Are you giving it away?



It is something everyone wants. I have had business owners ask for it. Yet, they are the same ones who are consistently giving it away. It’s accountability.

It’s true we all want people who make decisions, are responsible and accept the good/bad outcome as a result. Yet at the same time, without realizing it we give away their responsibility, the ability to make decisions which in turns doesn’t hold them to the results.

Now, before you start screaming at the screen and saying it’s not true. Let me ask you a couple questions. Do you do any of the following:

  • Tell people exactly how to solve an issue?
  • When an error is committed, do you tell them how to fix it?
  • When delegating, you provide all the details and they only have to follow your directions?
  • You are known as a micro-manager?

Each time you answered “yes” to one of the above, you have taken away their accountability. I know, you are thinking “no, I’m telling how to work”. This is the same as giving a student the answer to the test.

Instead of giving the answers, ask for the answers. Ask your people “what do you think we should do?” or “what are suggestions to fix it?” or “what is the best way to go about it”.

Keep in mind this is not where it ends, this is the beginning of a conversation with more questions along the “why” or “how would that work”, etc. Give your thoughts or input and have them make the decision.

Think about it for a moment. When someone else told you how to do something – if it didn’t work was your reaction “I would have done it differently” or “I knew it wouldn’t work” or “not my solution, not my problem”. When you came up with the solution or course of action that didn’t work, your reaction is more like “what went wrong” or “how do I avoid this the next time” or “let me try this instead”.

See the difference in the mindset of the person. The second person is taking responsibility and therefore is being accountable.

What will you do differently next time? How can you change this with your people?

Need assistance with creating accountability. Let’s talk.  E-mail me at or call 773.531.8199.

Do you REALLY know them?

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Great leaders know their people and what is happening in their lives.

I said this in front of a group of business leaders as one of the “7 Leadership Habits for an Engaged Team”.  A response I got, is from one person while others nod their head in agreement – “I don’t want to hear their drama”. I get it, I’m not into drama either and that’s not what I am referring to.

So, how do you get to know people without the drama?

Lead by example. Share what you feel is appropriate and they will do the same. Share a bit about yourself and draw the line at sharing your own family drama (yes we all have it). In doing this, if someone crosses the line, gently apologize for their misfortune and end the conversation.

What you do want to lean about: their family, where they are from, do they have a spouse, kids and what they do for fun. Do they have hobbies? How do they spend time outside of work (I know its hard to believe, your people do have lives outside of work). You are gradually going to get this over many conversations. Don’t try to get it one sitting, they will feel interrogated and uncomfortable. You don’t want that.

Why should you care? By showing interest in them, they feel important, respected and cared for, they are more than just a cog in the machine. People have a tendency to respect those who show a genuine interest in the.

This is also beneficial for when you want to reward someone for an achievement, you can show it in a way that is meaningful to them, personalized. For example, if you want to thank them for working overtime to get a project done and they love knitting, maybe a gift certificate to a local knitting/yarn store.

Make you people feel appreciated and really get to know them beyond their name.

P.S. This also works great with clients.



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You hear it in everyday conversation and in business. “I had the expectation…” or “I thought this was going  was going to happen…”. It is typically and normal for each of us to have an expectation of what is happening or what a result will be. However, while we have a clear picture of what we want, we don’t always share it with another person. This results in disappointment – from both sides.

Let’s take a look at what is an “Expectation”. According to Merriam Webster:

“A belief that something will happen or is likely to happen”

In my experience and I’m sure in yours, the likelihood something will happen is increased dramatically when we share our expectations. It seems obvious right. Nothing new here.

Then why are we experiencing disappointment,  frustration and disillusionment?

We are not in habit of setting expectations with others. You will find taking the time to set expectations can increase our results, time, and happiness.

