10 Characters You’ll Meet at a Business Meeting

In the Star Wars movie’s famous bar scene you knew, by their appearance, what zany character was sitting beside you. Each character had a distinctive look. Yet in business meetings you may have no idea about the group of characters with whom you’re meeting.

That’s because their normal outward appearances belie often troublesome behavior. Want to learn more about the crazy cast of characters you’re likely to encounter in your business meetings? Whether or not you’re armed with a light saber, you’ll nevertheless be better equipped to do battle with these often-destructive forces who subvert business meetings with their bothersome behavior. Learn more about ten dysfunctional characters you’ll meet in business meetings.


The Monopolizer thinks he or she is the only one with wisdom on various subjects at the business meeting. The Monopolizer believes everyone else is there to hear him or her speak – and so they do – incessantly. They don’t appreciate business that meetings offer an opportunity to hear from many.

They prattle on and on, arrogantly acting as though their ideas or beliefs are inherently more important than those of other employees. Sadly other people shy away from contributing, intimidated by the Monopolizer’s strangle hold on the meeting.

When facilitators allow an employee to monopolize a business meeting, it sends the message that their rudeness is sanctioned. The facilitator, or even other meeting participants, should indicate an interest in hearing from others in the meeting, to remind the Monopolizer that others can speak as well as listen.

Tangent Talker

The Tangent Talker hijacks the topic of the group by taking discussions off on tangents – topics unrelated to the issue at hand. One minute you’re on topic and the next minute you’re in “left field” as your agenda topic has been taken on a tangent.

Your meeting leader’s ability to recognize the tangent and refocus is essential to a productive meeting. “Let’s remember to confine ourselves to the topic at hand” is a good way to get back on track. Alternately saying, “Let’s try to avoid tangents” also labels such behavior as contrary to the group’s aims. As well, you can “park” extraneous items in a “parking lot” list where they’re noted, if only to be addressed later.

Devil’s Advocate

Let’s face it, there’s a Devil’s Advocate in every crowd and in most business meetings, too. This person seems to relish taking the opposite tack. Whatever the argument being put forth, this person delights in taking an opposing view.

It’s sport for them, an exercise in opposition. The more unpopular the stance the more exciting they find the challenge. Often this employee begins by saying “just for the sake of argument – I believe the opposite is true.” While there is value in looking at issues from multiple points of view and to avoid group think, the Devil’s Advocate applies their technique to every issue, every argument and every conversation.

Hold on to your agenda and get comfortable. This could take a while. A good business meeting leader can praise this person’s ability to raise alternative issues. At the same time, the business meeting leader must indicate its inappropriateness, given time parameters or previously agreed upon issues.


The ultimate naysayer, the Cynic has a Masters degree in negativity. Adroit at using the phrase, “it won’t work,” they are skilled at deflating and defeating whatever motion is in motion. “Can’t be done.” “They’ll never buy it.” “We tried it once and it was a failure.” Their motto: just say no.

Challenge cynical employees to think like the Devil’s Advocate; suppose for a minute that the idea or project could work. Use a common conflict resolution tool and ask the Cynic to embrace the other side’s point of view as if it were their own, and argue that side’s position.

Fence Sitter

Known for their paralysis by analysis, Fence Sitters are unable to make decisions. Despite being in a deliberative body, they are conflicted by multiple arguments, and can’t “pull the trigger” when it’s time to make a decision in a business meeting.

They provide fodder for the Devil’s Advocate, the Cynic, and other characters with their ambivalence. Whether they are afraid of being wrong, or of disagreeing with someone else, or just going on record, they are a meeting monster for their inability to move the action forward.

Try to cajole the Fence Sitter into action. Remind them that they have a vote and were invited to use it. Ask them their opinions on matters to draw them out and get them on record.

Pandora’s Box Opener

These meeting monsters just have to tackle issues that are emotional, touchy or are “hot buttons” for others in the business meeting. In every business meeting there are topics that are sure to strike a nerve, to provoke an emotional reaction or enter the group into a quagmire.

The Pandora’s Box Openers lead the entire meeting into areas that provoke frustration, animosities, and often resentment too. Once this box is opened, it’s hard to get the issues back into the box. Discussions of salaries, promotions or personal styles often stir up issues that hijack meetings. Even worse, some culprits reopen issues from earlier in the business meeting that have already been resolved.

The best cure: a firm “let’s not go there” from the meeting’s facilitator. Other phrases like “let’s cross that bridge when we get there” or “that’s a hornets nest we don’t need to disturb” labels certain subjects out of bounds for the business meeting

Brown Noser

There’s likely a sycophant in many business meetings. This employee is obsequious, bending over backwards to ingratiate himself or herself to the boss, the meeting leader or another power broker. They’re so busy currying favor with others, they subvert whatever true feelings they have about issues.

This employee is seen by other employees to be in the pocket of the person to whom they’re cow-towing. Ultimately they are seen for who they are and become predictable and not trusted.

Try to elicit their ideas and preferences before asking others as a way of drawing them out.


As children these people were bullies. Some still haven’t grown up. The Attacker deftly mixes negativity with personal attacks, challenging others’ ideas with vigor. Without regard to hurting others’ feelings, the Attacker uses a confrontational style to object to others’ ideas and go against the flow. Sadly, sometimes they don’t even realize they’re attacking.

