Posted: March 3rd, 2015

Cultural faux pas can be serious business

One of the most important things you can teach workers who travel internationally is the importance of understanding the cultural norms of another country.  I don’t just mean customs like whether to bow or shake hands, or how to dress in the workplace, although those things are very important too.   But I also mean the less tangible elements of culture…

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Posted: February 21st, 2015

Single white female has found a tribe

Back in 2011 I wrote a posted titled Single white female seeking a tribe, and it was about how I’ve been part of work teams that had a shared passion for what we were doing but I lost that when I became a consultant, working from home and traveling to different organizations on my own.  I lamented that while it…

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Posted: February 11th, 2015

Team intelligence and emotional intelligence

I’ve been blogging about MIT’s fascinating research on team effectiveness for years, including about: a study by the Human Dynamics Laboratory on team communication patterns correlated with performance metrics; the implications for virtual team building; and the implications for policies prohibiting telecommuting programs.  Now MIT has some new studies that link not only communication patterns but also emotional intelligence to…

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Posted: January 11th, 2015

Memory is fiction

Showtime’s new television series The Affair offers an interesting illustration of the fiction of memory.  It’s a topic that many psychologies and organizational development theorists have written about, and I’ve blogged about it previously too.  But it’s one thing to read a study about how we exaggerate, distort, bury and even invent memories about past events; it’s quite another to…

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Posted: November 23rd, 2014

The more important you are, the more boring you think you have to be

For the past year, I’ve been traveling around the country delivering a soft skills course to the field office supervisors of a federal agency.  The course includes a module on oral presentation skills, and my co-facilitator and I have but one objective during this module: to get the participants to take their stuffy, boring presentations and spice them up a…

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Posted: November 2nd, 2014

Stop romantizing the past and look to the future instead

Jason Feifer recently wrote a great article for Fast Company Magazine called Fear and Loathing of Silicon Valley.  He makes a convincing case that the current dialogue about the internet and social media making us less social, less connected or less intelligent is really just a fear of change that’s been going on since ancient Greece.  Google is not making…

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Posted: September 28th, 2014

Where does all this puffery lead us?

One of my contractors asked me to help the proposal manager put together consultant resumes and bios for a major proposal they were working on. After I finished the first one I sent it to the proposal manager to make sure I was on the right track.  She said, “I need this to be a little more salesy.  It should…

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Posted: September 13th, 2014

Don’t drive the smart, creative people away

I taught a leadership development class focused on making change recently.  It was fourth in a series, and the previous classes had focused on adapting to change but this was the first course in which the participants were asked to think of themselves as future change makers.   They inspired and depressed me at the same time.  They inspired me…

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Posted: July 20th, 2014

Sick and tired

I’m accustomed to angry or frustrated groups of training participants but sometimes they are truly a challenge.  A recent group of federal agency employees was so stressed about being reorganized and so angry at the lack of information regarding the purpose and vision for the reorg that it was hard to get them focused on the class material.  It was…

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Posted: July 7th, 2014

Voices in your head

I interviewed a federal employee recently about her experiences working on a public complaint hotline, so that I could write case studies for a training program I’m developing.  She told me stories about crazy people who call the hotline.  There was the man who said someone had given him a penile implant without his permission and he had to go…

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