Conversations about leadership, learning, coaching and change.

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Leadership

How not to suck at feedback

How not to suck at feedback

by Moyra Mackie on October 8, 2018

When I ask groups how feedback should be given, there’s always someone who mentions the Hamburger Approach.

This is the theory that you should start by saying something positive (the white bread), move on to what you really want to say – apparently often negative – and then close with something a bit more positive (more refined carbs?).

But what appears to be a balanced diet is just junk food

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Do you know someone at work who isn’t performing as well as they could?

With nearly three quarters of people reporting that they are not engaged at work, I have many clients asking what they can do to change this.

“How can I get rid of low performers or poorly engaged staff?”, is a refrain I hear a lot.

Then it’s time for a bit of tough love.  So I say, there are two reasons for that:

  1. Someone hired the wrong person – who is that someone and what are you going to do about their recruiting and interviewing skills?
  2. You hired the right person and something has changed since your hired them.  What are you as a leader going to do about it?

Leaders need to think like gardeners

Gardeners don’t blame the plant when it fails to thrive.  True leaders, like effective gardeners, look at themselves first and then the environment.

As a keen gardener, I’m struck by the thought that if you are a leader, you can do a lot to help those around you withstand the cold winds of shrinking budgets and increasing targets by thinking about it from a gardener’s perspective.

Gardening is about both leading and managing change. Here are three leadership lessons from successful gardeners.


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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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It should come as a surprise to nobody that work can stress us out. Stress isn’t always bad; stress can motivate us, and help us prepare for the unexpected.

However, chronic stress can have a dire impact on our personal well-being — which can in turn impact the performance of our business or organization. This is what we call organizational stress, and it should come with a toll big enough to grab the attention of employees and managers alike.

The high costs of high stress

When we’re stressed out, it can tax our bodies and minds to surprising lengths. Organizational stress has been demonstrated to increase costs through higher health benefit payouts, more absenteeism, higher turnover, and increased workers’ compensation claims.

Researchers estimate that the combined cost of employee stress in the United States rounds out to around $300 billion per year. Regardless of your workplace’s management style, this fact alone should make stress management a priority for everyone involved in your organization — and this begins with effective management.

Management strategies to reduce organizational stress

Managers have the power to reduce stress in a number of ways, and it all starts with open lines of communication. (And this means much more than a passive ‘open door policy’.) Leaders need to regularly reach out with employees to share ideas, concerns, and constructive feedback.

They should not only measure and facilitate performance, but also resolve obstacles and other everyday stressors that might impede an employee’s workday. Employers can also reduce stress by offering greater flexibility, ample rewards, and motivational strategies.

The infographic below, produced for the Online MBA Program at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, illustrates the impact that organizational stress can have on businesses, and what we can do about it to make employees happier and more productive at work.
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Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne

Tim Wayne is a digital content marketer and contributor to several healthcare blogs. He is interested in healthcare, education, and small business management. Since graduating from USC with a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, Tim has worked with websites across a wide range of industries in writing website copy and promoting content online.

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Leadership and lying down to photograph elephants

Leadership and lying down to photograph elephants

by Moyra Mackie on April 1, 2016

It’s a beautiful spring day in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.  We’ve just got back from our early morning safari drive. We began in the barely-light crisp cold, swaddled in fleece and thick woollen blankets.  We return under clear blue skies, our faces upturned to the emerging heat of the sun, our hearts full of the raw beauty of the landscape and animals we’ve encountered.

With the smell of lunch in the air and the sound of the crickets starting up in the bush we spot a dozen or more elephants making their way in a graceful line to the waterhole, fifty or so metres away.  The professional photographers in the group, grab lenses and tripods to capture the playful babies and the protective mothers gathering at the water’s edge.

I’ve come armed with only a smartphone, which I’m realising is not at all equipped for long distances.

There are many ways of seeing the same thing

So I lie on the wooden decking, near the fire pit.  I tune out the other guests who are amused by my photographic technique.

As I am in Africa to research my leadership retreat, Campfire Conversations, capturing the fire and the seats around it is also important to me. It’s not a perfect image – I miss the fact that a tree branch cuts through the herd and the camera can’t pick out the individuality of each elephant.

Yet we have a choice as to how we see things

From where I’m lying I can get a sense of perspective about how close the animals are to us; I can show the relationship between them and us.

I would never have become aware of this – never thrown myself down on the floor – if it had not been for my friend, and professional photographer, Rebecca Fennell.  Before leaving for Zimbabwe, Bex had given me a crash course in how to get great pictures with a smartphone.  One of the biggest lessons she passed on to me was:

“Most people just point their camera at the subject, they don’t think about how they should best relate to what they’re photographing.  Get down level with your subject.  Think about angles and light and what you want to show with that image.”

She showed me how different the bottles and glasses on the table in front of us looked, if taken from a more thoughtful height, paying attention to where the natural light was.

Photography is the art of paying attention

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Calling all leaders: how warm is your water?

Calling all leaders: how warm is your water?

by Moyra Mackie on August 24, 2015

“If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a smile on its face, it will unresistingly allow itself to be boiled to death.”

