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Who Needs a Coach?

You? An employee? Your team? (Reprinted from Semiconductor Magazine March 2001) A manager supervised eight engineers, each from a different country. In his native country, this manager learned a top-down, authoritarian leadership style. Several of the engineers complained about his dictatorial style. His boss asked me to coach him to become a more collaborative team leader. After his initial resistance, he listened to the feedback, modified his approach, built a successful team and eventually got a promotion. To quote him: “Your feedback helped me take a hard look at myself. I’ll need a tune-up like this on a regular basis. It’s too easy to slip back into old ways.” A director at Lucent Technologies said: “Dr. Manning’s coaching has helped me in virtually every phase of my job. From more effective presentations to a better understanding of people’s working styles, I am a far more successful manager today than ever before. Coaching is also helping me and my management team achieves our goals and creates a work environment that retains and...

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How to Attract and Retain Top Talent

Building an Attractive Company Culture (Reprinted from Technology Digest, June, 1998) How do you attract, and then keep, your most talented people committed, loyal and motivated? The question has frustrated and even bewildered a growing number of companies in the past year or two. The work force and pool of resources of highly skilled, highly trained talent is shrinking. This is not a new problem, but it seems to be ever more critical. The question of attracting the brightest and best is a key issue for successful companies. Today with large signing bonuses and very attractive salaries and benefits, the more perplexing question is how to best build the loyalty of our talented people. The more talent we retain, the more talent we’ll attract. Your company may have recently been through a rash of significant changes, like the introduction of entire new product lines, mergers, or acquisitions. Your company culture may be rapidly changing which compounds the problem of building loyalty and retention. Loyalty generally builds over time. And, we...

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Retaining Talent in a Competitive Market

by Dr. Marilyn Manning How do you keep your most talented sales people and sales managers committed, loyal and motivated? The question has frustrated and even bewildered a growing number of companies and organizations in the past year or two. Our work force and pool of resources of highly skilled, highly trained talent is shrinking. This is not a new problem. How can we best build the loyalty of these people to keep them motivated and committed to our company? If your company is like many, it may have recently been through a rash of significant changes like the introduction of entire new product lines or mergers and acquisitions. The culture may be rapidly changing which compounds the problem of building loyalty and retention. Loyalty builds over time. When people feel they are contributing to an exciting product or worthwhile service, their level of commitment increases. Loyalty also increases when people feel respected and acknowledged for what they do. People want to feel valued and that they are making...

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Be a Better Meeting Manager

Learning to Deal with Difficult People Reprinted by permission from The Professional Speaker Magazine Have you ever felt the pulse pounding, face-flushing, word-sputtering frustration of having your meeting disrupted by: a hardcore bully an ego-centered princess a passive-aggressive a baby a negative Ned or Nancy a people pleaser or a non-player No matter how challenging, belligerent, or negative the difficult person’s behavior, don’t take it personally. By identifying the seven difficult personalities and responding to each with openness and sound techniques, you can improve their dynamics and therefore run better meetings. Meetings are great opportunities to share information with your team, to build skills, to motivate, and to give your team a chance to sound off. But even the best planned meetings can be a total loss if difficult people are not handled in effective ways. Try these techniques the next time you encounter one of these difficult people. Hardcore Hardcores are hostile, abusive and intimidating. They always have to be right and will charge like angry bulls if...

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Assess Your Own Strengths as a Decision Maker

  by Dr. Marilyn Manning To be an effective problem solver, you need the self-confidence to make decisions, and to feel comfortable with the risks involved in all decision-making. Doubt about your own abilities can interfere with your efforts to solve problems and to act as a leader who can guide a group of people toward sound decisions. It’s all too easy to remember the mistakes we’ve made—such as the misjudgments that seem so obvious in hindsight—and to let them overshadow our successes. Nothing boosts self-confidence like an awareness of our personal and professional strengths and abilities. Focus on a recent success to help you to accurately evaluate your problem-solving skills. Select a recent problem you have solved or a recent decision you have made on the job. Be sure your choice is one you are proud to recall! Write a brief, factual description of the event at the top of a fresh sheet of paper, i.e. I devised a new system for handling mail distribution in the office....

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How Effective is Your Leadership Style?

Motivating Employees According to Their Needs by Dr. Marilyn Manning Would your staff say that you are easy to work with? Would they call you picky, overly analytical? Do they accuse you of dropping the ball on occasion? Or, might they label you “bossy”? By the time we have been promoted several times as a manager, our leadership style has probably become rather consistent and fixed. After all, our style has worked so far and if people didn’t like it, wouldn’t they have said something? Most of us assume if we keep getting promoted, we must be doing something right. Not necessarily so. As a management consultant specializing in executive and team coaching, I am constantly amazed at how little useful feedback leaders receive about their styles. Most of us have attended workshops and communications training where we checked some little boxes to “discover” our management style. If we were candid, the information may have been accurate. But, did we really take the results to heart? Did we ask...