A good facilitator can refocus the Attacker to be positive, to remove the sting from their words and avoid an adversarial approach. All meeting participants are entitled to stop the meeting when attacked personally. Ad hominem attacks are attacks against one’s person. People can criticize your actions or beliefs, but you don’t have to tolerate attacks against who you are as a person.


Don’t let the Joker’s good nature fool you, Jokers can be meeting monsters. Their constant joking has the effect of diminishing others’ serious ideas or suggestions. Their infusion of humor can belittle others’ motions and makes it difficult for some to be taken seriously.

There is a time and place for joking. While we all like a good laugh, constant joking disrupts a meeting and distracts attention from where it should be.

A business meeting leader can designate several minutes at the start or middle of a business meeting specifically for humor. When it crops up elsewhere and is deemed disruptive, the leader can remind people that the time for humor is passed or forthcoming, so as to control it.


Yep, these meeting monsters are actually cell phones, pagers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and laptop computers. Each distracts their owner and others, too, as they intrude upon participants’ attention spans during business meetings.

A good meeting leader will create ground rules or normsfor business meetings, including turning off these gadgets at their outset. It’s hard to compete with human distractions, let alone electronic ones as well.

As you can see, business meetings are full of characters. Study participant  behavior in meetings, including your own behavior, to better understand your style of interaction. The character of your business meetings will surely be affected by the characters in your meeting. May the force be with you.





How to Be Happy at Work

If you’re unhappy at work–or anywhere else, for that matter–it’s because you’ve made yourself unhappy.  There’s an easy way to change that.

By Geoffrey James | @Sales_Source |
Jan 30, 2012

Let me start off with a little story.

I once knew a saleswoman–young, divorced–who got a diagnosis of breast cancer.  She had to work and raise two kids while fighting the cancer. Even so, she managed to be happy at work, noticeably happier than her co-workers.  In fact, she not only won her battle with cancer but subsequently became one of the top salespeople at Bristol Myers.

She was not, as it happens, naturally cheerful.  Quite the contrary.  When she started full-time work, she was frequently depressed.  But she turned it around, using the techniques I’m going to provide you in this column.

That saleswoman once told me: When you’re unhappy, it’s because you’ve decided to be unhappy.

Maybe it wasn’t a conscious decision; maybe it crept up on you while you weren’t looking–but it was a decision nonetheless.  And that’s good news, because you can decide instead to be happy. You just need to understand how and why you make the decisions.

What Are Your Rules?

Happiness and unhappiness (in work and in life) result entirely from the rules in your head that you use to evaluate events.  Those rules determine what’s worth focusing on, and how you react to what you focus on.

Many people have rules that make it very difficult for them to happy and very easy for them to be miserable.

I once worked with a sales guy who was always angry at the people he worked with. The moment anything didn’t go the way he thought it should go, he’d be screaming in somebody’s face.  He was making everyone around him miserable–but just as importantly, he was making himself miserable, because just about anything set him off.

For this guy, the everyday nonsense that goes on in every workplace was not just important, but crazy-making important.

I once asked him what made him happy.  His answer: “The only thing that makes this !$%$#! job worthwhile is when I win a $1 million account.”  I asked him how often that happened.  His response: “About once a year.”

In other words, this guy had internal rules that guaranteed he’d be miserable on a day-to-day basis, but only happy once a year.

One of the other sales guys at that firm had the exact opposite set of rules.  His philosophy was “every day above ground is a good day.”  When he encountered setbacks, he shrugged them off–because, according to his internal rules, they just weren’t that important.  When I asked him what made him miserable, his answer was: “Not much.”  When I pressed him for a real answer, he said: “When somebody I love dies.”

In other words, the second sales guy had rules that made it easy for him to be happy but difficult to be miserable.

I’d like to be able to write that Mr. Positivity regularly outsold Mr. Negativity, but in fact their sales results were similar.  Even so, I think Mr. Negativity was a loser, because he lived each day in a state of misery.  His colleague was always happy.  He was winning at life.  He was happy at work.

Make Yourself Happier: 3 Steps

The saleswoman who had breast cancer was happy, too, and this is the method she used to make herself happy:

1. Document Your Current Rules

Set aside a half-hour of alone time and, being as honest as you can, write down the answers to these two questions:

  • What has to happen for me to be happy?
  • What has to happen for me to be unhappy?

Now examine those rules.  Have you made it easier to miserable than to be happy?  If so, your plan is probably working.

2. Create a Better Set of Rules

Using your imagination, create and record a new set of rules that would make it easy for you to be happy and difficult to be miserable.  Examples:

  • “I enjoy seeing the people I work with each day.”
  • “I really hate it when natural disasters destroy my home.”

Don’t worry whether or not these new rules seem “realistic”–that’s not the point.  All internal rules are arbitrary, anyway.  Just write rules that would make you happier if you really believed them.

3. Post the New Rules Where You’ll See Them

When you’ve completed your set of “new” rules, print out them out and post copies in three places: your bathroom mirror, the dashboard of your car, and the side of your computer screen.  Leave them up, even after you’ve memorized them.

Having those new rules visible when you’re doing other things gradually re-programs your mind to believe the new rules.  You will be happy at work.  It’s really that simple.

Oh, and by the way … That saleswoman? She was my mother.

Top Spelling Blunders Part III

A Little Practice Will Take Your Efforts a Long Way

Your ability to communicate with your audience will give your credibility an incredible boost, strengthen your efforts online and offline, as well as afford you the freedom to concentrate your energy elsewhere.

