Tag Archives: employee engagement

Communication - Mindset

You Don’t Need to Be a Man to Mansplain

Last week I was asked to review a report with Simon, a senior leader in an organization where I consult. I have met with Simon before and I appreciate his thoroughness, his concern for the organization, and his analytical brain.

Simon and I started out the video chat with pleasantries, and then he started to review the report, sharing his screen. I tried to let him know that I had already read the entire report and that I had highlighted questions to discuss, but he kept talking. I got louder. He didn’t respond. I stood up, he didn’t notice. I waved, he continued.

I thought, “He will notice soon that I am not responding.” Reminder: This wasn’t a big presentation with a virtual room full of attendees, there were just the two of us in this meeting. Then I thought, “It won’t be too long before he notices he can’t hear me.”

Simon continued, without noticing that I wasn’t responding, for 43 minutes, without the slightest pause. I cleaned my entire desk area and wrote this blog while Simon read to me and explained.  

When Simon finally noticed that he couldn’t hear me he took one look at his ear bud and voila — he could hear me again. At this point, we didn’t have much time left and I didn’t have the patience needed to have a worthwhile discussion.

So, what is mansplaining exactly, and how do you know if you do it? This article, written by a man, says it all: How to Tell if You’re Mansplaining

How can you, regardless of your gender, make sure that you catch yourself before mansplaining happens?

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Employee Engagement - Leadership - Performance Management

Managing Your Family By Walking Around?

Each Monday my staff and I gather for our Monday morning meeting. Prior to Covid-19 we met in person, but now we meet virtually. We have a long checklist of tasks that we review to prepare for the week and to review the month ahead. 

This week while working remotely, we got a good laugh when Keri, the Director of Operations, shared that her husband Ed keeps “checking on her” around 11am each day. Prior to the pandemic Keri spent one day a week working in the Concordia offices and the other days she worked from home. Simultaneously, Keri’s husband worked out of an office in D.C. Keri wasn’t sure what this check-in was all about, so she asked Ed.

Ed reported that he regularly schedules time in his day to walk through his department in order to have an opportunity to casually check in with his staff. Now that he is working virtually, he continues the walkabout, but has shifted his attention to his wife and kids. His family is taking some time to get used to this new interaction!

For anyone who has attended my leadership programs or received coaching from me, I am a big fan of management by walking around. It’s great to pop in and see how your employees are doing, to chat informally, and to hear about their projects and their lives in real time. So, now that many of us are working remotely, how can you do this?

  • Schedule team check-ins at the start or end of each day.
  • Use a group chat feature to send a short message each morning or evening.
  • Arrange one-on-ones with your direct reports frequently — at least once a week.
  • Send funny anecdotes throughout the week.

What methods have you and your team found to stay connected while working remotely?

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Communication - Employee Engagement - Leadership

Exhale, Inhale

Is it better to inhale or to exhale?

It takes a second before you realize the answer is, “you can’t have one without the other!” Asking a question in this way is called “polarity thinking.” It encourages the brain to think one way or another, without considering alternatives that might be better.

The technique works effectively with two-year-olds. “Would you like to take your bath before dinner or after dinner?” For most toddlers, they answer either before or after and not, “Gee Mom and Dad, I don’t want to take a bath at all. I want more play time.”  

Here are some examples of polarity questions versus open-ended questions:

  • Do you want to include the information about the storm water project or delete it?
  • What are the benefits of including information about the storm water project?

  • Have you decreased the entertainment budget or the sales budget?
  • What did you find in your budget analysis?
  • Do you recommend Pierre or Jamal for the job?
  • What did you like best about Pierre and Jamal as candidates?

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with polarity questions. Sometimes having fewer choices is helpful. The point is to be intentional about your questions based on what you want to achieve by asking them.

So, would you like to read this blog and send your feedback today? Or would you prefer to forward the blog to a colleague, and comment tomorrow?

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