Fill in the blanks

I’ve been noticing what’s missing lately. In some ways, its harder to see what’s not there than what is. But there’s lost of useful information in what isn’t said, as well as what is. For example: A manager, talking about one of the people who reported to him said: “He’s difficult to manage.” What’s missing?…

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Team Trap #3: Failing to Navigate Conflict

“The absence of conflict is not harmony, it’s apathy .” Eisenhardt,  Kahwajy and Bourgeois “(….or acquiescing, or avoiding).” Esther Derby Conflict is inevitable at work. Sooner or later, people will disagree about what to test, how to implement a feature, what “done” means, or whether “always” means 100 per cent of the time or some…

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Are You Ready to Coach?

Agile coaches are expected to help teams learn agile methods, engineering techniques, and improve the productivity of the teams they work with.  But before they can do they need to be ready to coach.  Being ready to coach means that you have coaching skills, relevant technical and process skills. But the  foundational skill in coaching…

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Team Trap #5: Withholding Information

I’m not talking about information related to the task and context, here, though that can damage a team. Withholding that sort of information is unacceptable, and probably pathological. I’m talking about a different sort of information: information about your internal state . Let me tell you a story about a team I coached. They’d asked…

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Dealing with “Difficult” Co-workers

We all have coworkers who rub us the wrong way, get on our nerves, and generally drive us crazy. Let’s consider these examples of three people who have difficult coworkers: 1. Ted finished working on a difficult bit of code and headed for the team meeting. When he got there, Sandy looked at her watch…

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Bully Boss

A recent phone call reminded me of this article that I wrote in 2004. The story is real, the names are not. It’s a story that is all too common. *** Not too long ago, I had lunch with my friend Sarah. I hadn’t seen her in a while, so I was surprised when she…

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First Things First: Deal with the Human, then, Work

I recently read some advice suggesting that when we’re stressed or feeling non-positive emotions because of situations out side work—the illness of a spouse or child, a divorce, or other personal problem–employees should hide their emotions and pretend to be eager and positive. I can’t endorse that advice. Let me tell you a little story…

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Facing Up to the Truth

(c) 2001-2010 Esther Derby “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act II, Scene 2 The other day I was skimming the Harvard Management Update when a section in bold red print caught my eye: “Why don’t more organizations stop and think? Because they…

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No is in the air

A while back, Slacker Manager bemoaned micromanaging colleagues who over use “call colleague X” as thier next action (a la David Allen). And that got me thinking about saying No. Most of us are inclined to accept any task that comes our way at work– whether we have the bandwith to do the task or…

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Astonishing advice

Oh, dear. Oh, dear. Sunday afternoon, as I was getting ready to fly out to visit a client, I cast about for some airplane reading. I found a thin little book called Managing Your Boss, by Sandi Mann. In the section titled “Emotional Management,” the author advises that we learn to recognize which emotions will…

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