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The Know Your Team Blog

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

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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… 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 work… 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 ...

Progress starts with ingredients

A lesson in creation, leadership, and life. A good friend of mine told me how he went to a poetry workshop recently. My friend is not a poet. He’d actually never written a poem in his life. He was a nervous about attending the workshop. Here’s what the instructor asked him to do. She asked my… Read the full article ...

How to start giving difficult feedback (when you haven’t been doing it regularly)

Delivering negative feedback is hard — especially when you’re seen as a “the positive person” on your team. Here’s how to start doing it more regularly. “I need to right the ship.” A member of The Watercooler, our online leadership community in Know Your Team, admitted this a few months ago. He shared how he’d long delayed… Read the full article ...

Is it your first time firing someone? Here are 4 things to know.

Ugh. Firing someone never gets easier — but keeping these tips in mind can make it go as smoothly as possible the first time around. I’ll never forget the first time I fired someone. She was the first employee I’d ever hired at Know Your Team. And she was someone I’d looked up to since I was 19.… Read the full article ...

How do you measure company culture? You can’t. But you can do this instead.

Culture isn’t meant to be measured. Here’s why, and what you should measure instead. “How do you measure company culture?” Someone asked me this recently. My answer: You can’t. And you don’t want to. Why? Because culture, technically defined, is the artifacts, espoused values and beliefs, and basic underlying assumptions that people have. And that can’t… Read the full article ...

Announcing: A Guide to One-on-One Meetings for Managers and Employees

Based on data from 2,000+ people, I wrote a guide to one-on-one meetings for managers and employees — and it’s finally live! 🙂 Dear manager or employee who cares about their team’s success, You hold one-on-one meetings. But are they working? Over the past four years, I noticed how almost every person I talked to did not know the… Read the full article ...

The 3 phrases you’re saying that trigger employee disengagement

Stop saying these words — you’re wearing your employees thin. You’re doing it again. You don’t mean to, but it’s happening: Your words are damaging your team. Small, off-hand remarks color how an employee thinks you value their work. Comments seemingly innocuous to you are in fact infuriating to your team. You may have started to notice… Read the full article ...

Announcing: Skillshare Class on How to Give and Get Honest Feedback at Work

In 30 minutes, wherever you are in the world, you can now get the basics of getting and giving honest feedback. I’ve always dreamt of creating an online class. Yes, our writing has been helpful for folks who want to quickly digest a useful tip or two. And our half-day, in-person workshops have been excellent… Read the full article ...

How to handle a needy employee

You have a needy employee. What do you do now? This (very cute) photo credit goes to Wikipedia Commons. “I think I’m going to have to let someone go.” I was at lunch the other day with an executive who admitted this to me. I asked her why. “She’s in my office every five minutes, asking… Read the full article ...

What’s the best way to run an effective all-hands meeting?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution — but there are best practices. Here are 5 recommendations from leaders all over the world on how to hold a well-run company-wide meeting. “Does my team think this is a waste of time?” The thought slips into your mind as your prepare for your all-hands meeting. Whether it’s the first all-hands you’ve… Read the full article ...

Stickers vs. Words: 8 ways to give employee recognition sincerely

I’m tired of gimmicky ways to praise your team. Here’s how to commend your team for a job well done, meaningfully. My third grade teacher Ms. Mullens had a bulletin board of star stickers in her classroom. On the board, she’d place a star sticker next to your name if you’d cleaned out your cubby,… Read the full article ...

How can you tell if you have a disengaged employee? Ask these 11 questions.

Employee motivation isn’t as mystifying as it should be. Ask these questions to get to the bottom of it. “What really motivates employees?” A CEO asked me this recently, quite skeptical of the deluge of books and articles on what influences employee engagement and performance. It’s managers! It’s career opportunities! It’s learning and development! It’s employee… Read the full article ...

How do you discuss sensitive, confidential leadership issues… with people you’ve never met?

What we learned creating an anonymous online forum, “The Chatham House,” for leaders in The Watercooler Where do you go to talk about the really hard stuff? Sensitive, confidential leadership issues that you don’t really want to be getting out to the rest of your company, let alone the rest of the public? A few… Read the full article ...

From the Heart(beat): Leadership tips for new managers

I share a few of my favorite latest leadership tips from CEOs, founders, and executives featured in our Heartbeat interviews. “What do you wish you’d learned earlier as a leader?” Every two weeks, I ask this question to a CEO, founder, or executive I admire in our interview series, The Heartbeat. The answers are sometimes… Read the full article ...

How to have a good relationship with your boss when you’re working remotely

Four best practices to help you work well with your boss when you don’t see them face-to-face all the time. “What does her Slack message *really* mean?” It’s easy to second-guess yourself when your boss pings you. You want to have a good relationship with your boss — but it’s not always the most natural of things. And… Read the full article ...

Quiz: Do you have these leadership blindspots?

A short 3-question quiz to give your team so you can avoid common leadership mistakes. Feel that? It’s your faint intuition that, as a leader, you’re not hearing the full truth. No one seems to tell you the complete story when someone decides to leaves. No one breathes a word about any leadership mistakes you… Read the full article ...