A critical piece of communication is using correct spelling and good grammar. This will ensure you maintain your reader’s attention on you and your topic.

You may consider investing in a spellchecker, finding a proofreader, or enrolling in an English Grammar course. Whatever you choose to do, you can rely on getting spelling and grammar tips right here.

So let’s get to it: Here are your next 5 spelling blunders to include in your proofreading checklist to strengthen your article writing skills. Seperate vs. Separate

If you are desperate to distance yourself from the “seperate” blunder, break down the word separate to find its meaning.

Se-para-te: apart from – to one side of – te (Correct) Se-per-ate: apart from – through/during/each – ate (Incorrect)

Example: I separate my pens from my pencils.

Key: Separate your parakeets.

Indispensible vs. Indispensable

To ible or able, that is the question. They have incredible similarities, but which is usable? If you want to make yourself indispensable to your readers, our biggest recommendation to solving this one quandary: Grab a dictionary. Through use and practice, eventually ible and able will become second nature.

Example: Your insight is indispensable.

Key: Gables are indispensable.

Occuring vs. Occurring

This little suffix can trip everyone up: ing. The confusion here is rooted in words ending in ing that require an additional letter or an omission of a letter to complete the word. For example: write and writing, run and running, occur and occurring, etc.

Example: Prevent errors from occurring.

Key: Double the R in occurring.

Recieve vs. Receive

The dreaded ie vs. ei! You may have heard this phrase: “I” before “E” except after “C”. This is a fairly good guideline to stick by, but there are always exceptions. Consult your dictionary if you are not sure.

Example: You will receive a gift!

Key: “I” before “E” except after “C” = Re-C-EI-ve.

Ghandi vs. Gandhi

This prominent figure is the first name to make it to our lists: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a.k.a. Mahatma Gandhi.

Why is Gandhi’s name spelled incorrectly? This may be due to the similar sounds ga and gha (e.g. Ghana, gander, and Gandhi).

Example: Gandhi pioneered the use of non-violent resistance.

Key: Take a gander at Gandhi and you will see freedom.

Be like Gandhi: Become indispensable! Separate yourself from the crowd and prevent spelling blunders from occurring to receive tons of credibility!

Gandhi said “an ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”

We will always provide you with tons of spelling and grammar tips, but it is up to you to put them into practice! Not only will you strengthen your ability to communicate with your audience by practicing, you will gain the freedom you need to concentrate your efforts elsewhere.


Posted by on January 27, 2012 at 9:00 am



You Can Make Their Day: Ten Tips for the Leader About Employee Motivation

You can make their day or break their day. Your choice. No kidding. Other than the decisions individuals make on their own about liking their work, you are the most powerful factor in employee motivation and morale.

As a manager or supervisor, your impact on employee motivation is immeasurable. By your words, your body language, and the expression on your face, as a manager, supervisor, or leader, you telegraph your opinion of their value to the people you employ.

Feeling valued by their supervisor in the workplace is key to high employee motivation and morale. Feeling valued ranks right up there for most people with liking the work, competitive pay, opportunities for training and advancement, and feeling “in” on the latest news.

Building high employee motivation and morale is both challenging and yet supremely simple. Building high employee motivation and morale requires that you pay attention every day to profoundly meaningful aspects of your impact on life at work.

Your Arrival at Work Sets the Employee Motivation Tone for the Day

Picture Mr. Stressed-Out and Grumpy. He arrives at work with a frown on his face. His body language telegraphs “over-worked” and unhappy. He moves slowly and treats the first person who approaches him abruptly. It takes only a few minutes for the entire workplace to get the word. Stay away from Mr. Stressed-Out and Grumpy if you know what’s good for you this morning.

Your arrival and the first moments you spend with staff each day have an immeasurable impact on positive employee motivation and morale. Start the day right. Smile. Walk tall and confidently. Walk around your workplace and greet people. Share the goals and expectations for the day. Let the staff know that today is going to be a great day. It starts with you. You can make their day.

Use Simple, Powerful Words for Employee Motivation

Sometimes in my work, I get gifts. I recently interviewed an experienced supervisor for a position open at a client company. She indicated that she was popular with the people at her former company as evidenced by employees wanting to work on her shift.

Responding to my question, she said that part of her success was that she liked and appreciated people. She sent the right message. She also uses simple, powerful, motivational words to demonstrate she values people. She says “please” and “thank you” and “you’re doing a good job.” How often do you take the time to use these simple, powerful words, and others like them, in your interaction with staff? You can make their day.

For Employee Motivation, Make Sure People Know What You Expect

In the best book I’ve read on the subject, Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed to Do and What to Do about ItCompare Prices, by Ferdinand Fournies, setting clear expectations is often a supervisor’s first failure. Supervisors think they have clearly stated work objectives, numbers needed, report deadlines and requirements, but the employee received a different message.

Or, the requirements change in the middle of the day, job, or project. While the new expectations are communicated – usually poorly – the reason for the change or the context for the change is rarely discussed. This causes staff members to think that the company leaders don’t know what they are doing. This is hardly a confidence, morale-building feeling.

This is bad news for employee motivation and morale. Make sure you get feedback from the employee so you know he understands what you need. Share the goals and reasons for doing the task or project. In a manufacturing environment, don’t emphasize just numbers if you want a quality product finished quickly. If you must make a change midway through a task or a project, tell the staff why the change is needed; tell them everything you know. You can make their day.