Here are a few examples on where you can set expectations to achieve better results:

Meetings:  We have all been involved in meetings where we sit there and wonder why we are spending our time. To change it, start by setting an agenda and outlining the anticipated results before hand will allow people to understand why they should take time out of their day to meet, prepare for the meeting, and the end result. If the meeting isn’t yours, ask the host to do this. Imagine how many more meetings you would attend that would be productive and you would be a more willing participant.

Delegation: This one can get people tongue tied as they are afraid to give too many details and micromanage the process.  When delegating focus on the results and not the process. Discuss the objective with the person and how you will be using what they give back to you. If you have a preferred format (word, excel, powerpoint, etc.) let them know.

Interviewing: Here is a case where we think the expectations are clear and don’t need to stated. We are looking to hire and you applied. Yes, that is why you are talking to the person. Let them know the process, how you like to interview and what will happen next. For example: I have your resume and have read it, I would like to ask you questions to see if you are a fit for the company and then I will tell you about the position and you can determine if its a good fit for you.

Networking: We are connecting with people and want to learn more about their business. As you know networking is not about getting business at the event. When you are following up with someone you met at a networking event, let them know why you are reaching out – to learn more about your business, I can help you with…, etc.

Where else do you need to set expectations? Share below.

Need assistance in making setting expectations a habit, something you always do? Let’s talk.

Attracting the Right Employees

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Jim Kendall of the Daily Herald (local newspaper) on the various struggles of small employers to find quality employees.  There is so much you can do.

Read here to see what I shared with his audience.

Don’t forget you need to focus on the planning to get it right.

Are you struggling or want assistance to get the right employees for your small business. Contact me for a complimentary consultation at or 773.531.8199


Plan to Get it Right

Summary: Before you take action in your business, you plan. May people don’t plan enough when it comes to hiring. Here are a few things you need to plan to get you started and to help you Plan to Get it Right.

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In many parts of your business, before you take action, you plan. You don’t launch a marketing campaign without knowing what results you want. You don’t give a customer a price for services without knowing if you will make a profit. When it comes to recruiting however we feel it’s ok to jump in without a plan, and then we wonder why we can’t find good people.

Right now I have many clients who are hiring new team members. This is wonderful as they are all growing their teams. Sometimes we are too eager to jump in and get a new person started.

If you really want to get it right the first time,  some planning is needed before you even advertise a job opening.

Here’s what you need to plan for:

Skills: Needed for the position.

Knowledge: This goes beyond skills, for example – a bookkeeper needs Quickbook skills and accounting knowledge.

Attitude/Personality:  This sometimes gets overlooked. Do they need to pleasant, prefer someone quiet, or do you need a more “chatty” person.

Working style: Do you need someone to work with little direction or more side by side to do the work in a particular way.

Then you can prepare yourself to ask the questions to find out what you need. This planning will help you spot who fits the job the best and who would need more work. It will also help you avoid “shinny object syndrom” that flashy piece of experience someone may have that looks like it may help you one day but is not needed now or in the immediate future.

What else do you look for in people who work for you? Tell us below.


Best Places to Work

Summary:  It’s award season – awards for best places to work. What do you need to do or consider to make your organization a great place to work.

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I have to admit I’m not a big fan of the “Best Places to Work” awards. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is vital for all workplaces to be great, it creates success in business, in people and in the community. It’s the awards. It seems to be that time of year when different publication announce their winners according to their criteria.

Yes, their criteria.  Sometimes they tell us what the criteria are and sometimes they don’t. What about your criteria? Each workplace, business and person is different and will have different ideas of what makes a great workplace.  Right now, stop reading and write down what is important to you and your company. Now make another list of what you believe is important to your employees. Do they match? Do they intersect? Is there some form of commonality?

If not, this is what needs to be looked at. Not what marketing people put together to get your business on a list.

That being said, I do believe there are a few criteria which you need to be mindful of and these are based on research on what contributes to an employees engagement in the workplace. Engagement is the ultimate test of a great workplace – not ping pong tables.