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Authority, Accessibility, and Assertiveness

  Cultivate Them as Your Base of Personal Power by Dr. Marilyn Manning Personal power means that you believe in yourself, that you can go after what you want and get it, that you have the right and the ability to reach your goals in your own way. There are three key skills you can cultivate in order to develop personal power: authority, accessibility, and assertiveness. Authority Authority comes from inner confidence. It begins with an attitude of “I can do it; I deserve success.” This attitude radiates outwardly as you assert your rights, as you ask for what you need and want, and as you develop a willingness to give to others and yourself. Most of us tend to discount our successes and when things go wrong, we tend to remember all our previous failures. Counteract this tendency by building an authority structure. Take a piece of paper and list everything you have done that gives you a feeling of pride. Then, make a separate list of all...

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Peak Performance Principles

(Reprinted from June, 1996, Professional Speaker Magazine) To attain peak performance in speaking and when giving any presentation, there are strategic principles that will increase your effectiveness. Failure to perform at our peak is generally due to our own negative attitudes, procrastination, ignorance about success principles, failure to write down goals, and our fear of change. The following peak performance principles should help you develop your own map for success. Clearing Nature abhors a vacuum. When you clear out the clutter in your life, something else will fill up the space. Make a list of anything you would be willing to toss out: old ideas, dated materials, old magazines, duplicates, old notebooks and notes you hoped to read someday. Throw out whatever you are no longer using or is no longer current and fresh. It takes some faith and trust to do it. When business slows down, I clean out my files. Inevitably I receive phone calls with offers of new business. It works, but it takes a risk to...

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The Seven Laws of Success

by Dr. Marilyn Manning There are four main reasons why people fail to succeed: negative attitudes, procrastination, ignorance about success principles, failure to write down goals and fear of change. By applying the Seven Laws below you can develop your own success structure. Clearing Nature abhors a vacuum. When you clear out the clutter in your life, something else will fill up the space. Make a list of anything you would be willing to toss out: old ideas, dated materials, old magazines, duplicates, old notebooks and notes you hoped to read someday. Throw out whatever you are no longer using or is no longer current and fresh. It takes some faith and trust to do it. When business slows down, I clean out my files. Inevitably I receive phone calls with offers of new business. It works, but you must take the risk of cleaning out the old. Giving When we give, we bring the flow of receiving. The expression, “What goes around, comes around,” applies to our business...

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Motivating Others Through Change and Challenging Times

  by Dr. Marilyn Manning High-performing managers embrace change rather than resist it. The best leaders are those who inspire whole teams to succeed in uncertain times. Here are tips to help you motivate others through our current highly-challenging times. Change is inevitable. Whether you’re at the top or the bottom of an organization, one thing you can count on in the future is that there will be change. Another thing you can count on is that these changes, whatever they turn out to be, will cause stress to you and your employees, since stress is a normal human response to change. The past year has seen unprecedented changes in the economy with a huge decline, massive layoffs and mergers, and general unease about the future of whole segments of the marketplace. The events cause most people to have heightened feelings of stress. The wake-up call from the past year showed that managers who are able to accept change today and plan for change in the future get rewarded...

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Meetings, Bloody Meetings!

(Reprinted from March 1998 issue of Channel Magazine) How do you keep your most talented employees, staff, board members, or association members focused and motivated in meetings, let alone motivating them to attend? The question has frustrated most of us. Meetings consume ever greater amounts of time, money and energy. Think of the last meeting you attended. Was it the best use of everyone’s time? Did you walk out with a sense of exhilaration and a clear set of actions and decisions? Or, did you wonder why you even bothered to attend? People need to feel valued and that they are making a difference not only in their work, but in the way they spend their time. Do you know what each of your people want and find most important? Do your meetings reflect the needs of the people involved? A recent study found that people want to be part of a worthwhile enterprise, be influential in decision-making, and create and contribute to mutually agreed upon objectives. Meetings can be...

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Embrace Diversity to Build Effective Teams

(Reprinted from Semiconductor Magazine, May, 2000) Turning a group into a team is one of the biggest challenges leaders face. We find ourselves leading groups of very diverse individuals in complex projects and tasks. We don’t always get to hand pick our teams, but rather we often inherit teams and all of their past baggage. Whatever the state of the group, we all need team skills. A recent report, “Office of the future: 2005”, states that the following skills are essential for future career success: strong people skills, the ability to communicate effectively and the leadership to build teams. A group becomes a team when you treat them like a high level, high profile project. You need to define your desired outcomes, set measurable goals, design your game plan with benchmarks and deadlines, and keep everyone focused. The basic definition of a team is: “a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually...