Provide Regular Feedback for Employee Motivation

When I poll supervisors, the motivation and morale builder they identify first is knowing how they are doing at work. Your staff members need the same information. They want to know when they have done a project well and when you are disappointed in their results. They need this information as soon as possible following the event.

They need to work with you to make sure they produce a positive outcome the next time. Set up a daily or weekly schedule and make sure feedback happens. You’ll be surprised how effective this tool can be in building employee motivation and morale. You can make their day.

People Need Positive and Not So Positive Consequences

Hand-in-hand with regular feedback, employees need rewards and recognition for positive contributions. One of my clients has started a “thank you” process in which supervisors are recognizing employees with personally written thank you cards and a small gift for work that is above and beyond expectations.

Employees need a fair, consistently administered progressive disciplinary system for when they fail to perform effectively. The motivation and morale of your best-contributing employees is at stake. Nothing hurts positive motivation and morale more quickly than unaddressed problems, or problems addressed inconsistently.

What about supervisory discretion, you are probably thinking. I’m all for supervisory discretion, but only when it is consistent. People need to know what they can expect from you. In employee relations, an apt statement is: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” (attribution unknown) You can make their day.

It Ain’t Magic. It’s Discipline.

Supervisors frequently ask, “How do I motivate employees?” It’s one of the most common questions I am asked. Wrong question. Ask instead, “How do I create a work environment in which individual employees choose to be motivated about work goals and activities?”

That question I can answer. The right answer is that, generally, you know what you should do; you know what motivates you. You just do not consistently, in a disciplined manner, adhere to what you know about employee motivation.

The ten tips, outlined in this article, are the keys to supervisory success in creating positive employee motivation and morale. The challenge is to incorporate them into your skill set and do them consistently – every day. Author, Jim Collins identified disciplined people doing disciplined things every day as one of the hallmarks of companies that went from Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’tCompare Prices. You can make their day.

Continue Learning and Trying Out New Ideas for Employee Motivation

Use whatever access you have to education and training. You may have an internal trainer or you can seek classes from an outside consultant, a training company, or a college or university. If your company offers an educational assistance plan, use all of it.

If not, start talking with your Human Resources professionals about creating one. The ability to continuously learn is what will keep you moving in your career and through all the changes I expect we’ll see in the next decade.

Minimally, you will want to learn the roles and responsibilities of supervisors and managers and how to:

  • provide feedback,
  • provide praise and recognition,
  • provide proper progressive discipline,
  • give instructions,
  • interview and hire superior employees,
  • delegate tasks and projects,
  • listen actively and deeply,
  • write records, letters, file notations, and performance evaluations,
  • make presentations,
  • manage time,
  • plan and execute projects,
  • problem solve and follow up for continuous improvement,
  • make decisions,
  • manage meetings, and
  • build empowered teams and individuals in a teamwork environment.

What does all this have to do with employee motivation, you may ask? Everything. The more comfortable and confident you are about these work competencies, the more time, energy, and ability you have to devote to spending time with staff and creating a motivating work environment. You can make their day.

Make Time for People for Employee Motivation

Spend time daily with each person you supervise. Managers might aim for an hour a week with each of their direct reports. Many studies indicate that a key employee work motivation factor is spending positive interaction time with the supervisor. Schedule quarterly performance development meetings on a public calendar so people can see when they can expect some quality time and attention from you. You can make their year.

Focus on the Development of People for Employee Motivation

Most people want to learn and grow their skills at work. No matter their reason: a promotion, different work, a new position or a leadership role, employees appreciate your help. Talk about changes they want to make to their jobs to better serve their customers.

Encourage experimentation and taking reasonable risk to develop employee skills. Get to know them personally. Ask what motivates them. Ask what career objectives they have and are aiming to achieve. Make a performance development plan with each person and make sure you help them carry out the plan. The quarterly performance development meeting is your opportunity to formalize plans for people. You can make their career.

Share the Goals and the Context: Communicate for Employee Motivation

People expect you to know the goals and share the direction in which your work group is heading. The more you can tell them about why an event is happening, the better.

Prepare staff in advance if visitors or customers will come to your workplace. Hold regular meetings to share information, gain ideas for improvement, and train new policies. Hold focus groups to gather input before implementing policies that affect employees. Promote problem solving and process improvement teams.

Above all else, to effectively lead a work group, department, or unit, you must take responsibility for your actions, the actions of the people you lead, and the accomplishment of the goals that are yours.

If you are unhappy with the caliber of the people you are hiring, whose responsibility is that? If you are unhappy about the training people in your work group are receiving, whose responsibility is that? If you are tired of sales and accounting changing your goals, schedule, and direction, whose responsibility is that?

If you step up to the wire, people will respect you and follow you. You are creating a work environment in which people will choose motivation. It does start with you. You can make their whole experience with your company.


By , About.com Guide

Best Interview Questions to Ask Applicants

Do you have favorite interview questions that you ask each job applicant at an interview? If so, you’re not alone. Seasoned interviewers develop a short list of questions that quickly tell them what they need to know about a candidate’s job skills, job fit, and potential cultural fit. I have my best interview questions, too.

My best interview questions to ask focus on the skills and contributions that I most want my candidate to be able to make. They help me assess the prospective employee’s work experience and his or her approach to problem solving. They help me understand how the candidate interacts with people and the work environment.

These best interview questions have a track record of helping me select people who became successful employees. These are some of my best interview questions to ask a prospective employee.

