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Thoughts on how to become a better leader, and avoid being a bad boss.

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The most counterintuitive leadership tip? Leaders, stop doing what you’re good at.

Playing to your strengths as a leader doesn’t make you a good boss – in fact, it can make you a bad boss. Here’s why. Of all the leadership tips to be a good manager, “leaning into your strengths” has got to be one of the most frequently cited. “Do what you’re good at. Focus… Read the full article ...

You have a micromanaging boss. What can you do?

There are 5 reasons your boss is micromanaging you. Here’s how to manage up, and around them. I’ve heard the phrase, “I have a micromanaging boss,” more times than I can remember. I heard it again, just last week. This person asked me, “What do I do? Is there anything I can say to a micromanager?… Read the full article ...

Managing disagreements: How to handle diverging points-of-view with your boss

Six leadership tips on what to do when you disagree with your boss (or another senior leader at the company) It’s inevitable: You’re going to disagree with your boss. No two people on the planet agree with each other on everything, 100% of the time. “That’s a terrible idea,” you think to yourself, after listening to… Read the full article ...

Feeling “off”? How to be a good manager when you just don’t feel like being one

If you’re struggling to stay engaged as a leader lately, here are some leadership tips to pull you out of the slump. Some days, being a good manager is more difficult than others. You can’t focus. The day drags. You feel “off.” The company isn’t doing as well as it used to. Or you received a… Read the full article ...

Watercooler Hangout #1 Transcript 💧🗒

A chance to connect with Watercooler members more closely, and learn from each others’ experiences. During this hangout on November 8th, we hosted: Andrew Montelenti, CTO at Parse.ly Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Company Jonathan McCormick, Director at Rosseau, Ltd. Morgan Legge, Operations at Convert.com Prabodh Kumar, Head of Engineering at Recruiterbox.com Robert Williams,… Read the full article ...

The surest sign of a bad boss? You don’t listen.

You’re likely making these 4 leadership mistakes as a leader. Here’s what to do instead to become a better listener. You’re not listening, as leader. You think you might be — but it’s highly likely that you’re not. Think back to your last one-on-one meeting. Be honest: What percent of the time did you accidentally zone out… Read the full article ...

To be a good manager: 8 ways to avoid your opinion swaying your team too much

A good manager knows their opinion can influence their team sometimes TOO much. Here’s how to compensate for that. When you’re a manager, something interesting happens: You mention an idea off-hand, and all of sudden, it becomes a priority. You casually ask a question out of curiosity, and all of sudden, everyone scrambles ASAP to get… Read the full article ...

From The Heart(beat): Leadership lessons I wished I’d learned earlier

Here are a few of my favorite leadership tips from CEOs, founders and executives featured recently in our Heartbeat interviews. Every two weeks, I ask one question on a leadership lesson to a founder, CEO, or business owner I respect and share it on The Heartbeat ❤️, our bi-weekly newsletter on how to become a… Read the full article ...

11 must-read books for new managers

New to the whole “manager” thing? Get your feet wet by checking out these 11 most recommended leadership books. Congratulations on your role as a new manager! You’re likely feeling 80% excited and 20% terrified. That’s completely normal 🙂 Becoming a first-time manager is intimidating. You’re about to start flexing skills you might never have had… Read the full article ...

4 non-cringeworthy team-bonding events that people actually enjoy

Here’s what 1,000 managers in The Watercooler said their employees enjoyed most as a team-building activity. Team bonding — known to some as “forced fun” — can bring feelings of dread and resentment to many employees. And who can blame them? When thinking of team bonding, many people picture awkward trust falls or hours spent with a facilitator asking… Read the full article ...

How to prepare for a one-on-one meeting as a manager

The 4 things you should do to make the most out of your next 1-on-1 meeting. You’re not prepared. Or at least that’s what employees think when it comes to one-on-one meetings. In a recent survey we conducted of 1,182 managers and 838 employees, we found 36% of employees believe their manager is only “somewhat… Read the full article ...

The leadership mistake you’re likely making? Being nice.

Why being nice as a leader backfires — and what to do instead. Leaders, stop being so nice all the time. I don’t mean to sound like an asshole. But when it comes to leadership, it’s true: Prioritizing “being nice” keeps us from being good leaders. Now I’m not advocating for us to be mean. Disrespectful or dismissive… Read the full article ...

Stop asking these 4 questions during your one-on-one meetings

If you’re wondering why your one-on-one meetings tend to feel unfruitful, these questions might be the culprit. Looking at the clock. Staring into the distance. Short, nondescript answers. A CEO recently told me how he’d frequently see this body language from an employee during their one-on-one meetings. Flat. Disinterested. Preoccupied. It felt lousy to witness, but… Read the full article ...

Managers: Want the truth? Recognize the employee who tells it.

The best managers encourage their team to tell the truth by recognizing the employees who voice it. “Employee recognition” is all the rage lately. The idea is that you should positively reinforce the behaviors you want to see in your team. Want employees to hit their sales goals? Recognize those who do. Want employees to be… Read the full article ...