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Peak Performance Principles in Speaking

(Reprinted from June, 1996, Professional Speaker Magazine) To attain peak performance in speaking and when giving any presentation, there are strategic principles that will increase your effectiveness. Failure to perform at our peak is generally due to our own negative attitudes, procrastination, ignorance about success principles, failure to write down goals, and our fear of change. The following peak performance principles should help you develop your own map for success. Clearing Nature abhors a vacuum. When you clear out the clutter in your life, something else will fill up the space. Make a list of anything you would be willing to toss out: old ideas, dated materials, old magazines, duplicates, old notebooks and notes you hoped to read someday. Throw out whatever you are no longer using or is no longer current and fresh. It takes some faith and trust to do it. When business slows down, I clean out my files. Inevitably I receive phone calls with offers of new business. It works, but it takes a risk to...

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Closing the Communication Gap

Managing Conflicts in High Tech Environments Reprinted from Channel Magazine, Sept. 1998 Communicating effectively and resolving conflicts in a high tech environment can be time-consuming and often stressful. That’s why many high-tech managers, supervisors and project leaders prefer to ignore conflicts and focus on concrete results. Most conflicts are not faced until they become a crisis. The major obstacles to resolution are the lack of communication skills and the time to adequately engage in the necessary processes that lead to closure. Having worked as a conflict mediator and facilitator for fifteen years, I have discovered some useful strategies. This article should help you feel more confident to tackle some of the tough behaviors as they arise. Thus, keeping you out of crisis management mode. It’s important to note that every conflict has two elements: content and process. Both content and process issues need to be skillfully addressed. And technically oriented people are usually far more skilled in the content issues, not process. By content, I mean strategy and tactics that...

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Dealing with Stress in the Face of Change

by Dr. Marilyn Manning The best leaders follow tried-and-true methods to help relieve anxiety. Change is inevitable. Whether you’re at the top or the bottom of an organization, one thing you can count on in the future is that there will be change. Another thing you can count on is that these changes—whatever they turn out to be—will cause stress to you and your employees, since stress is a normal human response to change. The past year has seen unprecedented changes in the semiconductor equipment industry—we went from a year of more than 80 percent growth and unbridled optimism to a year of 40 percent decline, massive layoffs and mergers, and general unease about the future of whole segments of the industry. The events of September 11 induced their own anxiety, leaving many people with heightened feelings of stress. However, all these changes showed that the established and accepted methods for mitigating stress are still effective. The wake-up call from the past year showed that managers who are able...

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Coaching for Change

(Reprinted from Semiconductor Magazine, June 2000) Just when things seem to be working well, you have to do more with less, faster, cheaper, and better. YOU may have to change. A manager is given a high profile project with eight diverse engineers, each from a different country. His culture taught him to rule from the top down. His opinions are rarely questioned. Several of his engineers have complained to his boss that they want to work collaboratively, not in a hierarchy. My assignment was to help him change his dominating style into a collaborative team leader. After applying the blueprint which follows, several sessions with the leader, and several with the team, he got a promotion for demonstrating that he could modify his style and get positive results. He calls me for a tune-up every six months or so, when he feels he’s slipping back into his old patterns. When styles clash, it’s tough. Coaching is often used to mitigate a crisis and relieve tension. But it is also useful...

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How to Build Customer Service from the Inside Out

by Dr. Marilyn Manning “Always do right. This will surprise some and astonish the rest.” Mark Twain Davidow and Uttal (1990) say, in their book Total Customer Service, The Ultimate Weapon, that “Thousands of businesses will be shaken and even shattered by their inability to render effective customer service,” Quality service is defined as, “building customer loyalty and goodwill by exceeding expectations and needs”. From my observation, organizations that consistently deliver outstanding service practice the same level of service with employees. Inside customer service is a critical foundation often neglected. And, building employee loyalty can pay big dividends. A recent MCI-Gallup poll of CEOs said that the most important sources for a competitive advantage are quality, service, and responsiveness. Why not begin on the inside to insure employee and customer loyalty? It is surprising how easy it is to take other employees for granted. Do you and your staff always apply common courtesies to each other? Does your team or organization have clear behavioral expectations or an effective “code of...