Best Interview Questions

Interview Question: Tell me about your greatest achievement at work.

Goal: The applicant’s answer tells a lot about what the individual values and what he or she considers important. It also demonstrates what the applicant considers to be an achievement.


Interview Question: Describe the work environment in which you will most effectively be able to contribute.

Goal: The candidate’s response tells the interviewer whether their work environment is congruent with the candidate’s needs. The answer helps the interviewer determine the candidate’s cultural fit.


Interview Question: What kind of oversight and interaction would your ideal boss provide?

Goal: You want to know how self-directed your candidate is. In a company that emphasizes empowerment, for example, a candidate that requires constant direction will  not fit. If you know that the boss who is the hiring manager is a micromanager, the self-driven candidate may not succeed. (What are you doing about this boss’s management style?)


Interview Question: Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a major obstacle that stood in the way of you accomplishing a goal or commitment.

Goal: You will obtain a clear picture of the candidate’s past performance. You obtain information about his or her problem solving style and you also learn about what the candidate considers to be an obstacle. You may also learn about his or her interaction style with coworkers.


Interview Question: What prompted you to apply for this job? What interested you the most about this position?

Goal: You want to know what the prospective employee is most interested in related to your position. The answer will tell you about what motivates the individual and what is important to the applicant.

Interview Question: Why are you leaving your current employer? (If the applicant is employed)

Goal: The applicant’s response tells you about his or her values, outlook, goals, and needs from an employer. You can determine what prompted the job search.

Interview Question: What are the three most important attributes or skills that you believe you would bring to our company if we hired you?

Goal: The candidate’s answer tells you what he or she considers most important in their skill set. You also learn about how the candidate views your open position.


Interview Question: What are the first three things you would do on the job if you were hired for this position?

Goal: You will gain an understanding of what the applicant deems important, their understanding of the requirements of your job, and how the candidate approaches a new situation.


Interview Question: How would your coworkers at your current job describe your interaction with them and your general effectiveness in your work performance? How would your coworkers describe you?

Goal: You want to understand how the candidate thinks that his or her coworkers view their interaction. You also want to assess how coworkers like working with the candidate. These questions give you an idea about the candidate’s assessment of his effectiveness in his current job and in his relationship with coworkers. Past practice can predict future results.

Interview Question: How would your current boss describe your work and contribution?

Goal: You want to understand how the candidate perceives the support and opinion of his current employer. This question tells you about the candidate’s interaction with his current boss. It also informs you about how he accepts criticism and feedback.

Interview Question: How do you believe that your current skills will contribute to the accomplishment of our company’s goals and mission as stated on our website or in company literature?

Goal: Prospective employees have long  been asked to learn about the company to which they are applying. In this Internet age, learning about the company has never been easier. This question tells you if the prospective employee did learn about your company. Further, it tells you if the candidate was thoughtful about his or her potential “fit” in your company and whether she will be able to contribute.

Interview Question: How do you go about continuing to develop your professional skills and knowledge?

Goal: You want to hir employees who believe in continuous development and improvement. Listen carefully to whether the prospective employee pursues his or her own professional development or whether they depend on their employer to provide the development opportunities.


These are examples of the best interview questions to ask as you recruit and interview new employees. You will devise your own list of the best interview questions to ask as you participate in more interviews and experience the success or failure of the people that you hire.



By , About.com Guide

Top 10 Ways to Destroy Motivation at Work

By , About.com Guide


Want to know how organizations destroy motivation at work? Managers ask about how to motivate employees, but employees naturally experience motivation. Ask any employee. Something in this world rings their chimes.

So, the challenge for employers is not to destroy that intrinsic motivation that every employee has about something. And, the challenge for a manager is to help the employee find ways to experience that motivation at work.

The best place to start? Make sure that your organization, your jobs, and your managers are not squashing motivation. Start with these 10 ways to destroy motivation at work. Are you guilty of any of them? If so…