~ Daniel Quinn, The Story of B

Whilst German scientists in the 1880s found it was indeed possible to very gradually heat water until the poor amphibians expired, I think it’s a warning and challenge to all leaders who want to stay successful.

How warm is the water in your organisation?

According to The Economist, the average life expectancy of public companies shrank from 65 years in the 1920s, to less than ten in the 1990s. Whilst a golden parachute might break the fall, life in the C-suite is becoming ever more precarious. In just ten years the average CEO tenure has fallen from 8.1 to 6.3 years and is getting shorter all the time.

Managers at all levels are expected to do more with fewer resources in a lot less time

If they’re successful, next year they will be bench-marked against that success – if they’re lucky. If they’re not so lucky, they might be given a “stretch goal”.

In addition, technology has led to an expectation that they should be available 24/7. Reacting quickly is rewarded.

Everything is measured, all the time

I’m old enough to remember a workplace where we had five year goals. (And no, that was not Soviet Russia.)

Now we have staff on monthly goals, managers anxiously watching weekly targets and lots of people paying attention to the end of every quarter. Not to mention that we have pipelines and magnets for talent and nine boxes for all our human capital.

We even measure happiness – or engagement – and we find that’s the one thing going down.

Has your water heated up and you just haven’t noticed?

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Emotional Intelligence: The difference that makes the difference

Emotional Intelligence: The difference that makes the difference

by Guest contributor Liam Barrett on December 13, 2014

For years, in school, you are taught that good grades is how life works. That getting straight A’s and doing your homework is all that matters.

While being smart, and doing your work is a must, there is more to life than just “being smart”.  Employers are starting to recognize that the real prize is emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence is the difference that really makes the difference

Emotional intelligence is the ability to react and adjust to your own emotions;  properly controlling and moderating them.

Many people measure how successful they will be on how smart they are.  But some of our toughest tests are those we face when we leave school – getting turned down, failing, or hitting a roadblock. How we cope depends a lot on our EI.

Becoming a master of emotional intelligence helps your chances of success and fulfillment at home and at work.

There are many ways to increase your emotional intelligence

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Guest contributor Liam Barrett

Guest contributor Liam Barrett

Liam is a young entrepreneur from Boise, Idaho. He is always looking for ways to become a great, influential leader. Everyday is another day to achieve his idea of success, and he believes that only one's self is responsible for the daily life that you live.

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The most important hour in every manager’s day

The most important hour in every manager’s day

by Moyra Mackie on July 26, 2014

Do you manage a team but feel you never have time for everything you have to do?

Are you concerned that your team doesn’t really seem to be a cohesive, aligned team?

Do you have someone in your team who just doesn’t seem to “get it”?

Did you know that there’s a  really simple solution to address these and most other managerial challenges?

Have regular one to ones with every one of your team

Yes really, it’s that simple. If you’re a manager you should be spending an hour a week with all your direct reports.

Surely one to ones can’t solve all my managerial headaches?

If done properly – and we’ll come to that later – your one to ones are precious moments to:

If all of those things are being nurtured on a weekly basis, most of your managerial headaches will subside.  And those that don’t, can usually be helped by making sure YOU have regular one to ones with YOUR boss.

But an hour a week! Does it really have to be that often?

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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Are you and the people who work with you engaged?

When I say “engaged”,  are you engaged as in focused and connected with others? Or are you engaged as in busy, behind locked doors, not available?

Being available?  Is that not touchy-feely stuff?

The hard facts are that Gallup has just analysed 25 million responses to their employee engagement survey and found:

“Of the 100 million people in America who hold full-time jobs,  30% are engaged and inspired at work, so we can assume they have a great boss.

At the other end of the spectrum are roughly 20 million (20%) employees who are actively disengaged. These employees, who have bosses from hell that make them miserable, roam the halls spreading discontent.

The other 50% of American workers are not engaged. They’re just kind of present, but not inspired by their work or their managers.”

See what happened there? It’s not about employee engagement it’s about leaders

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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The three things every great boss does

The three things every great boss does

by Moyra Mackie on March 22, 2014

It’s not rocket science this leadership stuff. Admittedly there’s a bit of science that comes in handy.

Like the science of how to motivate people

And it’s not what you think. Whilst money matters, we’ve got seventy so years of research showing that bonuses contribute to the quality of work going down and risk taking going up. Sound at all familiar?

So away from the science, what can you do that is guaranteed to improve your effectiveness as a leader of people?

And I do mean people. Not resources, or human capital.

In order for people to be resourceful they need these three things from their boss:

Great bosses make these three things a habit

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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The CIPD identifies three dimensions to employee engagement:

  • Intellectual engagement – thinking hard about the job and how to do it better
  • Affective engagement – feeling positively about doing a good job
  • Social engagement – actively taking opportunities to discuss work-related improvements with others at work

Put simply, engaged employees are those who can bring their whole selves to work – who are both effective and fulfilled.  Engaged employees feel connected to the purpose and goals of the organisation, to the task they have to perform and to the people they work with.

Effective leadership is essential to creating employee engagement

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Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie

Moyra Mackie helps leaders and teams to work with courage, compassion and creativity. She is an executive coach and consultant and the founder of Mackie Consulting.

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