The Mentorist


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Talk a Mile in My Shoes: Overcoming Conflict with Your Boss (or, Really, Anyone)

I like to hire strong-headed people.  They’ve got minds of their own — and have no problem telling me when they think I’ve lost mine.  (Imagine teenagers, but with highly developed executive functions….)

Most of the time, this approach works wonders:  I feel challenged, they feel respected and the entire team produces results we couldn’t have otherwise.

But with strong wills come occasional strong impasses.  I’m thinking, in particular, of a time when one of my trusted ‘lieutenants’ handled a work travel situation in a way that — although quasi-legitimate — served his personal interest a bit too much, while making it harder for me, as team leader, to meet the budget numbers I had signed up for.

I was not amused. Continue reading


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May We Have a Little Mood Lighting Here? What to Do When the Salary Question Comes Too Soon

‘Hiring someone is essentially a romantic process, in which the job interview functions as a desexualized version of a date’ –- or so Malcolm Gladwell wrote, not that long ago.

Ah, I remember those days.  First interviews — while, on the surface, spent discussing the interviewee’s qualifications for the job at hand -– were about figuring out whether the ‘chemistry’ was right.  The other ‘c’ word –- ‘compensation’ –- never came up.

No more.  Today it’s typical for job candidates to be asked upfront, ‘What salary do you expect to make?’

Good-bye, first date.  Hello, arranged marriage. Continue reading


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Where Never Is Heard an Encouraging Word: Frontiers of Motivation

Think your performance would soar, if only you heard a few more words of encouragement from your boss?  Well, the Gershwin brothers had it right:  ‘It ain’t necessarily so….’

The latest Harvard Business Review (July–August 2013) reports some eye-opening results from a study designed to measure the impact of encouragement on performance levels.

In the study, subjects were arbitrarily assigned to three groups, then asked to do two sets of ‘plank’ exercises.  (Those of you who don’t know what these are, please look in the direction of your stomach. Can you see your toes?) Continue reading