How to Destroy Motivation at Work

  • Treat employees like children. Employees are adults with lives. They largely manage families, investments, day-to-day living, and everything that a life entails. Doesn’t it seem silly to fail to recognize this at work? Why do so many organizations act as if they need to tell adult employees what to do and micromanage their every action?
  • Make rules for the many because of the behavior of a few. Organizations need policies and rules to create a legal, ethical, effective workplace. They do not need a policy to solve every problem. Yet, so many organizations make policies to prohibit or address the behavior of a few employees. Why burden all employees with a policy or a procedure when you can individually address the behavior of the few deadbeat employees?
  • Focus on mistakes and errors no matter how trivial they are in comparison with successes. This is especially a problem at weekly meetings and during periodic performance evaluations. Managers must provide balanced feedback, but let’s get real. If an employee is making mistakes most of the time, why not fire the employee? The job must be a terrible fit for the employee’s skills and capabilities. To dwell only on problem areas destroys the employee’s confidence and self-esteem, makes the employee more error-prone, and makes your organization wonder why they promoted you to management.
  • Apply policies unfairly and inequitably. There is a reason why your Human Resources manager asks you if you have applied the same rules, expectations, and disciplinary actions to each person on your team. Inequities are visible to employees who quickly complain, feel picked on, accuse you of playing favorites, and ultimately – sue your employer. When inconsistent, unreliable actions are taken and perceived capricious decisions are made by a manager, employees lose faith and confidence. Their motivation at work disappears – and eventually, so do they.
  • Stomp on employee initiative and ideas. No, every employee idea is not worthless. Not every employee idea is going to light your flame of enthusiasm either. But, all employee ideas have merit. If nothing else the initiative and motivation that inspired the employee to seek to solve a problem or please a customer, is worth noting. For employee motivation at work, every idea deserves consideration and feedback. And, while you’re at it, is this idea something that the employee needed management permission or support to do? Changes to an employee’s job, when the changes have minimal effect on others, should not even need the manager’s permission.
  • Tell employees that they’re empowered but then review and retain veto power over the smallest decisions. Employees learn quickly what you mean by empowerment. In your organization, managers may pay lip service to empowerment , but employees know that the organizational hierarchy or chain of command is the all-powerful ruler. In fact, the managers may be just as unable to make decisions. So, don’t try to fool them; let employees know what they actually control. Clear expectations trump constant friction. You’ll destroy less motivation at work by telling the truth and dealing with what is so in your organization.
  • Hold meetings, coaching sessions, and performance reviews in which the manager does the majority of the talking. Only a rare employee will find a work environment in which he or she is talked at motivating. But, it happens frequently. Even in organizations that encourage employee involvement, managers are not always skilled at discussing performance with employees. The manager may be afraid that if he stops talking, the employee will make demands he can’t fulfill.  The manager may be uncomfortable with silence while the employee gathers his thoughts. Whatever the reason, if the manager talks 50+ minutes of a one hour meeting, a problem will exist with employee motivation at work.
  • Violate employee confidentiality by sharing information inappropriately. The foundation for an employee’s relationship with her manager and her motivation at work is trust. Once violated, trust is difficult, even impossible, to rebuild. Before a manager shares an employee’s confidence with another employee, she needs to have permission from the employee – and a good business reason must exist. To randomly mention an employee’s personal business, thoughts, or confidences to another employee is a severe violation of a manager’s ethical responsibility. Secondary damage occurs, too. The employee with whom the manager shared the confidential information will never trust the manager either – and she will tell the employee whose confidence the manager violated.
  • Measure aspects of work for employee review that the employee can’t control. You can destroy employee motivation at work by focusing on performance areas that the employee does not control. If parts don’t come in for a manufacturing job, for example, it is difficult to execute promised production on time. Sure, the employee can work to ensure that the supplier, or another, delivers parts on time in the future, but the immediate performance is affected. Managers manage the work of employees, but a family emergency guarantees that the needed employee is not at work to produce. Worst of all? The employee looks as if she is making excuses when, in fact, her results were submarined by circumstances she didn’t control.
  • Set unattainable goals and penalize employees for not meeting them. Corporations, especially, have the practice of determining goals for a division or department from the top of the chain of command. This works when the goal setters are in constant communication with the doers. Their feedback should help frame the goals. But, too often, the goals are set with little communication and feedback, and the people in the field are distressed from the get-go with goals that they believe are unattainable. Employees need to participate in setting goals and thus accept responsibility for achieving them. This is what makes organizations work.

These are some of the top ten reasons why employees are not motivated to contribute their best efforts at work. Sure, a lot of the responsibility lies with the choices that each employee makes, but even more is traceable to the environment that employers create for employees. Eliminate these ten ways to destroy motivation at work.

It’s spreading! Run for your grammatical lives!

It’s spreading! Run for your grammatical lives!

While emoticons and text-speak have their place in the instant messaging world (e.g. LOL b4 u go dont u hve 2 rite ur arcles? 😛), readers don’t warm-up to it in articles.

Good grammar and correct spelling is paramount to your success as a credible author. That’s why we collected the most common spelling mistakes in order to help you maintain your credibility and build confidence in your writing skills.

Let’s get to it: Here are your next 5 spelling blunders you can include in your proofreading checklist to assure your credibility is untarnished!


Payed vs. Paid

It may be argued that payed is acceptable due to its traces to Middle English (between the 11th and the late 15th century). However, if we were speaking Middle English, we’d still be using thou and thy.

The confusion often occurs when you try to form the simple past by adding a d or ed to the root of a regular verb (e.g. collect becomes collected). The word pay is not your everyday verb. Pay is an irregular verb or a verb that doesn’t follow the standard conjugation. Bottomline: Pay becomes paid (past simple and past participle) and not payed.

Example: I paid a visit to my neighbor and then I paid my bills.

Key: Ease irregularity by putting pay in the past – drop the y and add an id to form paid.


Withing vs. Within

If you are scratching your head on this one, welcome to the club. Withing is the act of weaving stems or twigs twisted to form a rope called a withe. However, digging into the issue we discovered for every occurrence of withing, the author intended to use the word within (meaning: inside or indoors).

Example: Inquire within.

Key: Your article writing twin is within.


Reoccurrence vs. Recurrence

The correct word in this instance is recurrence, which means to happen repeatedly or to return. The mix-up lies in occurrence, meaning an incident or something that happens. To make an occurrence happen again and again, we need the prefix re. However, in proper English, we drop the o and the first c before we tack on the re, to form recurrence.

Example: The lack of respect for the apostrophe is a recurrence I cannot bear.

Key: Why enjoy it once? Drop the oc and make it a smashing recurrence!


Doesnt vs. Doesn’t

A contraction is the process of becoming smaller (or when a muscle becomes or is made shorter and tighter). In the English language, a contraction is commonly represented by an apostrophe, i.e. do not becomes don’t and let us becomes let’s.