What you should strive for. What is your long-term vision for your business, what are you trying to achieve and how can your employees help you.

Belief in your mission. Yes that piece of paper or poster at one time or another you put on the wall and hope everyone reads it. If this is the case, you need to revisit and create something you really believe in, something your employees can believe in. Let it become infectious.

Sense of purpose. This is something all employees need. They want and need to know their role in the company fulfills a need and gives them a purpose, a reason to get up and go to work every day.

Doing what they love every day. Imagine if your people were focused only on what they love to do every day. Imagine that for yourself. How would it transform your business.

Focus on strengths. Not only should they be doing what they love, they should also be doing what they do best. What would that look like?

There are more, this is to get you started.  Along with a colleague we have developed a program to assess your people and your business to achieve engagement and create your version of a Great Place to Work.

Want to learn more? email me to schedule a complimentary session.

How to Motivate Employees

Summary: A common question is “How do I motivate my employees?” You are not going to like the answer – you can’t motivate others. You can however trigger their internal motivation.

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This question comes up a lot.

How do I motivate my employees?  

Most people are looking for an answer that is similar to pushing a button on the remote to turn on the TV. Oh, how easy it would be if we all had a motivation button on our back that could be pushed and off we go. Unfortunately, as people, it is not that simple. To start with and you are not going to like this answer – you can’t motivate others.


Yes, you read that right. You can’t motivate others – they can only motivate themselves. Wait…but there are motivational speakers, audios, books, etc. And lots of them too. Why is that? If we could motivate others, wouldn’t we just need one book and we would all be motivated?

The thing is we are human beings that come with our own DNA, life experience and values. We are each individuals who respond to different messages and stimuli. This is why you can’t motivate others. What you can do is…

Trigger their motivation.

You need to determine what motivates each person and use that to get them going. For example – if you have a person who thrives on recognition for their work, let them know their peers/clients will appreciate all their hard work. When they have handled it to your satisfaction or beyond, be sure to let everyone know about it.

Use your imagination and reach each person by what motivates them. Time off, sports, volunteering, etc.

Don’t motivate them…trigger their internal motivation!

What motivates you? Share below.

The Art of Feedback

Summary: People want feedback more than once a year. Provide the feedback by being specific, open, create accountability and being timely.


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This is a conversation that comes up at least once a month. 

Client:  We need new performance reviews.

Me:  Ok, what are you trying to accomplish with the reviews?

Client: We need to give our employees feedback.

Me:  Is this the only time you give feedback?

Client:  Well…..yes….unless something really blows up.

Me:  Let’s talk more about giving feedback.

One of the reasons I have dislike for performance reviews is because this conversation is all too common. We aren’t providing our people with feedback on a regular basis, it’s not really intentional…we aren’t really looking to hide how a person is doing…mostly it is a matter of time or timing.

First, let’s talk about the amount of time it takes. If you sit down and think about how long it takes someone to say “good job” it’s a few seconds. Do you have time for that?

Second, what about timing. You can probably guess the answer here. The timing should be in the moment it happens.

Lastly, how to give feedback. There is a little of an art form to this in order to have impact and have others understand the feedback you are giving to appreciate it.

Be specific:  “Good job” alone may sound great, however it could leave a person wondering “for what?”.  Tell people what they did well and under what circumstances. For example:  Great job on handling customer smith’s complaint about the late shipment. I appreciate how you kept calm and got it resolved.  In this example, the is no room to wonder “what did I do right”.

Be open: Let’s face it, there will be times when the feedback won’t be positive. Don’t make the person feel worse, this will just close them off and make them not want to tackle issues in the future. Instead of – The next time this happens, I need you to do this, or else we loose the customer. Say – Tell me what happened. Let them tell you in their own words what happened, remember you haven’t heard the whole story.

Create Accountability: When things do go wrong, create accountability in the team or person. Instead of telling them what to do, have them come up with solutions to either fix, resolve, or prevent in the future. This is as simple as – tell what you can do the next time to avoid/solve this issue.