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Leading Questions – Know Your Personality as a Manager to Get to the Top

(Reprinted from 9-29-99 issue of Chicago Tribune) Does your leadership style wear like a bad suit? As a 19-year-old entry level cook at Chicago’s Ritz-Carlton, Sarah Stegner remembers concentrating on nothing but good, six nights a week. As she began to prove her skills, she moved from cleaning fish to being an assistant chef in charge of cold foods. Then came a promotion to sous chef, and finally to her current position as a dining room chef, a job she’s held for nine years. With each promotion, her success began to depend not only on her cooking finesse, but also on her management skills. Stegner, now 35, learned those skills on the fly. “I found it to be extremely difficult,” she said of the transition to managing people. Today Sterner manages a team of seven people reporting directly to her and has snagged some of the most coveted awards her industry hands out. She won a national title in 1994; the Rising Star Chef of the Year in America, by...

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Use Vision to Motivate Others in a Strategic Direction: A Key Tool in a Tough Economy

  by Dr. Marilyn Manning In a tough economy it is more important than ever to study market trends, take inventory, re-examine your values, and create and communicate a vision that positions you and your organization as innovative leaders. Why is this important? With bankruptcies and failures and government bailouts, people want to do business with successful organizations, which will be there when the economy rebounds. Organizational vision is the future the organization seeks to create, based upon their unique strengths and values, in the current market environment. Research from major consulting firms including Gallup, Hewitt and Mercer suggest that when employees are connected to something bigger than their jobs, they are more satisfied in their jobs, and motivated to give their best to their jobs. It turns out an organization’s vision is one of the major ways that connect employees to the bigger picture. How does an employee on a manufacturing line feel good about their job? They know that Quality is Job 1. They know their company...

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Building a Better Team

  by Dr. Marilyn Manning Working with difficult people, says the author, requires compassion and understanding. Citing seven difficult personality types, she suggests ways in which confrontations can be converted to win-win situations. Get with the program Ideally, your company should put in teams only those employees who are receptive to the idea, management experts say. But if your bosses have gone ga-ga for teams and you’re cool to the concept, make the best of it for the sake of your career or find a company with a workplace hierarchy that suits you better. Sharon Morris, a management consultant in Fremont, tells of an employee at one high-tech company who strongly opposed being part of a team. He didn’t want his colleagues to take credit for his individual efforts. His reluctance to work in the team environment ultimately led to his termination. Communicate effectively You must voice your opinions if you disagree with the team’s decisions. Team members who fail to speak up are essentially sanctioning the practice through...

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Seven Difficult Personality Types and How to Deal With Them

  by Dr. Marilyn Manning Have you ever felt the pulse pounding, face-flushing, word-sputtering frustration of having your meeting disrupted by: a hardcore bully an ego-centered princess a passive-aggressive a baby negative Ned or Nancy a people pleaser, or a non-player. No matter how challenging, belligerent, or negative the difficult person’s behavior, don’t take it personally. By identifying the seven difficult personalities and responding to each with openness and sound techniques, you can improve their dynamics and therefore run better meetings. Meetings are great opportunities to share information with your team, to build skills, to motivate, and to give your team a chance to sound off. But even the best planned meetings can be a total loss if difficult people are not handled in effective ways. Try these techniques the next time you encounter one of these difficult people. Hardcore Hardcore personalities are hostile, abusive and intimidating. They always have to be right and will charge like angry bulls if you challenge or cross them. Take a deep breath....

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Creating a Vision

  by Dr. Marilyn Manning “Unusual wisdom is foreseeing what is going to happen.” Webster To sell your product or service, you need vision. A vision is a picture of the future we seek to create, described in the present tense, as if it were happening now. It shows where we want to go, and what we will he like when we get there. The word comes from the Latin videre, “to see.” When you work on your vision, consider your strategic focus, your market place competitive advantage or what makes you unique and marketable, how you add value to others, what are your current competencies, and what are your deeply felt values. Is this article, I give you simple steps to access where you are and to articulate your vision to position your future direction. All successful leaders have a vision for their businesses, projects or teams. In fact, you wouldn’t be a leader if you didn’t have vision, if you couldn’t see exciting possibilities not only in...

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Are Visions Useful?

by Dr. Marilyn Manning To sell your product or service, you need vision. To attract investors, you need vision. To market yourself, you need vision. Is this article, I give you simple steps to articulate your vision. All successful leaders have a vision for their businesses, projects or teams. In fact, you wouldn’t be a leader if you didn’t have vision, if you couldn’t see exciting possibilities not only in your product or services, but also in your people. And, yet, many leaders when asked to create a vision statement for their team tend to minimize the importance of this process. They often give it lip service, so they can get back to the “real work.” An in-depth, thoughtful vision process can be a major motivator. An authentic vision comes from your soul, your team’s soul, and touches the heart. A team that is emotionally moved by their vision has the strength to overcome the rough spots and the ups and downs any business faces. When the team has...

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