This Could Actually be a Valuable Meeting

Business Meeting

Last week’s blog post focused on using the IDEA model to make your meetings productive and arenas for getting work done rather than getting in the way of getting things accomplished.

Here’s an idea for how to put the model to use in the next two weeks. Have a meeting with your team to review the year to date and decide how to get some great things done over the next three months. The plans from that meeting will create the momentum for a highly productive 2nd half of 2015. Here’s your agenda:

        • Focus on Issues or Initiatives: What issues have arisen that have kept you from achieving your goals this year? What initiatives were put on the back burner because of lack of resources or maybe it just wasn’t the right time? What issues do you need to get a jump on as soon as the new year starts? What initiative will be high priority and needs to start on August 1st?
        • Make Decisions: Which of these issues are critical to address in the next three months? Which initiatives do we want to move back to the front burner? Do we have budget we need to spend or earmark before the end of the year or we’ll lose it? What do we need to do to have everything ready to move on the new initiatives as soon as the holidays are over?
        • Establish Actions: What actions will we take to address the key issue(s) in the next three months? Establish an action plan identifying your key steps, resources and timing. If you previously had a project plan for those initiatives that had been on the back burner, revisit it and see how it needs to be updated. If you did not, create an action plan or project plan that takes you through at least the end of February. Identify any internal or external resources you need for the initiative or to attack the issue. Take action to get them engaged even if they don’t actively need to be involved for a few weeks.

Let me know what plans you put in motion and whether this meeting was a productive use of your time.

Show Some Emotion – Part 1

Show Some EmotionsThere are a lot of people I know who work very hard not to show their emotions at work. They think that showing emotions is not part of ‘being professional’. has a great article entitled Why Great Leaders Get Angry — and Show It. Reading it reminded me of the many companies I’ve worked for or with that could best be described as polite. In many conversations and meetings, topics that should have been hotly debated or, worse, probably didn’t deserve the time they were given, were politely discussed. Then, once the meeting was done, small groups huddled in offices to talk about how they really felt about the discussion, or worse, the decision.

As the Inc article points out, anger and, in fact, the entire range of emotions can be very productive and powerful when used and displayed effectively. As the author of the article, Jeff Haden points out, anger can be very focusing. It can create confidence. I believe it can spur creativity and new thinking. It can reinforce the importance of a topic. And, when someone gets angry and shares it appropriately, it can lead people to resolve a conflict or solve a problem. These are the types of interactions that build effective workplace relationships and lead to better performance. When we don’t or think we can’t share emotions in the workplace, we interact in a superficial way and are not able to tap into the strength of working collectively. Our companies stagnate. Our products lose their luster. People are physically at work but probably not engaging all their efforts. We aren’t able to innovate. We don’t benefit from different perspectives and great ideas.

I challenge you to give this some thought. How is being too polite hurting your company?





About Edith Onderick-Harvey

Edith Onderick-Harvey is a highly regarded consultant, leadership and talent expert, and speaker. Edith is frequently quoted in the media including The New York Times,, HR Executive, and American Executive. As the President of Factor In Talent, Edith works with leaders to take performance — their own, their team’s and their organization’s — to the next level.

The Story Stays the Same

man loves his job 396 x 260Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace Report has just been released. Here’s the highlights:

  • 30% of employees are engaged and inspired at work — up from 28% in 2010
  • 18% are actively disengaged
  • 52% are showing up

What drives engagement?

  • Job satisfaction – having a great boss, room to grow and job tasks that are stimulating
  • Workplace culture, especially those that encourage people to voice their opinions and work together.

Before you think about providing free lunches and massages on site, look at how you’re doing on the fundamentals. “If you don’t have those fundamentals, the perks aren’t going to fix it,” says Randy Allen, the associate dean of Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.. “You may keep them for a while, but at some point they’re going to leave.”

Enough said?

Sandbox Rules and the $2B Conflict

JP Morgan Chase $2B ConflictBy now, we’ve all heard about the $2 billion (maybe $3 billion) loss at JP Morgan. An article in The New York Times shows how this loss was the result of long unresolved conflicts. It seems that when mom wasn’t as available, the kids started throwing sand at each other in the sandbox.

The Chief Investment Officer at JPMorgan, who had managed her unit brilliantly through the financial crisis, was less present in the office due to illness for several months starting in 2010. During this time tensions between her two deputies in London and New York came out into the open. The head of the London operation gained more and more latitude to build and expand trades from the desk in London and began to compete with his NY counterpart for supremacy. When the head of the New York office raised objections, shouting matches ensued and the tensions escalated. As one trader said, “The strife distracted everyone because no one could push back.”

Conflicts are a part of life and sometimes, a daily part of work life. When handled well, conflict can spur new ideas and results in stronger outcomes. However, as this case shows, unresolved conflict can cost real money.

When conflicts remain unresolved the nature of the conflict changes. When conflict starts the conversation is about you (your ego), me (my ego) and the conflict. If we aren’t able to resolve the conflict, my focus on the conflict changes. You fall out of the picture and I’m focused on the conflict and what I need to get out of it. If it still remains unresolved, I get to the point of not caring what the conflict is actually about, instead the focus is completely on me and making sure I get what I need, to make sure I win.

This seems to be what happened at JP Morgan. Something in the culture allowed the focus to go from coming up with the best decision and solution to winning at all costs. The inability to play nice in the sandbox just cost them $2 billion.

How’s your sandbox?