The correct contraction of the phrase does not is doesn’t. Doesnt isn’t an acceptable word in the English language.

Example: He doesn’t have a pen.

Key: Doesn’t it look good to use an apostrophe!


Definately vs. Definitely

Definately: This blunder is a surefire way to upset the grammar police. The correct word here is definitely, which means without a doubt or clearly and is often used for emphasis.

Let’s break this down: Definitely

  • The      prefix de: down, away, completely, removal, or reversal (e.g.      derail, decrease, defunct, defrost, etc.).
  • Finite: having limits, the opposite of infinite.
  • Finate: not a word.

Example: He will definitely spell correctly in the future!

Key: The ape ate the ite in definitely!

Definitely stop the recurrence of these blunders: within, doesn’t, and paid!

It has been said if you repeat something 7 times, you can commit it to memory. Commit these 5 words to memory by writing them down 7 times (correctly) and say each letter out loud as you write. That’s easy!


Penny, Managing Editor

6 Tips To Manage Conflict Between Staff Members

Monday 16  January, 2012 by Profiles International

Contrary to the popular phrase “ignorance is bliss”, it’s not – especially if you’re the manager of two workers who genuinely don’t get along. When two employees hate each other, their animosity can turn a healthy working environment into a cancer ward. Whatever the reason, it is in everyone’s best interest to address and resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

Coworker conflict will always come up; noone can be everyone’s best friend. But coworkers need to be civil and able to work together. The longer the dislike endures, the more likely it is that it will hurt their productivity and that of those around them.

Some would argue that creative tension among peers and coworkers can yield superior results due to the competition and rivalry that is formed. While this might be true in some situations on a project basis, in a day-to-day sense, it can easily establish a permanent us-versus-them culture that devolves into conflict.

If the conflict is among hourly workers, you might be inclined to ignore the spat, or perhaps discipline the employees if it has affected their performance. You may even just let one or both of them go to avoid the drama. However, when the feud is between professional staff, the situation becomes more complicated. And when the conflict is between peers who are vying for an upcoming vacancy due to executive succession planning, emotions and ambitions can get the best of us.

Dislike among workers can stem from any number of work- or nonwork-related issues. Perhaps they’re from different social circles or have differing backgrounds; it could be the way they do (or don’t do) their work; or something trivial such as the sound of their voice or malodorous lunch they eat in your vicinity. No matter the reason, you need to address it – and fast.

You’ve probably encountered people in your personal or professional lives who always seem to be mired in drama and have a knack for dragging others into their issues. If you think “Here we go again” regarding one of the employees involved in the conflict, then that’s probably a sign that the person needs to change their attitude or be sacrificed.

Here’s another thought: if you allow coworker conflict to linger without addressing it, one of the workers (or both, or an uninvolved third worker) could go around you to your boss, making an uncomfortable situation worse. The implications will be clear: “This was brought to the manager’s attention, and they either chose to ignore it, or didn’t know how to deal with it. They’re incompetent”. This could backfire on them, but the damage to your reputation will be done.

6 outcomes of coworker conflict

Once you’ve been made aware of your employees not getting along, here are 6 possible outcomes of resolving conflict among coworkers:

  1. Both parties work out their differences, rise above, and move on
  2. Both parties agree to disagree, but get past it and move on
  3. Both parties say they’ve moved on, but one or both secretly harbor continued ill will. Negativity lurks and performance soon begins to dip
  4. One party sucks it up and acquiesces while the other seemingly “wins.” Conflict could continue
  5. The “wrong” party won’t budge and needs to be removed from the department and possibly let go
  6. The situation damages both workers and both leave

Tips for resolving and avoiding coworker conflict

Each situation will be different, but here are some ways to deal with feuding employees and try to avoid it in the future:

  1. Meet with the feuding coworkers to see if you can remedy the situation. Do this quickly to avoid letting it fester and spiral out of control.
  2. Alert your boss to the situation so that they’re not blindsided by any necessary disciplinary actions now or in the future.
  3. Involve HR as necessary, which could be as an independent mediator, to put difficult employees on notice or probation, or to begin the process of transferring the troublemakers to another department or location.
  4. Advocate an environment of respect, tolerance, and civility in the office.
  5. Maintain an open dialogue with your employees. Freely sharing information and updates on the company and department will quell the need for gossip and rumours.
  6. Review your policies on use of company email and social media sites. Some disgruntled employees will take their rants online either within or outside of the company. Know your company’s electronic media policies and communicate them with all employees.

How to Walk Your Talk

If you work in an organization, you’ve heard this complaint repeatedly. Leaders and managers say they want change and continuous improvement but their actions do not match their words. The leaders’ exhortations to employees ring false when their subsequent actions contradict their words. A CEO once asked me, “Why do they do what I do and not what I tell them to do?” Another asked, “Do I really have to change, too?” These are scary questions coming from leaders.

The power of an organization’s leaders in creating the organization’s values, environment, culture and actions is immeasurable. Want to know how to “walk the talk” to enable organization change and improvement? Want to take the power away from the oft-repeated employee complaint that managers don’t walk their talk? Start here to learn how to walk your talk. Or, use these ideas to help your organization’s leaders and managers walk theirs. It’s the shortest journey to empower change and the work environment they desire.

