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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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Avoid this leadership mistake: Your team listens to your word too closely

When the boss speaks, people listen too much. Here are two phrases to counteract this common leadership pitfall. Watch the ears perk up. The boss says something, and folks become extra attentive. It’s not a leadership mistake they’re making on purpose – it’s the unintentional by product of being the boss. All of sudden, someone… Read the full article ...

What to do (and not do) during your first 2 weeks as a new manager

You’ve just been promoted Now what? Here’s what 1,000+ leaders across the world had to say about what a new manager should do during her first 2 weeks on the job. A friend of mine was recently promoted to being a manager for the first time. It’s a slightly terrifying thing, for those of you who… Read the full article ...

Small, but effective: 6 commonly overlooked actions to increase employee engagement

From icebreakers to arguments, here are some of most frequently missed things we forget to do as leaders to encourage our team to be more engaged. Meaningful work, open communication, a sense of direction In our heads, we seem to know a lot of what helps maintain employee engagement. However, in practice, keeping our team engaged… Read the full article ...

7 tips to help build a culture of feedback

Beer taps and foosball tables aren’t signs of a strong company culture — honest communication and rigorous + respectful debate are. Here’s how to build a culture of the latter. Culture, at its core, is not what we outwardly say or show. Culture is rooted in our basic underlying assumptions — what we truly believe, even when we choose not… Read the full article ...

How do you train new managers?

Being a first-time manager is daunting — so I asked our Watercooler members how they support their own newly promoted managers. When you hire or promote a new manager, you hope they’ll be great. After all, they were a wonderful, all-round employee. But being a wonderful, all-round employee unfortunately doesn’t guarantee that someone will be a great… Read the full article ...

6 ways to get the employee feedback you need to hear

Are you struggling with how to unlock honest feedback from employees? Here are six ways to get the employee feedback you need to hear. Feedback is critical to getting great work done. When you get honest feedback, it helps you make better decisions, it helps employees do their best work, and it helps you be a… Read the full article ...

Three months of being an ambassador for The Watercooler — what I learned?

Captured by Ilinca Roman, my mate Tribes of all kinds can speed up your evolution. If you belong to the right group of people who share similar values and interests, you have great chances to be shaped in a positive way. I’m a community builder myself, so there’s no wonder why I firmly rely on in… Read the full article ...

Delegate outcomes, not activities.

When it comes to delegating, invite your team into both the thinking and the doing. Do you consider yourself “a doer”? That person who enjoys doing the work, fine-tuning the details, meddling in the weeds of how it’ll all work? Then you probably have trouble delegating as a leader. I know I do. For so many… Read the full article ...

One-on-ones 101: With whom and how often?

As a busy leader, you may be wondering how to fit 1-on-1s into an already packed schedule. Here are some best practices selected from The Watercooler, our online community for leaders. A frequent question I receive when it comes to having one-on-ones with employees is: With whom and how often? Everyone? Direct reports? A cross-section of… Read the full article ...

New in KYC: Follow-ups ↩️

When it comes to getting honest feedback, I’ve always believed that asking questions are only half the battle. You can’t just ask for feedback — you’ve got to follow-up and act on that feedback. That’s why people are giving you the feedback in the first place: They want you to do something with it. Now, that doesn’t… Read the full article ...

Announcing: “The Feedback Loop” Workshop

Our half-day, hands-on workshop on how to create a culture of feedback — given to managers and executives from Arkansas to New Zealand — comes back to Chicago on May 17. Join us on May 17th at Basecamp HQ in Chicago — you’ll learn practical techniques for how to give, receive, ask for, and act on feedback well, alongside managers, executives, and… Read the full article ...

From The Heart(beat): Some of my favorite advice from 4 leaders

I share a few of my favorite latest leadership tips from CEOs, founders, and executives featured in our Heartbeat interviews. Every few weeks, I have the opportunity to sit down with CEOs, founders, and leaders who inspire me. I’m continually surprised by the lessons they share — as well as the humility and introspection required to share… Read the full article ...

Breaking the (remote) ice: 5 tips for icebreakers in distributed teams

Our most popular recommendations for team-bonding, regardless of the distance separating your remote employees. Believe me when I tell you that I adore running a remote company. It’s enabled me to hire and work with folks I could’ve never have hired locally. It’s helped me work with fewer distractions and greater focus. It’s given me… Read the full article ...

Hate delivering negative feedback at work? 19 phrases to help make giving difficult feedback easier

If you’ve always struggled to give negative feedback to your team, this is for you. Negative feedback is often the elephant in the room. “I love giving negative feedback at work,” said no one ever. Unless you enjoy causing people to be angry, upset or hurt — chances are you don’t like giving difficult feedback. We squirm,… Read the full article ...

How do you share knowledge in the workplace? 1,000+ managers weigh in with their leadership advice

From our online leadership community in Know Your Team, The Watercooler, we gathered the best tips for sharing knowledge effectively across your team. A few months back, one of our members of The Watercooler in Know Your Team  — our online community for more than 1,000 CEOs, executives, and managers— posed a question to the group. He… Read the full article ...