Be timely:  Talk about it right after it happens. Let’s be honest, we don’t remember details a week later and sometimes a couple days later. Take the time to provide the feedback as soon after the event as possible. This will not only give the employees the feedback they want it, it shows you are being attentive and the incident is fresh in their memory.

Your people do want feedback more often than once a year, this is how they know they are on the right path. Lack of feedback makes people nervous, unsure, less confident and disillusioned. Don’t let it happen to you.

Share your feedback stories below in comments.


Removing the Leadership Blocks

Summary:  As leaders we all have blocks that may stop us from being better. Here are some common ones and how to overcome.


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This is going to sound silly – I love to play Candy Crush – yes I know it is a thoughtless and simple game. It is and that’s probably why it helps me slow down my thoughts. You know what I mean, that constant bombardment of thoughts you have throughout the day. Why am I telling you this? Well, while playing and trying to clear the blocks so I could win the level, it reminded me of the blocks we create in our own minds when it comes to working with people.

Do you have these common leadership blocks?

I want to be liked. This means you are more interested in having people “like” you and be friends than be respected and get the job done.  When you focus on “like” you are not focusing on the big picture or goals.  To overcome, focus on being respected for the way you treat people, your decisions and holding to your values. For this – some will like you and other’s won’t however you will be respected.

I don’t want to be pushy. This is common with people who were promoted and still working with people who were there peers. You are happy you were promoted and you also know what the team doesn’t like – pushy. To overcome, ask people questions about how they would handle a situation, let them come up with what needs to be done and then ask when you can expect to see something.

It will end up in an argument. This is part of avoiding confrontations. The good news is that most people do not like confrontations. The bad news is that not all will end in an argument – the scenario you are creating in your head rarely happens as it is the worst case. To overcome, rehearse the conversation in your head, listen to the words you are using – is there a way to still get the point across with using different words.

They don’t listen. This usually happens as a result of you not listening either. It turns into a power of wills or they believe they have better ideas. If you want them to listen, you must listen first. Ask them questions about what is happening, do they have suggestions or how would you handle – then discuss. Give them ownership of the process and/or situation.

What other blocks to you have? How have you overcome? Share below so we can all learn from each other.


What Employees Want You to Know

Summary: If I were to go around your organization and ask each person “What do you want your manager to know about leading you?”. What kind of answers would I get? Do any of these sound familiar?    


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If I were to go around your organization and ask each person “What do you want your manager to know about leading you?”  What do you think they would answer?

If you are cynical, your answers will be “I want more money” or “I need more time off” or “Tell me what to do as I don’t want to think”. If this is you, let’s talk – you can’t continue this way.

For the rest of you, it is safe to say most people want to do their best each day – however they are things that may get in the way and some of those are coming from you.

Here’s what they want you to know:

We are a team.  As in they are on your side and want to work together. Energy and ideas come from working with their peers and team mates. Give them time together to solve issues.

We are also individuals. While is seems to contradict the “team”, it is actually complimentary to the team. Each person has their own strengths, abilities, and differences. What may work for one person, may not work for the next. Understand they are individuals and will work differently.

Include me. Talk to them about ideas, challenges, or issues. They are at the front lines and can contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way. This also means – communicate. Talk to them, answer their questions, respond to phone calls and email. Let your actions show they are included.

Give me space.  Learn to delegate properly. No one wants to be micro-managed or constantly looked in on. Once you give a person an assignment or task to take care of, determine a follow-up date and get out of their way. The constant follow-up will actually demotivate them.

Mentor me. Do you have good employee? Do you have a person who shows great potential? Make them great by being a mentor. Find time to talk and work together…they will flourish and give you the credit.

What would your employees tell you? What else would you add to this list?

Want to get different answers from your people, start by contacting Andrea for a complimentary leadership consultation.