Tag Archives: communication

Leadership - Mindset

The Power of Observation

“Observation skills help you understand what is happening in a conversation or in a group.

If you are a good observer, you will know how well you are communicating, and can make mid-course corrections.”
— Karen Snyder

For more of Karen’s workplace wisdom, check out her book Eating Worms: Practicing Leadership Every Day.

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Communication - Employee Engagement - Leadership - Performance Management

Are You Undergoing Kidney Surgery?

I just got off a video call with a potential client. They were consulting with me about their back-to-the-office strategy and were having problems with their vacation policy. The organization was returning to the office after over a year of remote work, and during this time no one had taken vacation days. 

I probed more deeply and found that management “said” they wanted their employees to take more vacation time and “turn off.” The client gave examples of a couple of employees traveling to the beach, working in the morning, taking time off in the afternoon, and then returning emails and writing reports late at night. I asked if the deadlines of the reports were imminent and the answer was a weak “yes.”

I was trying to understand how getting work done at unconventional times was a problem, so I asked if productivity was suffering.

No, was the response. They said that their workforce is incredibly devoted and effective, and that the organization has not suffered a loss in productivity. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Then the client told me that one of the benefits their employees are experiencing by working remotely is that they can take time off in the middle of the day for doctor’s appointments and to pick up kids from school and camps. The employees seem to like the flexibility that comes with working virtually.

This was only an hour-long call, but I was confused. It seemed okay to my client to take time off in the middle of the day to care for children or go to the doctor, but apparently taking time off to go to the beach was not? I asked, “Do you want employees to have a flexible schedule?”  

I also asked if the leadership team appreciated the employees’ productivity, and that deadlines were met, or if they were willing to slow down progress in order to encourage employees to take vacation? I asked, yet the answer was unclear.

Like all other personnel policies, it’s impossible for your employees to figure out what the policy is if you have not figured it out as a leadership team.

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One of our readers sent in this situation: There’s a person in his business who often replies to emails with “TLDR.” I didn’t know what that meant, but it means, “Too long, didn’t read.”

First of all, that response isn’t exactly the best, or most polite, option. Second, we can learn from every situation, so what can we learn from this?

  • Keep emails short, to the point, and with an appropriate subject line.
  • When you have something long to send, keep the email short and link it to a separate document, spreadsheet, or article that includes the full details.
  • When you receive an email that makes you want to respond with “TLDR,” instead write back, “Let’s schedule a call” or “Let me know a time that works for you to explain your point of view to me.” Or perhaps, “Can we bring this up at our regular task force meeting? I will put it on the agenda.”

For more tips on handling email dilemmas, consult this tip sheet. If your entire organization could benefit from email standardization, I would be happy to schedule a training session on the topic.

I thank all of you for sending in your real workplace dramas! With your help and your colleagues’ antics, I will never run out of content.

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