinary Do’s & Dont’s

When employees underperform or misbehave, what do you do? In this post, you’ll have an opportunity to learn from a former practicing employment attorney, chief human resources officer, corporate general counsel and state bar president. Charlotte Miller has been involved in over 5,000 employee terminations – and not a single one resulted in a lawsuit! In this interview, she shares …

Step Up Your Listening Skills

When was the last time you felt that someone was not listening to you? When was the last time someone accused you of not listening to them? Of course, it happens all of the time. Borrowing that immortal movie line, “What we’ve got here is . . . failure to communicate!” However, there’s a simple yet highly effective listening tool. I …

Caring About Your Employees is Good for Business

In this interview, a corporate CEO and her HR Director explain how doing the right thing for employees means doing the right thing for the business bottom line. The envy of its industry in customer satisfaction, employee retention and financial performance, Futura Industries has created a culture that combines high performance expectations, accountability and genuine care and compassion for employees as human …