14 questions to ask an underperforming employee during a one-on-one meeting

When an employee is struggling, here’s what the best managers do. Someone’s slipping. You see it. You feel it. You’re not on the same page. You desperately want to pull the person up, but you’re not sure exactly how. Do you encourage them? Switch them off the project? Change how you’re leading them? You’re now facing… Read the full article ...

12 signs you’re becoming the bad boss you always dreaded

How to know when you’re no longer being a good manager No one sets out to become a bad boss. Yet, slowly but surely, it’s easy to become the bad manager we all dread. Times are stressful. You’re trying to make things happen. You notice your team isn’t as engaged as they should be. You can… Read the full article ...

The 3 best uses of an effective leader’s time

What makes a good leader? Look at how you spend your time. Time is the one constant we are all given. No one gets more or less of it than anyone else. As leaders, it’s how we spend our time — what we choose to prioritize, and what we choose not to do at all — that reveals what’s important… Read the full article ...

The 2 things that hold employees back from giving honest feedback at work

Why we don’t get honest feedback as leaders, even when we ask for it. As a CEO or manager, it can feel utterly maddening to have leadership blindspots  and not get honest feedback at work— especially when you want to know what you improve on as a leader, in the first place. You try everything in your… Read the full article ...

How to become a bad boss: Make the little trade-offs.

Here’s why it’s so easy to become a bad manager, even when you don’t mean to be. I was running a leadership training a few months ago, when a CEO said this to me: “I think I know why it’s so easy to become a bad manager, even when we don’t mean to be: It’s because… Read the full article ...

The leadership tip we overlook: Knock out the small stuff

How the smallest action as a leader can have the biggest impact on employee morale and job satisfaction. “I had no idea it mattered so much.” A CEO said this to me about a year ago. I’d run into him at a conference. As we sat down at lunch together, he shared something that had… Read the full article ...

How to deliver negative feedback well: The 4 things that good managers do (that bad managers don’t)

A simple framework to help give tough feedback to a coworker. The most common question I get asked by a manager who doesn’t want to become a bad boss is: “How do I give negative feedback to a coworker?” Giving honest feedback is the most deceptively difficult thing for a manager to do. A survey of nearly… Read the full article ...

New managers, here’s how to run your first team meeting

How to approach your first meeting as a new manager (it doesn’t have to be as daunting as it feels!) It happened: You’re a new manager now. Perhaps, it’s the first time you’re leading a team. Or you’re taking over a new team as a manager. Either way, that first meeting as a new manager is… Read the full article ...

Our most underrated leadership tool: Specific questions.

Of all the tools for effective leadership we think we need — a good system for tracking progress, or clear metrics around hiring — specific questions are our most underrated. Ask the right question and you’ll learn that your company’s most valuable employee doesn’t feel challenged by her work and is thinking about leaving. Ask the wrong question and… Read the full article ...

Announcing: A Guide to Sharing Info in Teams for Managers and Employees 📝

  From data of 15,000+ people, and studies over the past few decades, I pulled together best practices for sharing info (e.g., decisions, institutional knowledge, progress, vision) in a team. Dear manager or individual contributor who wants their team to work well together, People can’t do good work unless they have the context to do the… Read the full article ...

Five ways to receive critical feedback well — and not get defensive.

Your reaction sets the tone in your company. Don’t blow it by blowing up when you receive negative feedback from your team. Here’s how. They’re watching you. I don’t mean to sound creepy. But it’s something to come to terms with as a leader: Your team is watching you. As a leader, your actions set the example —… Read the full article ...

Announcing: A Guide to Building Trust in Teams for Managers and Employees 💪

From data of 597 people and distilling 50 years worth of research, I wrote a practical guide for building trust in teams. Dear manager or employee who wants their team to perform well, If you Google Books “trust,” you’ll get 147,000,000 plus hits. On Amazon Books, “trust” turns up in 50,000 results. Woof. “Building trust” within your… Read the full article ...

What I’ve been reading lately: 6 books for managers I recommend

If you’re a manager and looking for something new to read, here are a handful of books I enjoyed this past summer. I don’t like leadership books. Many tend to be hyperbolic (was that tactic really “life changing”?) or repetitive (you could say the same thing in about 30% of the text). Most tellingly, I often… Read the full article ...

Hiring someone new? 29 questions to ask during a reference call

As a manager, here’s how to make the most of your 15-minute call with a candidate’s reference. I remember the first time I hired someone new. Talk about feeling like I had no clue what I was doing! I especially felt that way when it came time to do reference calls for the candidates. Having… Read the full article ...

The 3 employee benefits that have the biggest impact on team morale at work

Part of being a good leader is knowing which employee benefits to offer. According to 1,000 leaders in The Watercooler, these 3 make the biggest difference. Four in five employees want more company benefits than a pay raise. That’s according to a 2015 survey conduced by Harris Poll. Woof. It begs the question: Which employee… Read the full article ...

6 tips to be a better manager in the most common situations you’ll face

Whether you’re a new manager or hate delivering negative feedback, I share our most popular tips for the situations that managers most frequently encounter. “If there’s one thing you should be doing to become a better manager, what is it?” I got asked this question recently. My answer: It depends on on the situation 🙂 It… Read the full article ...