4 things you’re doing that unintentionally hurt your healthy corporate culture

Here are some of the most counterintuitive leadership mistakes I’ve fallen victim to. Making a mistake as a leader is never fun. You unintentionally embarrass a co-worker in front of the team. Or you brush off what you thought was a minor issue only to watch it balloon into something huge weeks later. I’ve been there.… Read the full article ...

The most surprising principle of good leadership? Don’t be busy.

If you’re busy as a leader, you’re doing it wrong. The best leaders seem to be the busiest. If you’re busy, you’re getting a bunch of stuff done: You’re tending to your team, you’re making stuff happen. Being busy as a leader is a good characteristicRight? Well, quite the opposite. Being busy as a leader is… Read the full article ...

Our 10 most popular leadership tips

Compiled from 4 + years’ worth of data, advice, and insights Over the past four years, I’ve written a fair share about how to be a good leader: I’ve offered leadership tips in our blog, pulling personal examples of what I’ve faced and learned. I’ve compiled leadership advice from, The Watercooler, where over 1,000 leaders have… Read the full article ...

Ask these 19 questions on your next employee survey

Specific questions that’ll help you get the actionable feedback you’re looking for. Most of us run some sort of employee survey in our company But how often is it that we learn something surprising from them? Or how about something actionable? Our research has shown you will get more honest, actionable feedback when you ask specific… Read the full article ...

How to influence company culture from the bottom-up (not just top-down)

A better company culture can start with you – not just the CEO. “Culture starts from the top,” it’s often said. But is that really true? Surely, it is easier to influence company culture when you’re at the top. As a CEO, founder, or business owner, people are already looking to you for example and guidance around… Read the full article ...

The Power of the Pen: 6 excellent books on leadership development

From over 1,000+ leaders all over the world in The Watercooler in Know Your Team, here are the six most-recommended books if you’re looking to become a good leader. We all have that one book — the one that shaped who we are as leaders. For some of us, it may have been more than one book. For… Read the full article ...

The 3 Ways Leaders Can Influence Company Culture

How do you help create the positive workplace culture you’re looking for? Start here. “How do you actually influence company culture?” This is the big, hairy question I often get asked by CEOs, managers, and employees alike. I recently posed it at the end of the piece, The 3 Key Elements of Company Culture — And Why They… Read the full article ...

The Bad News Advantage: The importance of giving difficult feedback

Why sharing bad news makes you a more effective leader. Sharing bad news is a good thing. As a leader, you might not think it, at first. But it’s true. Leaders who are honest about the bad — just as much as the good — are better leaders. But it’s not just me saying this. Research proves this. In… Read the full article ...

How to respond to the negative feedback that’s most-frustrating to hear

Here are some sample responses to the 3 types of negative feedback that are most infuriating to hear. The feedback we receive can sometimes feel like bullshit. I recently spoke with a CEO who told me she received feedback from an employee who proclaimed, “This company doesn’t care about parents.” The employee then proceeded to gripe… Read the full article ...

The importance of feedback in the workplace

Keep these 3 things in mind when you  — or someone you know  — starts to doubt how much feedback at work really matters. You know this person. That one person who’s skeptical of feedback in the workplace. To them, asking for feedback feels like a distraction. Or giving feedback seems unnecessarily negative and burdensome to consider. They’re… Read the full article ...

The 5 ways to improve your self-awareness as a leader

The most overlooked element of a successful leader is self-awareness. Here’s why and what you can do about it.   A few months ago, I asked Ben Congleton, CEO of Olark, what he wished he’d learned earlier as a leader. No, he didn’t mention learning a new business development hack, nor did he talk about the… Read the full article ...

Improve your leadership through actions – not words

If you’re looking to improve your management style, consider how action-oriented your leadership style is. The quickest way to improve your leadership skills is to live this phrase:  “It’s not what you say that matters — it’s what you do.” I observed the truth of this old adage, firsthand, about six years ago. At the time, I wasn’t CEO… Read the full article ...

The 2 most common excuses that keep you from getting honest feedback

Take a closer look: You may be unintentionally cutting yourself off from the honest feedback you want to hear. I was on the phone with a CEO the other week. He wanted my advice on how he could cultivate a more open, transparent company culture for his team. This CEO seemed to be already doing a… Read the full article ...

Six tips to rock your one-on-ones

Quick, handy best practices to have effective, productive 1-on-1 meetings with your team One-on-ones with employees are one of the most underrated tools for managers. If done properly, these meetings can be an incredibly effective way for managers to receive feedback, gauge employee satisfaction and productivity and even offer some insight into how team members… Read the full article ...

The 3 Key Elements of Company Culture — And Why They Really Matter

Let’s look past the buzzword and define the key elements of organizational culture.   “Culture” has become the ultimate buzzword these days. Everyone wants to “improve their company culture.” I see the word frequently littered across the headlines of countless articles, book titles, and conference talk topics. Leaders also seem to talk about it all… Read the full article ...