Tips for Walking Your Talk

The most important tip comes first. If you do this first action well, the rest will follow more naturally. If the ideas you are promoting are congruent with your core beliefs and values, these actions will come easily, too. So, start with a deep understanding of “why” you want to see the change or improvement. Make certain it is congruent with what you deeply believe. Then, understand and follow these guidelines.

  • Model the behavior you want to see from others. There is nothing more powerful for employees than observing the “big bosses” do the actions or behaviors they are requesting from others. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Become the change you wish to see in the world.” And, it will happen.
  • If you make a rule or design a process, follow it, until you decide to change it. Why would employees follow the rules if the rule makers don’t?
  • Act as if you are part of the team, not always the head of it. Dig in and do actual work, too. People will appreciate that you are personally knowledgeable about the effort needed to get the work done. They will trust your leadership because you have undergone their experience.
  • Help people achieve the goals that are important to them, as well as the goals that are important to you. Make sure there is something for each of you that will result from the effort and work.
  • Do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t make rash promises that you can’t keep. People want to trust you and your leadership.
  • Build commitment to your organization’s big goal. (You do have a big, overarching goal, don’t you? Other than to make money, why does your organization exist?)
  • Use every possible communication tool to build commitment and support for the big goal, your organization’s values and the culture you want to create. This includes what you discuss at meetings, in your corporate blog, on your Intranet, and so forth.
  • Hold strategic conversations with people so people are clear about expectations and direction. Gerard Kleisterlee, Philips’ president, is holding strategic conversations with as many groups as he can. “In order to build internal confidence, stimulate cross-boundary cooperation, and spark new-product speed to market, Kleisterlee is sponsoring what he calls ‘strategic conversations’: dialogues that center around a focused set of themes that Kleisterlee believes will define Philips’ future.”
  • Ask senior managers to police themselves. They must provide feedback to each other when they fail to walk their talk. It is not up to the second level managers and other employees to point out inconsistencies. (Confronting a manager takes courage, facts and a broad understanding of the organization.) Senior managers must be accountable to each other for their own behavior.

In 1513, Machiavelli wrote, “There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old system and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new one.”

Given these thoughts from Machiavelli – true for centuries – provide leadership and sponsorship through walking your talk. Incorporate these tips and behaviors to ensure the success of your organization. Walk your talk.


By , About.com Guide

Top Spelling Blunders

Increase Your Credibility by Watching Out for These Commonly Misspelled Words

Grab your dictionaries and flip on your spell-checkers, because we are in for one exciting ride! We recently collected the most common spelling mistakes even the most credible expert authors make.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we will present these pesky misspellings to you in order to help you maintain your credibility and build confidence in your writing skills. Without further ado, we give you: The Top 5 Spelling Blunders!


Loosing is the number one, most prevailing spelling blunder! It often occurs when the author intended to use the present participle of the word lose, as in losing weight and mistakenly adds a second o. The root of this blunder stems from the confusion between the words: lose and loose.

Here’s the difference: Lose means loss and loose means something is, or has been, released (or something not firmly held in place).

Example: Sam tightened his loose belt after losing weight.

Key: What do winning and losing have in common? Both have only two vowels (winning = ii, losing = oi). “todays”

Today can be defined as in the course of present time or this present time. The word today can be used as an adverb (qualifies or modifies an adjective) or a noun (person, place or thing). For the sake of brevity, we are going to concentrate on the noun: today.

Here’s our issue with todays: it is a noun, sorely missing its good old friend the apostrophe. In order to form the possessive form of a singular noun, no matter what the last consonant is of the noun, you must always add an ‘s. To do otherwise, you will end up with the plural form of the noun (e.g. dog’s vs. dogs, cat’s vs. cats, etc.)

Example: John was featured in today’s newspaper!

Key: If you state todays, you are essentially stating many present time, which would suggest a bend in the space-time continuum – present time overlapping present time… To fix this, simply add the apostrophe before the s: today’s.


Unless you are referring to the Britney Spears pop song “Everytime”, every and time should be written as two separate words. The confusion often occurs when writers think about compound words, such as everywhere. Compound words take on a whole new meaning than if they were separated. For instance, everywhere (all places) = every (each, all, any) where (place or position).

Example: Every time you publish an article, your exposure increases.

Key: Everyone, everywhere, should add a space every time.


Here’s the deal with aircrafts: Whether it be singular or plural, the word aircraft is spelled the same way. Similar words include: moose, fish, and species.

Example: The aircraft are positioned on the carrier. Please watch your step when entering the aircraft.

Key: The pilot of the aircraft won’t land when other aircraft are on the runway.

Alternately, this issue with aircrafts may be similar to our previously discussed issue of the possessive form: todays vs. today’s.

Example: Please watch your step when descending the aircraft’s staircase.


No “ifs, ands, or buts,” ect is not the correct abbreviation for et cetera. Et Cetera is a Latin expression meaning and so forth or and other things. Its correct abbreviation is etc.

Example: Writing supplies may include pens, pencils, paper, etc.

Key: Don’t forget to pack eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, etc. in your lunch.

Catch today’s top blunders every time: losing, aircraft, etc.

There you have it – the top 5 most common spelling blunders! Take these five words and post them next to your computer. Over the next week, make it a point to train your eyes to catch these errors in your articles. And who knows? You might find more!

We will be trickling in more spelling blunders over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for our spelling keys to ensure your articles are error free. Doing so will increase your credibility and drive more traffic to your blog or website!

Posted by on December 27, 2011 at 9:00 am |